Progress Publishing Co.

 Football Rules

 

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Football Rules

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Football Teams and Officials

Football rules for the duration of the play, time outs and substitutions

Football rules for starting the play and kick offs

Football rules for playing and moving with the ball and out of play

Football rules for a scrimmage, snap, forward pass, backward pass, fair catch and fumble

Football rules for tackling and blocking

Football rules for scoring

Football rules for fouls and penalties

Football field and equipment

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Football teams and officials

A football team is allowed to have only 11 players on the field. One player is a captain of the team. Presently, a team canít have more than 53 players in uniform.

There are total 7 officials on the football field:

The referee Ė the chief official; the umpire who is responsible for equipment and scrimmage lines; two linesman on both sides of the field responsible for offsides, encroachment, scrimmages etc; the field judge responsible for forward passes, kicks and loose balls; the back judge responsible for the correct snap and eligible receivers; the line judge responsible time-outs, the score, illegal movements behind the scrimmage etc.

Football rules for the duration of the play, time outs and substitutions

         A football game lasts 60 minutes, which are divided into 4 quarters. There is a 2-minute interval between 1st and 2nd and between 3rd and 4th quarters. There is 15-minute break between two halves of the game. If there is a tie at the end of the game the 15-minute sudden death overtime period starts. The first team to score is a winner. If there is still a tie at the end of the overtime, the tie is the official result of the game.

Each team may take three 1 Ĺ minute time-outs per half. 3-minute time-out is allowed for repairing equipment. If a player is injured the time taken is not counted as a time-out.

A football team can have an unlimited amount of substitutions. Substituted players must leave the field on the side of their team. Disqualified and injured players must be substituted.

Football rules for starting the play and kick offs

The play must be started on or between the inbound lines with a kick off. At the start of the game, at the start of the second half and after a field goal or an extra point attempt the kick off must be executed at 35-yard line. After a safety, a kick off is done at the 20-yard line. A kick off can be a place kick or a punt. A place kick has a ball in fixed position on the ground supported by a tea or by a teammate. A punt is a drop kick, when a football player drops a ball and then hits it before the ball reaches the ground. A punt kick is done only after a safety from a 20-yard line. If after a kick off a defensive team gets a possession of the ball it may advance with the ball. If a kicking team gets a possession the ball is dead and the play starts from the place where it was recovered. During the kick off all football players must be within bounds and the defensive team should be at least 10 yards away.

Football rules for playing and moving with the ball, downs and out of play

The football players are allowed carrying, kicking and throwing the ball. They may not bat or punch a loose ball toward the opposite goal line, the loose ball in the end zone and the ball that is in possession of another player. When the ball is in the air after the pass, a defensive player may bat it in any direction but an offensive player may bat only to protect the ball from interception. When a football player carrying the ball touches the ground with his body with the exception of his arms and feet, the ball becomes dead. A team which has a possession of the ball has only 30 seconds to put it in play.

When a team gets a possession of the ball, it has 4 downs to move 10 yards toward the opposite goal line or toward the necessary line. A down is a period of the game from the moment when the ball is put into a play till the moment when the ball becomes dead. If a team gains 10 yards after 4 downs, itís awarded by 4 downs more. If it fails to cover 10 yards the possession of the ball goes to the opposite team.

If after a kick off a ball goes out of play between the goal lines, the kick off is repeated with a 5 yards penalty. If a football player carrying the ball runs out of play, his team starts with the scrimmage at the inbounds spot. If a ball goes out of play after a forward pass, the team starts the play again with the penalty. If a ball goes out of play after a kick, pass or fumble by an offensive team behind the goal line, the defensive team starts the play with a snap from a 20-yard line.

Football rules for a scrimmage, snap, forward pass, backward pass, fair catch and fumble

A teamís scrimmage line is a line that goes through the end of the ball closest to a teamís goal line. The area of the football field between two scrimmage lines is a neutral zone. There are up to seven players on the scrimmage line. The rest of the team with exception of the quarterback must be at least 1 yard behind the scrimmage line.

The snap is a backward pass between the legs of a snapper. The snapper canít slide his hands over the ball and move his hands and feet before the snap is done. The players must be stationary and canít move into a neutral zone.

