American football field

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Diagram of a modern American football field. AmFBfield.svg
Diagram of a modern American football field.
Diagram of an early version of an American football field; the intersecting gridlines of this early form gave birth the field's nickname of "gridiron". Football Diagram 1904.jpg
Diagram of an early version of an American football field; the intersecting gridlines of this early form gave birth the field's nickname of "gridiron".

The rectangular field of play used for American football games measures 100 yards (91.44 m) long between the goal lines, and 160 feet (48.8 m) (53+13 yards) wide. The field is made of grass. In addition, there are end zones extending another 10 yards (9.144 m) past the goal lines to the "end lines", for a total length of 120 yards (109.7 m). When the "football field" is used as unit of measurement, it is usually understood to mean 100 yards (91.44 m), although technically the full length of the official field, including the end zones, is 120 yards (109.7 m). There is a goal centered on each end line, with a crossbar 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground and goalposts 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m) apart extending at least 35 feet (11 m) above the crossbar. Between the goal lines, additional lines span the width of the field at 5-yard intervals. Originally, these lines ran across the field, giving it a checkerboard-like appearance resembling that of a gridiron, which gave rise to "gridiron" being a nickname for a football field and for the sport itself that has remained while the appearance has not.

Contents

This article mainly describes the field used in the National Football League, college football, and other leagues playing (traditionally) outdoor 11-man football. Other variants of American football such as nine-man or arena football typically use smaller fields with smaller end zones.

Field description

The entire field is a rectangle 360 feet (110 m) long by 160 feet (49 m) wide. The longer lines are the sidelines and the shorter lines are called end lines. NFL rules call for the sidelines and end lines to be 6 feet (1.8 m) wide, though the lines may be narrower on fields used for multiple sports or by college or amateur teams. In all cases the sidelines and end lines are measured along the inside edges of the boundary lines, and the lines themselves are out of bounds. Most distances on a football field are expressed in terms of yards.

The goal lines span the width of the field and run 10 yards (9.1 m) parallel to each end line. The 100 yards between the goal lines where most gameplay occurs is officially called the field of play in the NFL rulebook. Additional lines span the width of the field at 5-yard intervals from each goal line.

End zones

The areas at each end of the field between the goal lines and end lines – including the goal lines themselves – are called the end zones. The end zones are where touchdowns, two-point conversions, and safeties are scored, and where touchbacks occur. Orange weighted pylons mark the four corners of each end zone. Team or league logos or other patterns may be painted inside the end zone as long as they do not interfere with the mandatory field markings.

Goals

A goal is centered on each end line, consisting of a horizontal crossbar 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground and aligned with the inside edge of the end line, with vertical goal posts (colloquially "uprights") at each end of the crossbar 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m) apart and extending at least 35 feet (11 m) above the crossbar. The goals are where field goals (including rare fair catch kicks) and extra points after touchdowns are scored. All NFL fields and many collegiate and amateur fields have slingshot-shaped goal structures, with a single gooseneck-shaped support post anchored to the ground out of bounds. Other amateur fields, particularly at the high school level, may have H-shaped goal structures with two support posts anchored to the ground directly below the crossbar; on fields used for multiple sports these goals may double as soccer goals. The NFL requires a ribbon to be attached to the top of each goal post to indicate wind direction and speed. Goal posts must be yellow in the NFL; collegiate fields may have yellow or white goal posts. Amateur fields may also have shorter goal posts or a wider space between the goal posts. [1] [2] [3]

Yard lines

A yard line refers to the distance of some point on the 100-yard field of play – usually the line of scrimmage or the spot where a play ends – from the nearest goal line. [4] When moving away from one goal line, the yard line numbers increase from 1 to 50 (midfield), then decrease back to 1 approaching the opposite goal line. Each yard line is said to "belong" to the team defending the closer end zone; for example, during a period where Team A is defending the north end zone and Team B is defending the south end zone, the 25-yard line closer to the north end zone is said to be Team A's 25-yard line.

Yard lines are identified with two rows of white numbers painted inside each sideline at 10-yard intervals; the numbers 10 through 40 also include an arrow indicating the nearer goal line. NFL rules call for the top edge of each number to be 12 yards from the sideline. The yard lines are also identified at 10-yard intervals by orange markers placed outside the sidelines adjacent to the respective line. Yard lines other than multiples of 5 are marked by 2-foot (0.61 m) lines painted parallel to the goal lines at 1-yard intervals spanning the length of the field just inside each sideline as well as at the hash marks (see below).

