American Football

The match

In a typical game, there are two 11-player teams (one on offence, the other on defence) competing over the course of four 15-minute quarters.

Each team typically has three “time-outs” per half, with a 12-minute halftime break.

The object of the game is to get the ball into the opponent’s “end zone,” either by carrying it yourself until you are tackled or by passing it to a teammate who will carry it there for you.

A team consists of 45 players even though there are only 11 players from each side on the field at once. The quarterback, who tries to control the play, is the essential player on each team.


The section of the game called “downs” frequently and needlessly confuses new players. Actually, they are fairly simple. The rule is basically as follows:

In order to be considered to be on offence, the team with the ball must advance it at least 10 yards. The yardage lines on the pitch are well delineated for this reason.

If they move the ball that far, the count resets and they have another set of four downs to try to move another 10 yards. They have four chances, or downs, to gain those 10 yards.

If the offensive team cannot gain these 10 yards in four downs, possession is lost, and the defensive team then has the opportunity to start the offence. On the fourth down, teams typically kick for a field goal or downfield to the other team in an effort to gain some points before losing possession.

American football scoring

The ultimate goal of American football, like that of pretty much every other sport, is to outscore the opposition in terms of points scored. In the game, scoring is calculated as follows:

Touchdown (6 Points)
When a team successfully crosses the other team’s goal line with the ball, or successfully receives or collects the ball in the end zone, a touchdown is scored.

Goal, field (3 Points)
If the kicker is close enough to the end zone to kick the ball through between the upright posts, a team will typically try one of these on fourth down.

Bonus Point (1 Or 2 Points)
After a touchdown, you can score an additional point by kicking the ball through the uprights (it works like a conversion in rugby). Returning the ball to the end zone results in two points, but as it is more difficult, most teams choose to take the one point instead.

Safety (2 Points)
If a member of the offensive team is tackled while carrying the ball into their own end zone, the defensive team will receive two points.

We hope that this tutorial has given you the tools you need to master the game. Football, like any other sport, has many additional components and regulations outside of those mentioned here, but if you comprehend how the game progresses and how points are scored, you should be able to at least enjoy and comprehend it as you fill in the blanks.