What are First Downs?

This is one of the most important concepts to understand in American Football.

Hi, my name is Kenny Sailors, I'm here on ExpertVillage.com to teach you how to understand the great game of American football. Now we are going talk about advancing the football, the basics of advancing the football, are like this. The offense when they come out on the field they get four opportunities to gain 10 yards so we call these downs. Each one is considered a downs, so every time a play is done they are trying to make it 10 yards which I drew a little marker here, because they always have little orange markers on the side of the field that someone is holding that represent, it shows you where the first down will be. They have four opportunities to make it 10 yards, if they successfully make it the 10 yards or beyond you know they can make 20 yards, but if they pass the 10 yard point here at the end then they get four more downs, they get four new downs so they get a chance to do it again and make another 10 yard. They do this, advance the ball down the field, doing this. And it is a lot more difficult to make it 10 yards than you would think so now however if they get to 4th down and they have not made the 10 yards, they have a couple of options to take. One, they can kick a field goal if they are within a field goal range, which means they bring the special teams out and they line up and the kicker tries to kick off of the stand with some one holding it.

If it gets through the upright the goal post, if they make it, they get three points. Or if they are too far away then they will bring out special teams, a punt team, which will bring the punter, and then they hike the ball to him, he drops the ball, kicks it, and then the opposing team will then take over the ball and they will get their opportunity for 4 downs and to make, you know, advance the ball down the field.

So advancing the football, that's pretty much the basics of it. You get 4 downs to make 10 yards. And as long as you can keep that going, you can make it all the way down to the end zone, as long as you can keep making those first downs.

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