American Football For Dummies – Our Guide

American Football

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American football is an intercollegiate team sport played on a rectangular grass or turf surface dubbed the football field. On the pitch at any one moment, there are a total of 22 players present.

To tackle the football player, these players make contact with one another. But, amid the disorder, American football is a lot more than just physical contact and massive hits.

Several regulations, positions, and pieces of equipment distinguish American football as a unique sport across the world.

In this post, we will breakdown the basics of American football for Dummies


American Football Equipment

To play the game, every football player is required by regulation to wear the appropriate gear. Therefore, before every game, the officials inspect the player’s equipment to ensure proper protective gear.

These are the items of equipment that all football players are required to wear when competing.


Football Helmet

The helmet is the first and most obvious piece of gear. A rigid plastic helmet provides face and skull protection.

Players will change their helmets to their preferred position while wearing a helmet customised to suit their heads. Wide receivers, for example, need a mask with a larger opening to make it easier to see the ball.

The offensive lineman will wear a closed-style face mask to keep their face safe from fingers and hands.

Football players used leather hats instead of helmets until the invention of the steel one. Unfortunately, these leather hats were not impact-resistant, and as a result, several players lost their lives while wearing them.

Shoulder Pads

Shoulder Pads

Football players shoulder pads are another piece of gear. Fitting over the shoulders of the player, shoulder pads are a piece of plastic to protect the player’s neck—combined with the breastplate, which is there to protect the player’s chest cavity.


Girdles are worn beneath game trousers to protect the hips and tailbone from injury. The girdle has two hip pads and one tail bone pad.

Players used to be required to wear girdles across their shoulders to protect their shoulder pads. Most girdles, on the other hand, come pre-assembled with pads.

Girdles protect the hips and tailbones by reducing the force of an impact.

Pants With Pads

Football pants with padding slots are worn over the girdle. In the legs of the trousers, there are the padded thigh and knee joints.

Thick, hefty thigh pads assist deflect direct blows from opponents. Additionally, the knee protectors safeguard athletes from injury.

Football Cleats

Football players are not required to wear cleats, although doing so is strongly recommended. Due to seasons changes, football fields can become muddy and slippery when the weather changes, so cleats are recommended.

Uniform Numbers

American Football Numbers

Football numbers are significant because players in certain positions must be on a specific number page. So, the officials can tell who can catch the football and who can’t.

The following are the football number rules:

  • 1-19: Quarterback, Kicker, Punter, Wide Receiver, Running Back
  • 20-29: Running Back, Cornerback, Safety
  • 30-39: Running Back, Cornerback, Safety
  • 40-49: Running Back, Tight End, Cornerback, Safety
  • 50-59: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker
  • 60-69: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
  • 70-79: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
  • 80-89: Wide Receiver, Tight End
  • 90-99: Defensive Line, Linebacker

Field Dimensions

Field Dimensions

The size of a football field is measured in yards, with the grass or turf being used as the playing surface. The yardage of a football field is shown in the table below.

Field Dimension


Full Field Length


End Zone to Zone Length


Field Width


End Zone Length



Game Rules

Football Referees

American Football is one of the more difficult sports to understand due to the many players involved and the many regulations.

There are four distinct quarters in this game. Which league you’re playing in determines how long the quarters last—quarters in the NFL last 15 minutes.

Football in the United States is divided into three sections: offensive, defensive, and special teams. The offence scores field goals and touchdowns. While the offence tries to get on the board, the defence makes sure that doesn’t happen.

There are four opportunities for each side to gain 10 yards. These “downs” are referred to as “chances.” On offence, getting 10 yards on the first down is critical. Then, the offence will keep doing what they’re doing until they get the point.

To stop an attacking player, the defence must make a tackle and bring him to the ground. Every game concludes with a tackle. Once the person with the ball is brought to their knees, a tackle is considered successful. The game is over as soon as a player is tackled, and the referee blows the whistle.

Play is stopped:

  • The football-carrying athlete is stopped in his tracks.
  • Only one team gets a goal.
  • Steps are taken out of bounds by the football player sprinting with it
  • Uncompleted passes are a quarterback’s worst nightmare.
  • There is a touchback.

 They will hand the ball to the opposing team and attempt to stop their offensive if they get at least 10 yards on the first four downs.

Football is all about strategy and coming up with a game plan for each down. Football coaches, for example, prepare for downs and distances in advance.


Because of this, when a player is tackled or committed an infraction, officials will blast their whistles and raise a penalty flag.

