What Does 1st and Goal Mean in Football? (Full Explanation)

1st and goal is a very common term in American football. One of the most important responsibilities football offenses have is the act of earning a first and goal. So why do they call it first and goal or what is 1st and goal meaning in American football? Check out today’s blog to understand the meaning behind “first and goal”.

What is 1st and goal in football?

In football, a first down inside the opponent’s 10-yard line is known as the “first and goal.” First and goal refer to the fact that one team is just ten yards from the opposing team’s end zone and goal line. In this scenario, in order to score points, the team in possession of the ball must either score a touchdown or kick a field goal inside four downs. When a team has a goal-to-go situation, their first down is first and goal.


A team can score a touchdown using only a first down and a goal by kicking a field goal or taking a direct snap. The team will have to restart from the 20-yard line the following time they get the ball if the ball is put out of bounds before one of these things can occur. Otherwise, they will have to try a field goal from that point on.

A touchdown is worth six points, compared to three for a field goal. Because of this, if a team has room to move in front of the end zone on fourth down, they should try for a touchdown.

When does a first and goal happen?

When a team gets a 1st goal less than 10 yards from the goal line, it is known as 1st and goal. Football first and goal situations occur frequently. It is the same as a regular down; the offensive team is just about to score a touchdown when it is given a slightly different moniker.

Teams are not required to be within 10 yards of the end zone to be on first and goal. In the event of an offensive penalty that does not result in a loss of down, this would happen. Further, in the event of sacks or other plays that result in a loss of yards, second and goal, third and goal, and fourth and goal are all also feasible outside of the opposing team’s 10-yard line.


And one of the most significant duties a football offense has is obtaining a first and goal. Because a team is less than 10 yards from both the other team’s end zone and the goal line, it is known as first and goal. To indicate how near a team is to score a touchdown, this expression is used. Instead of the word goal, phrases like “First and 10,” “Second and 8,” or “Fourth and 1” are frequently employed.

Some definitions you should know

1st Down Line

The first down line, which is a yard line, indicates the length of the field a team must cover to get the first down. It is not expressly marked on the pitch. However, when watching football on television, you may see it as a yellow line. The ball is placed where the runner is declared down once a team crosses the first down line, and the new first down line is set up 10 yards distant.

The Down Cycle

In football, a team is allowed a set of four scrimmage downs to advance the ball down the field after gaining possession. These scrimmage downs are called:

  • 1st Down
  • 2nd Down
  • 3rd Down
  • 4th Down

Ten yards from the line of scrimmage is where the first down line is first located. A team must give the ball over to the opposing team after a turnover on downs if they fail to cross the first down line after four scrimmage downs. The down cycle restarts, and the first down line is once more set 10 yards from the line of scrimmage if a team crosses the first down line on any of the downs.


Down and Distance

Down and distance are typically denoted by a number, such as “first and 10,” “second and 15,” ” 1st and goal”, or “fourth and 1.” The phrase’s first word is “current scrimmage down.” The second portion of the term refers to the distance that must be covered by a team to reach the first down line in order to score the first down and restart the down cycle.

  • 1st & 10

Down: First Down

Distance: 10 yards (to the first down line)

  • 2nd & 15

Down: Second Down

Distance: 15 yards (to the first down line)

  • 4th & 1

Down: Fourth Down

Distance: 1 yard (to the first down line)

The word “goal” may occasionally be used in place of the first down line. This indicates that the team holding the ball is less than 10 yards from the goal line and that the first down line is the goal line.

  • 1st & Goal

Down: First Down

Distance: The Goal Line (first down line)

  • 2nd & Goal

Down: Second Down

Distance: The Goal Line (first down line)

Sum up

Overall, a first down inside the 10-yard line of the opposition qualifies as a first and goal in football. Hope that with this article, you can understand the basics of ball movement in football. And you can find the answer to your question on what is “1st and goal”. Remember to follow our website – Footballterms to update more interesting information.

Thanks for reading!

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