Two of the most famous North American sports are basketball and American football, or just football. Between basketball vs. football, the latter enjoys a broader audience, with 37% of Americans choosing it as their favorite sport, with twice as much TV viewing record over basketball since 2010.
With that being said, while the popularity contest favors football, is football harder than basketball, or is it the other way around? Does any of them qualify as the most physically demanding sport? Let’s find out.
What is the Difference Between Football and Basketball?
Football and basketball are two very different sport. Even the shape of the ball they’re playing with is different. From there, we can only expect many more disparities.
Here are some of them:
- Fields and courts. A football field is much larger than a basketball court. They measure 360×160 feet and use natural or synthetic grass. On the other hand, a basketball court is only 94 feet long and 54 feet wide, with indoor courts using wood tiles and outdoor ones made of concrete.
- Number of players. While both basketball and football are team sports, the number of players on the field and the overall roster of football teams is enormous. Pro football rosters number up to 50, and college teams hold up to 85 players. Additionally, football games field 11 players for each team. On the other hand, basketball is played by five players on each team. A professional team could carry a maximum of 15 players on its roster, 12 of which are active.
- Gameplay. Basketball and football are played very differently. Football is predicated on contact, with every play taking all types of collisions, tackles, and physical confrontations. It is also very low-scoring. While contact is allowed in basketball, most are called fouls. It is also very high-scoring, with two or three points in every field goal and a point if you make a free throw. To score in a football game, you have to get the ball through the end zone, a distance of 100 yards. That makes the scoring less frequent even though a touchdown is worth six points, two points for a safety, and three points for a field goal.
- Game length. Football games last 60 minutes in the pro and college levels and 48 minutes in high school. Therefore, basketball games are much shorter, with 48 minutes played in the pros, and go shorter as you go down levels. College and international games are played 40 minutes each, and high school games take 32 minutes.
What Skill Sets are Required for Football vs. Basketball?
Aside from the obvious fitness components needed to play a high-level sport, you need to develop specialized skills to be successful.
American Football Skills:
The fastest way to cover more ground and reach the end zone is by passing. This is the most crucial skill of a quarterback. (Other players are also allowed to pass, but that’s primarily the quarterback’s job.) Passing often relies on the throwing technique using the same basic movements as throwing a pitch in baseball or a javelin. Aside from having a “cannon arm,” another essential aspect of passing is accuracy. Defenders try to intercept the ball and attempt to get to the quarterback before he throws a pass. Therefore, he needs to be precise in his passes.
In American football, blocking is shielding a teammate away from a defender for him to gain a safe passage, possibly all the way to the end zone. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Offensive players could not use their hands to block off opponents, so it’s more about technique than brute strength.
Catching skills are highly important for the receiving positions in football. Aside from the actual “catching” itself, they have to evade defenders along the way using fakes. Several football plays require receivers to run routes to fake off opponents and then turn around and catch the ball in one motion. Receivers should also be mentally tough, knowing that the defense shifts to them as soon as they catch the ball.
Rushing is a play done at the start of the game. It involves running with the ball to start the play. The team doing the downfield rushing should be exceptionally fast, agile, and should be able to anticipate the moves of the defense.
5. Kicking and Punting
Kicking and punting skills are used to score additional points or as the first line of defense. After a touchdown, a team has the option to kick the ball to score 1 point. If going for a touchdown is not an option, kickers may also be used to score a field goal worth three points. If a team is too far away at the endzone, they may choose to kick the ball further down the field because he is basically giving the possession to the other team.
Shooting in basketball is the only way to score. This requires the ability to throw the ball into the hoop while avoiding defenders. This also involves the proper techniques since there are several types of shots. That includes jump shots, layups, runners, floaters, etc.
Passing is one of the most difficult skills to master in basketball since it requires timing and precision. It is the quickest way to move the ball around and possibly find an opportunity to score. Most successful teams are the ones with great passers that can set up their teammates for easy baskets.
