If a team is successful and moves the ball at least 10 yards in 4 downs, then they get "another set of downs", which means they get 4 more tries.
When you watch football on TV, there are usually 2 digitally-added lines that help you out:
- the line of scrimmage - this is where the ball starts. The team has to move the ball at least 10 yards from the line of scrimmage in 4 downs. When you see the guys all line up and one guy has his hand on the ball - the ball is actually on the line of scrimmage.
- the first down line - this is the line the TV station adds to show you how far the ball has to go for the team to earn a first d0wn (and 4 more tries to keep moving the ball). It's great having this line on the TV screen and it makes it easy for you to know if the player made it as far as they needed to!
Some examples of how you will hear this on TV: (it is always stated as: which down is it and how far do they have to move the ball to earn a first down)
- First (down) and 10 (yards to go) - this means it is the first down/try and the team has 10 yards to go to earn more downs (the first-down line on tv will be 10 yards away from where the teams line up)
- Second and 7 - it is the second down and the team has to go 7 yards (the first-down line will be 7 yards away from where the teams line up)
- Third and inches - it is the third down and there are only inches to go for the team to earn a first down
- Second and 15 - sometimes, due to penalties or where the ball ends up, teams may have MORE than 10 yards to get to the first-down line.
Next post - Fourth down and what happens then.