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Play-By-Play Football

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Jeff Savage

Thanks to coaches Jerry Dunlap,
Tim Mulligan, and Jack Stout, and
the following Napa High School
athletes who were photographed
for this book:
Charlie Bahn
Thomas Barker
Jeremie Burd
Ademir Cacique
Oscar Caulderon
John Cestnik
Michael Connor
Jake DiGennaro
Ryan Dunn
Troy Eddleman
Mike Gibson
Stewart Hannah
Mario Hernandez
Grant Hubbel
Aaron Hundley
Joe LeMasters
Jesus Martinez
Iori Osawa
Masa Osawa
John Rose
Kenny Shackford
Matt Shimel
Jose Villasenor
Chris Yepson

Jeff Savage
Photographs by the author

Lerner Publications Company

• Minneapolis

Text and photographs copyright © 2004 by
Jeff Savage
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or
by any means—electronic, mechanical, photo­
copying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior
written permission of Lerner Publishing Group,
except for the inclusion of brief quotations in an
acknowledged review.
This book is available in two editions:
Library binding by LernerSports
Soft cover by LernerSports • FAE
Imprints of Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55401 U.S.A.
Website address:
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Savage, Jeff, 1961–
Play by play. Football / written and photographed by Jeff
p. cm. — (Play-by-Play)
Summary: A guide to the history, rules, skills, and
strategy of football.
Includes index.
eISBN: 0–8225–1449–4
1. Football—Juvenile literature. [1. Football.] I. Title.
II. Series.
GV950.7.S28 2004
Manufactured in the United States of America
1 2 3 4 5 6 – JR – 09 08 07 06 05 04

Photo Acknowledgments
Additional photographs are reproduced with the
permission of: © Bettmann/CORBIS, pp. 7, 8, 9, 10,
11; © Reuters NewMedia Inc./CORBIS, p. 18.


1 .........How This Game Got Started....................7
2 .........Basics ........................................................13
3 ...; ......Game Time ...............................................25
4 .........Practice, Practice .....................................37
5 .........Special Teams ..........................................45

Football Talk...........................................................................54
Further Reading ....................................................................58


Football is the most popular sport in
America. Baseball is still known as
“America’s Pastime,” and soccer
remains the world’s most popular
team game. But when polls are con­
ducted across the United States ask­
ing people their favorite sport, foot­
ball tops the list.
Why is football so popular? Because
it is exciting in so many ways. Speed
battles against strength. Complex
plays demand cooperation and team­
work. Coaches make critical strategy
decisions. The fans witness moments
of sheer luck. And the color and
pageantry of football makes it more
than just a game. With its “tailgate”
parties, cheerleaders, marching bands,
and halftime shows, football contests
have become events.
While football has a long history in
this country, no single person in­
vented the game. It evolved over sev­
eral decades. Football began as a
college game in 1867 at Princeton
University in New Jersey, when a


Yale players pose for a team photo, c. 1890.


A Rutgers College player makes a forward pass in a 1914 game against Princeton University.

group of young men combined the
sports of soccer and rugby. Two teams
of 25 players tried to kick a round
rubber ball toward each other’s goal
line. Any player could scoop up the
ball at any time and run with it. The
game was called Princeton Rules. In
the early 1870s, students at Harvard
University in Massachusetts added
variations and called their version the
Boston Game. As more colleges
became involved, the Intercollegiate
Football Association was founded,
and the first rules were written.
After 1880 a Yale player named
Walter C. Camp invented many famil­
iar features, such as the quarterback,
the number of downs to advance the
ball a certain distance, and a scoring
system. Camp is known as the “Father
of American Football.” Another famous

football developer is longtime
University of Chicago coach Amos
Alonzo Stagg. He created such fea­
tures as the center snap, the huddle,
and numbered jerseys.
In the sport’s early years, players
often wore flimsy helmets (or none at
all) and little other protective gear.
Not surprisingly, this became a seri­
ous problem. In 1905 the Chicago
Tribune reported 159 critical injuries
and 18 deaths from football. There
was such concern that U.S. president
Theodore Roosevelt demanded ac­
tion. The Intercollegiate Athletic
Association (IAA) was immediately
founded. Rules were altered to make
the game safer, such as allowing the
forward pass, increasing the down
distance from 5 yards to 10, and
reducing the game time from 70


minutes to two 30-minute halves.
Five years later, the IAA was renamed
the National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA), and further safe­
ty measures were added.
Professional football began in 1895
with a game pitting teams from the
Pennsylvania towns of Latrobe and
Jeannette. Over the next 25 years, the
“pros” in Pennsylvania and Ohio
played each Sunday, usually for a
nickel or a dime a game. In 1920 a
group of men led by George Halas
met in Canton, Ohio, to form the

Association. The famous athlete Jim
Thorpe was named president. Two
years later, the league was renamed
the National Football League (NFL). In
1960 a rival league called the
American Football League (AFL) was
formed. Soon, the season’s winners
from the two leagues met in a cham­
pionship game that became the Super
Bowl. In 1966 the leagues merged into
the modern NFL.
As the game became more popular,
high schools and grade schools added

Green Bay Packers Jim Taylor (left) and Bart Starr (center) and coach Vince Lombardi (right) concentrate on
the sidelines during the 1967 Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.


programs, too. All ages could learn the
same agility, strength, and skills and
could run the same plays as their
gridiron heroes.
This book will introduce you to the
basic skills needed to play football. As
with most sports, learning proper
football techniques takes time and

effort. Since football involves fierce
contact, it is also necessary to wear
the proper protective gear. If you are
just starting out, you need to be
supervised by an adult. Then with
determination and hard work, you
can become a good football player—
maybe even a pro.

Chicago Bears’ Gale Sayers is on his way to a 96-yard touchdown run in a 1965 game against the
Minnesota Vikings.


Each year the NFL season ends with its cham­
pionship game: the Super Bowl. This game is
usually the most-watched television show of
the year. Advertisers pay millions of dollars
just to air a 30-second commercial. The
halftime show on the field often features
spectacular fireworks and the most popular
musicians in the world.
The first Super Bowl was played January
15, 1967, at the Los Angeles Memorial
Coliseum. But it was not called the Super
Bowl then. It was dubbed the AFL-NFL World
Championship Game. The Green Bay Packers,
led by legendary coach Vince Lombardi,
defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35–10. A
year later, Lombardi’s Packers won the title
again, beating the Oakland Raiders, 33–14.

In 1969 the name was changed to “Super
Bowl,” and the practice of using Roman
numerals for each year’s game began. At
Super Bowl III, quarterback Joe Namath
(above) of the AFL’s champion team, New York
Jets, “guaranteed” victory over the heavily
favored NFL’s Baltimore Colts. Namath’s Jets
shocked the nation by winning, 16–7.
Over the years, at least 15 teams (about
half the teams in the NFL) have won the Super
Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas
Cowboys have won the most—five Super Bowls
each. With the victory comes the Vince
Lombardi Trophy and a grand parade
witnessed by thousands of fans in the
champion’s home city.


