A Girl's Guide to Football: Part One

Gridiron Girl’s Guide to Football: The Basics

A Girl's Guide to Football: Part One

I am about to state something very obvious:

Football is America’s most popular sport.

If you are a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, niece, girlfriend, wife, etc. etc. etc. then you are probably thinking yeah, thanks! I had noticed.

Here is something else: Guys like football.  Perhaps this is a nuisance to you; You aren’t interested, couldn’t care less, why can’t my friend/husband/fill in the blank spend more time with me and less time sitting at the bar with his friends talking about a bunch of guys in tight pants?  And what is all this fantasy football stuff?

Or how about this: Maybe you just don’t understand the game but wish you did so that you could join the guys every Sunday on the couch?

You are not alone.

There are several categories that females fall into when it comes to football but regardless of how you feel I am willing to bet that the great majority of you want to know more.  And so I would like to invite you to hang in there with me while I try to help you better understand the game that is beloved by so many.

Football start in 8 weeks (Yep..still operating as if the season is happening.  Let’s all do ourselves a favor and not even get into that whole lockout thing…)  Are you ready?  Probably not.  The season starts of September 11th so let’s not waste any time.

I’m going to start at the most basic level and expand on it as we go.  I plan to add videos and video chat components to the Girl’s Guide as the week’s move on, depending on the level of interest and feedback.  So, please feel free to comment below, or comment on the Facebook page or on Twitter with all of your questions.

So let’s begin Part One of an 8-week “Girl’s Guide to Football”.  As always, gentlemen..you are welcome.  Not only am I am all-inclusive but I also won’t tell.

The Basics:

– Objective: Football is a 2 team sport with a 11 men on the field (if you have more than 11 players on the field at once you earn a penalty. More on that later..).  Each team has a 53-man roster (the specific make-up on the roster varies with each team). The main objective of the game is to score points in the opposing team’s end zone.

– Teams: The team is divided into three units: Offense, Defense and Special Teams.  (We will break down the specifics of these teams later).

– Field: The football field is 100 yards from goal line to goal line.  There are stripes to indicate every 5 yards and hash marks every yard.  The 50 yard line divides the field in half.  The total length of the field is 120 yards.

Football field. Note the 5 yard dashes and the hash marks for every yard. At each of the field is the end zone.yard. The 50 yard line divides the field in half. The total length of the field is 160 yards.

– Down and Distance: One of the biggest aspects to understanding football involves down and distance. In the simplest of terms, a down is a play.  The play begins when the ball is snapped to the time the whistle blows.

There are 4 “downs” in football.  Teams advance down the field trying to earn a first down, which is a 10 yard gain. If they do not earn enough 1st downs to score (they get to 4th down) they can either attempt to kick the ball or give the ball to the opposing offense (change of possession).

Let’s look at a few plays for an example: A offense begins their possession with a 1st & 10(this is true 100% of the time).  The offense runs the ball 6 yards and is awarded a 2nd down. At the start of the next play, they are at 2nd & 4.  Maybe they throw on this play, 12 yards, earning them a first down.  Now they are back to 1st & 10 on the next snap.

– Points can be scored by:

Throwing a touchdown (6 pts) – Quarterback to Wide Receiver, Tight End, Running Back.

Running a touchdown (6 pts) – Running back or any other offensive player running ball over the goal line. (Defensive players can score a running touchdown as well if they intercept or recover the opponent’s ball).

Kicking an extra point (1 pt) – After a touchdown is scored, the offensive has an opportunity to kick the ball between the goal posts to score an extra point.  This happens the majority of the time.

Two-point conversion (2 pts) – Two point conversions happen when a team chooses to “go for 2” points instead of kick.  In the NFL, the two-point conversion starts at the 2 yard line and the play proceeds as if they were attempting to score a touchdown. They get on attempt to score.  If they do not score, they are awarded no points.  We will get into strategy of “going for it” at a later date.

Kicking a field goal (3 pts) – Teams kick a field goal in several situations on a scoring drive. One, it is 4th down and they are within field goal range.  The goal post is an additional 17 yards past the goal line, so the average NFL kicker will aim to be within the 35 yd range to make an attempt.

Safety (2 pts) – A safety is the only way that the defense can score points.  There are 8 different ways a defense can score a safety, but it usually happens when a defensive player tackles an opponent in their own end zone.

Fair Catch kick – You know what? Let’s not even go there right now.  This basically never happens.

If you add up these numbers in various combinations, you will see why games do not always result in 17-10 or 21-17.  Sometimes, you will get a 9-7.  If you are the gambling type-not saying I am, not saying I’m not-it is important to consider that a game score will not always be made up of touchdowns.

That should give us a good start on the Basics. Next week we will begin learning more about Game Play.  Things will get more lengthy and complex from here on out.  Stay tuned and please feel free to share questions and feedback.

A Girl’s Guide is a new category aimed at educating and inspiring female and casual sports fans.  It will always be about YOU, the reader, and topics/questions/feedback is always welcome.



7 thoughts on “Gridiron Girl’s Guide to Football: The Basics

  1. LadyInAnApron says:

    Thanks for taking the time to help some of us out. I watch my son play high school football but get frustrated when I don’t really understand what they are doing. I look forward to learning more!

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