A Comprehensive Guide on the Basic American Football Rules

American football may seem complicated if you watch a game for the first time. But the rules are easy to follow and understand. The following guide will help you learn the basics of this game, how teams score, and what determines a match’s flow.

The guide covers enough details to ensure that you can watch a match without asking anyone what’s happening. Or you can place bets on the upcoming game using Sports Handicapper. It can even make you feel interested in playing American football.

The Game

Two teams have 11 players each. The game lasts for 60 minutes, divided into four quarters of 15 minutes. One team attacks while the other defends.

Each team gets three ‘time-outs.’ There’s also a 12-minute half-time interval between each quarter.

The objective of American football is to pass the ball into the opposition’s “end zone.” You can either run with the ball and touch down on the end zone or pass it to your teammates downfield, who can touch the ball in the end zone.

A team consists of 45 players, but only 11 can remain on the field at one time. The quarterback is one of the most important players who dictate the play on behalf of his teammates.

Downs

This is the part that you may feel confusing, but the rule is pretty straightforward. Here’s how downs work:

The team that is attacking should move the ball forward by a minimum of 10 yards. You will notice the entire pitch has yardage lines. They help decide whether the attacking team throws the ball by at least 10 yards or not.

A team has four downs or chances to gain 10 yards. If the team can advance by successfully moving the ball 10 yards, the count resets. It means the attacking team gets four more downs to move further by 10 yards.

However, if the attacking team cannot move forward by 10 yards within four downs, it loses possession of the ball. The defensive team will then get a chance to attack. A team may get a downfield kick or field goal on the fourth down to gain some points before the defensive team takes possession of the ball.

Scoring in American Football

The scoring rules are simple: your team needs to score more points than the opposition to win the game. Here’s how the scoring system works in American football:

Touchdown (6 Points)

A touchdown means when one of your team members crosses the opponent’s end zone with the ball.

Field Goal (3 Points)

A field goal is applicable on the fourth down. However, the kicker must be close enough to the opponent’s end zone. He has to kick the ball between the upright posts to salvage some points.

Extra Point (1 or 2 Points)

You can earn an extra point for your team if you kick the ball between the upright posts after making a touchdown. In fact, you can earn two points if you take the ball in the end zone again. This is usually very difficult, and most teams settle for a point.

Safety (2 Points)

The defensive team earns two points if it can tackle one of the members of the attacking team within their own end zone.

That pretty much sums up the basic rules of American football. It should help you watch a match and understand what’s going on. Although the game has many additional rules, you can start by keeping these things in mind. They will help you follow the game closely. You will not have to ask anyone to explain how the scoring system works or why the attacking team surrenders the ball to the other team.