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Top 10 Rules of Football

Apparently football is the most popular sport in the world including America, Britain, etc. Anyone who wants to understand the game or play it needs to know the rules of football. The rules can differ a bit with organizations, for example NFL rules and college football vary a little. There are so many rules in this one game that sometimes you might find it difficult to learn all of them at once. But it does not mean that this only reason would restrict you from playing football. Because there are some most important rules in football that are enough to be known by someone who plays football. In this article we will explain the top 10 rules of football and how the same rules vary in NFL and College Football.Football Rules

1. Catch Rule

What comes to your mind when you think of catch? Just put aside whatever you think because in football the catch rule is something that has been debated by players, coaches and fans for years. But what is Catch?

NFL: in NFL a catch is considered when a player receives the ball and takes possession of it with the ball bound by two feet or any other body part except hand. The ball is not able to move as the result of being in touch with the ground. Also the NFL officials emphasize on a point that a player must retain the possession of a ball during the entire process of catch. 

If the ball gets slipped or bobbled from the player’s grip, it is considered an incomplete pass. Only catching the ball is not enough as the player must make a football move after taking possession of the ball such as reach, third move or pivot. The catch would also be judged legal if the player contains the possession of the ball long enough to make a football move. 

College football: the catch rule in college football is not at all different from the NFL. Every aspect and part of the Catch rule is the same except the player is allowed to have only one foot in bounds in college football. There is no requirement for a player to have both feets in bounds during catch.

2. Fumble Rule

Fumble in football occurs when a player is deemed to catch the ball but loses its possession as a result of being unable to tackle the ball. 

NFL: in NFL a player is considered down when any of his body parts except hands and feet touch the ground or they fall and come in contact with a defensive player while making a move to tackle the ball. 

College football: in college football the player is considered down when any of his body parts except hands and foot falls to the ground regardless of being touched by a defensive player or not. 

Fumbles can occur due to different reasons but mostly they occur when a defensive team player tries to strip out the ball from the offensive player’s possession or hits him hard enough to fumble. When the ball fumbles out of the offensive player’s possession, either team can grab the opportunity to gain possession. A fumble is kind of a turnover which occurs when the offensive team loses the ball to the defensive team. But when the offensive team regains possession of the ball after a fumble it’s called recovery.

3. Overtime Rule

If you are a regular viewer of football you must be familiar with the overtime rule that comes to the scene when a game ends up in a tie. The overtime rule says that when at the end of the regular season, game results in a tie, 10 minutes of overtime is given to the teams to win. 

NFL: in NFL, after a game ends up in a tie 10 minutes of overtime is played by both teams. To decide who will get the ball first, they toss the coin just like at the beginning of the game. It is a bonus for the team who gets the ball because if they score a touchdown the game is over and they win. But if they are unable to score a goal the opportunity passes to the other team. If the team who got the ball first scores a field goal, the opponent team has the opportunity to take possession of the ball and tie the game by scoring a field goal or win by scoring a touchdown. And if the second team is unable to score, it loses the game immediately. After both teams possess the ball and the score still remains tied, the same cycle continues until the overtime is finished. At the end of overtime when no team manages to win, the game ends in a tie. 

NCAA: in college football when a game ends and the score still remains tied, teams play overtime but unlike the NFL, both teams possess the ball at the end of the opponent’s 25-yards line. Similar to the NFL, a coin is tossed to decide which team will get the ball first. If the score remains tied at the end of first overtime, the second overtime is played and if second also results in a tie, third is played. But in the second overtime, a touchdown gets two points to the scoring team. When the game reaches the third overtime teams start from the opponent’s 2 yard line and run two points conversion play. The same cycle continues until a team scores. 

4. Down Rules

Down markers are a very important part of football because their absence would not stop an offensive team from scoring. As the aim of offense is to score a touchdown every drive and defenses aim on stopping them from doing so. Here comes the downmarkers. They help defenses to get a chance of possessing the ball as it is very challenging for defenses to get the ball back to their offense without it. 

In NFL and College Football, the first down marker is marked on the 10 yards line. 10 yards away from the spot where the ball is placed first down marker is considered. If offences fail to get the ball past the first down marker for four times continuously, the second team will automatically gain possession of the ball and the ball will get back to their offence. In case of close measurements, the referee jumps in and measures the distance of the ball from the first down marker with chains and announces the unbiased decision.

