Learn to speak Football | CMC Scene

Football for Dummies: Sound like a Pro

Posted on 05. Sep, 2013 by in On Campus, Weekend

Obviously it’s possible to enjoy football without knowing much about the game itself (Hello tailgating!)

But just think of all the fun − and informed conversations − you can have if you actually understand what the heck is going on. Find enlightenment with this handy-dandy football jargon cheat sheet.
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Learn to speak Football | CMC Scene

Down: A period in which a play occurs. The offense gets four downs to advance the ball 10 yards.

Drive: A series of plays when the offense has the ball, until it punts or scores and the other team gets possession of the ball.

End Zone: The 10-yard-long area at each end of the field. You score a touchdown when you enter the end zone in control of the football.

Extra point: The result of a kick that’s usually attempted after a touchdown; worth 1 point.

Field goal: A kick that’s usually attempted within 40 yards of the goalpost. The ball must soar above the crossbar and between the uprights of the goalpost to be considered good; worth 3 points.

Fumble: When a player loses possession of the ball while running or being tackled.

Holding (defensive): When a defensive player tackles or holds an offensive player other than the ball carrier; the penalty is 5 yards and an automatic first down.

Holding (offensive): When an offensive player uses their hands, arms, or other body parts to keep a defensive player from tackling the ball carrier; the penalty is 10 yards.

Incomplete pass: When a forward pass hits the ground before a player on either team gains possession, or a pass that a receiver drops or catches out of bounds.

Line of scrimmage: An imaginary line (across the width of the field) that extends from where the ball is placed at the end of a play to both sides of the field. Neither offense nor defense can cross the line until the ball is in play again.

Offside: When any part of a player’s body is beyond the line of scrimmage or free kick line when the ball is in play; the penalty is 5 yards.

Personal foul: A foul that involves unnecessarily rough contact with another player; a 15-yard penalty.

Return: The act of receiving a kick or punt and running toward the opponent’s goal line to score or gain significant yardage.

Sack: When the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage.


If these are too basic for you, no problem. Impress your friends with your knowledge of the crazier-sounding football terms and where the names really came from.

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