3. Dribbling or Ballhandling
The most common way to move around with the ball is called dribbling. This is an especially crucial skill since it allows you to move and maneuver past defenders. Proper ballhandling requires technique. It would also be best if players can dribble equally well with both hands to make them even harder to defend.
Basketball is a game where you quickly run up and down the floor. More often than not, many offensive strategies in basketball involve beating the other team down the court for an easy score.
Jumping may not be as important as the other four skills mentioned, but it gives a player a distinct physical advantage over the others. If a player has finely-tuned jumping skills, he will get to rebounds and to the ball quicker.
Are Football Players Faster than Basketball Players?
As you can see, in the basketball vs. football discussion, the two sports require different types of skills. In football, players often rely on a combination of strength, agility, speed, and concentration. They move quickly and with precision but often in shorter bursts until a play stops.
Basketball is all about speed and quickness, especially in the modern game. Passing and dribbling plus all the full-court running require speed and endurance. Therefore, football players are not really faster than basketball players. They are, however, stronger and more explosive.
Top 3 Reasons Football is Harder than Basketball
If you don’t think that American football is the most physically demanding sport, then it should at least be in the conversation. Here are three reasons why football is harder than basketball:
1. It is much more physical.
This is probably the primary reason why one can argue that football is more brutal than basketball. Football players often deal with 300-pound titans on both ends, and the amount of collisions in every play is bone-crunching. Concussions in football are as common as guns in Texas. So when it comes to the physicality department in the basketball vs. football discussion, football takes it hands down.
2. It requires more stamina.
Football is a 90-minute game, while basketball is 48 minutes (40 in college and international games). That means a football game is around twice as long, and a football is significantly larger. Piece the two puzzles together, and you’ll get a game that requires superhuman stamina on all fronts.
3. Football exposes players to various climates.
Not all basketball arenas are created equal, but at least the game is almost exclusively played indoors. Imagine having to barrel through snow or rain. And imagine doing it for 90 minutes. Football is not only a battle of physical strength and wits, it is also a battle of mental strength.
Basketball vs. Football: Which Should You Choose?
If you’re playing recreationally or just to break a sweat, it’s better if you choose basketball. It is safer, can be played anywhere, and does not actually require too many players. In addition to that, the rules and basics are easier to learn.
However, it’s up to you to choose between basketball and football at the end of the day. Some people are simply attracted to the physical aspect of the game, which is fine. Others were taught to play American football since childhood because of their built.
On the other hand, many tall and athletic kids are encouraged by their parents to pursue basketball with the goal of going pro. That’s not a bad objective at all considering NBA players make an average of about 5 million a year. It is also much safer, is less physical, and has fewer collisions.
In any case, do what you think is right for you and what you enjoy more. Whether that’s basketball or football, the choice is yours to make.
Wrapping Things Up: Basketball vs. Football: Which is Harder?
After a short comparison of basketball and football, there is no question that American football is the harder sport between the two. To play American football requires different skills, and most of the time, you must be a walking combination of strength, explosiveness, and agility. Additionally, the gridiron is considerably bigger than a basketball court, so playing in it for 90 minutes requires a lot of stamina.
Aside from the physical aspect of playing football, the mental part of football is off the charts. Quarterbacks need to pass under duress. Receivers need to run routes to fool defenders and so forth. The offensive line does its job by both running and blocking. In addition to that, football is played on an open field, so once in a while, players get exposed to rain and snow. Needless to say, that’s hellish and tough!
But then again, just because it’s harder doesn’t mean it’s the better sport. On many accounts, since football is harder, many kids or their parents choose to stay away from it. Other than the safety concerns, the equipment, and the playing are also potential problems for many youngsters.
On the other hand, basketball is essentially a game that can be played on the driveway or practically anywhere. You need no special equipment to get started, and you can just walk on your dribbling even if you don’t have a hoop to shoot into. Based on these factors, is football harder than basketball? Definitely, but then again, if you’re just playing recreationally, basketball is much easier to get into. Therefore, in this basketball vs. football debate, while the difficulty aspect certainly favors football, that would also be a negative in the playability aspect.
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