B1 Intermediate UK 1590 Folder Collection
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Ninh explains:- The Rules of American Football
The object of the game is for your team to score more points than the opposing team.
Teams are made up of 46 players in the NFL, with 11 players taking the field at any one
The field is 100 yards long by 53 yards wide, with two 10 yard endzones at each end.
White markings on the field help players, referee’s and spectators keep track of what’s
going on.
The game starts with a kickoff. The team with possession of the ball is known
as the offense, and the team without the ball is the defense.
The job of the offense is to move the ball up the field and score points.
This can be done by either running forwards with the ball, or by throwing it up the field
for a teammate to catch.
The offense is given 4 chances (or 4 downs) to make at least 10 yards.
If the offense manages to move the ball 10 yards or more, they will retain possession
of the ball whilst given another 4 downs to make another 10 yards.
On your TV screen, you will see this graphic. This tells you what down the team is on and
this tells you how many yards they need to make. If you’re also watching this on TV,
they will also show the lines they need to cross in order to make their downs.
The defence’s job is to stop the offense moving the ball forwards by tackling.
This includes pulling them to the ground, stopping them from moving forward or forcing
them off the field.
If the offense fails to move the ball 10 yards within 4 downs, the ball is given to the defending
team at that point. The defending team will then bring on their
offensive players and try and move the ball in the opposite direction so that they can
You will most likely see an offense kick the ball away on fourth down to make it more difficult
for the other team to score.
The teams will usually have three different units of 11 players that come on the field
at different times.
They include:
The Offense. These players will usually come on the field
when they have possession of the ball. The offensive unit consists of these positions
The quarterback is the most important player on the field as he’s the one who decides
to pass the ball up the field, hand it off to a teammate so that they can run with it,
or run with it himself. These offensive line positions are usually
responsible for protecting the quarterback. The wide receivers are responsible for running
down the field to catch the ball thrown by the quarterback,
The running back and full back is responsible for running with the ball up the field.
The Defense These players will usually come on the field
when the other team has the ball. The defensive unit consists of these positions
– The defensive line is responsible for moving
past the offensive line. The line-backers stop running backs coming
through the defensive line and they also are responsible for attacking the quarterback.
The cornerbacks try and stop the wide receivers. And the safeties try and stop a pass up the
middle of the field.
Special Teams. Special teams are specialist players that
come on the field when there is a kick involved. Within the special teams is a mix of offensive
and defensive players mixed with either a punter or kicker for offense, or a punt returner
for defense.
Now you know what all the players do and how the game is played. But how do you score?
In American Football, there’s four different ways of scoring:
1. Touchdown: The main way of scoring is via a touchdown.
If the ball is carried into the endzone area, or thrown and caught in the endzone, this
is a touchdown and is worth 6 points. Unlike in Rugby, you do not need to touch
the ball down on the ground, all you have to do is cross the line with the nose of the
ball to score.
2. Extra points. Once a touchdown has been scored, you have
the option of kicking it through the uprights for an extra point, or try and pass or run
the ball into the endzone again for an extra two points.
Most teams play it safe and go with the one point.
3. Field Goal. At any time, the team with the ball can kick
the ball between the posts and over the crossbar. To do this, they must hand it to a teammate
who will hold it on the ground ready for a kicker to make the kick.
A successful kick scores 3 points.
4. Safety. If the defense tackles an offensive player
behind his own goal line, the defending team scores two points.
The game is played in 4 x 15 minute quarters, for a combined playing time of 60 minutes.
Highest score at the end of 60 minutes wins. Ties are rare in American Football, and overtime
periods are played if necessary to determine a winner. Different leagues have different
rules about tie games.
Is that it? Is that all I need to know.
Well, you’re almost there, but American Football is filled with lots of rules, and
you’ll need to understand a few more of them before you watch or play a game. For
FUMBLE If a ball carrier or passer drops the ball,
that's a fumble. Any player on the field can recover the ball by diving on it or he can
run with it. The team that recovers a fumble gets possession of the ball.
INTERCEPTION An aggressive defense can regain possession
of the ball by catching (intercepting) passes that are meant for players on the other team.
Both fumble recoveries and interceptions can be run back into the end zone for touchdowns.
SACK If the defense tackles a Quarterback whilst
he has possession of the ball, this is known as a ‘sack’. This is detrimental to the
offense, as a down is wasted and it usually results in a loss of yards.
INCOMPLETE PASS If a pass intended to a receiver hits the
ground first, it is ruled an incomplete pass. A down is wasted and play restarts from the
sport of the last down.
PENALTY If a player breaks one of the rules, referees
will throw flags onto the field. They will determine who made the foul and
how many yards his team should be penalised.
CHALLENGE If a coach disagrees with a decision on the
field, they can throw red flags onto the field. The previous play will then be reviewed and
if the challenge is successful – the ruling on the field is reversed.
If the challenge is unsuccessful and the ruling on the field stands, they forfeit one timeout.
TIMEOUTS If a team wants to stop the clock to regroup,
take a break or discuss strategy, they are allowed three time-outs per half. Each time
out lasts 60 seconds. Players get a break of 12 minutes at half time.
This is all a lot to take in, but once you start playing or watching American Football,
the rules will become clear.
If you have found this video at all helpful, please like, share with your friends, rate
and comment. It takes me ages to make one of these videos and good karma is always appreciated.
Be sure to follow me on twitter also, but in the meantime - enjoy American Football.
Ninh Ly, www.ninh.co.uk, @NinhLyUK
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The Rules of American Football - EXPLAINED! (NFL)

1590 Folder Collection
周杰 published on October 4, 2015
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