Key Football Terms for Beginners
By Dawn Marcotte
, last updated February 12, 2012
Football is an extremely popular sport in America, but key terms are not necessarily understood by beginners. Young players may need coaches to teach them key football terms for so they better understand the game. There are actually two types of football: flag and touch. Both types share some common terms, but there are also terms specific to each.
Common Football Terms
Most terms are common to both forms of the game. Both games begin with a kickoff. This is where one team kicks the ball to the opposing team. This play is used after a touchdown and at the beginning of each half of the game. Each team is allowed 4 tries or downs to move the ball towards the goal. There are different ways to move the ball. When the ball is thrown it is called a pass. If the ball is thrown and caught by the opposing team this is an interception. If the ball is not caught at all it is called an incomplete pass. When a player carries the ball and runs down the field this is called running the ball. Other team members try to stop the opposing players from tackling the runner. This is called blocking. If the team with the ball drops the football or otherwise loses control this is called a fumble.
Common Field Terms
The goal line is a line at either end of the field that marks the touchdown area. The ball must pass over this line for a score. The large vertical posts at either end of the field are the goal posts. The football can be kicked through the center of these posts for a score. The lines on the field mark the yards. The entire field is 100 yards and there is a line every 10 yards.
Common Team Terms
The different positions on a football team all have names. When listening to a game on the radio the announcer will commonly use terms such as quarterback, running back or receiver. Here are the definitions for those names:
A quarterback is the player who snaps the ball or throws the ball at the beginning of each play.
The running back lines up behind the quarterback and is usually the one who runs the ball.
The receiver is the player who usually catches a pass from the quarterback and runs the ball down the field.
Touch Football Terms
There are a few terms unique to touch football. First is the word tackle. This refers to knocking a player down when they are attempting to carry the football to the goal. Tackling is not allowed in flag football. Another term is sack. This is a term specific to knocking down the quarterback before they are able to throw a pass.