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Understanding The Game American Football

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Authored by Rodney Southern in American Football 
Published on 08-09-2009

Football is a game that can be very hard to understand when you first begin watching it. For some, the constant running, kicking, and back and forth action is impossible to decipher. Fortunately, there are some tried and true methods for understanding the game of football. The NFL, or National Football League, is the professional level of the game. This will be the example that I use to explain the game of football.

The first thing to understand about the game of football is that two teams are trying to move the football to opposing ends of the football field. One team is moving towards one end zone, and the other is moving towards the opposite one. If you get the ball past the end zone by running or passing the football, then you get seven points. If you get the ball through the uprights (the two yellow posts that stick up on either end) then you get three points. This is done by kicking the football rather than passing or running. The only other way to score points is to stop the other team (tackle them) in their own end zone. This is called a safety and is worth two points.

The points are confusing to some, but the movement of the football nearly always confuses people learning the game of football. The concept is rather simple. The game starts by one team kicking the ball as far as they can down the field to the other team. Once the team catches the kick, they try to run as far as they can, so that they start in a good position with the football.

Once the player is tackled, the ball is then placed on that spot (centered on the field or on one of the hashmarks) so that they can then bring on the offense. The other team brings their defense on the field to try to stop the offense.

From this point, the offense has four chances (downs) to move the ball at least ten yards. If they are successful in moving ten yards or more, then they get four more downs to try to move ten more yards. If the defense is able to stop the offense on any set of four downs, then they get the ball from that point. For this reason, offenses that go three downs without gaining much yardage will often punt the ball. This is where the kicker lines up behind the offense and kicks the ball as far as possible to the other team. The reason for this is because if they do not make the distance on fourth down, the other team will be much closer to their own endzone. If the offense continues to move the ball ten yds or more (called getting first downs) then they eventually will get into their end zone and score.

As you can see, learning the game of American football is really not that hard. It is a matter of paying attention to the downs, and where the football is on the field. If you follow this aspect of the game, then you will have a good general understanding of the game. The rules and regulations of American football can then be understood over time through watching the game.

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