The Basic Rules of the Game


American Football is one of the most popular games in the United States.  Not only do many people enjoy playing the game, but millions of people watch football games at varying levels on a regular basis.  Whether you ever plan to participate in playing a football game or if you are ever a spectator at a football game, you will probably find the game more enjoyable if you have a basic understanding of football game rules.  If you would like to learn a bit about the basic rules of an American football game, then continue reading below for some basic football game insight.

Similar to many games, the main objective is to score more points than the opposing team during the specifically allotted game time.  A football game is generally a 60-minute game, divided into 15-minute intervals, otherwise known as quarters.  For non-professional football, the divided intervals may be a few minutes shorter.  A game also consists of a half-time between the second and third quarters.  The half time is usually 12 minutes long.  Additionally, each team is allowed 3 time-outs per half.  A typical college or professional football game lasts approximately 3 hours, give or take a little. 

A football team is usually comprised of about forty-five players, but only 11 players of a team are on the field at one time.  There is one player who is the key organizer, and that is the quarterback.  Often, the quarterback guides the team on the playing field, as well as being the leader for the team member’s social cohesiveness.

Each team’s goal is to move the football into the opposing team’s end zone.  This goal can be completed by passing the ball to a teammate that is near the end zone or by running with the ball towards the end zone, with the possibility of being tackled by a team member of the opposite team.

The offense team, the team that has possession of the ball, has four chances (called downs) to try and move at least ten yards towards the opposing team’s end zone.  If the offense team is successful, then they earn four more downs to try to gain another ten yards.  If the offense team isn’t successful at moving ten yards ahead, then the ball is given to the team that was playing defense and they now become the offense team.

Scoring can be a bit complicated for the novice football player or spectator.  Basically, when an offense team is successful at taking the ball into the defensive team’s end zone, called a touchdown, the offensive team scores 6 points.  A field goal can also earn the team 3 points if the ball is kicked into the end zone, through the goal posts that are situated by the end zone.  Additionally, once a team makes a touchdown, they are given the chance to kick a field goal for one additional point.

Throughout the game, the team that is on defense attempts to prevent the offensive team from getting the ball in to the end zone.  A defensive team member may intercept the ball or an offensive player may lose the ball during a play, referred to as a fumble.  Once a defensive player acquires the ball, then they try to move the ball to the offensive team’s end zone.

There is little doubt that football game rules can be quite confusing to someone that is new to the game.  However, with a basic understanding of the rules, and the scoring, then hopefully you will be able to follow any football game with a bit more ease.  Learning along the way is also a great way to learn this beloved American game.