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  • 1. # Football 101The game of football is a game of contrasts -- days of planning followed bydecisions made in an instant; 60 minutes of play that is tougher than weeks oftraining; intricate plays drawn up by the smartest men in the game undone by rawathleticism.I want to give you the basics to enjoy the game today, spark your interest in afascinating game and leave you with resources to learn more on your own.## The playing field* 11 - 10 - 4 * 11 men try to move the ball 10 yards, theyve got 4 tries to do it then theygive the ball over to the other team.* Field itself * 120 yards long, by 53 yards wide * But we really only care about the 100 yards in the middle * Each team has a zone at the end of the field, or an endzone * At the back of the endzone are the goal posts, or uprights * Your home team wants to move the ball toward and into the opposing teams endzone* The clocks * The game clock - 60 minutes, divided into 4 15 minute quarters of play * The play clock - 40 seconds (25 in college) to start a new play after the endof the last one* The player (groups) * The guys moving the ball toward the end zone are the offense * The ones trying to stop them are the defense * And theres a third yet equally important set of guys called special teams## Offense* The offenses job is to score points * 6 points for getting the ball into the end zone * We said we really only care about the 100 yards in the middle, thatsbecause to score a touchdown only the nose of the ball has to cross the white ofthe end zone to count * After a touchdown, the players can add an additional 2 points by getting theball into the end zone again, or they can kick the ball through the upright for 1point (well talk more about that later)* The offense players * The offensive line - Center, Right and Left Guard, Right and Left tackle * The guys behind them, the "stars" of football depend on these guys to gettheir job done * They have to line up on every play, theres no formation that doesnt containthese guys * They meet the defense head on at what we call "the line of scrimmage", theyard line on the field where the two teams meet * They have two jobs: protect the guys behind them, and make holes for the guysbehind them to run through * The center has an extra responsibility, hes the only one allowed to touchthe ball before the play starts -- so he literally has his hands on the ball onevery, single, play. * The ends
  • 2. * Tight ends - they line up at the line scrimmage and are a double threat. Theycan block or move the defense, providing protection and gaps for running. But they,unlike the rest of the linemen are elligble to receive the ball. * The backs * Quarter back - named because in a traditional formation hes 1/4 of the wayback from the line as the rest of the backs. He touches the ball on almost everyoffensive play. Hes a general, making decisions at the line, an hes responsiblefor getting those 10 yards. He throws the ball, he hands it off to other backs, andhe can run with the ball * Half back - named because traditionally he was behind the quarterback, hencehalf of the way back from the line. Hes often referred to as a "running back"which describes his skill at running with the ball. * Full back - named because traditionally he was the last guy in the line, allthe way back. In the modern offense this player is usually a strong blocker,providing protection to the quarterback and good at powering through to pick upshort yardage. Increasingly many modern offensives dont carry a full back playeron their roster * The receivers * Depending on the formation there may be 1 or more receivers, who usuallyline up a little ways away from the center of the formation, hence the term "widereceivers". Their job is typically to get down field and receive passes to gainyards.## The play* Before the snap * The quarterback may be looking to the sidelines or receiving a play instructionvia a radio in his helmet * The offense "huddles up" to discuss the upcoming play, point out areas ofweakness in the defense, build each other up * The teams line up, the center reaches out and picks up the ball * The quarterback usually reads the defense, seeing how theyve lined up againsthim, and tries to anticipate how thatll affect the success of the upcoming play * He may make change in the play, or change the play entirely, something calledan "audible" because the quarterback has to yell (usually in code) at his teammatesso they know to change what they do after the snap * All the while, the play clock is counting down * The quarterback signals hes ready for the snap * The world comes to a standstill* The snap * Everything from this point on is happening in a matter of seconds, or less * The center takes the ball and throws it between his legs to the quarterback * The defense comes barrelling toward the ball * Receivers and running backs move into position* Run play * If the play is a running play, then the offensive line tries to push thedefense back and spread them apart, making holes for a running back or thequarterback to move forward in * The quarterback drops back and hands, tosses, or otherwise gets the ball into arunning backs hands or he tucks the ball into elbow and runs forward * Depending on the plan of the play, the ball carrier either runs "up the center"into a gap in the line, or runs laterally attempting to "sweep" around one side orthe other * Whoever has the ball is having to read the positions of the offensive line and