Football is played between two teams
that try to score points by moving a
football up the field and across a goal
line for a touchdown. The football
can be moved either by throwing it to
a teammate or by running with it.
Points are also scored by kicking the
football between two goalposts or by
tackling an opponent in possession of
the ball in his end zone.
The game is divided into four quar­
ters. In pro and college football, each
quarter lasts 15 minutes. In high
school football, each quarter lasts 12
minutes. The side with the most
points at the end of the game is the

Football is played on a field of grass,
or occasionally artificial turf, 100
yards long and 531/3 yards wide. Lines
extending the width of the field are
spaced 5 yards apart. Between each 5­
yard line are short lines, called hash
marks, that indicate each yard. The
center of the field is marked by the
50-yard line, which is also called the
midfield stripe.



At both ends of the field is the
widest line, called the goal line.
Extending 10 yards deeper is the last
line, called the end line. The area
between the goal line and the end
line is the end zone. Four plastic or
foam rubber pylons, usually orange,
are placed in each end zone to mark
the inbound corners. On each end line
is a goal made up of a crossbar and
two upright goalposts. The crossbar is
10 feet off the ground. The uprights
range from 18 feet 6 inches apart
in high school football to 23 feet 4
inches apart in the pros.

Finally, running the length of the
field—120 yards including both end
zones—are the sidelines. Action
beyond the sidelines is out of bounds.

A football uniform is designed to
reduce the risk of injury. You should
not play tackle football without wear­
ing a full uniform.
The helmet is the most important
piece of equipment worn by football
players. Its shell is made of a very
hard plastic called Kevlar, the same

hash mark


midfield stripe








end line


material used in police body armor.
The inside of the helmet is lined with
foam or inflatable padding. Attached
to the front of the helmet is a face
mask made of several thin, plasticcovered metal bars.
Shoulder pads are also made of plas­
tic and lined with padding. These pads
extend across the shoulders and chest
to protect against body blows. Joints
and other sensitive areas are covered
by knee pads, thigh pads, hip pads,
mouth guards, and protective cups.
These are all required gear. Optional
pads include elbow pads, forearm
pads, shin pads, and neck rolls.
Jerseys feature the player’s uniform
number on the front and back, and
sometimes on the shoulders. The
player’s name appears on the back in
the pros and often in college football.
Pants are made of a tight-fitting elas­
tic material with pockets inside to
hold the knee and thigh pads. The
tight, smooth material also makes it
hard for opponents to grab. Shoes have
rubber or plastic cleats to dig into the
turf, giving players solid footing.

Footballs have a unique shape, oval
with pointed tips. The shape is also called
a spheroid. A football is about 11 inches
long and between 27 and 28 inches in
circumference at the widest point.
Weighing about 14 ounces, a football is
inflated to a pressure of between 12 and
14 pounds per square inch. High school
footballs have a white stripe encircling
either end. College footballs have the
same white stripes, but they only go
around half the ball. Pro footballs do
not have white stripes.
Footballs range in price, depending on
their brand and material. The best foot­
balls are made of leather with string laces
similar to shoelaces. Balls made of rubber
with plastic or rubber laces are also
available. Some of the earliest footballs
were made from pigs’ skin. You may often
still hear a football referred to as “the
pigskin” or a game referred to as a
“pigskin classic.”


In California the Napa High School
varsity football team practices basic
skills every day. The most important
techniques the team members learn
are passing, catching, running, block­
ing, and defending. These basic skills
are put into play in every game, either
in trying to score (offense) or trying to
prevent the other team from scoring

A team’s offense can advance the
football in two ways, by passing or
running (also called rushing). Passing
can be highly effective if performed
properly, but it is also more dangerous
than running. It is often said that
when a ball is passed, three things
can happen, and two of them are bad.
The best outcome is a completion,
where the ball is caught by a team­
mate. But if the ball is dropped or
otherwise not caught, it is an incom­
pletion, which is not good. And defi­
nitely not good is an interception.
That’s when the other team catches
the ball. With those odds, passing the
ball well is critical to a team’s success
in moving it.
To pass well, the thrower must hold
the football properly. This is called the
grip. Joe holds the ball with his fingers
across its laces. The ideal motion of


the ball in flight is a smooth rotation
called a spiral. Joe puts his fingers
over the laces for a secure grip, giving
him more control of the ball’s motion
as he throws it. He spreads his fingers
wide for even more control.
Before throwing the pass, it is
important to keep both hands on the
football. Only when you are about to
release the ball should you be holding
it one-handed. In making the pass,
stand up tall, step forward with the
foot opposite your throwing hand, and
follow through. Joe throws with his
right hand, so he steps forward with
his left foot as he is about to deliver. He
reaches back and then propels his
entire upper body forward and around,
thereby using more muscles to deliver
a crisp pass. The angle of his arm as he
comes through is not directly over his
head, nor at the side, but somewhere
in between. This is often referred to as
the three-quarter angle.

For a pass to be successful, it needs to
be caught by a teammate. Sounds
simple, but it is not easy to catch a
spiraling (or wobbly) football while
running at full speed with opponents
chasing you.
The most critical element in catch­
ing is concentration. The key to con­
centrating is to “look” the football all
the way into your hands. Your fear of

getting hit by opponents will tempt
you to turn and look to see where they
are. If you do, though, you are likely to
drop the ball. And the irony is, you are
probably going to get hit anyway.
The main technique in catching is
to use two hands. Certainly some
passes are barely within reach. In
these cases, you should do whatever
it takes with one hand to keep the
ball from touching the ground.
Otherwise, always use two hands
to catch the ball. And catch
the ball with your hands
and not your body.
Aaron demonstrates
how to catch a pass over
his head. He reaches up
high with both hands.
As the ball arrives, he
never takes his eyes
off it. He grabs the
ball with both hands
and squeezes it.
Then he pulls the
ball toward his
body where he
will protect it.


Peyton Manning (number 18) is one of the
best quarterbacks in the NFL. He grew up in
Louisiana, where his father, Archie, was the
quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. Peyton
grew up surrounded by football, and he always
knew he wanted to be a quarterback like his
father. He reached that dream through hard
work and persistence.
Even as a toddler, Peyton was playing Nerf
football at home. As Peyton grew older, he and
his brothers often went to see Saints’ games.
The boys got to play on the field at halftime
and go into the locker room after games.
Peyton got a real taste for the sport.
His turn as a star quarterback in high

school earned him a college scholarship to
the University of Tennessee. At Tennessee, he
spent most of his waking hours studying—his
schoolwork and the football playbook. In
1998 he was the very first player drafted in
the NFL, by the Indianapolis Colts.
Peyton surprised the Colts coaches by how
hard he worked. Each day before practice, he
spent several hours in the film room studying
opposing defenses. After practice he stayed on
the field alone to run sprints. He set NFL
rookie records for completions, yards, and
touchdowns. By his second season, the Colts
were in the playoffs, and Peyton was an All-Pro
(the best NFL player at his position).


