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Sports Fundamentals

My college boyfriend had a T-shirt that said “6th Man on the Court, 12th Man on the Field” that he wore to University of Maryland home games. He was an avid Terps fan and went to as many home games for both basketball and football that he could. He even traveled down to Florida the year the Terps made it to the Orange Bowl.

I was relatively new to this kind of sport fandom (despite years of attending Army-Navy games–Go Navy!), and didn’t understand what his shirt meant. So he had to explain to me that a spectator can be just as important as the players. The crowds and the fans are the ‘extra’ team players as they cheer on their team.

Fast forward to now and I realize I need to teach my children the same spectator lesson or at the very least, the basic rules of popular sports. Many kids, including my own, are missing out on sports, either from COVID restrictions, time commitment issues, general lack of interest, parental feelings about a particular sport, or affordability. In addition to missing out on the competition and team player mentality lessons, they aren’t learning the rules of the games. Knowing and understanding the fundamentals and rules of a sport without actually playing is important and allows kids to become that extra team player and enjoy the sport as a spectator instead of as an athlete.

Read on below for the basics of 8 different sports. Also be sure to check out local sports programs that offer summer camps, lessons, leagues, and even fun time if your child is showing an interest in sports. Some, like Weber’s Bulldog Basketball Camp, focus on one particular sport but others like Benfield Sportscenter, i9 Sports, All-Sport Kids Academy and Navy Sports have tons of different options to fit your child’s interest and skill level.

And when COVID restrictions allow for fans to attend sports game, there are so many options here in the Baltimore-DC corridor to see games in person—from college level games at UMD and the Naval Academy games, NFL football with the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Football Team, the Chesapeake Bayhawks lacrosse team, Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals baseball games, Washington Capitals ice hockey, and the DC United soccer league. All will definitely put the “fun” in fundamental and turn anyone into a great spectator as they cheer on the team!


*Object: Keeping the ball constantly in motion through dribbling, throw passes, or bounce passes, a team makes as many baskets as they can to get points.
*Players on the court during active play: 5 from each team. Teams alternate being on offense and defense.
*Points: A basket is 2 points. A basket is when the ball goes through a net on a 10 ft tall pole.
*Time: Varies by level. A National Basketball Association (NBA) game is a total of 48 minutes divided into quarters with each quarter 12 minutes of active play time. A college level game is a total of 40 minutes with 20 minutes halves.
*Video Tutorial

*Object: In a field that is 100 yards long, a team has to advance the ball through running or throw passes to the end zone for a touchdown. A team has 4 chances to advance 10 yards at a time.
*Players on the field during active play: 11 from each team. Teams alternate between being on offense and defense.
*Points: A touchdown is 6 points. A touchdown is when the football crosses over the end zone line. An extra point is 1 point. The extra point is when the ball is kicked through a goal post from 40 yards away after a touchdown has been made. A field goal is 3 points. A field goal is also when the ball is kicked through the goal post.
*Time: Varies by level. A National Football League (NFL) game and college level game are a total of 60 minutes divided into 15 minute quarters. High school level games are 48 minutes long with 4 quarters of 12 minutes.
*Video Tutorial


*Object: Players use a bat to hit a baseball as far as they can and then run to all 3 bases and cross over home plate to score a point. Once the ball is hit, the player can run to a base. There are 3 bases and while on a base, the player is safe and cannot be tagged out of the game. The player must run to all 3 bases and then to the home plate without being tagged by the opposing team holding the baseball. The player can only run when their team member has their turn to hit the ball with the bat. Once 3 team members on the offense are tagged out, the teams switch places so the other team has the opportunity to hit the baseball.
*Players on the field during active play: Alternating through 9 innings in a game, 9 players are the field when on defense and the opposing team has 1 player up to bat at a time when on offense.
*Points: 1 point (called a run) is when a player crosses the home plate after running around 3 bases.
*Time: The game is divided into 9 innings with no time limit. The defense team must tag out 3 players in order to switch being on the offense.
*Video Tutorial


*Object: To get the ball into the opposing team’s goal by kicking the ball and without using your hands or arms.
*Players on the field during active play: 11 from each team.
*Points: 1 point when the ball crosses the goal line and into the opposing team’s net.
*Time: The game is divided into two 45-minute halves.
*Video Tutorial


*Object: Players score points by cradling the ball in a net at the end of a long stick and throwing it into the opposing team’s goal.
*Players on the field during active play: 10 players from each team.
*Points: 1 point when the ball is thrown into the opposing team’s goal.
*Time: The game is a total of 60 minutes, divided up into four periods of 15 minutes each.
*Video Tutorial


*Object: Using a tennis racket, a player will hit the ball over a net trying to get the ball passed their opponent. The opponent also has a racket and will attempt to hit it back over the net. The ball is hit back and forth between the players, this continues until the ball goes out of bounds, is hit into the net, or goes passed the opposing player.
*Players: Singles Tennis has two opposing players, Double Tennis is two opposing teams of two people each.
*Points: Points are in increments of 15, 30, 40, Deuce. There are 6 games in a set and a player must win 6 games to win a set. Tennis matches are played with either 3 sets or 5 sets. A player wins the match when they have won 2 of 3 or 3 of 5 sets.
*Time: A tennis match is untimed and continues until a player has won the most sets.
*Video Tutorial 

Ice Hockey

*Object: On an ice rink, using a hockey stick and wearing ice skates, the players hit a puck into the opposing team’s goal.
*Players on the ice during active play: 6 players from each team.
*Points: A goal is worth 1 point.
*Time: A game is divided into three 20-minute periods.
*How to Play Ice Hockey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_70vAiyyXM

Field Hockey

*Object: Using a hard wooden stick, players must hit the ball across the opposing team’s goal line.
*Players on the field during active play: 11 players from each team.
*Points: A goal is worth 1 point.
*Time: A game is 70 minutes long with two 35-minute halves.
*Video Tutorial

This website is also a great place to start and find information about a variety of sports: http://www.kids-sports-activities.com/sports-rules.html

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