How Many Players Are In A Football Team?

Last Updated on October 15, 2023 by Alex PT

A standard football team consists of 11 players on the field at a time. This number includes positions like goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards. The team can also have substitutes on the bench.

Here Is A Table Telling You About The Different Units In A Team And What They Do. 

UnitThe Role
Offensive UnitThe offensive unit has the role of scoring the touchdowns. They take the ball straight down the field with this one aim in their mind. Three positions on the pitch make up the offensive unit; the Quarterback who is always team captain, the tailback and the fullback. 
Defensive UnitThe major role of the defense should be obvious, they have to stop the offensive unit of their opponents from scoring a touchdown. The defensive unit has more positions than any other unit on the field, the positions are mainly under the defensive ends and defensive tackles. 
Special Team UnitThe special team unit here plays a high role in making sure they get kicking plays for their teams. 

Offensive Unit

The offensive team is made to line up in a legal form before they can make a move to take the ball. An offensive formation in this aspect would be taken to be an illegal formation. An illegal formation is when more than four players are in the backfield or even fewer than five players with numbers 50-79 on the offensive line. Players are allowed to line up for a short period in a position where the player’s number is given the chance to if the change is told to the referee who will now tell the opposition about the switch. None of the team players are allowed to line up or cross the neutral zone until the ball is taken. Offensive linemen are not allowed to leave their position until the ball is snapped. 

The major positions of this unit are the quarterback, halfback known as tailback, and fullback. The quarterback is the one in charge of the offensive unit. The coach calls the plays, but sometimes the quarterback is given the authority to do so. The quarterback tells the offensive unit about the play while they huddle before going out to line up. The quarterback lines up at the back of the center to take the snap, and afterward, he gives the ball out, although this depends on the play, he can either run with it or pass it. 

The main role of a halfback is to run with the ball, when a team sets for a running play, the right-back is always the one that takes up the responsibility of running to make the goal. They can also play as receivers on the other end. The fullbacks are the large players in the offensive unit because they help block the opponent’s defensive unit from obstructing the team’s gameplay. 

Defensive Unit

This unit is made up of mainly the defensive ends and defensive lines., as well as the defensive tackles. The defensive ends make their lines at their end of the line, and the defensive tackles make their lines in between that of the defensive ends. The major aim and role of the defensive end and tackles are to stop the opposition from making running plays. They are also equipped to tackle the quarterback so he doesn’t make a pass, and lastly, they occupy the lines so that the linebackers can get through. 

The linebackers are to stay just behind the defensive line and in front of the defensive backfield. The position is made up of two parts, the Middle linebackers, and the Outside Linebackers. The linebackers are the leaders of the defensive unit, they call the shots in the defensive units. They have different roles on the field, they have to block the run, tackle the quarterback, guard backs, broad receivers, and stop and pass plays. 

The defensive backfield is mostly known as the secondary, this is what they are called in the field. They are the cornerbacks and the safeties. The safeties are also made up of two categories, the free safeties, and the strong safeties. Cornerbacks are made to set their line just outside the defensive formation, they stay opposite the receivers so they can block them from every play. Safeties set their line between the cornerbacks but are far into the secondary. Safeties in football are the back man in basketball, when a quarterback has beat every line of defense, they are the only ones left to put their hopes on as they are the last stage of the defense. 

Special Teams Unit

The special teams unit is in charge of the kicking plays. This special team unit in a team is the one that tries to make field goals when in possession of the ball. The field goals are done through attempts, punts, and kickoffs. All of these plays can be blocked by the opposing team and sent back by their special team unit. In this unit, we have the placekicker, the holder, and the long snapper. The long snapper would snap the ball and send it to the holder, the holder would immediately set it in a perfect position for the placekicker. 

Football positions and their Rules

Football, or soccer, features various positions, each with distinct roles and rules:

  1. Goalkeeper: Defends the goal, prevents goals, and has the privilege to use their hands within the penalty area.
  2. Defenders: Typically four players who defend against opposing forwards, working to clear the ball and thwart attacks.
  3. Midfielders: Usually four players who control the game’s flow, connecting defense to attack and providing passes.
  4. Forwards: Strive to score goals, making crucial runs and taking shots.
  5. Substitutes: Can replace on-field players during the game for fresh legs or tactical changes.

Rules for all positions include avoiding fouls, offside infractions, and adhering to the Laws of the Game. Positions and roles may vary based on tactics and formations, offering flexibility to team strategies.

Substitution Procedure in Football

Substitution in football is a tactical procedure that allows teams to replace one player with another during the course of a game. It offers the opportunity to change the dynamics of a match, bring in fresh legs, or replace an injured player. Here’s an in-depth look at the substitution procedure in football.

1. Number of Substitutions

Traditionally, teams were allowed to make three substitutions during a match, excluding an additional one in extra time. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, soccer governing bodies like FIFA and UEFA temporarily allowed five substitutions to reduce the risk of player injury in a congested fixture schedule. Depending on the league and competition rules, the number can differ.

2. Time of Substitution

A substitution can take place at any time during the match, except when the ball is in play. Most substitutions often occur at half-time or in the closing stages of a match.

3. Player Consent

Unexpectedly, a player cannot be substituted without their consent, barring injury or disciplinary reasons. This rule, however, is rarely enforced as most players respect their coach’s decision.

4. Procedure on the Sidelines

The team wishing to make a substitution must inform the fourth official, who sits on the sidelines. They then hold up an electronic board indicating the number of the player to be substituted and the replacement player, once the game has stopped.

5. Entering and Exiting the Field

The substituted player has to leave the field at the nearest boundary line, except in cases where they are injured and need immediate medical attention. The replacement player cannot enter the field until the outgoing player has left.

6. Goalkeeper Substitutions

Though it’s rare, a goalkeeper can be substituted just like any other player. If a goalkeeper is sent off or injured and all substitutions have been used, an outfield player usually takes their place in goal.

7. Extra Time Substitution

In matches that extend to extra time, an additional substitution is allowed, regardless of any substitutions made during regular time.

8. Concussion Substitutions

Some leagues and competitions have introduced a new protocol designed to better protect players who suffer or are suspected of having a concussion during a match. Under this rule, teams are allowed to make an additional substitution.


These are all the major and small positions in every team of football players


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