I know there are plenty of female football followers out there who love the game as much as I do. This post is not for them.
This is for those mama’s out there who don’t know Hike from Huddle about Football and find themselves thrown in the midst of a Superbowl Party or a Pee Wee football game not knowing what in the heck is going on.
I am here to help! 🙂 I spent many many years cheering on the sidelines and picked up a thing or two…and my mother is one of those ladies I mentioned in the previous statement. It may have taken her 15 years but I think she’s finally figured it out 😛 Love you Mom!
So let’s begin with the basics.
1. Choose your team: Whether it’s your sons Pee Wee team or your Husband’s favorite NFL team, decide who you’ll be rooting for this season. It makes watching the game a whole lot easier. Then you may want to learn the names of a few Key players-like the Quarterback.
A Football field is 100 yards long. At each end of the field is an End Zone. The End Zone is marked by a white line and two small orange posts on either side. The length of the End Zone is another 10 yards and at the back line you will see the Goal Posts. Each team has their ‘Own’ End Zone which they are trying to protect. So the Offense is trying to cross into the other teams End Zone and the Defense is trying to Protect or Prevent the Offense into coming into their End Zone.
The Goal Post is the large, kind of Y-shaped, bright yellow posts. The field is marked with white lines across it in 10 yard increments. The 50-yard line is smack dab in the middle of the field and then the yard line number decreases from there on either side…40, 30, 20, 10. There is no 60, 70, 80 yard line.
The ‘Line of Scrimmage‘ is another line on the field, but this one is invisible. This is where the referees put the ball and is where each play starts. Depending on where the ball was last stopped, that is where the new Line of Scrimmage will be. Each team lines up along this line to start the play.
2. Quarterback: Not your milk money! He’s the guy that will be throwing the ball.
3. Receiver: This one’s easy, that’s the guy that catches the ball when the Quarterback throws it
4. Runningback: Sometimes the Quarterback doesn’t throw the ball and he ‘hands it off’ instead…He will hand it to the Runningback who will then ‘Run’ with the ball.
5. Place Kicker vs. Punter: There are two types of kicking the ball and there are also two different people who do the job. Sometimes you will see the ball set on a little orange thing on the ground, or held on the groud by another player (during kickoff and field goal attempts-don’t worry I’ll get to that too), and then a player will run towards it and kick it into the air. This is the Place Kicker. Other times you will see the ball being thrown backwards to a player and then that player will drop it and kick it; He is called the Punter and that drop kick is called a Punt.
6. Center: This player is the one you see bent over in front of the Quarterback. He ‘Hikes‘ the ball between his legs into the Quarterbacks hands.
7. The Line: This is not just 1 player but a whole ‘line’ of them. There is an Offensive line who’s job is to protect the Quarterback and keep the defense away, and a Defensive Line who is trying to break past the offensive line and get to the Quarterback and the ball. If they are successful in getting to the Quarterback and knocking him down, this is called a Sack. The ‘line’ from each team sets up opposite each other along the Line of Scrimmage…they are the ones lined up and bent over with one hand on the ground.
*There are 11 players on the field from each team, at a time, and all have different jobs to do. I only covered the positions of the players that you really need to know.
This is easy…If you see your Quarterback on the field and your team has the ball, then you are on Offense. If not, it’s Defense.
How to Score-there are more ways than you think.
1. Touchdown: A touchdown occurs when a player either a) Runs into the end zone with the ball, or b) catches the ball while standing in the End Zone. A Touchdown is worth 6 points.
2. Extra Point or 2-point conversion: After a Touchdown the team can either kick for the extra point or try for a two point conversion. Kicking for the extra point means the Place Kicker will try and kick the ball up and over the Goal Posts. This is usually the ‘sure thing’ since they do not kick from very far out. Sometimes the team will try for the 2-point conversion. In this case, the team will have 1 try to get the ball back into the End Zone, just like scoring a touch down. The Quarterback can either throw the ball to a player or hand it off to a player to run with it.
3. Field Goal: Sometimes a team may not get with in 20-30+ yards of the goal line, but they only have one more chance to score. 20-30 yards is kind of far to try for a touchdown so the team will attempt a Field Goal instead. They will set the ball up and the Place Kicker will try and kick the ball up and over the Goal Posts. If he makes it over the Goal Post, staying between the two tall yellow posts, this counts as a Field Goal. A Field Goal is worth 3 points.
