Basics Of Football

How To Learn Football

Have you ever felt left out of football conversations because you just didn’t have a clue? Are you the ONLY guy at work who doesn’t know jack about this very popular sport? Or maybe you’re the unlucky girlfriend of a guy who goes into his newly built man cave during football season only to be seen or heard from when snacks or beers are running low?

Are you tired of just not knowing what’s going on? Well, you’re not the only one… For the longest time I didn’t have an interest in the sport, but that all changed the first year the Saints made it to the Superbowl. Ya see, I was the guy that didn’t know anything about football, or any sport for that matter. I was/am a nerd. I do computers, not sports! And then I met this girl who was really into the game. So, to not feel so stupid around her I slowly started learning things. Watching each game I could with her as we spent time together… After watching game after game I FINALLY started to know things…Like what a 1st down was!

I’ve decided to make it easier for those of us out there that want to learn about football. I’ve outlined some basic information on this page and have included links to other resources for those out there that want to learn more…

When you are playing baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out, but in football there are downs.  A down is the same thing, one of a series of chances that make up a player’s turn.  Instead of hitting the ball, the player, or team, will try to get the ball into the other team’s end-zone.  A down is a chance for one team to advance the ball toward the end-zone.  It is the football equivalent of a “turn”.  The offensive team has four chances, or downs, to advance the ball ten yards or more and if they cannot it is the other team’s turn to try.  The team advancing the ball is termed the offense and the team trying to stop them is the defense.

Now that’s the big picture- two teams, one ball, everyone trying to get to the end-zone of the opposing team and make a Touchdown!  A touchdown is worth six points and gives the scoring team a chance to get extra points with a field goal or another play called a 2-point conversion.  On a two point conversion, they essentially try to score another touchdown by running the ball into the end-zone, but it will only be worth two points.

Let’s talk players:
A quarterback is the only person who is allowed to throw the football overhand.  This is called a pass.  He usually tries to get the ball to a running back or throw it to a wide receiver, whose job it is to run the ball into the other team’s endzone before they can stop him.  They can try to stop anyone with the ball by pulling them to the ground in a tackle.  If the quarterback is tackled, then it is called a sack.

Then there are the kickers.  They only come out a few times a game to kick and don’t do anything else. They cannot be touched by another player or it will result in a penalty.

There are also lots of things that could happen during a game, here are the most common ones:

Fumble: The guy with the ball drops it so it is up for grabs.  If the defense gets it then this is called a turnover. Similar to that is an interception, when one team throws the ball, but the other team catches it. If the ball hits the ground it is out of play.

Kickoff: A free kick that starts the play. The other team cannot try to block it.  A kickoff is used at the start of the first and third periods and after every touchdown and successful field goal.

Punt: A special kind of kick that is used to advance the ball toward the defense end-zone so that it is further from the offense end zone when they change possession of the ball.  This will make it harder for them to score a touchdown.  This play is used when the offense is sure they cannot make a first down and will have to give up the ball to the other team.

Safety: A score, worth two points, that the defense earns by tackling an offensive player with the ball in his own end zone.

Field Goal: A kick, worth three points, that can be attempted from anywhere on the field but usually within 40 yards of the goalpost.

Here is a scoring cheat sheet to help you along:
Touchdown=6 points
Field Goal=3 Points
Safety=2 points
2 point conversion=2 points
Extra Point=1 point

That should be enough information to get you started, keep these basics in mind, and soon you will be a pigskin pro.


Not quite enough information for you? Check out all the useful Books To Learn About Football that Amazon has available on the subject. Got a kindle or other tablet reader? No problem, they’ve got you covered!

RedditDiggStumbleUponShare