Football Game Structure

Chapter 2.1

How long does a football game last? What is halftime and overtime? Get ready to learn about the structure of a football game.

Introduction

Every football game begins in the same way. But before we can talk about the start of a football game, you should understand the basic structure of a football game.

Regulation

Football games have the same basic structure regardless of the level of play (high school, college, and pro). There are four (4) quarters or two (2) halves of game time. Each half consists of two (2) quarters. Fans call these halves the 1st half and the 2nd half.

Rookie Road Football Regulation Image

We call these four quarters of game time or two halves of game time regulation.

Halftime

There are short breaks in between quarters and one longer break in between the 2nd quarter (Q2) and the third quarter (Q3) called halftime. Halftime is the complete suspension of play. Players will go into the locker rooms and discuss strategy for the 2nd half.

Rookie Road Football Halftime Image

Overtime

If the score is tied at the end of regulation, there can be extra quarters of game time that are played called overtime. The rules of overtime are different depending on the level of play (high school, college, pro). The purpose of overtime is to determine the winning team.

Rookie Road Football Overtime Image

Start of a Football Game

Now that we understand the basic structure of a football game, we can talk about what happens at the start of a game.

National Anthem

Every football game begins with a singing of the national anthem. It's undeniable the impact sports culture has on the identity of a nation.

The Opening Coin Toss

Next, the opening coin toss happens. The purpose of the opening coin toss is to determine the initial setup of a football game.

You can learn more about the coin toss here.

The Opening Kickoff

After the opening coin toss, the opening kickoff puts the ball into play and the game officially begins.

You can learn more about kickoffs here.

Key Takeaways

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