125 Years Ago from the Father of American Football

October, 1886 – Outing Magazine

THE GAME AND LAWS OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL
By Walter C. Camp

Division of labor has been so thoroughly and successfully carried out on the football field that a player nowadays must train for a particular position as much as he would on a ball nine. There is, however, the same call for a general preparation which is met with in all athletic contests.

During the summer it is well to take a few preliminary steps toward the more active work of the real football season. Half-backs and backs ought to practice kicking some daily throughout the summer, while rushers need only take any kind of exercise which shall improve their wind.

With the beginning of August men who have been smoking during the summer should begin to forego some of their pleasure. Let this be done gradually, so that by September the man is fit to go without the weed altogether. With September the real work commences.

The first day or two will prove hard—particularly so in case of the heat holding on late. When this happens it is advisable to begin playing as late in the afternoon as possible and take extra care to have repeated intermissions. As soon as a cool day comes a regular game should be played of two three-quarters, and this will make every man feel the need of training.

If a man has never played the game before he should certainly read the rules and spend a few days in watching the men, so that he shall have a fair idea of the meaning of the terms.

The few cardinal points to be noted are that the ball must not be batted with the hand or thrown forward; that if it has been last touched by one of your own side behind you, you are off side and cannot touch it; that you cannot tackle an opponent unless he has the ball, and that if you are fairly held with the ball you must say, “Down.” You can “heel” a ball caught on the fly from a kick, or throw forward, or bat, by an opponent, or from a “punt out” by one of your own side.

Remembering these facts will keep you busy the first few days. Every player should begin his course in the rusher line. It is there that he will learn most quickly what to do, and, particularly, what not to do. For the first few days you will go home utterly worn out and discouraged, and yet before ten days have passed you will be able to stand fifteen or twenty minutes’ rushing with comparative ease. When this point is reached it is time to decide for what position you are best fitted.

First 444 words of 7,211 word article.
Entire article: “The Lost Century of American Football
Ebook: “11 Classic Football Articles by Walter Camp

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