Football season is under way and I am excited to share my knowledge with you budding football lovers. Football is a great way to connect and bond with your husband/boyfriend/significant other/thunder buddy or even your dad! Being someone who once did not know one lick of football, I can certainly understand the emptiness of football terminology. Besides touchdown, I knew what that was. Pumpkin spice latte set aside, I will give you a basic run down of football 101.

Even though I was on the dance team in high school, I literally did not know what I was watching. In fact, after our half-time performance our coach told us we could leave, until we got a new coach and was BAFFLED when she found out we peaced-out before the second half. So we just echo-ed what the cheerleaders chanted and pretended like we knew what was going on.

In college, I lived across from Notre Dame. And if you are a football fanatic, you know Notre Dame is BIG on football. I didn’t realize it until I moved in, that getting season tickets is imperative to your college experience (at least at Notre Dame it is.) After convincing my parents to buy me season tickets, I was on my way to my first ND football game. And it was an experience I’ll never forget. Once again, I was totally lost and could not wait to sit down.

It wasn’t until I met my future hubby who parted the Red Sea of football mumbo-jumbo and then fully realized that football is actually easy to understand. Now, I am no expert on football…I know the basics and that is enough to get me through a football game. So I am sharing my sweet, yet small expertise with you. Hopefully, it’ll bring some more enlightenment to the next football game you watch with your loved one.

A Basic’s Guide to Football Basics

What is the point?

Get a touchdown. To move the football into your team’s end zone. Your end zone is usually the direction offense is facing. The defense will try and stop the offense from moving the football to their end zone.

How do you get the football over there?

You have 4 attempts, otherwise known as “downs” to move the ball at least 10 yards to get another “1st down.” Confused?

At the beginning of the football game, a coin is flipped and who ever wins chooses to receive the ball or kick it to start the game. Whoever receives the ball (offense) needs to run at least 10 yards to get a 1st down. If they DO NOT run 10 yards, then it is called a “2nd down & *insert how many yards to a first down.*” You always want a 1st down because you’ll have more chances to move the ball down the field. Every time you get a 1st down, your 4 attempts resets. Kapeesh?

On TV the 10 yard marker is a yellow line. At the football game, it is marked by a target sign by someone holding it off the field.

So what happens on the 4th down?

Well, it is your last attempt to get the football in your endzone. Either you kick it into your endzone (a field goal kick), kick the ball to the opposing team (punt kick) or you attempt another first down.

Is this when you pray the Hail Mary?

You could! A Hail Mary pass is when the quarterback literally throws the ball in the direction of the endzone with no intention of who it is being passed to. It is up for grabs.

Why is it called a Hail Mary?

Because you need divine intervention to score.

A touchdown is 7 points?

It is 6 points to get that bad boy in the endzone. 1 more point is added if they kick it between the two posts. Or the team can attempt a “2 point conversion” if they choose to run or pass the ball in to the endzone. 3 points for a field goal kick (this is attempted when they are not close to a touch down but will try for some points.) A 2 point conversion and field goal kick are usually attempted when the scores between the teams are head on.

And how long is this game?

4 quarters which is 15 minutes. A 12 minute halftime (NFL) or 20 minutes (college football.) And then adding in time outs, reviews, rain delays, etc. Usually runs 3-4 hours.

 How many players are on the field?

Offense and defense has 11 players on the field. 

Football Terminology

Some words that mean nothing to you, but every thing to a football fanatic.

Sack – Usually phrased “sacking the quarter back.” When the quarterback is tackled from behind the line of scrimmage.

Line of scrimmage – Where the ball is placed at the beginning of the play.

Fumble – Literally, a clutz move. When the player who has possession of the football looses the ball.

Interception – When defense catches the football meant for an offense player to receive.

Hike – Otherwise known as a “snap.” It is a pass of the football from the center to the quarterback. The quarter back will call the play or make simple changes by using code words to confuse the defense. For example, they may say something like “*PSL, yoga pants, UGGS* hike, HIKE” and then the center will snap the ball to the quarterback and begin the play.

My favorite part of football season? Chili!!!

Ready for the next football game?

Let me know your thoughts or enlighten me with your football knowledge!


17 comments on “The Basic’s Guide to Football 101”

  1. Cool article. But if you really want to learn about Football, play me in Madden. I’ll teach you how to be a good loser lol.

    Dennis Chavours

  2. I love this!! I could have used this a few years ago when I was totally clueless. Once you get the basic understanding of it.. football can be so fun!!

  3. Great post!

    I could never keep straight which side of the field was “your” side until I had an English teacher in high school say that all sports are about protecting your territory from invaders. While I don’t think he was entirely accurate, it definitely helped me remember which team is “my” team’s end zone.

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