|Special thanks to Coach Hutchison for providing this
overview of the basics of football.
Football is a simple game of "turf" control. When a team gets the ball, it has
4 downs to move the ball 10 yards and get a "first down." A first down allows
the offensive team (the one with the ball) yet 4 more plays. The idea is to advance
the ball down the field for a score (touchdown). Most teams, under most circumstances
uses the first 3 downs trying to get a new first down. If they don't, they usually
punt (kick) it away to the other team on 4th down. Then the defense takes over
and tries to hold the other team from getting a new first down.
A "second and three" situation would mean that it is the second down of the series
and the offense needs three yards for a first down. A "third and five" would mean
that during the first two plays the offense gained 5 yards. Now it is the third
down in the series and the offense needs 5 more yard to get a first down. If they
don't the will probably punt--UNLESS-- they are close enough to the end zone and
want to gamble "go for it." If the offense does not get the 10 yards, the ball
"goes over on downs"--the other team gets the ball right there! A punt gives up
the ball, but hopefully much further down field. Remember this is a turf war.
(1) The offensive linemen "block" the defensive linemen,
trying to keep them from tackling the man with the ball. An offensive blocker
can use his hands ONLY if they are OPEN. When a blocker uses closed hand he usually
is "flagged" (called for a penalty) for "holding." A defensive player CAN use
his hands and is only called for holding if he is keeping a receiver (a player
trying to catch a pass) from going down field.
(2) A player MAY NOT block a player in the back -- this is called "blocking in
the back" or "clipping." Many youth leagues prohibit ANY blocking below the waist.
Ask your coach if you are not sure of the rule--that's what he's there for! There
is a simple way to remember this rule. Only hit a player if you can see his eyes
or the numbers on the front of his jersey.
(3) 7 players must be even with the line of scrimmage, the other 4 must be "off"
back from the line of scrimmage. A violation of this rule is called an "illegal
(4) A player may not hit another player with the crown (top) of his helmet. This
is called "spiking." The for the safety of all players. A tackler with his head
down is vulnerable to neck injury. A good tackler keeps his head up and tackles
"face mask to face mask." When a player tackles another player, the tackler should
"wrap up." This means the tackler should wrap his arms around the man with the
ball and drive him to the ground.
(5) A player may not "trip" another player. This is not a legal tackle or block.
Receiver -- one who catches the pass.
Quarter Back -- the thrower of the pass.
Running Back -- one who carries the ball on running plays. These players may also
be called Tail Backs, or full Backs.
LineMen -- players who are "up on" the line of scrimmage like blockers.
Defensive Backs -- Defenders "off' the line. These players defend the pass and
may be called Corner Backs or Safety's.
LineBackers -- These players line up behind the linemen but in front of the defensive
backs--in the middle. They have the toughest job because they have to defend against
both the pass and the run. But they also get the best chance to hit.
Football is a great game of strategy. Both teams want
to win and practice hard so they will. But this is true in all sports. The great
thing about Football is that it teaches teamwork. "There is no 'I' in Team." One
player cannot "take over" a game like in basketball or baseball. 10 players can
do their jobs well and everything is going perfect in a play when suddenly BLAM!
-- one player fails in his block and the QB (Quarter Back) is splattered and maybe
fumbles. Or after good blocking and a great throw, the receiver just drops the
To win regularly, a team has to work together very well--covering each others'
back and helping each other out. Every job or position is important.