5. Replay Rule

Replay rule has become more prevalent in the last few years with the introduction of cameras. Replay rule is important to ensure fairness in game and review the mistakes or fouls made by teams. Most penalties are not reviewed because the call was not originally made on the ground. Coaches are usually given two challenges that means they can challenge the game and make a call on ground to review specific things. During the match they can use it anytime by showing a red flag and discussing it with the referee except for the last two minutes of the game. In the Last 2 minutes of the game every reviewable play is observed by officials in a booth. 

As I told you, a coach has two challenges, so even if his first challenge is incorrect, he gets to make one more challenge. if both of the challenges made by him are incorrect, he will not get another chance for the remaining play. But if both of his challenges are correct, they are awarded with one more challenge. The coach can use his challenge by signalling in the ground showing a red flag. After that he discusses with the referee what part of the game he wants them to review. If the play is deemed challengeable, the referee takes a look at replays and determines whether the call stands or needs to be overturned. 

6. Point After Conversion Rule

In football, the first team aims to score a touchdown every drive but they also have the option to make it a two point conversion. It is known as the point after touchdown (PAT). Teams consider it a more conventional option to score. Point after is a field goal scored by a team from 15 yards line (making it 32 yards as the end zone is 10 yards away and placeholder stands seven yards away). Placeholder is a term used for the player who receives the ball and sets it up for the kicker to make the field goal. 

When a team scores a field goal, it is awarded one point but teams have the option to make it two. If a team decides to make two points after conversion, they take the ball to the two yard line and get it into the end zone by passing, catching or running the ball. If the team emerges successful in taking the ball to the end zone, it is awarded two points. If a fumble occurs in the game, the second team becomes able to recover the ball and takes the ball to another end zone. If it succeeds in doing so, the returning team is awarded with two points instead of the offensive team.

College football: The point after conversion is the same for college football from winning two points to scoring a field goal. There is one difference between NFL and college football which is the distance of extra point field goal. In College football, the kicker attempts to score a field goal from the 3 yards line making it a 20 yards field goal.

7. Safety Rules

Safety occurs when the offensive team is tackled in their own end zone or commits a penalty in their own end zone. For safety, the defensive team is awarded two points and the ball afterwards for a free kick. In contrast to the popular belief, one point safety can also occur although it is very rare especially in NFL. Truth be Told a one point safety has never occurred in the NFL but happened a few times in college football.

A one point safety is scored when a team is trying to get a two point conversion or win an extra point. In order to make it possible, the defensive team blocks the kick, recovers a fumble and passes the ball to their own end zone. Then, they get tackled by the team who is attempting to score a point after the conversion within their end zone. Before entering their own end zone, the player must recover the ball outside the out zone in order to make it a one point safety.

8. Targeting Rule

Football has been a fierce game from earlier times but standardization of rules prevented it from staying one for longer. Yet, football can be dangerous when players attempt to tackle each other incorrectly. Targeting also refers to the forcible tackle that could be dangerous for the player. This is why the targeting rule is important. It prevents defenseless players from serious neck and head injuries while playing the game. But now the question arises who is actually considered a defenseless player? According to the NCAA , a defenseless player is someone who didn’t have a chance to react to a hit. 

The targeting rule was constituted with the purpose of preventing defenseless players from serious neck and head injuries. The rule is same for NFL and NCAA but one thing that differs is that NCAA bans two kinds of hits while NFL bans only one. Penalties for these fouls result in loss or gain of 15 yards.

9. Touchback

A touchback occurs when the ball touches any part of the end zone regardless of kicking, passing, running, etc. It can occur on a punt, kickoff or when a player is trying to catch the ball in the end zone. Whether the ball is fumbled by the receiving team or when a player catches the ball in the end zone and calls a fair match, if the ball touches any part of the end zone, it is deemed a touchback. A touchback gets the receiving team possession of the ball on their 25 yards line. 

The rules are similar for both NFL and NCAA except one part that is  fair match. In college football, the concept of fair match is different. If a player inside his 25 yard line signals for a fair catch, the play is considered over and the receiving team takes offensive possession of the ball , placing the ball at their 25 yard line. In the NFL, if a player waives for a fair catch inside his 25 yard line, they would start their offensive play from the spot he catched the ball.

10. Onside Kicking Rule

Onside kicking refers to the kickoff in which a team kicks the ball and recovers its own kickoff. While in normal kickoff, a team kicks the ball to its opponent’s side which is much less riskier than onside kicking. An unsuccessful attempt to Onside kicking puts you at the 50 Yard line which is far away from your own half. This is why Onside kicking is rarely used especially in the end of the game when teams get desperate to take possession of the ball. 

This rule states that if a team wants to attempt onside kicking, it has to make the ball travel 10 or hit an opponent player before recovering it. 

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