Friday, 19 August 2022
Sports Rookie Guide - Basic Rules of NFL Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Sports Rookie Guide - Basic Rules of NFL

Written by  Apr 26, 2021

Football is one of the largest sports in the United States. While the game is famous around the world, the country's professional leagues, like the National Football League (NFL), are the most sought after by football players. Due to American football's popularity, its leagues are the most competitive worldwide.

The game’s zenith comes as the Super Bowl where numerous teams compete each year. To a newbie in American football, the sport can look highly complex. However, in truth, the basics of the game are straightforward to understand.


The goal of American football is to bring the football towards the other team's side of the field and ultimately acquire a touchdown. A player can achieve a touchdown either by tossing the ball downfield to an available teammate or running with the football until the rival players tackle them.

The team with more points after the end of the match will be the winner. If there is a tie, the referee will call overtime. The teams will need to play out an extra quarter until one comes out a winner.

Players and Equipment

While there are just 11 players from both sides playing on the field, 45 players make up an entire American football team. The teams typically consist of three clusters: defense, offense, and special team players. It is vital to understand the various football positions and their respective players when you bet on the NFL. You can check out a team’s players and their functions on numerous football sites like FanDuel.

A standard American football field is around 60 yards wide and 100 yards long. Officials draw lines on the field every 10-yard interval. The lines show the distance both teams need to go before arriving at the end zone. The end zones are set at both ends of the pitch and are approximately 20 yards long each. Posts wherein the kicker kicks the football over are also set at both ends.


The game starts when a team kicks the ball to the competitor's side. The referee and the captains from both teams meet at the middle of the field to coin toss. The coin toss will determine which team will decide who will play the offensive or defensive. The team that will receive the ball needs to catch it and attempt to move the football toward the opposite side of the field and the other's end zone.

The down, or play, ends when the football touches the ground or goes out of the play area. Where the ball fell turns into the line of scrimmage, wherein the referee places the ball for the beginning of the next play. The offense has four downs, or attempts, to acquire 10 yards or more.

After gaining 10 yards, the offense receives four additional attempts to gain another 10 yards or more. The play proceeds like that 'til the defense recovers ownership of the ball or the offense scores.


In the NFL, an offense possesses four tackles referred to as 'downs.' A down means to carry the football 10 yards farther. If the offense successfully gains downs, the team will receive an additional set of downs. It is natural to hear throughout the match the phrase 'first and 10.' The term essentially means the team had a first 'down' and has another 10 yards to go.

If a player from the opposition tackles another behind the line of scrimmage, officials add yards to the distance the latter's team needs to cover. A ‘sack’ occurs if a player tackles another team's quarterback behind the line. A team can likewise put on yards for penalties against the offensive team.


Four quarters, 15-minute each, compose NFL games. A 12-minute break during halftime separates these quarters. Toward the finish of the first and third quarters, extra 2-minute breaks as teams switch field sides after every play. The side with the football during the finish of the first and third quarters holds possession of the ball going into the next play. The second half begins with an opening kick similar to the previous match.

At the end of each play, every offensive team gets 40 seconds to snap the ball for the beginning of the next match. If the team fails to snap the ball, they will receive a penalty for delaying the game. The clock pauses toward the finish of incomplete passings, when a player leaves the play area, when a penalty occurs, or when a side calls a timeout.

The clock begins again when an official red-spots the ball. As said before, when a tie occurs, both teams will play another 15-minute overtime match. In the NFL, overtimes mean sudden death, and the fastest team to score becomes the winner.

Before the start of overtime, both teams determine the possession of the ball through a coin toss.


The ultimate goal in American football is the same with pretty much all the other sports. It aims to acquire a more significant number of points than the opposite team. Teams can score during the match in various ways - 

● Touchdown (6 Points)

● Field Goal (3 Points)

● Extra Point (1 or 2 Points)

● Safety (2 Points)

In Summary

Like any other sport, American football has many different rules and elements aside from the ones you can find above. However, through understanding how the game and its scoring generally works, you are sure to be able to easily follow through a game as you work out the rules over time.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


Find us on Facebook