The Basics of Football


Football is a team sport in which players compete to work the ball downfield toward their opponent’s goal line in order to score. It’s the most popular sport in the world, watched by more people than any other event except the Olympics and the World Cup. The modern game was codified in England in 1863 by the Football Association, which created the laws of the game that still govern it today.

A standard adult football match consists of two periods of 45 minutes each, known as halves. There’s also a short interval between the halves, usually about 15 minutes long. The game is played on a field that’s 100 yards long, with a 10-yard “end zone” at either end. There are also a set of upright goalposts at each end.

There are ten outfield players on each team, arranged in various positions such as defenders, midfielders and forwards. The number of players in each position influences the style of play; for example, more forwards and fewer defenders can result in a faster, more offensive game. Teams may make unlimited substitutions, and the rules allow players to switch between positions on the fly.

To start a play, the ball is placed at the team’s own 5-yard line and then passed (or “snapped”) from one offensive player to another. The team is given four attempts, or downs, to gain 10 yards or more. If the offense fails to cross the line of scrimmage, they must punt the ball to the other team.

In addition to attempting to gain ground on the other team, the offense can also score points by kicking a field goal or scoring a touchdown. A field goal is worth three points and must be kicked over the crossbar and between the uprights of the goalpost to be successful. A touchdown, worth six points, can be scored when a player in possession of the ball crosses over the plane of the opposing team’s goal line or when a defensive player recovers a fumble in the end zone.

A safety, worth two points, is awarded when the ball-carrier’s feet leave the ground or they obstruct other players while running with the ball. The ball-carrier can also hand the ball to a teammate, which is called a handoff.

A player’s ability to protect the ball while sprinting, catching long passes and juking defenders are all vital skills in football. However, even the most skilled players can struggle without enough strength to win collisions and keep the ball in play. A good combination of skill and power can make a player truly special.