American football is a type of contact sport that originates from North America, which in turn derives from another well-known sports discipline in England called rugby. American football consists of the rough competition of two teams of eleven members each; one of these teams is the attacker, who must carry the ball towards the end zone, while the defensive team must prevent it. Annotation can be done in different ways.

what is american football

It is a contact sport, where the attacking team must get the ball into their end zone, while the defensive team must prevent it. Being a violent sport, their uniform is complemented by protective equipment, such as a football helmet, shin guards, dental splint, shoulder pads, elbow pads, etc.

The name derives from the English term football, composed of foot and ball (foot and ball), although it is more similar to rugby. The “American” is coined, since it was made official in the US.

history of american football

It has its origin in Great Britain in the 19th century, when together with rugby, it was derived from English football. The ball was kicked towards a pole or the ball was run towards it to score.

Due to the violent nature of the game, it was banned for a time by various universities. However, it became popular in secondary schools, modifying its ball and creating a fusion of this sport and rugby: Boston Game, for which the Oneida Soccer Club was born in 1862, the first club in the USA.

For this reason it becomes popular and extends to Canada. The sports writer Walter Camp (1859-1925) defined this sport by writing its rules and who established the first official bases of it: the allowed dimensions of the field, the rules on tackles, the number of players per team, the referees were restructured regulations, among other major changes that laid the current foundations.

Entering the 20th century, the sport was popularized in the US, while its rugby equivalent did the same in England. Various universities in the US formed their teams and the sport was institutionalized, becoming a national sports standard.

american football rules



Each team has 11 players with defined football positions:


  • Quarterback: receives the ball and makes the pass.
  • Running Back – Covers quarterback, lines up on the side.
  • Power Running Back – Blocks the defense by punting the running back and protecting the quarterback.
  • Receiver: receives passes from the quarterback.
  • Tight end: receives the ball and blocks the defense.
  • Center: Touches the ball first and defends the quarterback from defenders.
  • Guard: Protects the quarterback by allowing him to pass and block running backs.
  • Offensive tackle: protects and hits.


  • Nose tackle: contains the running back and pressures the quarterback.
  • Defensive Tackle – Stops play and catches the quarterback.
  • Defensive End: Prevents the screen and stops the quarterback.
  • Inside Linebacker: Tackles the ball carrier and prevents passes.
  • Cornerback: Covers receivers and blocks quarterback passes.
  • Strong Deep – Supports tackling and coverage.
  • Free Deep: Blocks the passing game of the offense.


It is made up of four sections of leather with a granular texture, facilitating its grip. It is oval with pointed ends. It must be inflated to a pressure of 12.5 and 12.5 psi and weighs from 397 to 425 grams.

On its long axis it measures between 11 and 11 ¼ inches, its short circumference between 21 and 21 ¼ inches and its long circumference between 28 and 28 ½ inches. In all football games, a new one must be used.

Basketball court

American football fields are 120 yards long and 53.3 yards wide. With the markings: goal lines (marked at each end lengthwise, where touchdowns count), parallel lines (marked parallel every 15 feet across), sidelines (both sides lengthwise), hash marks (they divide the field in three lengthwise) and the posts that delimit the goal (3 meters high, with a 5.6-meter opening U).


It should last 60 minutes divided into four quarters of 15 minutes each. Time can stop for the preparation of offensive strategies, reviews and other eventualities. American football games can be extended up to three times in real time.

The objective is to get the ball to the goal area or pass it through the posts. This is a contact (melee) sport. The results of American football can be consulted by the most important sports portals.


  • Touchdown: It consists of taking the ball with you to the goal area or when a player receives it there. It is worth 6 points.
  • Field goal: the ball is kicked to the post in the form of a U. There are several styles: English football style, looking for angles; straight style, similar to English football, with a special shoe; and rebound kick, when he bounces the ball on the court. It cannot be executed on kickoff and is worth 3 points.
  • Safety: Occurs when a defender tackles an offensive player who has the ball in the end zone, for which the defense gets the score. It is the only way for the defense to get points (2).


It has seven referees, in charge of monitoring the players according to their positions, fulfilling different functions, monitoring time, scores and other tasks.