4. Safety: A Safety is worth 2 points, and is actually scored by the Defense. This happens when the Defense knocks down or ‘Sacks‘ the Quarterback in the Quarterbacks own End Zone. You will see the referee make a triangle shape with his arms over his head, signifying that a Safety has been scored.
How the Game is Played
This is pretty easy once understand all the terminology. The Offense, the team with possession of the ball, gets four downs (or tries) to move the ball 10 yards. For each ‘Down‘ the team will run a play. 1 ‘Play’ is equal to 1 ‘Try’ which is equal to 1 ‘Down. The team can use all four tries to move 10 yards or on the 4th Try, depending on how close to that 10 yards they have gotten or how close they are to the Goal Line they are, they will either ‘Go For It’ meaning they are going to attempt one last time, or they can ‘Punt’ the ball away to the other team. Most often you will see the team Punt the ball so that the other team ends up with the ball as far away as possible from the End Zone. To punt the ball, the ball is thrown back to the Punter and he will then kick the ball up into the air to the other team.
If the Offense IS able to move the ball 10 yards in their 4 tries, it is then a 1st Down! and they get to start all over again…4 more tries to move 10 yards. They can continue to do this until 1) the offense scores 2) they have to punt the ball away or 3) they ‘Lose’ the ball to the other team.
There are two ways that the Offense can ‘Lose’ the ball to the Defense. 1) The Quarterback throws the ball and the wrong team catches it. This is called and ‘Interception‘. Or 2) The Offense drops the ball on the ground and the Defense picks it up. This is called a ‘Fumble‘.
The Game is also timed and includes 4 quarters and 2 Halves. The First half of the game includes the 1st quarter and the 2nd quarter and the second Half of the game includes the 3rd quarter and the 4th quarter. After the 2nd quarter, the teams leave the field and take a break for Half-Time before returning to play the 3rd and 4th quarters of the game. Each Quarter is timed individually but only when the 2nd and 4th quarters end does playing actually stop. When the 1st and 3rd quarters end, the teams take a quick break and then pick up where they left off.
At the beginning of the game there is a Coin Toss. The referee tosses a coin and one team will call either heads or tails. If they chose correctly then they get to pick whether they want to Kick or Receive to start the game. If they chose to Kick…then thier team will line up and the Kicker will kick the ball to the other team. If they chose to Receive, then the other team will line up and and the other teams Kicker will kick the ball to them. This is called the Kick Off. Whomever Kicks to start the game will Receive to start the 2nd Half. A Kick Off happens at the beginning of the game, at the beginning of the 2nd half, and each time a team scores. After a team scores they will then Kick the ball to the opposite team so that they may have a chance to score.
Real Questions from Real Women:
1. What does ‘Flag on the play’ mean?
* As in any other sport there are some Rules to the game. In football many of these Rules are certain things that a player Cannot do…mostly to protect the players and keep them safe since the game is so rough. When a Referee see’s that one of these Rules have been violated, they will take the bright Yellow ‘hanky’ out of their pocket and throw it out onto the field so that everyone knows there has been a violation. That ‘hanky’ is the ‘flag‘ mentioned in ‘Flag on the Play‘. Each Rule has a different consequence which usually involves either backing up or moving forward. Most penalties mean moving back or forward 5 yards but some of them are more severe and require the team moving as much as 15 yards.
2. What is a Hail Mary?
* A Hail Mary is actually the name of a play. This play takes place as a last ditch effort to score when time is running out and the team is not even close to the End Zone. With the final seconds counting down the Offense will line up with as many Receivers as they can, and when the play starts All the Receivers will run towards the End Zone while the Quarterback throws the ball as high and as far as he can into the End Zone ‘Praying’ that one of his receivers will catch it….when it works it is beautiful!
3. What does a ‘Shotgun Formation’ mean?
* The Shotgun formation is used by the Offense. Instead of lining up right behind the Center, the Quarterback will line up a few yards back. The Center will ‘Shoot’ the ball between his legs and to the Quarterback instead of just handing it through. This gives the Quarterback a few extra seconds to make a pass.
Now that you all have the basics down, have some fun and enjoy watching Football this Season! If you have a question that I didn’t cover, please let me know…I’d be happy to do a follow up!