Hash marks

The hash marks (officially inbounds lines in the NFL rulebook) are two rows of short lines running the length of the field that mark the boundaries of where a scrimmage down may start. If the ball is downed outside the hash marks or run out of bounds, the next play begins at the hash mark closest to the spot where it is downed. In the NFL the hash marks are 70 feet 9 inches (21.56 m) from each sideline; in college football they are 60 feet (18 m) from each sideline. At each 5-yard line they are marked with 2-foot (0.61 m) lines painted parallel to the sidelines. Between the 5-yard lines they are marked with 2-foot lines painted perpendicular to the sidelines at 1-yard intervals. The hash marks are painted so that the edge farthest from the sideline is the required distance from the sideline.

In the NFL and most forms of indoor football, the hash marks are in line with the goalposts. College and high school football fields have hash marks that are significantly wider than the goal posts. The college football standard, which was the previous standard in the NFL (from 1945 to 1971), is 40 feet apart (20 yards from the sidelines), [5] introduced in 1993. [6] [7] Previously, the college width was the same as the high school standard, at one-third of the width of the field (5313 feet).

Other markings

A 3-foot (0.91 m) line is painted parallel to the goal line at the center of the 2-yard line; this denotes the line of scrimmage for a two-point conversion attempt, and for an extra point attempt in college football (the NFL line of scrimmage for an extra point was also at the 2-yard line prior to 2015).

A small X may be painted at the center of each 35-yard line on NFL or college fields to indicate the spot where kickoffs are taken.

Most professional and collegiate fields have a team or league logo painted at the 50-yard line. Special games such as the Super Bowl or college bowl games may have the event logo painted at the 50-yard line. These logos as well as any other non-mandatory field markings require league approval and may not interfere with mandatory field markings.

According to the high school rulebook recommendations, the field should be angled at approximately 1.2° (rising 14 inch per foot, or 1 in 48) upward from each sideline to the center of the field so that the center is 20 inches (51 cm) higher than the sidelines. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Canadian football Canadian team sport

Canadian football is a sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (101 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's scoring area.

End zone Scoring area on the field in gridiron football

The end zone is the scoring area on the field, according to gridiron-based codes of football. It is the area between the end line and goal line bounded by the sidelines. There are two end zones, each being on an opposite side of the field. It is bordered on all sides by a white line indicating its beginning and end points, with orange, square pylons placed at each of the four corners as a visual aid. Canadian rule books use the terms goal area and dead line instead of end zone and end line respectively, but the latter terms are the more common in colloquial Canadian English. Unlike sports like association football and ice hockey which require the ball/puck to pass completely over the goal line to count as a score, both Canadian and American football merely need any part of the ball to break the vertical plane of the outer edge of the goal line.

Line of scrimmage Imaginary transverse line in American football, beyond which a team cannot cross until the next play has begun

In gridiron football, a line of scrimmage is an imaginary transverse line beyond which a team cannot cross until the next play has begun. Its location is based on the spot where the ball is placed after the end of the most recent play and following the assessment of any penalty yards.

Arena football Variant of indoor gridiron football

Arena football is a variety of eight-man gridiron football. The game is played indoors on a smaller field than American or Canadian football, designed to fit in the same surface area as a standard North American ice hockey rink, resulting in a faster and higher-scoring game that can be played on the floors of indoor arenas. The sport was invented in 1981, and patented in 1987, by Jim Foster, a former executive of the National Football League and the United States Football League. The name is trademarked by Gridiron Enterprises and had a proprietary format until its patent expired in 2007.

Goal (sports)

In sport, a goal may refer to either an instance of scoring, or to the physical structure or area where an attacking team must send the ball or puck in order to score points. The structure of a goal varies from sport to sport, and one is placed at or near each end of the playing field for each team to defend. For many sports, each goal structure usually consists of two vertical posts, called goal posts, supporting a horizontal crossbar. A goal line marked on the playing surface between the goal posts demarcates the goal area. Thus, the objective is to send the ball or puck between the goal posts, under or over the crossbar, and across the goal line. Other sports may have other types of structures or areas where the ball or puck must pass through, such as the basketball hoop.

