Instructions for Kids on How to Play Football

Updated July 20, 2017

American Football is growing into one of the most popular sports in the world. It is an ideal spectator sport, but also drawing interest among children. Organised football has roots in Pop Warner level, but street football is also popular in cities and suburbs worldwide. The more football grows, the more kids will want to learn how to play this exciting and physically active game.

Make sure you are adequately hydrated and clothed to play depending on the weather. A jersey or T-shirt and shorts or sweatpants are appropriate for playing outside pickup football games.

Playing football requires teams. Often when playing a pickup game of football, teams are chosen by two captains who alternate picks until sides are chosen. Make sure to set up an adequate playing field with out of bounds, and draw up rules before the game begins. Games can be played with tackling or two-hand touches. Fields are typically 100 yards long by 53 yards wide, but can vary depending on space.

The game begins with a kickoff and the team that receives should line up. Kids can throw the ball off as well. The team kicks off from around 35 per cent of the field. The receiving team takes the ball and runs until player is "tackled." If any rules are broken, penalties can be called by an official or by teams.

Teams run plays to earn first downs and then score touchdowns. Often in pick up games, first downs are judged either by landmarks or by a certain number of receptions per four downs. Field goals and punts are rarely used in pickup football games. If a team is unable to earn a first down, the ball goes to the other team.

Games are broken into four quarters that are typically 10-15 minutes long. However, in pickup games, kids play as long as they want. The team that scores the most points at the end of the game is the winner.


Injury can take place when tackling is involved. Always take proper precaution when playing tackle football. Weather is also a concern when playing football. Always wear proper clothing for weather and do not play outside in thunder and lightning.

Things You'll Need

  • Football
  • Field of grass or pavement
  • Sneakers
  • Helmet (optional)
  • Equipment (optional)
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About the Author

Pat Pickens is an award-winning sports journalist with a flair for finding interesting stories. As an avid sports fan, Pickens often looks to find an alternative view point from the status quo, and has experience in covering PGA, NHL, NCAA football as well as high school sports up and down the Northeast.