Running on a football field is not easy.
Cleats provide traction, but the grass
still might be slippery or a recent rain
could make the field muddy. You are
also wearing 10 pounds of gear and a
helmet that impairs your field of
You should run as you normally do
when sprinting or running straight.
But when changing direction, lower
your body more than normal to com­
pensate for the extra weight you are
carrying and for the condition of the
field. This is called a crouch.
If you are running with the ball, a
good way to escape a tackle is to use
a fake. By lunging your body in one
direction, you lure your opponent into
moving that way, too. Then you
abruptly change direction by planting
your foot and shifting your weight.
The key to avoiding injury is this sim­
ple rule: the faster the speed or the
sharper the cut, the deeper the
crouch to make.

Teams cannot advance the football
without solid blocking, usually from
the offensive line. Wherever the ball
goes, several defenders are usually in
close pursuit. Blocking is the tech­
nique used to protect a teammate in
possession of the ball.

There are many special terms for plays,
players, errors, and efforts. Watching and
playing the game is probably the best way
to learn those terms and how they’re
applied. But here is some basic lingo
commonly used in every game.
• audible: a last-minute change of
plans shouted by the quarterback to
his team at the line of scrimmage,
just before the play starts. Also called
an automatic.
• blitz: a play in which the defense
sends secondary players rushing
across the line of scrimmage as soon
as the ball is snapped to try to sack
the quarterback
• bomb: a long pass thrown to a
receiver sprinting down the field
• clipping: an illegal block from behind
and often below the waist. Clipping is
a personal foul (one that could cause
injury) punishable by a 15-yard
• drive: the series of plays a team puts
together in its attempt to score
• fumble: the ball carrier losing
possession by dropping the ball or
having it knocked away before a play
• rush: to run from the line of
scrimmage with the ball or to run
toward the quarterback for a tackle
• sack: the tackle of a quarterback
behind the line of scrimmage. A
sack results in a loss of yards for
the offense.


John Cestnik (left), Michael Connor
(right), and their teammates practice
blocking every day. John and Michael
demonstrate the form used in making
a proper block. John, on offense, is the
blocker. Michael is the defender. John
drives forward with his legs toward
Michael. He engages Michael with his
arms and upper body.
John keeps his head up! Smart play­
ers are careful to always keep their
head up whenever they make contact
with an opponent. You can lower your
head as long as the rest of your body
goes with it. But never lower your head
so much that your chin touches your
chest. And never purposely make con­
tact with an opponent with the top of
your helmet. Even with protective
gear, impact at that angle could cause
a serious neck injury.
As John makes contact, he keeps his
hands in front of him and between
Michael’s shoulder pads. This is called
keeping your hands inside. John
would commit a penalty by wrapping
his arms around Michael. He makes
contact with Michael and then sus­
tains the block (keeps it going). John
drives forward with his legs, pushing
up and into Michael for as long as nec­
essary. Michael, meanwhile, will try to
escape from John. Called shedding the
block, this can be done with footwork
or by shoving John to one side.
Shedding a solid block requires
strength and quickness.


A team’s defensive side is on the field
when the team does not have the ball.
A team cannot succeed without a
solid defense. This includes guarding
and tackling, but of the two, the first
defensive skill is tackling.

To demonstrate a proper tackle,
Michael and John reverse roles.
Michael, playing defense, charges for­
ward from a low angle. As he arrives in
front of John (on offense), he bends his
knees more to get even lower. He
reaches around John’s frame to grab
him with both arms. This is called
wrapping up. Unlike with blocking,
this move is not penalized in tackling.
Michael keeps his head up!
Remember, a smart player always
keeps his head up when making con­
tact with an opponent.
Maintaining his hold on John,
Michael keeps his momentum moving
forward by pumping his legs. He keeps
his back straight as he moves forward
and up, lifting John into the air. Then he
lowers the weight of his body into John
and drives him into the ground. As John
is about to be tackled on his back, he
tries to put his chin to his chest. This is
the only instance in which you should
do this. John is trying to prevent his
head from banging on the ground.


Only the player in possession of the
football may be tackled. Players not in
possession of the ball are either
blocking or trying to get free to
receive a pass. Defenders are either
trying to shed blocks or guarding
those attempting to get free for a
pass. When guarding, a defender is
not permitted to make contact with
an opponent until the opponent
touches the ball.
Each offensive player has at least
one defensive player guarding him.
To guard his man, at the start of the
play, the defender can stand any­
where he wants on his side of the
line of scrimmage (where the ball
will be snapped). If the defender is
guarding a swift player, he should
play several steps away from, or
“off,” the offensive player. This is
the position that Troy assumes as he
guards John Rose (facing page). This
stance also applies when a defender
knows he will not get help from
another teammate behind him.
If, however, the defender knows
he can get help from a teammate
from behind, he could play up, or
“tight,” on his opponent. This is the
position Tommy takes as he guards
Aaron (wearing jersey number 80).
With the play in motion, the
defender wants to stay as close to
his opponent as possible without

touching him. This gives him an
excellent chance at batting away a
pass or intercepting it.

Defender Tommy guards “tight” against opponent
Aaron (number 80).


Defensive player Troy plays “off” John Rose (number 81).


In the game of football, there are 11
players on the field for each team. As
we learned earlier, the team with the
football is on offense. The team with­
out the ball is the defense.
In a standard formation on offense,
the center snaps the football back
between his legs to the quarterback
and then blocks. The left guard and
right guard line up on either side of
the center to block. The left tackle and
right tackle line up next to the guards
to block. The tight end lines up next
to either tackle. Depending on the
play, his role is either to block or catch
passes. These six players together are
called the offensive line.
The two wide receivers line up on
either side of the offensive line to run
downfield and to catch a pass. The
quarterback lines up behind the center
to receive the snap. The quarterback
can pass the ball, hand it off, or run
with it himself. The fullback lines up
three yards behind the quarterback



to take a handoff and run with the
ball, go out for a pass, or block. The
tailback lines up three yards behind
the fullback to take a handoff and run
with the ball, go out for a pass, or
In a standard formation on defense,
the two defensive tackles line up fac­
ing the two offensive guards. The two
defensive ends line up facing the two
offensive tackles. These four players
together are called the defensive line.
Their job is to rush (try to tackle) the
quarterback on pass plays and to
tackle the ball carrier on run plays.
The linebackers line up three yards
behind the defensive line. The two
outside linebackers line up on either
side of the middle linebacker. Their
job is to rush the quarterback, tackle
the ball carrier, and guard players
who might be going out for a pass.
The two safeties line up several yards
behind the linebackers. They are the
last line of defense. Their job is to
tackle a ball carrier who breaks
through the defensive line and to
guard players who run downfield for
passes. The two cornerbacks line up
in front of the two wide receivers.
Their job is to guard the receivers and
prevent them from catching passes
and to make tackles when they can.

