Football Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Football, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

How to Play Football

Football, also known as American football, is a team game that combines strategy and physical play. The object of football is to advance the ball up the field by running and passing the ball, and scoring a touchdown by crossing the ball into the end zone. Professional football, high school football, and college football are all highly popular spectator sports in the United States.

Football History

Football originated from a primitive game of rugby played in America in the 1840s. In 1880, Walter Camp, considered the "Father of American Football," exchanged the traditional rugby scrum for a line of scrimmage. In 1882, the four down system was introduced to negate Princeton and Yale's strategy to hold the ball without trying to score. The following year, Camp reduced the number of players to eleven, and introduced the seven-man offensive line, with a quarterback, two halfbacks, and a full back. The first professional game was played in 1895. The National Football League (NFL) began in the early 1920s. Today, football is one of the most popular sports in the United States.

Football Rules

Football is played by two teams, with eleven players from each team on the field at a time. A football field is 120 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide, including a field of 100 yards and two end zones of ten yards each. A game of football consists of four 12-15 minute quarters, depending on the level of play.

The game begins with a coin toss. The winning team gets to decide if they would like to receive the ball, or which end of the field they would like to defend in the first half. One team then kicks the ball to the other team. A kick off occurs at the beginning of each half, and after every score.

The team that takes control of the ball has four attempts, called downs, in which to advance the ball ten yards. When the offense succeeds in gaining ten yards they receive a new set of downs. If the offensive team fails to gain ten yards after four plays, the other team gets possession of the ball.

The ball is put into play by a snap, where the center passes the ball between his legs to the quarterback. The quarterback then has the option to throw or run the ball. Once the quarterback passes the line of scrimmage (an imaginary line across the field from where the ball was snapped), they can no longer throw the ball forward.

A down ends when: The player with the ball is tackled to the ground, or has their forward motion stopped by the opposing team; A pass is thrown out of bounds or hits the ground; The ball or player with the ball goes out of bounds; A team scores. An official blows their whistle to signal that a down is over.

A change of possession occurs when: A team fails to gain ten yards after four plays; A team kicks the ball off after a score, or at the beginning of a half; A team chooses to punt the ball; A player from the defensive team catches a pass in the air (interception); An offensive player drops the ball after displaying they had possession and a defensive player recovers it (fumble). After a kickoff, punt, interception, or fumble, the ball is live, and the team gaining possession can run with the ball up field.

A touchdown is worth six points. A team scores a touchdown when a player runs into or catches a pass in the opponent's end zone. After scoring a touchdown, a team has the option to attempt an extra point by trying to kick the ball through the upright. Teams can elect to go for two points and attempt to drive the ball into the end zone on one play, starting from the two or three yard line (depending on level of play). A team scores a field goal, worth three points, by kicking the ball over the crossbar and through the goal posts. A team scores a safety, worth two points, if an opposing player is downed in the end zone. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Football Tips

Good football players are agile. Agility drills include: jumping rope, running through tires, and jumping over cones.

There are a variety of lesser contact versions of Football available. Tackle Football is the sport practiced by major professional leagues such as the NFL, but flag football and touch football are varieties that allow the player to be "tackled" by either touching with two hands or pulling a piece of ribbon or "flag" off the opposing player. This also allows for Co-ed or women's teams to engage without fear of injury.

Football Equipment

Football requires each player to have a helmet, shoulder pads, football pants, cleats, and a mouth guard. The game is played with a spheroid shape leather ball. A football is 11 inches long and 22 inches in circumference in the middle.