American Football is one of the world's most popular competitive sports. It is mostly popular in the United States where football is the number one spectator sport. Each year the NFL championship, the Super Bowl, is the most watched events= on TV. College football is also very popular with numerous 100,000 plus stadiums selling out every week.
Football is often called a sport of violence where the football is advanced down a field by runners or by passing until the opposing team tackles or brings the player with the ball to the ground. Points in football are scored by advancing the football beyond the goal line (called a touch down) or kicking the ball through a field goal. The rules of the sport are quite complex and differ depending on the levels of play.
Football is a true team sport. Most players specialize in a particular position and skill. With eleven players and defense and offense, many substitutions, as well as special teams, most teams will play at least 30 or 40 players on a regular basis. This makes teamwork and overall team talent more important than the abilities of any single player.
History of American Football
Football is an American sport that was formed in the late 1800's at college campuses. The sport has it's roots in the English game of Rugby. The first college game was played between Rutgers and Princeton.
This early form of football was extremely violent with many players actually dying every year. New rules were established over time and, although football is still a physical sport with many injuries, it is much safer today.
The NFL was formed in 1921 and became the major professional league by the 50's. It has continued to grow in popularity becoming the most watched professional league of any sport in the US.
Scoring in Football
Football scoring can seem complex at first, but really there are only five ways to score points in football:
Touchdown (TD): A TD is scored when a player catches a pass in the opponent's end zone or runs with the football into the end zone. A TD is worth 6 points.
Extra Point or Two-Point Conversion: Upon scoring a touchdown the scoring team can either attempt to kick the ball through the goal posts for 1 extra point or can run/pass the football into the end zone for two extra points.
Field Goal: A team may kick the football through the goal posts for 3 points.
Safety: When the defense tackles an offensive player with the football in the offensive team's end zone. A safety is worth 2 points.
Football player positions on the offense:
Offensive Line: The heart of the football offense is made up of the offensive line. The main job of the offensive line is to block for the quarterback and running backs. This sounds simple, but offensive linemen must be prepared for all sorts of stunts and tricks thrown at them from the defense. They must also be able to stand and block for a pass play (pass blocking) or push the defense a certain way to create holes for a run play (run blocking). Offensive linemen run plays and move blocks around to fool the defense in order to keep defenders off of the players with the football. Offensive linemen tend to be big and strong. Without a strong offensive line, the rest of the football team will struggle.There are five positions that make up the offensive line:
The center - In the middle of the offensive line, the center snaps the football to the quarterback.
Right and left Guard - these are the two offensive linemen on either side of the center.
Right and left Tackle - the two offensive linemen next to the guards.
Tight end: The tight ends line up just outside the Tackles. A football team may have one, two, or no tight ends in the game at a given time. Tight ends are combination offensive linemen and receivers. They often help block just like the O-line, but they also go out for passes. Tight ends need to be big, strong, fast, and have good hands.
Wide Receivers: These football players line up on or near the line of scrimmage, but usually far away from where the ball is placed. These players main job is to get open and catch passes. The main skill of wide receivers is the ability to catch the football and speed. Some wide receivers are small and exceptionally fast, while other wide receivers are fast, but taller and use their size and height to catch the football over defenders.
Running Backs: These football players line up in the backfield. Their main job is to carry the football, but running backs also need to block during pass plays. Full backs are a type of running back whose main job is to block. They usually run in front and block for another running back that is carrying the football. Running backs are usually strong, fast, and able to see the field and quickly cut toward openings in the defense. Running backs also are receivers and often catch several passes during a football game.
Quarterback: The quarterback is the player who gets the ball from the center and runs the play. The quarterback may run with the ball, hand it off to a running back, or pass the football to a receiver. Quarterbacks need to be good passers, be able to see the field, read the defense, and make good decisions quickly.
Football player positions on the defense:
Football teams run all sorts of defensive schemes and formations. Defensive players must be able to react to the offense and play both the run and the pass. On any given play, a defender may have a different job, but we will describe the typical positions and defensive football players.
Defensive Line: The make up of the defensive line can change from football team to football team as well as from play to play. The defensive line plays at the line of scrimmage just opposite the offensive line. Their main job is to stop the surge of the offensive linemen on a rushing play and to get to the passer on a pass play. There are usually three to five players on a defensive line including:
Nose Guard: A defensive lineman that plays at the center of the D-line right at the ball. The nose guard is a big, strong player who can clog up the middle and make it hard for the offensive team to run the ball.
Defensive Tackles: Similar to the nose guard (or instead of the nose guard), these football players are the inside force of the defensive line.
Defensive Ends: These football players play outside the tackles. Their main job is to rush the passer and to keep any rushing plays contained from getting outside. These players are big and strong, but also fast so they can get around the outside and to the quarterback.
Linebackers: The linebackers make up the next line of defense. Linebackers are usually the main tacklers on the defense. They plug holes in the defensive line when rushers try to get through. They also do some pass coverage of running backs and tight ends. Some teams use three linebackers and some four. There is usually a middle linebacker who calls out defensive formations and plays depending on the offensive set up. Linebackers must be fast and good tacklers.
Cornerbacks: These football players cover the wide receivers and try to prevent them from catching a pass. They also help out on run plays that get passed the linebackers.
Safety: Safeties are there to prevent the big play. At least one safety tries to stay behind the wide receivers if they should pass the cornerbacks. Safeties also help the linebackers out on run plays.
Football player positions on the special teams:
Special teams is an oft overlooked, but very important part of winning football games. Special teams play on kick-offs, punts, extra points, and field goals.
Punter: The punter is the kicker who kicks punts. A good punt will be long and high to allow for the tacklers to get downfield. A good punter will also be able to control his distance and to stop the ball inside the 20 yard line.
Field Goal kicker: This player kicks field goals and extra points. Accuracy is key here. This football player usually kicks the kick-off as well where distance is the main goal.
Place Holder: The player that holds the ball for the field goal kicker.
Long Snapper: The center who snaps the ball to the punter. This is a special skill and is often not the same player as the center.