There are five (5) ways teams change possession of the ball in football. Turnovers are considered one of these ways.
An easy way to think about turnovers is that the team with possession of the ball turns the ball over to the other team. There are three types of turnovers in football.
A turnover is one of the following:
A fumble happens when a player loses possession of the ball while the ball is still considered 'live'.
For example, a the ball-carrier drops the ball. Now, the ball is considered a loose ball and can be taken by either team. If the ball is recovered by a player on the opposing team, it's a fumble.
KEY TAKEAWAY: A fumble happens when a defensive player on the opposing team picks up a ball from the ground that is dropped by an offensive player.
Fumbles are usually forced from a strong tackle or by a player on the opposing team stripping the ball from the player's hands.
PRO TIP: As a player, there is a specific way to hold a football to protect it from being stripped away from players on the opposing team. You want to tuck it deep in the armpit of your dominant arm using your other arm to block any attempts made to strip the ball.
An interception happens when a defensive player catches a pass.
On an interception, referees will make sure that the player did the following:
- stayed inbounds
- the ball didn't touch the ground
- the player maintained control of the ball
KEY TAKEAWAY: An interception happens when a player on the opposing team catches a pass thrown by an offensive player, usually the quarterback.
Turnover On Downs
If the team with possession of the ball fails to reach the 1st down line within four (4) scrimmage downs, they must give the ball over to the other team for a turnover on downs.
Learn more about the down cycle here
KEY TAKEAWAY: A turnover on downs happens when the team with possession of the ball fails to reach the 1st down line in four (4) downs.
The Spot Of The Ball
Whenever a turnover is made in football, teams will change possession of the ball at the spot where the last scrimmage down ended (the ball was declared 'dead').