The game of American football is believed to have evolved from a form of rugby and soccer (Futbol) from European countries.With its origin on the collegiate campus of Yale by a gentleman named Walter Camp who was an undergrad student from 1876-1881; the game of American Football was implemented and has evolved into what we see today. Sure there were various renditions and other forms of what imitated the game; however with Camp introducing the “down and distance” aspect that separated what once was rugby.Camp also introduced the 11 man vs 11 man concept, the quarterback position, the line of scrimmage, offensive signal calling, and most importantly the scoring system used to date.While others were involved in starting the game of American Football, Walter Camp is known as the founding father.

The NFL (National Football League) is a professional American football league that is comprised of 32 franchises. The teams are broken down in two different conferences, the AFC (American Football Conference) and NFC (National Football Conference). Each conference has 4 divisions - AFC/NFC North, South, West, and East. The Conference and Division breakdown below (includes 32 franchises):


           American Football Conference

AFC North

           Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers


            AFC South

    Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans


    AFC West

    Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers


    AFC East

    Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets


    National Football Conference

    NFC North

    Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay, Minnesota Vikings



NFC South

Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 


NFC West

Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins



The league is played primarily in the U.S. with some expansion games in various countries. There are a total of 4 preseason and 16 regular games with a 12 team playoff (6 teams from each conference).  The 17 week regular season includes a bye week where each team has one week throughout the season where they do not play.


2. The Field



(100 yards longs 53 yards wide)


Lines- each long vertical line represents five yards.

There is a goal post on each end.

Stadium - refers to area surrounding field. Styles may vary.





Shoulder pads

Thigh pads / knee pads






Goal posts 

First down markers


Regulation football 


3. The Player




Positional Breakdown:



QB: Quarterback

Signal Calling: Every offensive play begins with verbal queues from the quarterback to communicate between offensive players, leading to the attack signal(Hut! Hike! Go!) such signals tell the unit to attack toward moving the ball and scoring.


RB: Running Back

Running backs are valuable for in game strategy to control time of possession and are usually the primary players in possession of the ball doing offensive plays.

Running backs are speedy athletic players who carry the task of running with the football via handoff from the quarterback. They also receive passes and block oncoming defenders to protect 


WR: Wide Receiver

TE: Tight End

OL: Offensive Line 

      (RT / LT): Tackle

      (RG / LG): Guard

      (C): Center





Positional Breakdown:




CB: Cornerback

S: Safety

    (FS): Free Safety

    (SS): Stong Safety


LB: Linebacker

  (OLB): Outside Linebacker

    (ILB): Inside Linebacker

  (MLB): Middle Linebacker


DL: Defensive Line

    (DT): Defensive tackle

    (DE): Defensive End


 Special Teams



(LS): Long Snapper

(P): Punter

(PR): Punt Returner

(K): Kicker

(KR): Kick Returner


4. Game Play


Basics of football


Football is an 11-man v.s. 11-man sport where the object of the game is to advance the football down the field to score

There are two main ways to score; You can score by crossing the goal line and in the end zone or you can kick the football through the goal posts

There are three parts of a team: Offense*, Defense*, and Special Teams*

An offense (11-man) consists of a quarterback(QB*) -1, running backs(RB*) , a tight end(TE*) -1, wide receivers(WR*)- (2 - 5), an offensive line(OL*)-5

A defense (11-man) consists of defensive line (DL*)-4, linebackers(LB*)-3, cornerbacks(CB*)-2, safeties (S*)-2

Special teams is a mix of your offense and defense players for the kicking game

The offense objective is to score against the defense

The defense job is to prevent the offense to score

Special Teams is the part where a change of possession (giving the ball to the other team) takes place; This can be after a score or when running on 4th down*

4 downs and the field:

At the start of a possession, you have 4 downs (chances) to make 10 yards; If you make the 10 yards or more it is called a first down and the offense gets a new 4 downs to make another 10 yards

The field is a 100 yards long from end zone to end zone; it is marked off by yards


Ways of scoring:

Touchdown (6 points)* – This is the biggest single score that you can get in a game

To score a touchdown, a player must cross the goal line into the end zone with possession of the football       

Extra point (1 point) / Two-Point Conversion(2 points)*

After a player scores a touchdown, that team can perform to things; They could either score an extra point or a 2 pt conversion

More common, an extra point (1 pt) is kicked through the goal posts

A 2 pt conversion is one play to score from the 2 yard line    

Field goal (3 points)*

If a team cannot score a touchdown, they may settle for a field goal

Can be kicked at anytime on any down

The football must go through the goal post to count as a score                                          

Safety (2 points)*

This is a defensive score when the offensive carrier is tackled behind his own goal line behind him



*links to definitions or images










Common Penalties


Yellow Flag: A player from either team has committed a foul against the rules.


Holding (Offensive): When an offensive player is attempting to block a defensive player and they hold / grab on to the jersey and do not let go. 

(10 yard penalty)


Holding (Defensive): Defensive player tackles or holds on to a player other than the ball carrier. 

(5 yards and an automatic 1st down)


False Start: Offensive player moves illegally prior to the football being snapped.