  • 3. the defensive, maybe the planned hole hasnt opened up, maybe someone missed ablock and defensive player is coming at you at what appears to be 60 miles per hour-- either way your job is to get the ball as far forward as you can, preferablyinto the end zone. * At some point, the ball carrier is tackled and the referees "blow the playdead" and the team asses how far they got, how far they have to go, and how manytries they have left* Pass play * If the play is a pass play, then the offensive line collapses back forming a Ushape around the quarterback, a protected area called "the pocket". * Receivers -- including backs and tight ends will try and shake defenders andmove into a position where they can catch the ball * Quarterback -- is scanning each of his receivers in whats called a"progression" looking for the best place to throw the ball * When hes made his decision, he plants his back foot and throws the ball at hisintended receiver * The ball either lands in the hands of the receiver, or someone on the defensebats it away or catches it themselves, or the ball hits the ground or goes out ofbounds and the play is blown dead.## Defense* Defensive line * Defensive tackles -- they form the core of the defensive line, they have to bebig to face off against offensive linemen, but must also be quick enough to breakthrough gaps in the line. Most formations have 1-2 DTs * Defensive ends -- they line up outside the tackles and have to be faster thanthe tackles but still strong enough to push past offensive tackles. Theyre primaryjob is to get past the offensive line and put pressure on the quarterback or to getafter the ball carrier if its a running play* Linebackers * So named because theyre back from the line of scrimmage, they have to bothstop the run, defend against passing routes and participate in the blitz (more onthat later).* Secondary * Usually composed of 4 players whose job it is to primarily break up pass plays,there are two types of positions * Corner backs -- cover wide receivers usually, they have to disrupt thereceivers at the line, shadow them, and break up pass plays * Safeties -- are 10-15 yars back from the line of scrimmage and they are thevery last line of defense, if you get past them you should have a free shot at theend zone* A note about currency * Nickelback -- Aside from being an awful band, this is when a defensivecoordinator trades a linebacker for a 5th defensive back, usually a cornerback * Dimeback -- A rare 6th defensive back, again usually a corner, when youre allbut sure the offense is going for a pass play* Defense wins championships * The offense is sexy and glamorous but the defense is generally what seperatesplayoff teams from those whose seasons end in January. * Also a big difference between college and pros is the speed, intensity andintelligence of the defense * Blitzing -- when the defense sends more men across the line of scrimmage than
  • 4. the offense has designated to block. It puts even more pressure and takes even moretime away from a quarterback to make a passing decision, or on running plays it canput a tackler closer to the running back. * Sacks -- when the defense tackles the quarterback, still in possesion of theball, itll result in "negative yardage" making the offense have to gain more than10 yards to progress * Takeaways -- Often called interceptions, in the pros the defense calls themtakeaways because it wasnt like the offense just handed the ball to them (thoughit can appear that way to outside observers). Pressure from the defense can forcethe quarterback to throw to a well-covered receiver, or a lineman may get a hand onthe ball "tipping" it and allowing the defense to grab it, or an excellentlinebacker or corner will be watching the quarterback and can "jump a route"getting between the receiver and the ball seemingly out of nowhere. * Safety -- The best tasting points in football, and the best officiating signalin the game. It occurs, usually, when the defense tackles a ball carrier, usuallythe QB, in the offenses end zone. It puts 2 points on the board for the defendingteam.## Special teams * A set of specialized players, who come into play in some special circumstancesin the game, almost all of which involve kicking the ball in some fashion. * Point-after -- After the offense scores a touchdown, the offense lines up nearthe goal line, and a kicker and holder lines up further back. A special center, along snapper, snaps the ball all the way back to the holder, who positions it forthe kicker. If he can place the ball between the uprights, then the team tacks onan extra 1 point to the touchdowns 6 points, for a total of 7. * Field-goal -- If the offense is close enough to the opposing teams end zone,but they come up short of 10 yards on 3rd down, then theyll likely elect to kick afield goal on their 4 down. Its a similar formation and personnel set to a PAT,but the offense gains 3 points instead of 1. * Punt -- If the offense comes up short of the yards needed on 3rd down, andtheyre not close enough to try a field goal, then theyll likely punt the ball.Its a similar formation to the field goal formation, except theres no holder --the long snapper snaps the ball directly to the punter who drop kicks it as faraway as he can. Its a change of possession, the opposing team comes out on offenseafter catching and downing the ball. * Kickoff -- At the start of each half, and after a scoring drive -- touchdown orfield goal -- the scoring team lines up and kicks the ball (from a tee) toward theopposing team. As in a punt, the receiving team attempts to catch the ball andreturn it as far as they can (preferably the end zone).* Onside kick -- A special type of kickoff, if the kicking team kicks the ball 10yards ahead of it, and it bounces, and they recover it, then they take possessionof the ball. Downside is its risky and the receiving team usually gets the ball.## Questions