American Football for Beginners: Complete Guide

American football is a renowned sport in the United States, Canada and some other parts of the world. It is a physically demanding game in which two teams of 11 players each compete on a rectangular field. 

The main goal is to score points by moving an oval-shaped ball into the end zone of the opposing team.  

This article will assist you in learning the fundamentals of American football if you are a novice player. 

How to score in American football? 

The ultimate goal of American football, like that of pretty much every other sport, is to outscore the opposition in terms of points scored. In the game, scoring is calculated as follows: 

Touchdown (6 Points):

When a team successfully crosses the other team’s goal line with the ball, or successfully receives or collects the ball in the end zone, a touchdown is scored. 

Field Goal (3 Points):

If the kicker is close enough to the end zone to kick the ball through between the upright posts, a team will typically try one of these on fourth down. 

Extra Point (1 Or 2 Points):

After a touchdown, you can score an additional point by kicking the ball through the uprights (it works like a conversion in rugby). Returning the ball to the end zone results in two points, but as it is more difficult, most teams choose to take one point instead. 

Safety (2 Points):

If a member of the offensive team is tackled while carrying the ball into their own end zone, the defensive team will receive two points. 

Basic rules of American football 

  1. With two teams of 11 players each, the game is played with one team on the offensive and the other on the defense. 
  1. The goal of the game is to advance the ball into the opponent’s end zone by running with it or throwing it at a teammate in order to earn points. 
  1. Each side has four opportunities, or downs, to advance the ball at least ten yards. If they are successful, they will receive an additional four downs to carry the ball. 
  1. A team must punt the ball to the opposing team or try a field goal if it cannot advance the ball 10 yards in four downs. 
  1. A touchdown, worth six points, or a field goal, worth three points, can both be used to score. 
  1. Four 15-minute quarters make up the game, with a halftime break occurring after the second quarter. 
  1. At the conclusion of the match, the team with the most points wins. 
  1. A kickoff signals the start of the game, and the whistle of the referee signals the end of the play. 
  1. Holding, pass interference, and illegal blocking are a few of the many offenses that can result in penalties being called. 
  1. The game can be played on a variety of surfaces, such as indoor surfaces, artificial turf, or real grass. 

As stated in 2022 NFL Rulebook.

American football has many more specifics and subtleties than just these basic guidelines, which can add complexity and strategy to the game. 

What are the core scenarios in American football? 


The offensive team’s goal is to advance the ball down the field and score points while it is in their possession. The offense has two options for moving the ball: running it or throwing it. 

Meanwhile, finding open receivers down the field is the quarterback’s main goal as the one who tosses the ball. 

The five-player offensive line defends the quarterback and makes room for runners to gain yardage. 

The offense gets four opportunities, or downs, to advance the ball at least ten yards. Upon success, they are given a fresh set of four downs. 

However, the other team receives possession of the ball if they are unsuccessful. The offence scores a touchdown worth six points.

In addition, they can then try to score an additional point by kicking the ball through the opposing team’s goalposts or attempting to convert a field goal into two points by sprinting with the ball or throwing it into the end zone. 


The defense, which is the team without the ball, aims to stop the offence from scoring and induce a turnover. By tackling the ball carrier or intercepting a pass, the defense can achieve this. 

It is worth mentioning here that defensive backs are in charge of covering the receivers and thwarting passes, while the defensive line and linebackers are in charge of stopping the run. 

Special Teams:

Special teams make up the game’s third phase. Kicking and receiving the ball are tasks for special teams. 

The kickoff starts the game and the action restarts following a score. On fourth down, the punter kicks the ball to give the other team a difficult field position. 

By kicking the ball over the opponent’s goalposts, the kicker can also attempt field goals, which are worth three points. 

The Field and Equipment

The field is a rectangle with two end zones at either end, measuring 120 yards long by 53.3 yards wide. Yard lines and hash marks on the field are used to help players and officials track the position of the ball and the status of each play.  

The oval-shaped leather football used in American football has a circumference of 22 inches and a length of roughly 11 inches.  

To reduce the chance of injury, every player on the field is equipped with a helmet, shoulder pads, knee pads, and other safety equipment. The traditional uniform consists of a jersey and pants decorated with the team’s colours and logos. 

Positions in American football: 

There are numerous positions in American football, each with distinct duties and responsibilities. The key roles are listed below: 

  1. Quarterback (QB): The quarterback serves as the offensive coordinator and is in charge of calling plays, completing passes, and setting the team’s field position. 
  1. Running back (RB): The running back is in charge of moving the ball down the field and carrying it. They can also be utilized to receive and block passes. 
  1. Wide receiver (WR): The wide receiver’s duties include collecting passes that the quarterback tosses and moving down the field to earn yardage. 
  1. Tight end (TE): The tight end is in charge of catching passes, blocking, and carrying the ball. He is a cross between an offensive lineman and a receiver. 
  1. Offensive lineman (OL): The offensive lineman is in charge of guarding the quarterback and setting up the running back for the pass. 
  1. Defensive lineman (DL): The defensive lineman is in charge of rushing the quarterback and stopping the run. 
  1. Linebacker (LB): The linebacker’s duties include covering receivers in the center of the field and stopping the run. 
  1. Cornerback (CB): Covering the wide receivers and preventing them from catching passes is the cornerback’s responsibility. 
  1. Safety (S): Covering the deep portion of the field and assisting in stopping long throws and touchdowns are the responsibilities of the safety. 

In addition to these roles, special teams roles like kicker, punter, and kick returner also exist. 

Top five players of American football 

There have been many outstanding players in American football over the years, but I am listing the top five as the greatest ever.  

  1. Jerry Rice: Rice, who is recognized as the best wide receiver in NFL history, holds several records, including the most receptions, touchdowns, and career receiving yards. 
  1. Tom Brady: Brady, who has seven Super Bowl victories to his credit and countless records to his name, including the most passing yards and touchdowns in a career, is widely regarded as the greatest quarterback in NFL history. 
  1. Jim Brown: With eight of his nine seasons seeing him lead the league in rushing yards and three MVP trophies, Brown is recognized as one of the best running backs in NFL history. 
  1. Lawrence Taylor: With two Defensive Player of the Year titles and two Super Bowl victories under his belt, Taylor is recognized as one of the best defensive players in NFL history. 
  1. Joe Montana: One of the finest quarterbacks in NFL history, Montana has won three MVP honors and four Super Bowls. 

National Football League and Superbowl 

The Super Bowl, the National Football League’s (NFL) championship game, is the most-watched event in American football. 

Millions of people worldwide tune in to watch the Super Bowl, which is typically held on the first Sunday in February. 

In addition to being the biggest American football event ever, it is also one of the biggest sporting occasions ever. 

The Super Bowl is a lot more than merely a football game; it has evolved into a phenomenon in popular culture that features high-profile ads, halftime performances by popular musical groups, and a weeklong calendar of activities leading up to the game. 

Furthermore, it is so well-liked in America that many people hold parties and get-togethers to watch the game with friends and family. As a result, it has unofficially become a national holiday. 


In conclusion, American football is a multifaceted, sophisticated, and thrilling sport. To be successful, it takes talent, strategy, and teamwork. 

The first step to comprehending and enjoying the game is learning the fundamental vocabulary and rules, despite the fact that it could initially seem difficult. 

So gather your popcorn, settle into a cosy seat on the couch, and prepare to support your preferred team.