A football team with a possession of the ball is allowed to make only one forward pass from the scrimmage provided a passer is behind his scrimmage line. Any other forward pass is illegal and a foul. If the defenders intercept an illegal pass they may continue with the play. Only offensive players on the ends of the scrimmage line can receive a forward pass. However, any defender is allowed to receive a forward pass. If a defender has touched the ball then all offensive players can receive a forward pass.

A football player running with the ball can make a backward pass any time to any teammate. A teammate may catch the pass or recover it after the ball has hit the ground. If a defender intercepts the pass, he may advance but if he recovers the ball off the ground the ball is dead and the play continues with the snap from the point of recovery.

A defending player can make a fair catch of the ball in flight after he raises his hand full length above his hand. A player canít be interfered with during the fair catch. As soon as the ball is caught, it becomes dead and the play will continue with the free kick or a snap by the team with the possession of the ball.

If a ball carrier fumbles a ball any team can recover it and continue with advance. If a ball was intentionally fumbled forward itís an illegal forward pass.

Football rules for tackling and blocking

Tackling means using hands and arms by a defender to hold a ball carrier or take him down to the ground. A defensive football player may only tackle a runner with the ball and nobody else. He may also use his hands and arms to push a blocking opponent.

Blocking is using the body above the knees by the player to obstruct the movement of the opponent. When blocking, the hands should not be stretched out. The blocker may not hang on the opponent, hug him or push him with the hands. The football players may block at any time if the block does not interfere with the pass, kick off, fair catch and itís not against a passer. A wide receiver canít be blocked below the knees. An offensive player may help a runner by blocking the opponents. The runner may use his hands and arms to push off the defenders.

Football rules for scoring

Touchdown scores 6 points. It happens when a football player crosses with the ball the defensive teamís goal line; when he catches the pass behind the goal line or recovers a loose ball on or behind the goal line. After a touchdown has happened, the team is awarded one extra point attempt from a scrimmage at least 2 yards from the defensive teamís goal line. The point can be scored from a kick, by another touchdown or as safety. Field goal scores 3 points. It happens when a football player kicks the ball through the goal line between the goal posts and above the crossbar. Safety is good for two points. It happens when the team sends the ball into its own end zone where it becomes dead or it goes out of play.

Football rules for fouls and penalties

The rules prohibit football players to use fists; back, heal and side of the wrist; forearms and elbows to strike an opponent. The use of forearm and elbow are not allowed in blocking and striking an opponent below the shoulders. Kicking and using knees is also against the rules. Tripping the players below the knee, piling on a player on the ground and grabbing the mask of a player are all rules violations.

Penalties are punishments for the violations of the football rules. They come in few forms. The team can loose one of its downs. It can loose 5, 10 or 15 yards depending on the severity of the violation. The players can also be disqualified.

Football field and equipment

The football field is 360 feet long and 160 feet wide. The field is crossed by parallel lines at 5 yards interval. The yard lines are intersected by short inbound lines 70ft 9in from the side lines. The goal lines are 30 ft from the end lines.

The ball is made of rubber covered by a leather case. The length of the ball is 11-11 ľ in. Long circumference is 28-28 Ĺ in. and short circumference is 21 ľ - 21 Ĺ.in.  The ball weighs 14-15 oz.

The football uniform includes following. A helmet made of hard plastic. A face mask made of hard plastic, which has rounded edges. A football jersey must have a team color with 8 in. numbers on the chest and 10 in. numbers on the back. Other parts of the football uniform are: padding for chest, shoulders, ribs, kidneys, thighs, groin, shins and also pants and lightweight shoes.

Copyright Progress Publishing Co. 2006

Selected References:

John Scarne  New Complete Guide to Gambling The Gambling Times Guide to Winning Systems
Kelso Sturgeon  Guide to Sports Betting Alice Fleming  Something for Nothing/A History of Gambling
Carl Sifakis  The Encyclopedia of Gambling Alan Wykes   The Complete Illustrated Guide to Gambling
Edwin Silberstang  How to Win Big in Football, Baseball etc. Bert Randolph Sugar  Sports Book of Betting
Diagram Book   Rules of the Game Ralph Hickok  The Encyclopedia of North American Sports History
Dave Ominsky and P.J. Harari  Football Made Simple Charles Fellows   Football Rules Illustrated