Any referee may throw a yellow flag to indicate that they have spotted a penalty. The penalty will be called and assessed by the referee after the game has concluded. This is because penalties often result in the offensive or defence losing ground.

Instead of 1st and 10, the offence will face 1st and 15 if it commits a 5-yard penalty. There will be blunders in football, and the side with the fewest penalties will win the game most of the time.

Defence-related penalties are relatively common. For example, the defence cannot grab or hold the other team’s facemask. If they do, they’ll be penalised, and a flag will be tossed in their direction.

Penalties on the offensive side are comparable to penalties on the defensive side. For example, if you grab or hold a defender, you are penalised.

Common offensive and defensive penalties are listed below:

  • An unlawful block below the waistline, which is known as “blocking below the waist”.
  • Football Block: All blocks must be done from the front in football.
  • Whenever a player is blocking high and another player is blocking low.
  • Blocking a player from behind and below the waist is known as clipping.
  • There is a delay at the start of each play. The offensive unit must snap the ball before the play clock runs out.
  • Holding: Taking hold of the jersey of another football player to prevent them from getting the ball.
  • Interfering with the reception of the football by an attacking or defensive player.
  • When a player puts the safety of another at risk or taunts the opponent, it is considered unsportsmanlike conduct.


Football Referees

Crossing the goal line results in a touchdown. The goal line marks the beginning of the end zone with a broad white line. Points are provided to offensive players who score touchdowns.


For the offence, a touchdown is an ultimate objective. Football scores are expressed as several points. An offence and defence may score points in a variety of methods, as follows:




Scoring Definition



Six points are scored when the player carrying the ball crosses the goal line.


Extra Point

To go for an extra point, the offence must score a touchdown first. Then they may kick a field goal.


Two-Point Conversion

When a team scores a touchdown, it may choose to go for two more points by running another play.


Field Goal

In order to score a field goal, one player must have possession of the football and kick it past the yellow goal posts in the end zone.



If the defence tackles the offence in their own end zone



There are always 11 people on the pitch for each team. The players on the field vary significantly in size and speed, with some being much bigger and taller than others.


Offensive Positions


The quarterback is a crucial member of the team. As the name implies, they are the player who stands exactly behind the middle of the court during play.

To move the ball downfield, the quarterback either passes it to another player or throws it. All 11 defenders will be swarming on this guy, so he better be able to handle it.

Pro football quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are among the best in the league.

Running Back

Running backs are often positioned immediately behind the quarterback in offences that use the spread offence. Running with the football is the primary task of this position

Running backs are subjected to a great deal of tackling. Therefore they must be mentally and physically robust. Thus, the only viable option is running in the centre, where all the big players are, and on the perimeter, where the fast defensive guys are.

Ezekiel Elliot, Christian McCaffery, and Alvin Kamara are a few of the NFL’s running backs.

Wide Receivers

In football, a wide receiver is a player who positions himself outside the tight end zone. These athletes are tasked with receiving a quarterback’s pass.

Footballs are often thrown 50 or more times in modern games. As a result, wide receivers must be quick and have excellent ball skills. Wide receivers can chase down the quarterback’s thrown football because they are taller and quicker than tight ends.

Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, and Odell Beckham Jr. are examples of NFL wide receivers.

Tight ends

Offensive linemen and wide receivers combine to form the tight end position. A wide receiver’s athleticism and size allow the tight end to play offensive line.

These guys can grab passes in a run play as well as block. Each coach makes clever use of them.

Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle are all well-known NFL tight ends.

Defensive Positions

The defence is in charge of putting an end to the offensive. Therefore, defensive game-planning necessitates the presence of solid players as well as disciplined and hardworking individuals.

Defensive Line

The defensive line is critical to team success. When the quarterback drops back to throw, their job is to halt the run and attack him.

As soon as the ball is snapped, a defensive lineman will make contact. Thus, they must be fast to react and aggressive in their play.

Von Miller, Joey Bosa, and Chandler Jones are examples of NFL defensive linemen.


In the National Football League, linebackers are sometimes the most demanding players to face. This is because they are the defensive team’s leaders, in charge of calling out the defensive plays when needed.

They are also in charge of tackling and covering the wide receivers and tight ends.

Sean Lee, Bobby Wagner, and Dont’a Hightower are all well-known NFL linebackers.

Defensive Backs

Backs occupy the last defensive position, which is occupied by the linebackers. Because they are tasked with covering the quick wide receivers, these players must be among the fastest on the field.

Defensive backs have to work in all directions at once, which makes them very athletic.


Defensive backs like Jamal Adams, Joe Haden, and Stephon Gilmore are standard in the National Football League.