What Is a First Down in Football? (Full Explanation)

What is a first down?First down in football: If you are a big football fan, you certainly know much about the “down” term. The attacking team will use a different exciting play for each down. All teams want to obtain their first down in order to acquire possession of the ball. So, in football, exactly what is the first down? Read this post to find out.

What is a first down in football?

In American football, the ball is always in the possession of one team. The team that is in possession of the ball is on offense, while the other team is defending. The offensive team has four chances to advance the ball ten yards. Each effort is referred to as a “down.” So, what is a first down in football? – First down refers to the team’s first effort to advance the ball.

The squad will probably have a second down. This happens if they cannot advance the ball ten yards on their initial try. But once they successfully advance the ball ten yards from the first down location to the “line to gain,” they can get another FD. Also, there are four additional chances to advance the ball ten yards to the new line to gain.

After four tries, if the offense is unable to advance the ball far enough to cross the goal line, the team on defense gains possession of the ball. They then take over as the offense and gain a first down. The offense-playing squad switches to defense. Because of this, teams frequently decide to punt on fourth down to allow their opponents more time to score either a touchdown or field goal.


The down cycle

A down cycle has four downs, the 1st down football of which is known as the down. The attacking team’s objective is to gain 10 yards and make another 1st down.

The second, third, and fourth downs are those that occur after the cycle. After four tries, the ball goes to the defensive team if the attacking team is unable to advance the ball far enough to the line. The two teams’ roles will then alter. The opposing side will switch roles, going from defense to offense.

In order to force the defense to go further in order to kick a field goal or score a touchdown at this juncture, the offensive team will frequently decide to punt in the fourth-down situation.

The attacking side will run a risky play if the clock on the game is about to expire or they are only a few yards short. If they don’t get the first down, the idea is to keep the ball for as long as possible until the end of the game.

What is a first down game strategy?

On first down in football, offenses typically call running plays. Running the ball on first down helps the offense gain a few yards. Therefore, shorter passes may be used to gain an FD. Besides, they also open up passing plays by making the defense honor the ground game. For instance, a highly successful first-down run (gain of five or more yards) can convince the defense that the offense will try another running play. That results in a second down pass completion that is relatively simple.

In the modern era, passing has taken center stage, making first-down plays extremely unpredictable. Offensive coordinators will turn to a pass-heavy strategy, especially late in the game or half or if they are trailing in the score. Up to 75% of the time, passing plays will be run on first down in certain circumstances.

Moreover, the referee will indicate a first down by pointing his right hand toward the defensive team’s goal line. Fourth down is indicated by the referee when he makes a fist and raises one arm above his head.

First down penalties

If the defense commits the foul, many penalties in football come with an automatic first down as part of the penalty. Automatic first-down penalties are usually for more serious fouls that entail unwarranted violence or interference with the game. Pass interference, grasping the facemask, needless roughness, and unsportsmanlike behavior are a few examples of fouls that result in an immediate FD. The offense must repeat the down while losing the penalty yards if one of these penalties is made, and the number of downs does not increase.

Sum up

All in all, what is a first down? – Surely you can answer it. The offensive team’s objective on the first down of a series of four downs was to gain 10 yards. They will have a first down for granted and a fresh set of four downs if they are successful. To update and follow more posts on American football like this, we highly recommend the website footballterms – where you will dive into a ton of hot and latest football news.

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