A touchdown is scored when any part
of the ball crosses the goal line while
in the possession of a player before he
is tackled. A touchdown is 6 points.
The ball is then placed on the 2-yard
line, and the team that scored the
touchdown can attempt either an
extra point or a 2-point conversion.
One point is scored if the team kicks
the ball between the uprights. Two
points are scored if the team
advances the ball into the end zone
by passing or running.
During a possession, a team may be
close to the goal line but have only
one more down to play. The offense

Point after touchdown conversion
(PAT), kicking
Point after touchdown conversion
(PAT), on the ground
Field goal

6 points
1 point
2 points
3 points
2 points


may choose to use the last down to
kick a field goal to get the points. A
field goal is scored when the offense
kicks the ball between the uprights. A
field goal is 3 points.
A safety is scored by the defense
when an offensive player possessing
the ball is tackled in his own end
zone. A safety is 2 points.
The game begins with a coin toss to
determine which team will kick off.
The ball is kicked off from the 30-yard
line in pro football and the 35-yard
line in college and high school foot­
ball. The receiving team attempts to
return the football as far upfield as
Before each play, a game official
places the ball at a spot on the field.
This is the line of scrimmage. The
offense gathers in a huddle where the
quarterback gives them instructions
for the play. He tells the team how it
will block, who will get the ball, and
when the center will snap the ball to
him. Sometimes the offense can be
directed without a huddle, in which
case the quarterback yells the play to
his teammates at the line of scrim­
mage. The defense tries to identify the
play and react as quickly as possible.
The offense has 4 downs (plays) to
gain at least 10 yards. If it does so on
any of the 4 downs, it becomes first
down again with another 10 yards to
go. Scoring terms reflect this, as in
first and ten (first down with 10 yards

to go), second and five, and so on.
If the offense fails to advance the
ball 10 yards, it forfeits possession to
the other team. On fourth down, the
offense has three options. It can try to
advance the ball past the first-down
marker. It can attempt a field goal for
3 points. Or it can punt the ball to the
defense. A kick of any sort is an auto­
matic forfeiture of possession.
A player in possession of the ball is
considered down when a defensive
player causes any portion of that
player’s body, except for hands and
feet, to touch the ground.
At that point, an official blows a
whistle, and play stops. A player is
also down at the point where he goes
out of bounds.

Coaches are responsible for making
the decisions in a football game.
There are at least four and as many as
eight coaches on a team. The head
coach is in charge. The assistant
coaches help with certain groups of
players. Together they are called the
coaching staff.
A primary job of the coaching staff
is to devise a game plan. Coaches
must consider the strengths and
weaknesses of their team and com­
pare them to the strengths and weak­
nesses of their opponent. They must
think of ways their offense can score


and ways their defense can stop the
opponent. Then they must write
down their ideas on paper.
Such ideas are drawn in the form of
diagrams and charts. The offensive
players are marked in an alignment
on one side of the line of scrimmage
while the defense is drawn on the
other side. The standard code is to use
an “X” for each defensive player and
an “O” for each offensive player. Lines
are drawn to depict where each of the
Xs and Os (players) are supposed to
go on the play.

The referee (head official) and his
team of officials decide when the
rules have been broken. There are
more than 30 rule violations, with
penalties ranging from a loss of 5
yards to a loss of 15 yards or more.

Minor violations of the rules
include illegal motion or being off­
side. Offensive players must pause, or
be “set,” for one second before the ball
is snapped. Illegal motion occurs
when an offensive player moves after
the set position but before the ball is
snapped. A defensive player is offside
when he crosses the line of scrim­
mage before the ball is snapped.
Illegal motion and offside each carry
a penalty of 5 yards.
Other violations include holding,
roughing, facemask, and pass inter­
ference. Holding can be committed by
the offense or the defense. A player
cannot grab another player with his
hands or arms and hang on. Holding
is a 10-yard penalty. Roughing occurs
when a player is aggressive beyond
the limits allowed. Roughing includes
delivering an unnecessary blow to an
opponent’s head or hitting an oppo­
nent after the whistle is blown to stop
play. Quarterbacks and kickers are
especially protected against roughing.
Such a penalty costs a team 15 yards.
A facemask penalty occurs when a
player grabs another by the face
mask, jerking the player’s neck. A
facemask penalty can be either 5 or
15 yards, depending on whether the
player touched the face mask or
pulled on it. Pass interference occurs
when a player interferes with his
opponent’s ability to catch the ball
beyond the limits allowed. This


includes bumping or grabbing the
opponent while the ball is in the air. If
the defense commits the penalty, the
ball is placed at the site of the infrac­
tion, and the offense is awarded a
first down. If the offense is at fault, it
is penalized 10 yards.

The Napa High varsity football team
is preparing for its first game of the
season. At each of its practices, Coach
Dunlap pits the offense against the
defense in a series of plays from the
line of scrimmage. Coach Dunlap
directs the offense. Coaches Mulligan
and Stout instruct the defense.
The offense huddles eight yards
behind the line of scrimmage. Joe at
quarterback announces the play: “Pro
left, 31 trap, on two.” The players
break the huddle by clapping once
and shouting “Score!” They take their
positions at the line. Michael and Iori
line up as running backs behind Joe.
Masa and Aaron split wide as
receivers. Oscar, Chris, Ryan (the cen­
ter), Jake, and Stewart are the line­
men. Troy is the tight end on the left.
“Down!” Joe barks. “Set! Hut . . . Hut!”
Ryan snaps the ball to Joe, who
turns to hand it off to Michael.
Shoulder pads pop as the offensive
linemen smack into the defenders.
Michael runs through the line and
into the defense where he is tackled


by Kenny and Jeremie. The coaches
blow whistles to stop the action.
“Good job, line!” says Chris.
Coach Dunlap applauds. “Nice
block, Oscar.”
The ball is returned to its original
spot. In a practice, the team is not
interested in marking off the yardage
gained on a play. These repetitions
ensure that the players are working
together as a team.
Ryan stands eight yards behind the
ball and raises his arm. “Huddle up!”
he yells. The players gather around
and lean in to listen to Joe. “Spread
right, 35 option, on down,” he says.
The players break the huddle and


take their stances. “Down!” Joe yells,
and Ryan quickly snaps the ball. Joe
runs left with it. The defense pursues
that way with him. Kenny breaks
through the line and comes at Joe. At
the last instant, Joe pitches the ball to
Iori, who gathers it in and bursts into
the teeth of the defense. Linebackers
Charlie and Grant converge to make
the tackle.
The players get up and trudge back
to the huddle.
“Gentlemen, huddle up!” yells coach
Mulligan. “I said this was live! Move it!”
The players spring to attention and
hurry back for the next play.
“Doubles left, 70s cross, on one,”
says Joe. At the line, he takes the snap
and drops back to pass. Defensive
linemen Mike and Jose grunt as they
drive hard with their legs to rush the
quarterback. Masa and Aaron are
covered downfield when suddenly
they cut at the same time in opposite
directions. Joe steps up and fires a
pass. It’s perfect. Aaron pulls it in
with two hands before he is tackled
by Ademir.
“Hey, that’s a great double team,”
says Coach Dunlap to Jake and
Stewart. “And that was a nice throw,
The water girls run among the
defenders with plastic bottles. Players
quickly take gulps before the offense
breaks its huddle.
“C’mon, defense!” shouts Jeremie.


