American football is the ultimate team sport combining strategy and endurance. The aim is to score points by taking the ball into the opponent’s end zone by running or passing. The winner of the match is the one who scores the most points
How the game is played:
An American football match lasts in principle 60 minutes and consists of four 15-minute quarters. In practice, however, a game lasts more than an hour because after an incomplete pass, a change of possession or when a runner goes out of bounds, the clock stops. At half-time, a change of sides is made and the same ball position is maintained and the teams are allowed a rest of about 20 minutes.
Phase of play
Every game starts with a kick-off. The team taking the kickoff is designated by a coin toss at the start of the game. The kickoff is used at the start of each half, as well as to restart play after a team has scored points. In most cases, the kick-off is used to send the ball as far into the opponent’s half as possible, to give the kicking team time to move up the field to tackle the opponent as close to their end-zone as possible. The place where the carrier is tackled is the place where the play will start.
When the ball lands in the receiving team’s end-zone, the receiving player can either decide to try to play the ball or kneel down to stop the play (fair catch). In this case, the phase will start on the team’s 20 yard line (= TOUCHBACK). The team that gets the ball back in the kickoff is in attack.
The attack has four attempts (downs) to cover a distance of 10 yards from the scrimmage line. The attacking team will then advance by gaining 10 yards for every 10 yards. They are not limited to only 10 yards, they can go further if they can.
If the attacking team goes backwards, they must regain the lost ground and the 10 yards they have to cover in order to have a new set of four downs.
If the team in possession of the ball has not covered the 10 yards at the end of the 4 downs, possession of the ball is given to the opponent who recovers the ball from the place where the attack failed (=turnover on downs).
When the attacking team has only one down left to cover the 10 yards (or more in the case of a loss of ground) and to prevent the opposing team from getting the ball too close to the end zone and therefore finding themselves in an overly favourable situation, it is possible to carry out a punt to keep the opposing team away from their end zone.
Football (soccer) and rugby, both of which were introduced in North America in 1861 for soccer and 1864-1865 for rugby, are the basis of what is now called « American football ». In America, the first rugby games were played in Canada, giving rise to Canadian football. American universities play soccer and rugby and each team has its own rules, so a half-time game is played according to the rules of each university. Later, some universities adopted a common rule (November 23, 1876 – « Massasoit convention »).
American football was created in 1880 and 1883 when Walter Chauncey Camp (7 April 1859 – 14 March 1925), then coach at Yale, modified the rules and spirit of the game. He introduced the notion of the « scrimmage line » and the definition of downs (initially 3 downs to go 5 yards and in 1912 4 downs to go 10 yards). Moreover, this man considered as the « Father of American Football » defined the alignments specific to American football, with the obligation to align 7 players on the scrimmage line for the offensive team. It was not until 1892-1893 that the first professional players appeared and 1896 that the first pro team was formed. The forward pass was not authorised until 27 October 1906. In 1920, the NFL was created to harmonise American football and put an end to the chaos that reigned in the sport. In 1970, American football became the number one sport in the United States. It was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that the sport came to our shores. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) was founded in 1998.