Basics of Football
The Basics
Football teams move a ball along a field using passing, catching, running, and kicking skills attempting to score points. Points are earned by scoring a touchdown (six points), an extra point (worth one or two points), a field goal (three points), or a safety (two points). A touchdown is scored when a player carries the ball or catches a pass over the opponent’s goal line in the end zone. The team scoring the greater number of points in the allotted time wins the game. Every offensive play from the line of scrimmage is called a “down.” The offense gets four downs to try to advance the ball at least ten yards. If successful, a “first down” is awarded, and the offensive team gets four more tries to gain ten yards. If, after three downs the offense does not think it will reach the first down marker it may choose to “punt” the ball. Possession of the football is then turned over to the defensive team.

Equipment Needed
A football, football jersey and pants, cleats, certified helmet with chin strap and face mask, protective pads for shoulders, hips, tailbone, thighs, and knees, a mouth guard, and an athletic supporter with cup.

How Long Is A Game?
A game is generally divided into four quarters (some youth leagues play two halves). Depending upon league rules, each quarter ranges from ten to fifteen minutes. There is a break at halftime. To start a game a coin is tossed to determine which team “kicks off” first. Teams switch sides after every quarter, and each side is permitted three time-outs per half. If the game ends in a tie, teams may play an overtime period of sudden death; the team to score first wins.

Any violation of the rules results in a penalty and/or a loss of a down. To signal that a penalty has occurred the referee tosses a yellow flag on the field.

Illegal Procedure-Before the ball is snapped, the offensive linemen must assume a set position. If a lineman jerks his body, the offense is penalized five yards.

Encroachment(or Offside)-Occurs when a player crosses the “neutral zone” prior to the ball being snapped. This violation costs the offense five-yards.

Clipping-When a player blocks an opponent from behind and below the waist, the result is a fifteen-yard penalty.

Holding-Called against any player who uses his hands or arms in an attempt to restrain an opponent moving without the ball. Holding results in a ten-yard penalty.

Interference-A player may not bump, grab, or hinder the progress of another player attempting to catch a pass. This violation may be called against an offensive or defensive player. It yields a yardage penalty or the ball is placed at the spot where the penalty occurred.

Face Mask-Occurs when a player grabs an opponent’s face mask. The resulting penalty is fifteen yards, unless it is deemed unintentional, then it is only five yards.
Consists of an offensive line, a backfield, wide receivers, and tight ends.The offense works together to advance the ball toward the end zone.

Center-Lines up in the middle of the offensive line. He “snaps” the football between his legs to the quarterback and then “blocks” the defensive line.

Guards-Line up on either side of the center. They block on passing plays and try to push back the defensive line to open holes for the running backs.

Tackles-Positioned outside of the guards on the offensive line. Their main objective is to block on running plays, and protect the quarterback on passing plays.

Tight Ends/Wingbacks-Fill out the end of the offensive line. They act as blockers and also as pass receivers.

Wide Receivers-They line up wide of the offensive line toward the sidelines, and run patterns to catch passes from the quarterback. They are also important blockers on runs to the outside.

Running Backs(Halfbacks and Fullbacks)-Positioned behind the quarterback in the offensive backfield. As the teams primary ball carriers, they use speed and strength to “rush” the ball downfield. Also very important in blocking on passing plays.

Quarterback-Stands directly behind the center. As the offensive leader on the field, he calls the plays, takes the snap, and then runs, passes, or hands off the football to a running backs.

Consists of a defensive line and a “secondary.” Defenders try to prevent the offense from advancing the football toward their end zone.

Nose Guard-Plays directly opposite the offensive center. His primary job is to prevent runners from advancing through the middle of the defensive line.

Defensive Tackles-Line up on either side of the nose guard. They try to pressure and tackle the quarterback on pass plays and stop running plays up the middle.

Defensive Ends-Positioned on either side of the defensive tackles. Ends try to stop ballcarriers moving to the outside and also rush the quarterback on pass plays.

Linebackers-Play in the secondary behind the defensive line. Linebackers fill any holes that an advancing ball carrier might slip through and will also “blitz” the quarterback on some passing plays.