The offense comes to the line of
scrimmage, and the defenders get set
to make a stop. “Louie! Louie!” shouts
Charlie to tell his teammates that the
offense has more players lined up on
the left side of the ball. (He’d shout
“Roger, Roger!” if there were more to
the right.) The defense shifts slightly
to the left side. Joe hands the ball to
Michael, who heads left and then cuts
upfield. John Rose, the safety, makes
the stop. “Attaway, 81!” Coach Stout

yells to John. Teammates pat John on
the helmet.
“Second O!” Coach Dunlap calls out
to indicate the offense’s substitutes
should take the field. “Second O, let’s
The substitutes hurry onto the
field. Jesus moves in at quarterback.
“Spread right, 15 speed option, on
two,” he says. Jesus leads the team to
the line.
“Don’t just walk up to the ball!”


Coach Mulligan yells. “You guys don’t
hustle, we’re gonna run in full gear
from 5 o’clock to 6 o’clock, how would
you like that?!”
The players urge one another to
hustle up. The next several plays are
The scrimmage continues for an
hour. Pads pop and whistles blow as
the offense runs all manner of plays,
such as sweeps, end arounds, options,
and reverses. The defense tries differ­
ent formations like man-to-man and
zone with extra linebackers and
defensive backs. When that ends,
players take a short break to catch
their breath and drink water. But
practice is not yet over.








Officials are in charge of the game. They spot
the ball (place it on the field for play) and
enforce the rules. Their decisions are final.
There are at least four officials for a high
school game, five for college, and seven for
pro. Officials wear white pants, black-andwhite striped shirts, and black caps (except
for the referee who wears a white cap). They
carry a whistle to blow to stop play.
The referee is the boss. He controls the
game and announces the penalties. The
umpire is responsible for action along the line
of scrimmage, such as holding. The head
linesman watches for offside and helps deter­

mine where the ball is spotted after each play.
The line judge helps the head linesman and
also times the game. There is usually a clock
on the stadium scoreboard, but the official
time is kept by the line judge on his wrist­
watch. The back judge watches for holding
and infractions involving the quarterback. He
also monitors the 40-second clock. When the
ball is spotted for play, the offense has 40
seconds to snap the ball again, or it will be
penalized 5 yards for delay of game. The side
judge marks where players go out of bounds
with the ball. The field judge scans the field
for holding and other penalties.


Vince Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers
to five NFL championships. He’s often
called the greatest coach of all time.
Many of his quotes are famous, especially
those concerning determination and a
winning mentality.
It’s not whether you get knocked down.
It’s whether you get up again.
Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to
win is.
Individual commitment to a group effort—
that is what makes a team work, a
company work, a society work, a
civilization work.

Pro and college football players concen­
trate on one position. In high school,
however, some players are so valuable
to their team that they play both offense
and defense. This is called “playing on
both sides of the ball” or “going both
ways.” A player who does this is called
a two-way player.
Players are permitted by rules to play
any position they like. But two-way players
most often play positions on both sides
of the ball that fit their skills. For instance,
offensive linemen are usually big and
strong. On defense, they would best be
suited to play on the line again, as either
a defensive end or a tackle. Wide receivers
generally are swift and have sure hands. A
natural defensive position for them would
be at cornerback or safety.
Some exceptional athletes play more
than both ways. They also serve on special
teams. They might block on the offensive
line for punts and kicks or they might be
the punt and kick returner. The quarter­
back is often the holder on extra points
and field goals.



When the Napa High team is not
scrimmaging with its offense and
defense, the players are improving
their skills by conducting drills. These
drills are both fun and exhausting.

Before the players begin drills, they
must warm up properly. The warm-up
routine helps prevent injuries. Players
begin by jogging in place to get their
blood flowing. Next, they stretch their
muscles to improve flexibility. Proper
stretching is critical in any sport, but
it is especially so in football, where
the players are running and making
awkward maneuvers while wearing
heavy gear.
Troy, John Cestnik, and the rest of
the players help one another to
stretch leg muscles or tendons such
as hamstrings. The players perform
other stretching exercises, such as
crossovers, or “pull-it-to,” in which
they pull their right leg over their left
and hold it, and then switch to left
over right.

Two line caption to come. Two line captaion
to come.


The Napa High team begins its drills
by practicing stances. Starting from
the proper point is important in exe­
cuting a play from any position. With
his fellow linemen watching, Ryan
demonstrates the proper technique
for a 3-point stance (below). It is so
called because Ryan is touching the
ground at three points, with two feet
and one hand. Chris shows the cor­
rect form for a 4-point stance (top
right). At the snap of the ball, Chris
will look up so that any contact his
head makes with his opponent will be
with the front of his helmet and not
the top (crown).
Next, Jose and the rest of his team­
mates form a line. At the sound of a
coach’s whistle, they will spring from
their stances and run several yards.
Finally, the offensive and defensive
lines practice in unison, under the
watchful eye of Coach Mulligan. The
coach checks their positioning and

looks for the slightest flinch. When
the players are blasting out of their
stances together as a unit, Coach
Mulligan will end the drill for the day,
only to do it again tomorrow.


Meanwhile, Joe is working with his
skill-position teammates on their
stances. The quarterback, wide
receivers, and running backs are the
so-called “skill” positions on a team.
This does not mean that they have
more skill than other players, just
that they handle the ball more. With
Coach Dunlap observing, Joe simu­
lates taking snaps from center. The
instant the play starts, the fullback
surges forward from his 3-point
stance and the tailback moves from

his 2-point stance (standing upright
with knees bent).
Foot skills are important in football.
One of the trickiest drills is the run­
ning ropes. Aaron leads the way and
Ademir follows as they demonstrate
how to step quickly through the
ropes. They step with their left foot
into a right square, then step with
their right foot into a left square, and
so on. These are called crossovers.
Such footwork loosens up ligaments
and tendons in the legs.


Several drills are performed using
the bags. Coach Mulligan watches the
players demonstrate the bag run. This
drill improves agility and teaches
players to run with their knees high.
Tackles and blocks are often made at
the ankles. Players who run with
“high knees” can step out of such
tackles and blocks.
A second bag drill is the bag run
combined with the blocking bags.
Players run with high knees over the

bags, then turn and hit the blocking
bags. This simulates game action in
which a player might be dodging
through traffic and then making a
downfield block.
Yet another bag drill is the bag
jump. Players improve their vertical
jump by performing this drill. As
their legs become more powerful,
they are able to jump over more bags.
Coach Dunlap likes to test his best
players by stacking several bags.


