A Guide to Football Video Games Basics

Tips and Info to Perfect Your Game

American Football
Basic Tips for Football Video Games. Bernhard Lang / Getty Images

Get the Most Out of ANY Football Video Game You Play!

Whether you're a gamer who wants to play a new football game but is afraid it'll be too hard or you've had a bad experience in the past either online or offline, this is for you.

With the tips and info below, you will find that it's not that complicated as long as you learn the basics. Those that are not new to football may even find a few helpful tips in this article.

So let's get ready for the kickoff.

First and Ten to Your Football Games' Success

Just because sports titles are becoming more complex it doesn't mean you have to make it hard on yourself to gain the win!
Sports games are becoming more complex and now have more added features than ever before. While this is great, don't let the new features fool you. The basic game is still the same as it was from the very first football game ever made. You just need to know how to read the offense and defense. That's right, read them like a book. It may sound impossible, but there is a way to learn even the basic set plays and play like a pro with a little practice.

Disable that darn auto-pass feature!
The first thing most gamers try is the easy mode. It doesn't matter if the game is on PC, Xbox, PS2, GameCube, or a handheld; Madden, for example, has a help mode. Gamers get used to playing with this on and then get frustrated when playing against a friend or online.

First tip: turn off any auto passing mode. You won't learn how to do it if you can just snap the ball, wait and then have the AI throw the ball for you. Now that you are on your own in passing, let's go over the basics of the passing plays.

Use the basic plays!
Basic plays are sometimes more effective than the complicated ones.

The reason is simple; nobody is expecting it. Use this to your advantage. While learning read the game manual cover to cover! Now let's get into the first few offensive plays and tips. Most games out there have the same plays to choose from. While it looks different, it's just fancy graphics and enhancements. The basic plays have never changed and this is one key to being able to compete and enjoy the game at the same time, no matter what year the game is released. You have short passing plays, normal, and long ones to choose from. Regardless what the Xs and Os show these will never change in the basic plays. You need to be able to read your own players first.

Passing — Rookie Style

Using the short pass is an effective play once you master the timing!
The button layout is almost the same in any game or version. The "A", "X" or "Square" button hikes the ball. Then icons will show up above your receivers, each one will have a different button above them. This represents what button will pass the ball to them. Let's go over a short pass of 5-10 yards, a simple but effective play. You choose a passing play with short yardage. Now most mistakes are made not in the execution of the play but the timing.

A great little tip is to snap the ball count to five and pass to the player on the right side of the field. Note that this will not guarantee a successful completion every time. It will teach anyone learning the game the right timing of the game and of the defense but more on that later on. Practice the same play a few times until you complete a few passes and it seems almost too easy.

Passing becomes so simple you will be 'reading' the defense subconsciously!
You're almost certain to see the defense tip the ball or miss your receiver by inches when trying this at first. Also, know that the games now have pressure sensitive buttons. This simply means the longer you hold the passing button, the harder the throw will be, adding speed and distance. For now, count to five and tap the button that fits the icon to the right side of the field. Sounds too simple right? The great part of doing this is that you will find yourself reading the defense without even knowing it. The next time you have the ball repeat everything exactly the same only this time pass to your receivers on the left side of the field. You will, of course, find yourself moving around and at first be quick to throw but in time you will learn how to use those moves to your advantage.

Passing Is Great, but What About My Running Backs?

Now that you have the basics of the short pass down it's time to run the ball. Remember, this is learning how to do the basics. You would never pass or run every single time, so to hand the ball off you will again use the pass button , only this time there is no icon. If there was an icon, it would be a dead giveaway. After the snap, count to two and your running back or tight end will be right there.

Mix it up, vary your short passing game with hand-offs.
Of course, this will also take practice. Once you have run several plays successfully you now have the short offensive down. You would then mix the plays up. A good method is to run on 1st down, pass on second and mix them up as you continue to learn the game more and more.

Reading the Defense — the Basic Way

Now this is only going to scratch the surface of the topic but will teach you how to read the defense. It is 1st down and the defense is close together. This is a blitz or a prevent defense set. If you see three up front and the rest to the sides, this is a zone or passing defense. Now there is no way this can be completely covered in one article. You're slowly learning and when you find yourself on the ground, you know it was a blitz defense and it worked.

Practice makes perfect!
Once again timing comes into play. You will read the basic defense and learn to adjust in time.

You will even learn how to read the defense set when playing online or against a friend. This will not be something you can pick up in one night. These are only tips and will need to be practiced. The whole point is to show you that the game is easier than you think as long as you get the basics down.

From here you will start to pick up the more complicated and advanced plays and sets. Remember the key word is practice!

Defensive Play Basics

This will sound almost too simple but will be helpful; you now know how to read the defense. Here is the twist, you also know how to read the offense; it works almost the same way. There are differences sure, but you know if the offense is spread out it is going to be a passing play, of course there will be sneaky running plays that look like passing plays. The point again is that you're slowly learning the basics. Cool right? It is and it can be fun just needs practice and the right thinking.

Now you will want to run blitz plays while on defense. Most gamers make the mistake of letting the players line up the way the computer sets them up. If you read the game manual, you know how to change or highlight a player and shift him closer to the line. Doing this will create confusion against the offense and make your chances of sacking the quarterback better. The easiest way to practice this is to set up a game against the computer and practice different moves and shifts. Once again practice is the theme and while it may sound boring it will help you learn the game faster than getting beat time and time again against a friend or online.

More to Come!

Now that you have the basics for offense and defense next time we will cover special teams, kicking, and more advanced plays. Hopefully, you see that football video games are not as complicated as some people think. It is like any other game, chess for example. You can learn enough to play but to be good you need to practice. While everything here is very basic, it works. Have fun.

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