The Basics (but who wants to be basic?!)


I always thought I had a great understanding of football. I grew up around football (Dad was a high school football coach), so I spent most of my childhood at Friday night football games cheering on the home team.  Fast forward years later (I won’t say how many), working for an NFL team…and realized I didn’t know AS much as I thought.  Believe it or not there is a lot more terminology aside from “touchdown” and “interception”, but with this post I bring you the basics. It is in NO way meant to sound or make it appear that women just have no clue about football.  It is meant more for those who want a little bit more context behind the most common football terms.  I will be doing more in-depth posts as we go along, but for now, whether watching the game with girlfriends, attending a super bowl party, or maybe wanting to impress that person you’re dating…a little more knowledge never hurt anyone 🙂

Let’s start with the basics:

Kickoff:  Puts the ball into play! A kickoff happens at the start the game, the beginning of the 3rd period, after every field goal, and a touchdown and extra point attempt.

Touchdown:  A score that’s worth 6 points when the ball crosses the goal line in possession of a player.

Extra Point:  Also known as a PAT (point after touchdown) is a placekick worth one point that typically happens after a touchdown, and the ball must go through the goal posts/uprights…Unless there’s an attempt for a 2 point conversion after the touchdown.

Which is different than a…

Field Goal: Similar to the extra point in that in order for it to count the ball must be kicked through the uprights, it is different in that a field goal is worth 3 points & can be taken at any distance on the field. Usually happens when a team does is on 4th down and doesn’t fell they can get a 1st down, or wants to at least attempt getting 3 points.

Which brings me to…

Down:  A down is the period of game action when the ball is put into play, and that down ends when the ball is ruled dead by the officials.  The offense can earn more downs by moving the ball down the field, but only gets 4 downs to get a 1st down before the ball is given to the opponent (typically by being punted away to them).  Make sense?!

Fumble: A fumble occurs when a player with possession of the ball loses control of it.  If the defense recovers the ball, it’s a turnover.

Safety: 2 points earned by the defense when an offensive player with possession of the ball is tackled in his own end zone.

End Zone: Sounds self-explanatory, but its the 10 yard area from the goal line to the end line…this is where the touchdowns and safeties happen.

Offsides:  This is a penalty that’s called when any part of a defensive player is on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped by the offense, resulting in a 5 yard penalty on the defense.

Which brings me to…

Line of scrimmage: It’s a line that actually does not exist, but is used to keep the offense and the defense on their “own side” before the ball is snapped/put into play.

False Start:  This time it’s the movement of an offensive player before the ball is put into play (snapped).  Which results in a 5 yard penalty on the offense.

Interception: A pass that is being thrown by the QB and is “intercepted” (caught) by the defense. This ends the offense’s possession of the ball.

Those are pretty much the “basics” terms of football, but as I said there are a ton more, so I will keep you “posted”. (I crack myself up)

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