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How Long Is An NFL Football Field?

Football Field Dimensions

The football field is one of the most recognizable playing surfaces in all of sports, but exactly how long is a standard football field, and what are the reasons for its length and the markings that occur on it? Here, we will learn all about the length of a football field.

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How Long is an NFL Football Field?

An NFL football field is 120 yards long (360 feet). From goal line to goal line, the field is only 100 yards (300 feet) long, but once each ten-yard deep end zone is factored in, the field adds up to 120 yards (360 feet) in total length.

Why is a Football Field Measured in Yards?

Many fans of football often wonder why the football field is measured in yards, rather than in feet. Interestingly, in the early days of football, the field actually was measured in feet. However, over time, this system of measurement became too cumbersome, as the long length of the field meant that measuring in feet was too complex. As a result of this, football fields began to be measured in yards, as yards were a simpler, more easily divisible unit of measurement for the purposes of the game.

The reason why yards are a more effective means of measurement in football is because they are clear units of measurement that can be used to divide the field of play into matching sections. Because the field of play in football (the area excluding the two end zones) is exactly 300 feet long, it is easily divisible into yards, with the playing area consisting of 100 yards, or 10 groupings of 10 yards each. This makes it easy to mark each 10-yard interval on the field with a successive number, starting at the number 10 closest to the endzone, and rising by 10 until both sets of numbers meet in the middle of the field at 50. This form of measurement makes the field easy to read, and gives players and coaches a much clearer visual structure to use when figuring out strategies.  

What Do the Markings on a Football Field Mean?

There are a number of different markings on a regulation football field, each with their own purpose. These markings help players, coaches, and officials understand the field, and where each team is positioned.

Hash Marks

Almost all American football fields will be the same length of 120 yards (360 feet), but the main difference between different levels of football is the placement of the hash marks that run up the sidelines. Hash marks are small, vertical lines that run parallel to the end zones, and are used to measure yardage on every down. Hash marks all measure exactly one yard apart, and are placed in between the longer, white yard lines that appear every five yards, stretching the entire width of the field. In addition to the hash marks that run along the sidelines, most football fields have two additional sets of hash marks near the center of the field, on either side of the central logo on the 50-yard line. In the NFL, each set of hash marks are placed 18 feet and 6 inches apart, which is perfectly in line with the goal posts, but shorter than both the college and high school distances.

Yard Lines

Yard lines are used to measure a football field in increments of five yards. There are 19 yards lines on the field of play, not counting the two goal lines which mark the start of the end zones. These lines stretch the length of the field and are solid white lines. Every other yard line features a white number that indicates the yardage of that line.

White Numbers

Every 10 yards on a standard football field–starting from each end zone and moving inwards towards midfield–the solid white yard lines will be marked with white numbers. These numbers indicate when a team has made it ten yards closer to the end zone from midfield. The white numbers begin at 10, and rise in increments of 10, proceeding to 20, 30, 40, and 50. Because the white numbers start from both endzones, the yard line at the exact center of the field is the 50-yard line, as both sets of white numbers meet in the middle of the field of play. Typically, the white numbers are painted with one digit on either side of the yard line they indicate, and the numbers 10-40 are also often painted with a small arrow on one side of them, which points in the direction of the end zone on that side of the field.

FAQ

How many feet is a football field?

The playing area of a football field is 300 feet, however it measures 360 feet when you include each end zone. This equates to the more widely known 100 yards of playing area, and 120 yards total when including the end zone.

How many football fields equal a mile?

If factoring in the end zones, there are just under 15 football fields in a mile. However, if not including the end zones, a mile spans 17.6 football fields. Nonetheless, it is said that the average football player runs 1.25 miles in a game. Naturally, this varies by position.

Has a football field always been 120 yards long?

While the length of a regulation football field has been set at 120 yards since the NFL was first founded in 1920, prior to the formation of the league a standard football field was actually shorter in length than the regulation field of today. When football was first created in 1892, the field was 110 yards long, and did not have end zones–rather, the goal lines were simply the ends of the field. Early football fields also had a 55-yard line, unlike modern fields, as the 110-yard length meant that midfield was at 55 yards. The length of a football field was finally standardized at 120 yards, with two end zones, in 1912. 

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