How is American football different from the rest of the world?

If you’re a fan of football matches, you’re definitely well informed about how the world plays it. Well, football is slightly different for North America and we’re here to give you a complete guide about the differences.

American football is one of the widely played sports in North America. Professional footballers all across the globe find leagues like NFL extremely competitive. The pinnacle of football comes in the form of Super Bowl that American teams play every year.

Although football matches in America are watched all across the globe, many people don’t know how the rules differ against global standards. The rest of the article will tell you about the American football rules that make them different.

How is American Football played?

Here’s taking you through the concepts of American football that makes it different from the rest:

The objective

The objective of American football is to score better than the opponent team within an allotted time. For doing this, they need to move the ball down the pitch through multiple phases to finally get it to the ‘end zone’ for the ‘touchdown’. Teammates can either throw the ball to one another or run with the ball while the opponents try to snatch it away.

Both the teams get four chances each for touchdowns. They need to move the ball 10 yards forward and once they cross that, the downs reset. After that, they need to start playing for 10 more yards. Once they complete four downs and fail to make it over 10 yards, the ball is taken over by the defensive team.

Number of players

Usually, football only allows 11 players from each team to be on the field while the match is on. However, American football includes 45 players. There are three teams that include players with different abilities.

The first team includes the attackers who are usually shorter, stronger and faster than the rest. The second team is for defense and includes larger and powerful players who can stop the runners. Finally, the third team includes special players who are responsible to kick or punt the ball. They are usually a mixture of large and fast players.

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The usual size of a field

American football fields are usually about 100 yards long and 160 yards wide. There are lines drawn on the field at an interval of 10 yards and that indicates how far each team needs to go before reaching the end zone. This area is right at the end of a pitch and usually 20 yards in length. You can find posts at each end to allow the kicker to kick the ball across.


If a player wins a touchdown, his team gets six points. The player who is carrying the ball right to the end zone or gets a pass right before getting there is the one eligible to touchdown. Once he manages to touch the ball down, the attacking team gets a chance to kick the ball to grab an extra point. The ball needs to pass between the upright posts to make the kick count.

Field goals are scored from anywhere on the pitch and at any time. A successful kick gets the team three points. A team can get a safety when the defensive team manages an attacking opponent towards their end zone. If they manage to do so, the team gets two points.

The win

The team that has the most point at the end will be the winner. If there is a tie then they have to go for overtime. The teams then need to play another quarter until the winning team takes the lead.

What are the rules to play American Football?

If you want to know more about how American football differs from the rest of the world, know their rules:

  • American football is played in four quarters of 15 minutes each. The teams get a two-minute break between the 1st and 2nd quarter and then between 3rd and 4th quarter. After the 2nd quarter, they get a break of 15 minutes.
  • Each team gets a chance to get 4 downs. They either throw the ball or run with it to cover the yards. As soon as a team gains the yards required, the downs are reset and so do the yardage. If a team fails to make yardage after 4 downs, it results in a turnover.
  • There are games where authorities allow the players to run after a down. These are decided in advance by the teams and results in players running on all routes. It is a form of organized chaos that ultimately gets a back call from the head coach for the attacking team. While the captain of the defensive team back calls the play for his team.
  • Every game starts with a coin toss that decides which teams get the ball first. The captain gets to decide from which side of the pitch they want to start.
  • The match starts with a grand kick-off where one team punts the ball downfield so that the other team runs back with the ball as far as they can.
  • At the fourth down, the offensive team gets an option to either make up the yards that they’re short of or to kick the ball. If they want to kick, they can either punt or try a field goal. They will determine their move depending on the position and the pitch. Anywhere around 40 yards of the opponent’s goal post results as a field goal. Further back will definitely mark a punt.
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Final thoughts

From Argentina to Barcelona, no matter which football team you support, you’re going to have a new experience witnessing American football. The players are fierce, focused, and fast. You might take some time to understand the game better, but once you do you wouldn’t want to stop watching it. American football still happens to be one of the most glorified sports across the world and keeps spectators hooked to their seats every time. It is the time you know more about the game, the players, and maybe try playing it too!

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