  • Referee: he is the main one, his position is behind the quarterback and runners, behind the offensive line. He decides on controversial situations, is aware of the pace of the game and the quarterback.
  • Field Judge – His position is between 20 and 25 yards from the defense, in the area where the line judge is located and can be located under the posts to check for field goals and extra scores. Monitor if receivers and players on your field incur fouls.
  • Line Judge: Located at one end of the line of scrimmage and parallel to the line of scrimmage. He times the game in case the main score clock fails, counts offenses, monitors receivers near the end zone, checks if passes are backwards or forwards and makes sure they are behind scrimmage.
  • Umpire: his location is before the defense line. Check uniforms and equipment, monitor plays on the offensive and defensive lines, keep count of the offense.
  • Back judge: must be between 20 and 25 yards behind the defense, opposite the field judge. Record the number of players on the field, monitor receptions, keep track of the 25 and 40 second clock and pauses during broadcasts.
  • Head linesman: stands parallel to the line of scrimmage, on the sideline. He grades players by band, determines if a running back is on the field of play, checks defenders and receivers, decides on screens and defenses.
  • Side judge: its location is the opposite of the back judge, 20 yards from the defense and its functions are similar. Supports the clock operator, tells the referee when quarter time runs out, monitors irregularities or out of position.


  • Holding: one player holds the other. It is penalized with 10 yards in the case of offense and 5 to the defense. In the case of an offensive one in your zone, your penalty is a safety.
  • Offside: A defender early in the game steps into the line of scrimmage. It is penalized with 5 yards.
  • Personal Foul: Occurs when a defenseman knocks down a quarterback when he has fumbled the ball, when a player grabs another player’s helmet peephole, or when a player unnecessarily exerts violent force on someone else. It is penalized with 15 yards and an automatic first down when committed by a defenseman.
  • False Start: An offensive player moves early. It is penalized with 5 yards.
  • Encroachment: a player is out of play or false starts by making contact. It is penalized with 5 yards.
  • Tripping: a player trips another player causing him to fall. His penalty is 10 yards.
  • Clipping: A player tackles below the waist one who does not have the ball. He is penalized with 15 yards.
  • Delay of Game: An offense plays out of time or a defenseman gets the ball when time is up. Penalty with 5 yards.
  • Pass Interference – A defender makes it difficult for the receiver to receive a pass. The ball is placed at the place of the foul.

fundamentals of american football



It is called the time that elapses while a play is executed from a pass or kickoff until the one with the ball touches the ground (except with his extremities) or leaves the playing area.

first chance

In the game, the team has four opportunities in which it can move the ball about 10 yards and be able to keep it four more downs; if the team advances at least 10 yards on its chances, it gets another first down or first down.

fourth down

When the team fails to advance the minimum 10 yards in its four opportunities, the opponent takes possession of the ball at the point where the other team ended its offense. When the first three downs don’t go well down the road, by the fourth they can use a punt or field goal to try to make up the yardage they’re missing.


It is the meeting on the field, in which the quarterback gives instructions to his teammates.


It is when the ball is handed from one player to another for a drive. They can be complete, in which the receiver catches him, or incomplete, when he hits the ground before being caught.


It is when the center passes the ball under his legs to the quarterback from the line of scrimmage.

line of scrimmage

Or scrimmage, is the line that separates the fields of both teams, being determined by the place where the ball was in the previous play.


It is when a defender manages to catch the ball before it hits the ground or goes out of bounds.


It is when a player loses possession of the ball or drops it while receiving it from a pass. The incomplete pass is excepted.

Time out

They are the opportunities that each team has to stop the clock and they cannot be requested in the middle of a play.

professional american football


This sport is regulated at a professional level by the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), which organizes a world cup every four years, just like English football.

Among the national leagues, the National Football League stands out, better known by the acronym of the NFL American football league, which is from the United States, where a tournament called Super Bowl football is held.

The best known American football teams are the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Memphis Mad Dogs, among others. Some American football teams from Mexico are the Raptors LFA, Dinos LFA and Mexicas LFA.

Frequently Asked Questions about American Football

What is American football?

It is a highly competitive and aggressive contact sport similar to rugby, which is very popular in the United States and approximately 60 countries.

How is American football played?

The attacking team must get the ball into the end zone or pass it through some posts before the defending team prevents them.

What positions are there in American football?

The football positions are on offense: center, guard, tackle, tight end, wide end, running backs (includes safety and middle), wingback, slotback, and quarterback. On defense: defensive end, tackle, nose guard, linebacker, cornerback, safety, defensive back, nickelback, and dimeback.

How many players are there in American football?

Each team consists of eleven members.

How long does a football game last?

It lasts 60 minutes, divided into 4 quarters of 15 minutes each, and can be extended in real time up to three hours due to breaks.