This weekend kicks off the college football season, and I can’t wait! This week, we are going to look at some of the rules of the game, what the different positions are and some ways you can play football in your own backyard.

The following are some key terms that you will need to know when watching and playing football.

Field of play – The football field is 120 yards long and 53.3 yards wide. The longer boundary lines are the sidelines and the shorter ones are the end lines.

Duration of play – An entire game lasts 60 minutes with four 15-minute quarters. The players take a break in between the second and third quarters (halftime).

Kickoff – This starts play at the beginning of the game or half or after the other team scores.

Penalty – If a team breaks a rule, they are penalized by having yardage taken away from them (offensive penalty) or having it added to the other team (defensive penalty).

End zone – This is where a touchdown is scored. Each end zone is ten yards deep.

Goal line – The line the football must cross to score a touchdown.

Touchdown – When the football is either caught or carried into the end zone. A touchdown is worth six points.

Field goal – When a team kicks the football between the goalposts and over the crossbar. A field goal is worth three points and can be kicked anytime when the offense has possession of the football. A field goal is usually attempted on fourth down.

Extra point – After a touchdown is scored, the team may elect to try and kick the football between the goalposts and over the crossbar. If successful, it is worth one point.

2-point conversion – After a touchdown is scored, the team may elect to try to pass or run the ball into the end zone. If successful, it is worth two points.

Offense – The team that has possession of the football is on offense. There are 11 offensive players on the field at one time.

Defense – The team that does not have possession of the football is on defense. There are 11 defensive players on the field at one time.

Line of scrimmage – This is the position on the field where play begins.

Downs – The offense must move the ball by running or passing it at least ten yards. Every ten yards is a first down. The offensive team has four tries to get a first down. If the offense cannot reach ten yards after the third down, they will usually elect to punt the ball to the opposing team or try to kick a field goal, depending on where they are on the field.

Punt – When a player drops the football and kicks it before it hits the ground. A punt is usually attempted on fourth down.

Fumble – This occurs when the player who has possession of the football drops it before the player is tackled.

Tackle – When a player or players from one team stop the person with possession of the ball from moving forward.

Interception – When one team attempts to pass the ball and it is caught by a member of the opposing team.

Quarterback – The player who takes the snap from the center (middle offensive lineman) and is responsible for either handing the ball to the running back, passing to a receiver or running with the football.

Running back – Stands behind the quarterback and carries the ball on most running plays, occasionally takes short passes from the quarterback.

Wide receiver – Stands closest to the sidelines and catches passes from the quarterback, also blocks for the running back on running plays.

Tight end – Is positioned next to the offensive lineman and is responsible for blocking and catching the football.

Offensive lineman – Grouped together toward the middle of the field and blocks during both running and passing plays – cannot catch passes.

Defensive lineman – Grouped in front of the offensive linemen, responsible for trying to tackle the quarterback or running back.

Linebacker – Stands behind the defensive linemen, responsible for tackling the running back, keeping an eye on the quarterback and covering the wide receivers.

Defensive back – Stands in front of the wide receivers and tries to keep them from catching the football, also positioned behind the linebackers to cover any receivers who come into their area of the field.

Football has a lot of rules and strategies, which can be overwhelming. In its simplest form, football can be explained by the following: Teams move the ball along the field using passing, catching, running, and kicking skills in an effort to score points. Points are earned by scoring a touchdown, an extra point, a field goal, or a safety. The team scoring the greater number of points in the allotted time wins the game.

Things you can do in your own backyard:

Of course you can always play a simple game of catch. If you have enough people, you can play a game of touch football. There are also a couple games you can play.

Cops and Robbers: Select one person to be the cop and the rest are the robbers. The cop stands in the middle of the yard, the robbers stand at both ends of the yard. The object of the game is to run with or pass the football from one side of the field to the other without the cop getting the ball. The person who threw the ball when the cop catches it or the person tagged when running with the ball becomes the new cop.

Down the Field: Set up several cones in a line from one end of the yard to the other. All people who are playing the game stand in a line behind the first cone. The first person runs with the football to the second cone then hikes the ball to the second person. The second person runs with the ball to the second cone then hikes the ball to the third person. Repeat this until everyone is at the second cone and repeat with the rest of the cones. This is also a good relay race that can be done with teams.

I hope that you were able to learn a little more about football and will enjoy watching games this season with a better understanding of how the game is played!

Until next week,

Coach Michael

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