Gridiron football Sport primarily played in the United States and Canada

Gridiron football, also known as North American football or, in North America, simply football, is a family of football team sports primarily played in the United States and Canada. American football, which uses 11-player teams, is the form played in the United States and the best known form of gridiron football worldwide, while Canadian football, featuring 12-player teams, predominates in Canada. Other derivative varieties include indoor football and Arena football, football for smaller teams, and informal games such as touch and flag football. Football is played at professional, collegiate, high school, semi-professional, and amateur levels.

Ice hockey rink rink for the purpose of playing ice hockey

An ice hockey rink is an ice rink that is specifically designed for ice hockey, a competitive team sport. Alternatively it is used for other sports such as broomball, ringette and rink bandy. It is a rectangle with rounded corners and surrounded by walls approximately 1.22 metres (48 in) high called the boards.

Comparison of American and Canadian football

American and Canadian football are gridiron codes of football that are very similar; both have their origins in rugby football, but some key differences exist.

American football rules Rules for American football

Gameplay in American football consists of a series of downs, individual plays of short duration, outside of which the ball is dead or not in play. These can be plays from scrimmage – passes, runs, punts, or field goal attempts – or free kicks such as kickoffs and fair catch kicks. Substitutions can be made between downs, which allows for a great deal of specialization as coaches choose the players best suited for each particular situation. During a play, each team should have no more than 11 players on the field, and each of them has specific tasks assigned for that specific play.

The 1932 NFL Playoff Game was an extra game held to break a tie in the 1932 season's final standings in the National Football League. It matched the host Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans. Because of snowfall and anticipated extremely cold temperatures in Chicago, Illinois, it was moved indoors and played at the three-year-old Chicago Stadium on December 18 on a reduced-size field on Sunday night.

The 1933 NFL season was the 14th regular season of the National Football League. Because of the success of the 1932 NFL Playoff Game, the league divided its teams into two divisions for the first time, with the winners of each division playing in a championship game to determine the NFL champion. Three new teams also joined the league: the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Cincinnati Reds. Also, the Boston Braves changed their name to the Boston Redskins and the Staten Island Stapletons, while still scheduling games against league teams, left the league.

In sports, a hash mark or hash line is a short line/bar marking that is painted perpendicular to the sidelines or side barricades, used to help referees and players recognize on-field locations and visually measure distances. Hash marks serve the same function as the graduated markings on measuring tools such as rulers.

Comparison of American football and rugby union

A comparison of American football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

A comparison between American football and rugby league is possible because of their shared origins and similar game concepts. Rugby league is arguably the most similar sport to American football after Canadian football: both sports involve the concept of a limited number of downs/tackles and scoring touchdowns/tries takes clear precedence over goal-kicking.

Field goal

A field goal (FG) is a means of scoring in gridiron football. To score a field goal, the team in possession of the ball must place kick, or drop kick, the ball through the goal, i.e., between the uprights and over the crossbar. American football requires that a field goal must only come during a play from scrimmage, while Canadian football retains open field kicks and thus field goals may be scored at any time from anywhere on the field and by any player. The vast majority of field goals, in both codes, are place kicked. Drop kicked field goals were common in the early days of gridiron football but are almost never done in modern times. In most leagues, a successful field goal awards three points.

The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, the team with possession of the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with the ball or passing it, while the defense, the team without possession of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs or plays; if they fail, they turn over the football to the defense, but if they succeed, they are given a new set of four downs to continue the drive. Points are scored primarily by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Field goal range is the part of the field in American football where there is a good chance that a field goal attempt will be successful.

Conversion (gridiron football)

The conversion, try, or convert occurs immediately after a touchdown during which the scoring team is allowed to attempt to score one extra point by kicking the ball through the uprights in the manner of a field goal, or two points by bringing the ball into the end zone in the manner of a touchdown.

References

  1. NFL Rules 2012, p. 2.
  2. NCAA Rules 2011–2012, p. 18.
  3. NFHS Rules 2012, p. 14.
  4. http://www.sportingcharts.com/dictionary/nfl/yard-line.aspx
  5. "High On The Hash". Sports Illustrated. (CNN). August 28, 1972.
  6. Chaptman, Dennis (March 26, 1993). "Moving hash marks should open offenses". Milwaukee Journal. p. C2.
  7. Clark, Bob (September 2, 1993). "New rules to keep coaches on toes". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 9F.
  8. NFHS Rules 2012, pp. 11–12, 13, 28.