The UK Rules
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American Football

American Football Rules and Regulation

This NFL overview is the ideal introduction to the rules of American Football. It simplifies all the references and player tactics used in the game.

RULES OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Take the first step to learn about the basic game references and player tactics.

The 100+ page NFL Rule Book 2018 PDF provides all the official resources and interpretations of American Football rules and terms.

Beginners and novices will start to enjoy the popular sport of American Football in the UK.

The game gets easier when we demystify elements of the complex laws and help you figure out how the game plays out.

American Football gets played all over the United Kingdom and many other countries worldwide. Some followers liken basic American Football rules to a 'chess match with shoulder pads'.

The annual Super Bowl is perhaps the sport's most famous event both inside and outside USA. It gets played out every year to millions of fans - including non-Americans.

Gridiron Football is one of the biggest and most popular sports in North America. The National Football League is immensely competitive and mighty lucrative for its professional players.

We try to make it easy to grasp the fundamentals of American Football basics. But, let's begin by stating that any of these three rule books govern and dictate the finer points of the game.

The British American Football Association sanctions various formats of the game around Great Britain. Their rules have governance over the contact and non-contact variants. All 3 codified law books cover every possible eventuality of American Football rules and regulations.

We summarized the most important rules and essential tactics for all newcomers to the game. It's the ideal start for those who want to get a regulation snapshot of how to play American Football for beginners in the United Kingdom.

A Basic Rules Guide of How to Play American Football GameThe Rules of American Football for Beginners

Aim of American Football

There is one simple goal in playing American football. Each team aims to score more points than the opponents in the allotted game time. Players move the ball down the pitch in phases of play.

They then try get the ball into the 'end zone' to score points from a touchdown.

American Football Field Dimensions

American Football Players

NFL rulings permit 53 players on the team active roster but only 46 players can dress out for the game. In terms of American Football each team can field no more than 11 players during the game.

There are three groups of positions played in American Football:

  1. Offensive: Typically smaller, stronger, and faster attacking players including the quarterback.
  2. Defensive: Usually larger, burly, and more powerful.
  3. Special Team Players: The Place-kicker and Punter specialize in kicking and punting.

American Football Equipment UK

The rules and regulations of American Football state that all players must wear approved and mandatory safety equipment.

Rules for American Football in the United KingdomProtective gear in the American Football equipment list includes:

American Football Starting Lineup

A coin toss starts every game. It decides who will receive the ball first and which side of the pitch they will start from.

A play begins when the team is in formation with seven players standing on the line of scrimmage. The line of scrimmage is a 'moveable' imaginary line determined by the game officials.

As a rule the center stands on the line and passes the ball back between his legs to the quarterback. This is usually called the snap or hiking the ball.

The Kickoff Formation

The kickoff takes place on a kicking tee at the defense's 30-yard line. The place-kicker punts the ball down field to the offense players. A kick return man will try to catch the ball and run with it.

American Football Match Length

Match duration in the basic rules for American Football games consists of four quarters. There will be 15 minutes of play in each quarter.

A two minute break gets taken between the 1st and 2nd quarter and then again between the 3rd and 4th quarters. A 15 minute rest break (half time) occurs between the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

American Football Downs Explained

There will be many different plays happening on any down. But, generally, plays get determined by the team players. It often appears uncoordinated and haphazard when players are running all over the place (making routes).

Offensive and defensive tactical plays get called by the senior members of the squad. It is usually the head coach or quarter back and the defensive captain (respectively).

Scoring in American Football for Beginners

There are four ways to score points in basic American Football rules and regulations:

  1. Touchdown: Scoring a touchdown (either carrying or receiving the ball in the end zone) wins six points for your team.
  2. Extra Point: Kicking the ball after a touchdown (conversion) wins an extra point if the ball passes between the upright posts.
  3. Field Goal: A successful field goal kick results in three points.
  4. Safety: Safety wins 2 points for the defensive team if they tackle an attacking opponent in their own end zone.

American Football Officials

There will be several officials on the field at the same time during a professional game. But, the referee has the final ruling in decisions. He also has superiority over other officiating judges. The American Football basics for officiating match officials include:

Penalties in American Football

Committing an illegal action against the rules and regulations in American Football incurs penalties. It will be either a five, ten or 15 yard penalty and the down gets replayed. A minor offence is commonly punished by a five yard penalty

Aggressive actions often result in an award of a 'first down' for the opposition. The ball gets spotted in the appropriate place by game officials for a penalty and play resumes.

Common penalties in American Football terminology include:

Moving the Ball

You move the ball either by throwing it to a teammate or running with it. Each team gets 4 chances (downs) to progress the ball 10 yards forward. Passing a 10 yards distance means the 'down' is reset and the movement starts again for another 10 yards.

The ball gets turned over to the defensive team if you fail to make 10 yards after 4 downs have passed.

The Run:

The Pass:

Winning the Game

The winner in American Football is the team with the most points at the end of the game. Over time comes into play if the points get tied. In this case the teams will play an extra quarter to determine the outright winner.

Advanced American Football Regulations

Also in this section...

A to Z Sports Rules and Regulations: A list of popular indoor and outdoor sport categories.
American Football Equipment List: Find out how players use bulky padding for protection.
American Football Terminology: A concise list of gridiron football terms and phrases from A-Z.
FIFA Football Rules: Learn about English soccer rules and regulations for footy fans.
NFL UK Playbook: A new sponsorship deal features a roll out by Heinz Yellow Mustard.
Rules of Rugby: Simplified explanations extracted from the official RFU laws of the game.
Rules of Rugby League: Find out how a different set of regulations relate to the game.
Weird Sports Rules: A concise list of weird and wonderful sports games around the world.
2018 American Football Rules PDF: [Portable Document Format Download Option]

Rules of American Football Played in the United Kingdom