One drill especially for offensive
linemen is the chutes. Players start in
a set position. At the sound of the
coach’s whistle, they fire out through
the chutes while staying low. This
drill teaches offensive linemen to stay
low as they block on a running play.
The most effective blocks are those in
which the lineman is like a battering

ram, leading with the front of his hel­
met and shoulder pads. It is difficult
for a defender to shed such a block.
A popular drill is the 7-man sled.
All offensive and defensive linemen
work with the sled, as do other
defenders such as linebackers and
safeties. The sled weighs several hun­
dred pounds, so it is difficult to move.


At the sound of the whistle, seven
players hit the sled and begin driving
forward with legs churning. This drill
obviously strengthens thigh and calf
muscles. But it also tests a player’s
determination and encourages team­
mates to work together. When the
players hit the sled hard enough at
the same time, the sled will raise up
off the ground just enough so that the
players can drive it farther. The
coaches might split the players into
three groups of seven and challenge

each group to push the sled farther.
A drill that combines several others
is blocking and tackling. The players
can take what they learn from such
drills as stances, chutes, and the 7­
man sled and apply these techniques
to actual blocking and tackling.
Coaches create various combinations
to simulate game situations. One
offensive lineman will try to block one
defensive lineman. This is called “oneon-one.” Two offensive linemen will
block one defensive lineman (below).


This is called a “double team.”
Coaches keep a watchful eye on these
drills to ensure players use proper
The players have scrimmaged and
performed drills, and practice is near­
ing an end. It is time for the most
grueling drill of all: sprints. Sprinting
helps make the players faster and
builds up their endurance. The coaches
demand a certain number of sprints
and distances, depending on how
practice went that day. If the players
practiced hard and well, the sprints
will be few. If practice did not go
smoothly, the coaches will demand
numerous sprints.
For each sprint, all the players line
up on the field, side by side in a set
stance. Coach Mulligan announces
the distance for that sprint, say, 15
yards. He blows his whistle, and the
players spring forward and race to the
15-yard line, touch it with their hand,
and sprint back to the starting line.
Some sprints may be shorter, some
longer. Coach Mulligan might have
the players run 20 sprints or more.
Any time the coach sees a player who
is not running hard, he demands that
sprint to be run again. The players
groan but know they have to run hard
or they could be out there all night!
The players are exhausted at the end
of the sprints. Some drink water.
Others search for air to breathe. A few
collapse on the ground to rest.


Offense and defense are equally
important units of a football team.
But a third unit is often overlooked:
special teams. The Napa High coaches
and players understand the value of
special teams. That is why they work
hard on all aspects of special teams
Special teams are groups of players
used in certain situations. A special
teams situation arises more than
once every five plays. On average,
more than 20 percent of a game is
played by a special teams unit. Each
team has six special teams units.
They are the kickoff team and kickoff
return team, the punt team and punt
return team, and the field goal team
and field goal defense team. A player
may play on any number of these
special teams units. Some offensive
or defensive players also serve on
special teams units.



Eating is not allowed during football practice.
But there is one thing you should take in
throughout practice: water! This is known as
In one hour of a typical practice, a player
can sweat out as much as a quart of
perspiration. Those fluids have to be
replenished. Just as the earth is mostly water,

so are we, including 75 percent of our muscle
tissue. If a player does not get enough water,
he can suffer from a sudden, painful,
involuntary muscle contraction, better known
as a cramp. The body also struggles to control
its own temperature during exercise, and water
helps that, too. Luckily, this all-purpose liquid
is cheap and easy to find. So stay hydrated!


A game starts with a special teams
play—a kickoff. The ball is placed on a
kicking tee at the 30-yard line in a pro
game (35-yard line for college and
high school) of the team that is kick­
ing off. Eleven players line up behind
the line of scrimmage
and run forward as one
of them, the kicker,
boots the ball down­
field. The kick return
team usually positions
two kick returners near its
goal line. One of them often
fields the ball—either by catch­
ing it or scooping it up off the grass—
and then runs upfield with it. His
teammates block for him as he tries
to gain as much yardage as possible
before being tackled by the kickoff
team. Any member of the kickoff
return team may field the ball and
advance it. If the ball is kicked 10
yards or more and is not yet touched,
it is considered a “live” ball, and either
side may gain possession of it. A kick­
off also starts the second half of the
game and follows every score.


When the offensive team is faced
with a fourth-down situation on its
opponents’ side of the field, it can
stay on the field to try to gain a first
down, punt the ball to the opponent,
or attempt a field goal. (A field goal
can be attempted on any down, but
the best strategy is to wait until
fourth down.) A field goal is success­
ful if the ball is kicked over the cross­
bar between the uprights.
The field goal team is comprised of
a snapper, a holder, a kicker, and
eight linemen who try to prevent
defenders from blocking the kick. The
field goal team is also the extra point
team. The defensive team is generally


a collection of players who can rush
hard or jump high to try to block the
kick. If a kick is blocked, the ball is
“live,” and the defense can advance it.
The offense is then cast in a defensive
mode and must try to recover the ball
or stop the defense from advancing it.
On longer field goal attempts, the
defender positions a player deep near
the end zone. If the ball is taken in the
field of play, it can be returned, like a
Sometimes a field goal might be
needed to win the game. The Napa
High team practices regularly on field
goal attempts. Jesus, Joe, and Matt
demonstrate the proper technique in
kicking a field goal. Jesus is the long
snapper. Joe is the holder (also called
a spotter). Matt is the kicker. Joe is
positioned on his knee seven yards
behind the line of scrimmage. Matt
stands several steps behind Joe and to
one side. Jesus hikes the ball with one
hand on a low spiral to Joe. Jesus then
helps his teammates block. Joe places
the ball on the ground on its end and
holds it with the tip of his index fin­
ger. If Joe has time, he turns the ball
so that the laces are aiming forward.
Matt strides forward to kick the ball.
Matt kicks with his right foot. His left
foot is called his plant foot. Matt
plants his left foot slightly ahead of
the ball. He sweeps his right leg
through and kicks the ball with the
instep of his foot toward the goalpost.


On fourth down, the offense may
attempt to gain a first down by run­
ning or passing the ball. If the
attempt fails, the ball is placed at the
spot where the player in possession
is tackled, and the opponent takes
possession there. Rather than go for a
first down, the offense may elect to
surrender possession by pushing the
other team as far back as possible
with a punt.
The punt team is comprised of a
snapper, a punter, and nine players
who have dual roles. On the first part
of the play, they try to prevent defend­
ers from blocking the punt. On the
second part, they try to tackle the
player in possession of the ball.
The punt return team is made up of
a punt returner and 10 players who
also have dual roles. On the first part
of the play, they try to block the punt.
On the second part, they block for
their teammate who is in possession
of the ball. The players with dual roles
are taught to listen for the thump of
the punt.
After the ball is punted, the first
phase of the play is over, and the sec­
ond phase begins. The punt returner
fields the ball and tries to gain as
much yardage as possible before
being tackled by the punt team. Any
member of the punt return team may
field the ball and advance it.