Defensive Backs(safeties and cornerbacks)-Part of the defensive secondary. They are the last line of defense before the end zone and thus cover long running and pass plays.
Football Lingo

Blitz-When defensive players rush through the offensive line into the backfield to try to “sack” the quarterback.

Blocking-Offensive players use their bodies and arms as a means to stop defenders from making tackles, moving them away from the path of the ball carrier.

Bomb-A long forward pass.

Curl-Pass pattern in which the receiver runs straight ahead several yards, then quickly turns around to catch the pass.

Dead Ball-Declared by an official at the end of each down after a player has been tackled and the ball is no longer in play.

Down-The offensive sequence of plays starting from the line of scrimmage that begins with the center’s snap and ends when the ball is dead.

Drive-Describes a series of downs in the offensive team’s attempt toward the goaline.

Extra Point-After a touchdown, one point is scored for a “place kick” through the goal posts. Some leagues give two points for running or passing the ball over the goal line.

Fair Catch-On a punted ball, the punt receiver signals that he will not advance the ball. This prevents the player from being tackled. This is done by waving his hand in the air

Field Goal-A place kick from the line of scrimmage that goes over the crossbar between the uprights of the opponent’s goal post. Field goals are used on fourth down (when the offensive team is close to the end zone) or on any other down when time is running out. It is worth three points.

Forward Pass-A throw made from behind the line of scrimmage. If the ball is not caught, it is an incomplete pass. Once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage a forward pass is not permitted.

Fumble-When a ball carrier drops the ball on the field. The team first to recover the ball gains possession. If the defense recovers the fumble it is a “turnover.”

Hand Off-The handing of the ball to a teammate on offensive plays.

Huddle-Players gather before each down to hear instructions for the next play from the quarterback.

Interception-When a forward pass is caught by a defensive player.It results in a turnover.

Kickoff-A place kick in which one team kicks the ball to the other. It occurs at the start of each half and after each score.

Lateral-When a player with the ball is ahead of the line of scrimmage and tosses the ball to a teammate beside or behind him, but not in front of him.

Line of Scrimmage-It is the line along which both teams set up across on each down. The offensive team must have at least seven players on or within a foot of this line.

Neutral Zone-The one-yard area encompassing the line of scrimmage which separates the offense from the defense.

Onside Kick-On a kickoff, a team may attempt to regain possession of the ball by kicking it only a short distance forward, allowing its players a chance to recover the ball. The ball must travel at least ten yards before the kicking team can recover it.

Pass Rush-When the defensive team rushes the quarterback in an attempt to tackle him before he passes.

Place Kick-The ball is placed on the ground and held by either a teammate or a kicking tee for the kicker. It is used after every score, on field goals, and on extra point attempts.

Punt-A kick taken from behind the line of scrimmage in which the ball is dropped from the kickers hands and punted before it touches the ground. Punting often occurs on fourth down after the first three downs have failed to result in a first down.

Rushing-The use of running plays to move the ball downfield on offense.

Sack-When defensive players tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage, resulting in a loss of yards for the offense.

Safety-Two points awarded to the defensive team when a ball carrier is tackled within, or runs out of the backside of his own team’s end zone.

Shotgun-On some pass plays the quarterback will stand several yards behind the center to catch the snap, so as to have more time to throw the ball.

Snap-The toss of the ball through the legs of the center to the quarterback, punter, or place kick holder.

Spot-Where the ball is placed after each play to establish the line of scrimmage.

Tackle-When a ball carrier is taken down or stopped by an opposing player.

Touchback-On a kickoff when either the ball is caught in the end zone and the receiving team does not run it out, or it goes through the end zone. To signal a touchback, the receiving player kneels on one knee in the end zone. The next offensive play begins from the twenty-yard line.

Touchdown-When a player carries the ball across the opposing goal line, or catches the ball or recovers a fumble in the end zone. A touchdown is worth six points.

Turnover-A fumble or an interception which results in the defense gaining possession of the ball.