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How Many Players are on a Football Team

how many players are on a football team?

Football is one of the most popular sports in America. From high school and college football to the National Football League (NFL), the sport is extremely competitive and attracts some of the best players in the country and from across the world.


If you’re new to football and aren’t quite sure what’s going on, don’t worry because we’ve got it all covered. Let’s take a look at how the game works, from rules to scoring and everybody involved in the game. If you’ve been wondering how many players are on a football team, we’ll break it all down for you. You’ll be ready to attend your first football game in no time.


An Overview of How the Game Works

A football game is played between two teams of eleven players, the offense team and the defense team. The offense team is the team that has the ball in possession and has to try and advance down the field with the ball. However, the defense team must try to gain possession of the ball or stop the other from advancing it into their end zone or kicking it into their goalpost.


The game’s main objective is to score more points than your opposing team and move the ball to the opposing team’s end zone or their goal post. The opposing team gets four chances, or downs, to move the ball ten yards towards the defense team’s end zone without losing hold of the ball. If they succeed, they get four more chances and so on. If they lose the ball to the defense, then the team gets four chances to do the same.


The field is usually 100 yards long and 60 yards wide, with 10-yard markers to mark the four downs. The end zones at either end of the field are about 20 yards in length. The goal post in both end zones at 10 feet above the ground and usually between 18 and 23 feet wide. Getting the ball to your opposing team’s end zone scores you a touchdown worth six points.  A field goal, which is when a player kicks the ball into the opposing team’s goal, earns you three points.


Suppose the defense team manages to tackle an offense team member in the offense team’s own end zone, which earns them two points. The game is played in four 15-minute intervals, and the team with the most points at the end of the hour wins the game.


Hopefully, now you have a clearer idea of how the game works. It gets a little more complicated when you consider the different players on a football team, their specific positions, and their roles.


A Breakdown of the Team Members

There are 45 players on a football team in total. Out of those 45, only 11 members are on the field at a time, with the addition that any players can be substituted between downs. The number of substitutions used to be limited, and there were specific substitution rules, but those rules are no longer in effect, and as a result, the teams are split into three groups: the offensive unit, defensive unit, and special teams unit. Each group has different strengths and roles to play, which we will discuss further.


The Offensive Unit

The offensive unit usually has the smaller and faster players in it as well as the quarterback who is usually the start of the team. The main role of the offensive unit is to advance the ball down the field and score a touchdown. The offensive team has to follow very specific rules when they line up for the beginning formation at the start of that game. Except for the center, none of the members are allowed to cross the beginning line until the game has started and the ball is in possession of a player.


The center is the centermost player in the lineup formation. The center is the player that is responsible for passing the ball onto the quarterback behind him once the game begins. The quarterback, the halfback/tailback, and the fullback are the next most important players in the offensive unit. The quarterback is the leader of the offensive unit, and it is his responsibility to run the attacking plays and throw the ball to his teammates. The quarterback is positioned behind the center to catch the ball from the center and to either throw it or run with it. The halfback/tailback is responsible for running with the ball or throwing it past the downs. The fullback is usually a larger player that blocks the other team’s players from getting the ball or tackling any other team members.


This leaves the wide receivers and the tight ends. The tight ends are the players towards the edges of the lineup, and the wide receivers are positioned at the furthest edge of the field from the lineup in order to catch any pass thrown by the quarterback.


So, to wrap it all up, the offensive unit has eleven members in it, consisting of the center, with two guards, two tackles, and the tight end beside him. Behind the center is the quarterback, and behind him are the halfback and fullback. Two wide receivers are at either edge of the field.


The Defensive Unit

The defensive unit is usually made up of larger and stronger players who can easily block the offensive team and tackle them. The main role of the unit is to stop the offense from scoring. The defensive lineup is made up of defensive ends and defensive tackles. The defensive tackles are in the center of the lineup, and the defensive ends are positioned at either end of the lineup. The defensive line’s main goal is to stop the offense team’s running plays and allow the linebackers to get through to the opposing team’s side of the field.


The linebackers are the most important and versatile players in the defensive unit. The linebackers are positioned behind the defensive line and in front of the defensive backfield. There are middle linebackers and outside linebackers, according to how they line up behind the defensive line. Linebackers have a hybrid role to play in the game. They can play the role of the defense line and tackle the offensive team players, or they can even play the role of defending the run and pressuring the quarterback.


The defensive unit is rounded up with the defensive backfield players that are positioned behind the linebackers. The defensive backfield is made up of cornerbacks and safeties; cornerbacks are positioned at the far edges of the field opposite the offensive team’s wide receivers, while the safeties are further behind the cornerbacks.


The safeties are the final line of defense and are responsible for blocking any far-running plays.


To wrap it up, the defensive unit has eleven team members. In the defensive lineup, there are two defensive tackles and two defensive ends. Behind them are the linebackers, typically three of them. At either edge of the field are the two cornerbacks, and behind them are the two safeties.


The Special Teams Unit

The last of the teams is the special teams unit, which is responsible for kicking and punting and is made up of larger and faster players. The unit that is in control of the ball has to try to execute field goals – when the ball is kicked from anywhere on the field into the opposition team’s goal – and also attempt punts and kickoffs, all while the opposing team’s special teams unit will try to block them.


Before we look at the three positions in the special teams unit, let’s go over some terminology you may not know: punts and kickoffs. A punt is when a ball is dropped from the player’s hands and kicked across the field before touching the ground. A punt is usually performed in the final down to get the ball into the opposing team’s end zone or into the goal. A kickoff is simply when a player kicks the ball to the opposing team, and the opposing team then tries to kick the ball back into the first team’s end zone.


The three positions in the special teams unit are the placekicker, the holder, and the long snapper. The long snapper snaps the football – passes it back between his legs – to the holder behind him. The holder holds the ball in place for the placekicker to kick it off. Once the ball is kicked off, a player on the opposing team will attempt to catch it and return it to the back. This player is known as the kickoff returner.


Other than the three units and the 45 team members that play in the game, the team cannot be complete without the coaches and the trainers. Although it may seem a bit confusing and as if there are a lot of different positions and rules to remember, don’t be worried. It’s completely natural to feel overwhelmed with emotion, but once you actually watch a game or two and really get into it, things will start falling into place and making a lot more sense to you.


Our Final Thoughts

Hopefully, now you have enough knowledge about football to be able to watch your first game and have a pretty good idea about what’s going on. We’ve gone over the basic premise of the game and how the scoring works. You know that the team with the highest score at the end of the four intervals wins. And you also know how the teams are made up and which players on a football team you should keep a special eye out for.


If you really want to get into football, we suggest that you watch a live game. There is nothing more exciting and exhilarating than being out there in the stands watching the players do what they do best. Before you go, grab a pair of binoculars so that you can really zoom in on all the action and keep a close eye on the quarterback and the linebackers. Try out the Alatino Compact Binoculars (ASIN: B091H7JSLY).


If you can, be sure to check out some official NFL football games to see some of the country’s best players on the field. Don’t forget to grab your favorite team member’s jerseys and support them in the game. You can even get your own personalized jersey (ASIN: ‎ B09HXDLHSP) as a reminder of your first official game.


So, do you think you’re ready to watch football and finally understand what all the hype is about? We’re excited for you to get into the sport and hope you have a good idea of how it works and what to expect after reading this article. Remember, just reading about football won’t be nearly as excited as getting to witness it firsthand.