(5 yard penalty)


Offside: Defensive player moves illegally prior to football being snapped.


Encroachment: Defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage and / or makes contact with offensive player before the football is snapped.

(5 yard penalty)


Pass Interference (Offensive/Defensive) : Defensive player touches / contacts intended receiver after it has been thrown and before another player touches it. 

(Ball is placed at the spot of the foul or at one yard line if in the end zone. Automatic 1st Down)


Roughing The Passer: Defensive player contacts quarterback after he has released the football. Either using crown of the helmet, or hitting above the shoulders.

(15 yard penalty)


Personal Foul - various types including facemask, unnecessary roughness, horse collar etc. Can result in ejection or 15 yards from spot of foul.



Facemask: Defensive players grabs a hold of any portion of the ball carriers face mask. 

(15 yards penalty from the spot of the foul)


Horse Collar: Defensive Player grabs / tackles an offensive player from neck portion of shoulder pads.

(15 yards from spot of the foul)


Targeting: Defensive player hits / tackles receiver in which the ball was not intended for.

(Possible ejection for offender, 15 yards from spot of foul)


Hands to the face: Any player strikes another player on facemask without grasping on.


Illegal Chop Block: Offensive player blocks defender below the waist outside of restricted area. 

(15 yards from the spot of the foul)


Illegal Double Team: (high low) When two offensive players block a  defensive player at the same time and one blocks below the waist while the other is engaged above the waist.

(15 yards from the spot of the foul)


Illegal Formation: Offense must have 7 players on line of scrimmage and 4 off on each play or it is considered illegal.

(5 yard penalty) 


Illegal Shift: Offensive player moves once whole unit is set. See False Start

(5 yard penalty)


Unnecessary Roughness: Any player strikes another player after the play the whistle has been blown, or player steps out of bounds.

(15 yard penalty)


Head to Head: When defensive player strikes offensive player using crown of helmet

(15 yards from spot of the foul) 


Too Many Men on the Field:

Can only have 11 players on the field at once. 

(5 yard penalty) 


Red Flag: A head coach challenges a play on the field to be reviewed with video replay; Each team receives 2 challenges per game with a 3rd awarded if the first 2 overturned call 


5. Strategy

Formations(with diagrams)

When determining formations it is easy to understand by counting the number of running backs and tight ends. 


Formation (# of RB’s / # of te’s) 


                Ace: (10 or 11 or 12)



WR             LT LG C RG RT                  WR

          WR             QB                   WR





(10): Trips Right / Left


       WR      LT LG C RG RT                   WR

   WR   WR          QB






WR             LT LG C RG RT TE             

           WR            QB                             WR







               TE LT LG C RG RT TE           

WR                        QB                            WR 









WR               LT LG C RG RT                 WR

          WR                                    WR


                               QB    RB 


(10): Trips Right / Left


WR                LT LG C RG RT             WR

                                                       WR      WR


                                QB    RB




WR                LT LG C RG RT TE           

           WR                                               WR 


                                QB     RB



                 TE LT LG C RG RT TE           

WR                                                           WR


                                QB       RB 






WR                LT LG C RG RT                 WR

           WR                                   WR




(10): Trips Right  / Left


WR                LT LG C RG RT          WR

                                                     WR     WR






                 TE LT LG C RG RT               WR                                              WR                                               WR 






                TE LT LG C RG RT TE

WR                                                          WR





Two back formations (20, 21, 22)


I formation, Split Back Formation, Pro I formation.




WR               LT LG C RG RT              WR

           WR              QB 





WR               LT LG C RG RT              WR

            WR             QB


                         RB         RB


WR               LT LG C RG RT              WR

            WR             QB







WR               LT LG C RG RT TE         

                               QB                        WR





WR               LT LG C RG RT TE

                               QB                         WR


                        RB            RB


WR               LT LG C RG RT TE

                               QB                         WR







                 TE LT LG C RG RT TE 

WR                          QB





                 TE LT LG C RG RT TE

                                QB                             WR


                       RB              RB


                TE LT LG C RG RT TE 

WR                          QB











 Defense - Are designated by how many down lineman and linebackers they have.




CB             DE  DT  DT   DE              CB


                  LB       LB       LB


                    SS             FS





CB             DE      NT      DE             CB


            LB        LB      LB       LB


                  SS                 FS




CB           DE  DT NT  DT  DE           CB


                          LB     LB


                 SS                     FS





Special Teams


FG formation


HB                                      HB








FG block formation



        ^                                     ^

        I                                      I        





Punt formation



SP                      SP SP SP LS SP SP SP               SP







Punt Block formation


                                    LB            LB

DB                     SP SP SP SP SP SP SP                DB 





Kickoff Formation



SP   SP   SP   SP   SP   K   SP   SP   SP   SP   SP




Kick return formation



   SP              SP           SP             SP                 SP



             SP             SP           SP                SP








Note: SP - Skill Player can be a defensive or offensive player

          PP - Punt protector protects punter and makes the call to snap

          RS - Return Specialist is a skill player that will catch and return the ball