Gridiron Game Play

At a glance, it looks like an incomprehensive mass of players kitted up in padding and armour, in a somewhat frustrating stop-start game, but truth be known, Gridiron is quite a highly technical game. Once you have the simplest grasp of the rules and the roles of players, you will quickly find yourself caught up in the excitement.

American Football or Gridiron, is one of the most physical types of sports that person can play today. To avoid injury or the very least risk of injury, it’s essential you wear the right protective gear. It’s an aggressive game that requires players to wear armour-like padding to protect themselves and those they play against. At minimum players wear a football helmet with a face mask and a set of shoulder pads. If playing gridiron in the ACT, additional padding is required including thigh pads and guards, knee pads, chest protectors and mouth guards.


Disclaimer: It is important to note that despite wearing the above listed equipment injuries can and do still occur.

There are five (5) known gridiron codes:

American Football – most common and widely known played with 11 players, four downs and a 100-yard field
Canadian Football – played almost exclusively in Canada and more closely related to rugby. The game is played on a 110-yard field with three downs and 12 men to a team.
9/8/6-Man Football – varieties of gridiron played with fewer players, four downs, fewer offensive linemen and on an 80-yard field.
Indoor Football – played with special rules to accommodate smaller indoor facilities and on a 50-yard field with seven or eight to a team.
Flag Football – informal varieties of the game, played primarily at an amateur and recreational level where house rules apply.

“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” ~ Vince Lombardi

Let’s win this, thing!

To win the game,a team (there are two) must score the most points. To score points, a team must kick the football over the cross bar of the goal post or carry the football across the opposing team’s goal line.

5 Ways to Score

Touchdown – The most valuable scoring play worth 6 points. It is scored when the ball is advanced into, caught in or when a ball in play is recovered in, the end zone of the opposing team.

Try – If a team scores a touchdown, they will then attempt a try (point-after-touchdown or conversion). A try is attempted from the two or three yard line. If scored by a place-kick it is worth one (1) point, but if it is scored by what would normally be a touchdown (pass/run), it is called a 2-point conversion and worth 2 extra points.

Field Goal – Worth 3 points, it is scored when the ball is place-kicked or dropkicked through the uprights and over the crossbars of the Defences’ goalposts.

Safety – This occurs when the ball carrier is tackled in their own end zone by the Defensive team. It is worth 2 points and scored by the Defence.

Two sides to every…game.


The aim of the Offence is to score points. Simple. The Offence gets four (4) chances, or “downs”, to progress the ball 10 yards. If they do, the Offence will start at the first down again, and have another four (4) more downs to gain another 10 yards. This continues until either the Offence score or fail to move the ball the required 10 yards. If the latter occurs, then the ball is is turned over to the opponent. Before each down the Offence will form into a huddle – a team meeting on the field. The Quarterback, or QB, will use this time to tell the team the next play for that down.


The Defence does exactly that, defend the opponent’s Offence from gaining the required 10 yards for a down, and of course from scoring. The Defence must aim to tackle the runner and to break up the plays. A tackle is made when the ball carrier’s knee touches the ground, or the player’s forward progress is stopped and unable to move.

Simply put, the Defence work to cover the Offence while the Offence try to outsmart the Defensive coverage.

Player Positions


The Field aka. The Gridiron

The field measures 100 yards long and 53 yards wide. Little white markings on the field called yard markers help the players, officials, and the fans keep track of the ball. Probably the most important part of the field is the end zone. It’s an additional 10 yards on each end of the field. This is where the points add up! When the offense gets the ball into the opponent’s end zone, they score points.

Field Layout


Games are divided into four 12-minute quarters, separated by a 10-minute break at halftime. There are also 1-minute breaks at the end of the first and third quarters as teams change ends of the field after every 12 minutes of play. At the end of the first and third quarters, the team with the ball retains possession heading into the following quarter. That is not the case before halftime. The second half starts with a kickoff in the same way as the game began in the first quarter.

Each offensive team has 40 seconds from the end of a given play until they must snap of the ball for the start of the next play, otherwise they will be penalised.

The clock stops at the end of incomplete passing plays, when a player goes out of bounds, or when a penalty is called. The clock starts again when the ball is re-spotted by an official.

Common Football Signals & Penalties


Football Signals & Penalties


Download the easy and simple ACTG Gridiron Game Signals Guide.