The objective of the game is that teams attempt to manoeuvre the ball towards the opposition end zone in a series of plays which are called 'downs'. Each play ends when the ball carrier is tackled or when the ball touches or lands on the ground from an unsuccessful pass.
During each play teams can choose to run the ball by handing it off to a running back or let the Quarterback run the ball himself. Alternatively the Quarterback could pass or throw the ball to a receiver positioned down the field of play. On the fourth down a team is able to attempt to convert a first down, kick a field goal or punt the ball to the other team if they do not think they will make enough progress down field. This ensures they do not give up the ball to the opposition in their own territory.
The teams have to ensure a total of 10 yards of ground has been gained within 4 plays to keep possession and earn a fresh set of 4 downs. As an example if the team makes 4 yards on its first down, they now face 2nd and 6 which mean 2nd down and 6 yards to go to make up the required 10 yard gain.
You get 6 points for a touchdown and this can be achieved by a player carrying the ball into the end zone situated at each end of the field or by catching a pass while in the end zone. Teams can kick for an extra point after a touchdown.
Teams can also go for a field goal which offers them 3 points; this is where they kick the ball through the uprights positioned at the far side of the end zone. The standard field goal range is within the 40 yard line. The team that scores the most points wins at the end of the 60 minute play.
Only 11 players from each team are permitted on the field at any one time although a team is typically made up of a squad of 45. The squad is made up of offensive and defensive players:
The Offense 11 is made up of the following players:
- Wide Receiver
- Tight End
- Running back
- Full back
- Offensive line
The Defence 11 is made up of the following positions:
- Defensive end
- Defensive tackle
There is quite a choice of footballs on the market ranging from recreational cheap balls right up to genuine match balls as used in the NFL which do come with a high price tag needless to say. Wilson maintains the market leader in American Football and also has the official ball of the NFL, CFL and other leagues across the world which is called "The Duke". This ball was originally created in 1941 and is still made at the Wilson factory in Ada, Ohio.
So which ball should you go for:
Recreational use: Ideal for in the garden or taking to the park, you may want to look at the Midwest range as these are great value balls for general play.
If you wanted something that is more suitable for training and recreational use you may want to look at the Baden range of balls which is middle of the road when it comes to pricing.
However if you want to stay traditional to the roots of American Football then the Wilson range is the one to look at. Offering balls at all levels whether it be for recreational, training or match use there is a ball for everyone.
In the table below it gives you some advice regarding the balls and will help you decide which ball is best for you.