How to Play 7-on-7 Football
This competitive offseason game can help get teams ready to play under Friday night lights.
Finger-tip catches. Diving interceptions. A quarterback threading the needle.
The action on the football field is what draws players to the sport in the fall season. But the game now extends to the offseason as teams participate in 7-on-7 football.
WHAT IS 7-ON-7 FOOTBALL?
It’s similar to what you would see during a regular-season game, but the game is stripped down. Players don’t wear pads and there is no offensive or defensive lines. Offensive players are considered down when they are touched below the neck by a defender.
Seven-on-7 is something you can set up at practice during the season to work on your team’s passing game.
“But it is also a fun and competitive event that we use in the offseason in order to go ahead and continue working on our passing game without equipment,” says Chris Merritt, veteran high school coach and founding member of Heads Up Football.
A quarterback, five receivers and a snapper make up the offense. A team can also have a running back replace one of the receivers in the offensive setup.
“It could be different in the different parts of the country in which you play,” Merritt says. “Sometimes you are allowed five receivers, but sometimes they want a running back. He’s always going to be lined up between the imaginary tackle box and have to run his routes from that point right there.”
Teams can have different looks on defense depending on their setup, but they always have a combination of linebackers and defensive backs looking to stop their opponent’s passing attack.
A typical 7-on-7 football game is split into 20-minute halves with a running clock and a five-minute halftime. The games are played on 40 yards of the field, which leaves room for two games on the same field at the same time.
“A competitive 7-on-7 is different than in the fall when we are padded up,” Merritt says. “We now have two 15-yard zones where players have got to get a first down, using only three downs in the first two 15-yard zones. Once they hit the final 10-yard zone near the goal line, they are allowed four downs to get the ball into the end zone.”
The quarterback has only four seconds to successfully get a pass off.
“If by the fourth second that ball is not out of his hand, it is considered a coverage sack and the offense will lose the down at that point,” Merritt says.
If the offense scores a touchdown, it earns them six points. Kickers do not score extra points. A team can choose to go for a single point by passing from the 5-yard line or two points passing from the 10-yard line.
The defense can score points by either intercepting the ball, which is worth five points, or stopping its opponent on downs, which is worth two points. If the defense intercepts the ball or stops the offense on downs, the ball will reset for its offense at the 40-yard line.
The team with the lead at the end of the game is the winner.
For football teams looking to continue improving their skills, synergy and camaraderie in a competitive setting during the offseason, try playing in a 7-on-7 tournament.
Teams can use the 7-on-7 for more than just offseason competition. By adding 7-on-7 drills to your practice during the season, you can be ready to pass the ball with confidence in game-changing situations.