Playing American football

American football players have one goal – moving the ball forward and forcing their way into the opponent’s end zone. They achieve this objective by passing the ball among teammates or running past the opponents.

The Downs

The offensive team usually has four downs to play. For starters, understanding how downs work can be a tricky affair. Ideally, the attacking team has to move the ball forward in chunks of 10 yards, which explains why the pitch should have yardage markings. Failure to move the ball for at least 10 yards in four downs means that the defending team gains possession of the ball.

However, the attacking team has to kick the ball or punt it on the fourth down. Even though the attacking team is supposed to score from the end zone, this rule does not apply to the defending team. Unlike in most sports, the defending team is allowed to score touchdowns at either end of the pitch.


  • Touchdown (one point)

Touchdowns are scored after a team crosses the goal line of the opposing team with the ball, collects, or when the opponents win possession while inside the end zone.

  • A field goal (three points)

The team is required to attempt the field goal on the fourth down. The kicker near the end zone attempts to kick the football through uprights and over the crossbar.

  • Extra point (one-two points)

This extra point is earned after successfully kicking the ball through uprights after the touchdown.

  • Safety (two points)

These points are awarded to the defending team after tackling a player from the offensive side.

The Plays

Plays are the complicated movements used to American football ball downfield. The quarterback or head coach calls are often responsible for calling plays. Some common NFL plays include a blast or dive, counter, trap play, quarterback sneak, and option plays, among others.