Football 1st Down Line

Chapter 5.3

What's that yellow line on the field when you watch a football game on TV? Get ready to learn about the 1st down line and what it means in football.


In past chapters, we learned about the yard lines. Below is a picture of all the yard lines on a football field highlighted below.

Rookie Road Football Yard Lines Image

The 1st Down Line

The 1st down line is a special yard line that shows the distance the team with possession of the ball needs to travel to to get a new set of four (4) scrimmage downs. It is always placed ten (10) yards away from the line of scrimmage.

Rookie Road Football 1st Down Line Image

PRO TIP: You can see the 1st down line as a yellow line on TV.

The Down Cycle

The 1st down line resets when the team with possession of the ball reaches it or goes beyond it. A group of referees known known as the chain crew will set the new 1st down line after this happens. We'll learn more about scrimmage downs and the down cycle in future chapters.

The Goal Line

The only exception for the 1st down line being placed 10 yards from the line of scrimmage is when a team is within 10 yards of the opposing team's goal line. In this case, the goal line becomes the 1st down line.

Rookie Road Football 1st Down Line Goal Line Image

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