If the ball is not touched by a member
of the return team, it may be downed
by any player on the punt team at the
spot where he first touches it. If the
ball goes into or through the end zone,
it is spotted at the punt return team’s
20-yard line. If the punt goes out of
bounds, it is spotted where it crossed
the sideline into out-of-bounds terri­
tory. Finally, if the players hear a
thump-thump, they know the punt
has been blocked. If the punt is
blocked, the ball is “live,” and the
defense can advance it.
Punting is important in terms of
field position (where teams take pos­
session of the ball). The Napa High
team regularly practices punting and
covering punts.
Jesus and Matt (facing page)
demonstrate the proper technique in
punting. Jesus is the long snapper.
Matt is the punter. Matt stands about
10 yards behind the line of scrim­
mage. Jesus snaps the ball with one
hand directly to Matt in a low spiral.
Jesus then helps his teammates
Matt catches the ball and holds it
out in front of him with two hands. If
he has time, he turns the ball so that
the laces are up. He strides forward
and drops the ball as he steps into the
punt. He kicks the ball with the top of
his foot. He follows through with his
kicking leg until his foot is as high as
his helmet.


There are two steps to becoming a
good football player. First, you must
learn proper techniques. In this
book, the Napa High football team
demonstrates these basic skills for
you. Second, you must practice these

techniques. The Napa football players
practice every day. They repeat the
same moves over and over again.
They understand that it takes hard
work to be the best. If you are willing
to learn and practice, you are on your
way. You may even become the next
football star.


bags: Heavy pads used in practice for
drills. Players jump over bags and
practice blocking into them.
blocking: The technique used to protect
a teammate in possession of the
ball as defenders try to tackle him.
center: A player on the offensive line.
On each play, the center snaps the
ball to the quarterback and then
helps block defenders.
chutes: A large metal device about four
feet high used in practice drills.
Offensive linemen stay low as they
run through the chute.
completion: A catch of a pass beyond
the line of scrimmage. Also called a

cornerback: A defensive player lined up
opposite a wide receiver. The
cornerback’s job is to guard the
receiver and prevent him from
catching a pass. Cornerbacks also
tackle when they can.
defense: The team of 11 players not in
possession of the football. The
defense tries to prevent its opponent
from advancing the ball and scoring.
defensive end: A player on the
defensive line of scrimmage. The
two defensive ends line up facing
the two offensive tackles and rush
the quarterback on pass plays and
tackle the ball carrier on run plays.


down: A unit of play that begins with the
snap of the ball and ends when the
whistle blows. A down is also a play.
drills: Basic movements performed by
players in practice designed to
improve skills.
end zone: The area measuring 10 yards
in length beyond the goal line.
Teams try to advance the ball to
this area.
extra point: After a touchdown, the
single point scored by the offense
when the kicker successfully kicks
the ball over the crossbar and
between the uprights.
fake: A movement by a player in which
he lunges his body in one direction
to lure the opponent that way, then
abruptly changes direction to try to
get past the opponent.

guard: 1) A player position, mainly used
for blocking. The left guard and
right guard line up on either side of
the center on the offensive line.
2) A technique used by a defensive
player to prevent an opponent from
catching a pass.
holder: On plays for field goals and
extra points, the player who
receives the snap from center and
places the ball on the ground for
the kicker. Also called a spotter.
huddle: A brief gathering of players on
the field, away from the line of
scrimmage. Players receive their
instructions for the next down
during the huddle.
incompletion: A pass beyond the line of
scrimmage that is not caught,
resulting in a loss of down.

field goal: A successful kick over the
crossbar and between the uprights.
The offense can attempt a field goal
on any down and from any
distance. A field goal is 3 points.

in motion: A player in motion runs
parallel to the line of scrimmage or
away from it. Only one offensive
player is permitted to move before
the ball is snapped. Also called

fullback: A player who lines up 3 yards
behind the quarterback to take a
handoff and run with the ball, go
out for a pass, or block.

interception: A pass that is caught by a
defensive player, resulting in a
change of possession.
kicker: A player who kicks the ball on
kickoffs and for field goals and
extra points.


linebacker: A player lined up about 3
yards behind the defensive line. The
three linebackers rush the quarter­
back, tackle the ball carrier, and
guard players going out for passes.
line of scrimmage: An imaginary line
across the field, originating from
the nose of the football after it is
spotted for play. The offense and
defense stay on opposite sides of
the line and cannot cross it until
the ball is snapped.
offense: The team of 11 players in
possession of the football. The
offense tries to advance the ball
down the field to score points.
officials: The men on the field who are
in charge of the game. They spot the
ball and enforce the rules.
passing: One of two ways the offense
can advance the ball. A play is
considered a pass if it is thrown
across the line of scrimmage. Any
offensive player may attempt a pass.
penalty: A violation of a rule, imposed
by the officials. A penalty accepted
by the opponent may result in the
loss of down, yardage, or both.
possession: In control of the football.
The offense is usually in
possession. When the defense gains
possession, its offensive teammates
take the field to control the ball.
punter: A player 10 yards behind the
center who catches a snap and
kicks it, or punts, before it hits the

quarterback: A player in charge of
directing the offense. The
quarterback announces the play in
the huddle, calls signals at the line
of scrimmage, receives the snap
from the center, and then passes
the ball, hands it off, or runs with it.
referee: The head official. The referee
controls the game and supervises
the other officials.
running: One of two ways the offense
can advance the ball. A play is
considered a run if any player
attempts to carry it across the line
of scrimmage.
running ropes: A practice drill designed
to improve footwork. Players step
quickly through a web of thin ropes
about one foot off the ground.
safety: 1) A defensive player lined up
several yards behind the linebackers.
The two safeties are the last line of
defense. Their job is to tackle ball
carriers who break through the
defensive line and to guard players
who run downfield for passes.
2) A score by the defense when an
offensive player possessing the ball
is tackled in his own end zone. A
safety is 2 points.
7-man sled: A large device constructed
of metal and pads that seven
players attempt to push forward by
churning hard with their legs.
skill position: A player who routinely
handles the ball more than players
in other positions.


snap: To quickly hand the ball between
the legs to a player standing directly
behind. A center usually snaps the
ball to a quarterback to begin each
snapper: A member of a field goal team,
responsible for hiking the ball
between the legs to the holder.
special teams: The units of 11 players
that play on kickoffs, field goal
attempts, extra-point attempts, and
sprints: A drill in which players line up
side by side in a set stance, run
quickly to a predetermined spot,
and run back to the starting point.
stance: The position a player assumes to
execute a play.
tackle: 1) An offensive player position,
mainly used for blocking. The left
tackle and right tackle line up next
to the left guard and right guard on
the offensive line. 2) A player
position on the defensive line. The
two defensive tackles line up in the
middle at the line of scrimmage to
rush the passer or stop the ball
carrier. 3) A technique in which a
player stops a ball carrier by causing
any portion of that player’s body,
except for hands and feet, to touch
the ground.
tailback: A player who lines up three
yards behind the fullback to take a
handoff and run with the ball, go
out for a pass, or block.

tight end: An offensive player who lines
up next to either offensive tackle to
block or catch passes.
touchdown: A score in which the
offense moves the ball into the
opponents’ end zone. A touchdown
is 6 points.
2-point conversion: After the
touchdown, the two points scored
by the offense when it successfully
runs or completes a pass into the
end zone from the 2-yard line.
two-way player: A player who plays on
both the offense and defense.
wide receiver: An offensive player
position, mainly used for big gains.
Wide receivers line up on either
side of the offensive line to run
downfield and catch passes from
the quarterback.


