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How to Begin To Learn Football

Oct 31, 2007
More than any other sport, football seems most truly American. Some 350 years ago, the early settlers of our land had teams, goals, and a ball that they kicked around an open field.

True, the game they played can hardly be compared to the modern game we watch in our huge stadiums and on nationwide television, but then, what has remained the same throughout the last three and one-half centuries?

Football has grown right along with our nation and our way of life.


In earlier days, football was just a game that the name suggests. The players moved the ball by kicking it with their feet. Gradually, as high schools and colleges took up the game during the 1800's, it became popular to pick up the ball and run with it. Later, throwing the ball through the air from one player to another won its place in the strategy of the game.

However, of these three basic forms of moving the ball - kicking, running, and passing - running with the ball must be regarded as the most important. Running plays are used most frequently and there are a greater variety of them.

Just a word about your equipment. Do not try any blocking or tackling without proper and complete uniforms, including well-padded helmets. The sandlot, or the corner playground, or your back yard, are all good spots to practice your football maneuvers and to have your neighborhood games, but always remember - no blocking and no tackling without full uniforms!

Packing the Pigskin

(NOTE: As most boys are right-handed, we will give our instructions for a right-hander. Now, of course, we have nothing against left-handers! There are great ones in all sports. If you are a natural southpaw, just switch the word "right" for "left" and "left" for "right" wherever these words appear in the instructions.)

THE PROPER CARRY of the ball is when the fingers are over the right point of the ball, while the opposite point is forced into the pocket formed by the elbow and body.

1. Carry the ball with the fingers of your right hand over one point (or end) of the ball. Your right arm should be bent so that you can tuck the other point of the ball into the pocket formed by your elbow. Force the ball securely into this pocket with a hard pressure from the fingers of your right hand. Snug the ball against your right ribs.

You have probably noticed on television that great college and professional players often carry the ball away from their bodies. When you start appearing on television, you can carry the ball that way, too! Until that time, "pack the pigskin" as described above.

2. Actually, in carrying the football, you should be equally good with either hand. If an opponent comes at you from your right side with the intention of tackling you, make a quick shift of the ball from your right side to your left side. This frees your right arm for a "straight-arm" on the would-be tackier. The shift of the ball is made as follows:

(a) Bring your left hand over on top of the ball and move your right hand, with the ball, over along the lower part of your stomach toward your left side.

(b) The left hand grasps the point of the ball which is in the pocket of the right elbow.

(c) Your arms appear to be folded in front of your stomach. Each hand grasps a point of the ball.

(d) The right hand guides the point of the ball it has been covering into the pocket formed by the left elbow. The right hand is pulled away to begin the straight-arm maneuver.

(e) The left hand brings the other point of the ball around, the fingers pressuring the ball firmly back into the pocket of the left elbow and snug against the left ribs.

These five actions must be combined into one quick, smooth, continuous movement in order for it to be successful.

Master this maneuver and you will have started to know the game of football.
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