Barber, Phil. NFL’s Greatest: Pro
Football’s Best Players, Teams, and
Games. London: DK Publishing, 2000.
Italia, Bob. 100 Unforgettable Moments
in Pro Football. Edina, MN: Abdo &
Daughters, 1998.
Savage, Jeff. Peyton Manning: Precision
Passer. Minneapolis, MN:
LernerSports, 2001.

National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA)
P.O. Box 6222
Indianapolis, IN 46206
National Football League (NFL)
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
NFL High School Football



American Football League (AFL), 9, 11
American Professional Football
Association, 9
artificial turf, 13
audible, 19
automatic, 19

drills: 30, 33, 37, 38–39, 40, 42; bags, 40;
blocking and tackling, 42; chutes, 41,
42; running ropes, 39; 7-man sled,
41–42; sprints, 18, 19, 43. See also
drive, 19

bags. See drills
blitz, 19
block, shedding the, 22
block, sustaining the, 20
blocking, 16, 19–20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 30, 40,
41, 42, 47, 49, 50, 51
bomb, 19

end line, 14
end zone, 13, 14, 26, 27, 49, 51
extra point, 26, 35, 48

Camp, Walter C., 8
catching, 16, 17, 25, 47, 51
center (position), 25, 27, 39
chutes. See drills
cleats, 15, 19
clipping, 19
clock, 34
coaches, coaching staff, 7, 27–28, 29, 38,
42, 45
coin toss, 27
completion, 16, 18
cornerback, 26, 35
crouch, 19
defense, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27,
28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 35, 37, 45, 48, 49, 50,
51, 52
defensive backs, 33
defensive end, 26, 35
defensive line, 26, 31, 38, 41
diagrams, 28
double team, 31, 42
down (end of play), 51
down (play), 8, 27, 48, 50

face mask, 15, 28
facemask penalty, 28
fake, 19
field goal defense team. See special
field goal team. See special teams
field goal, 26, 27, 35, 48–49
field, dimensions of, 13–14
football, shape and dimensions of, 15
footwork, 20, 39
forfeiture, 27
fouls, 19, 28–29
fullback, 25, 26, 39
fumble, 19
game plan, 27–28
goal line, 8, 13, 14, 26, 47
goalposts, 13, 14, 49
grip, 16–17
guard (position), 25, 26
guarding, 21, 22
Halas, George, 9
handoff, 26
Harvard University, 8
hash marks, 13, 14
head coach, 27
helmet, 8, 14–15, 19, 20, 32, 38, 51
hiking (the ball), 49


holder, 35, 48, 49
holding, 28, 34
huddle, 27, 29, 30, 31
hydration. See water
incompletion, 16
interception, 16, 22
Intercollegiate Athletic Association
(IAA), 8, 9
interference, 28
jersey, 15
kick, 13, 26, 27, 35, 48, 49, 51
kicker, 28, 47, 48, 49
kicking tee, 47
kickoff return team. See special teams
kickoff team. See special teams
kickoff, 27, 47, 49
line of scrimmage, 19, 22, 27, 28, 29, 32,
34, 47, 49, 51
linebacker, 26, 31, 41
Lombardi, Vince, 9, 11, 35
Manning, Archie, 18
Manning, Peyton, 18
midfield stripe, 13, 14
motion, illegal, 28
motion, in, 22
muscles, 37
Namath, Joe, 11
National Collegiate Athletic Association
(NCAA), 9
National Football League (NFL), 9, 11, 18
offense, 16, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29,
31, 32, 34, 35, 37, 45, 48, 49, 50
offensive line, 19, 25, 26, 29, 35, 38, 41, 48


officials: 27, 28, 34; back judge, 34; field
judge, 34; head linesman, 34; line
judge, 34; referee, 28, 34; side judge,
34; umpire, 34
offsides, 2, 28, 34
one-on-one, 42
out of bounds, 14, 27, 34, 51
passing, 8, 16, 17, 22, 25, 26, 28, 31, 50
penalty, 19, 20, 28, 29, 34
plant foot, 19, 49

points, 26
positions, 25–26
possession, 13, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 50, 51
Princeton University, 7, 8
protective gear, 8, 10, 15, 20, 37
punt return team. See special teams
punt team. See special teams
punt, 27, 35, 50–51
punter, 51
pylons, 14


quarterback, 8, 11, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28,
29, 31, 32, 34, 39
quarters, 13
referee. See officials.
roughing, 28
rugby, 8
rules, 8, 26–27, 28, 34
running, 13, 16, 17, 19, 26, 50
running back, 29, 39
running ropes, 39
rushing (running), 16, 18, 19
rushing (tackling), 26, 49
sack, 19
safety (play), 26, 27
safety (position), 26, 32, 35, 41
scoring, 8, 19, 26, 27
scrimmage, 29, 30, 32, 35, 42
set, 28, 29, 41, 43
7-man sled. See drills
sidelines, 14, 51
skill position, 39
snap, 19, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31, 38, 39, 51
snapper, 48, 50, 51
soccer, 7, 8
special teams: 35, 45–51; field goal
defense team, 45; field goal team, 45,
48; kickoff return team, 45; kickoff
team, 45, 47; punt return team, 45, 50,
51; punt team, 45, 50, 51
spiral, 17, 49, 51
spotting, 27, 34, 50, 51
sprints. See drills
Stagg, Amos Alonzo, 8
stance: 31, 38, 42; 4-point stance, 38; 3­
point stance, 38, 39; 2-point stance, 39
stretching, 37
Super Bowl, 9, 11
tackle (position), 25, 26, 35
tackling, 13, 19, 21, 22, 26, 27, 30, 31, 40,
47, 51

tailback, 26, 39
Thorpe, Jim, 9
three-quarter angle, 17
tight end, 25
touchdown, 10, 13, 18, 26, 34
2-point conversion, 26
two-way player, 35
uniform, 14–15
warm-ups, 37
water (hydration), 31, 43, 46
whistle, 27, 33, 42, 43
wide receiver, 25, 26, 29, 35, 39
wrapping up, 21
Yale University, 7, 8
yards, 8, 13, 18, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 47, 50


Jeff Savage is the author of more than 120
sports books, including LernerSports’
Fundamental Strength Training. He lives with
his wife, Nancy, and sons, Taylor and Bailey,
in Napa, California. For this book, he profiled
the local Napa High School football team.
Many outstanding athletes have starred for
Napa High through the years. Still, Jeff
believes that Taylor and Bailey will one
day star at quarterback and wide
receiver for Napa High and shat­
ter all passing and receiving
records as they lead the team
to the state championship.