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Whilst sat in the back of a Vauxhall Vectra en route to big Tesco my eyes suddenly lit up. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in 2002 and my brother and I could see what appeared to be an American Football game taking place in the distance. We didn’t really know anything about it but we knew we wanted to get closer. 

After pleading with our spontaneously fun mother we detoured over to the sports complex to park up. We started walking over to the field in a frenzy of excitement and you could hear the beautiful crunching of the pads getting louder with every footstep. It felt like there were over a hundred players there, fully grown men smashing the absolute fuck out of each other. 

I was 13 years old and I had no idea what was going on, but I knew right there and then that I wanted to be an American Footballer when I grew up. 

This was my first introduction to the sport, well unless you count briefly playing Mutant League Football on the SEGA Mega Drive. 

I’m lucky I got into the sport at an early age as I learnt along the way and never really gave it any thought. I’ve met a lot of people over the years that wanted to play but never did. I think it can be quite intimidating for people outside of the Britball (British American Football) community to join a team, especially going into a senior team with no experience. 

So if you’re one of the people that are on the fence about playing or you’ve already decided to take the leap into the Britball rabbit hole, then this is for you. Here are a few knowledge nuggets that I hope will help ease your mind. 

You Don’t Need To Know The Rules

Yes of course it’s an advantage to know the laws of the game but it’s not necessary at this stage. Any half-decent coaching staff will teach you all you need to know and they’re unlikely to put you into any in-game situations where you’re going to get penalised for something you’re unaware of. 

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You Don’t Need All The Equipment 

There is so much to learn and endless amounts of training drills you can do without pads. Once the coaches deem you ready for contact they will likely have you borrowing kit from the club or one of the players. This is usually make or break for new players as at this point you will either get the football bug or decide its not for you.

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You Can Join At Any Time

Personally, I would recommend joining a team in the offseason. In this period most clubs will run rookie days and taster sessions, these will be dedicated to newbies. However, you can join a club at any time, if you join a team mid-season they will most likely welcome you with open arms, but the coaches will be more focussed on the next game instead of nurturing raw talent. 

Pic credit: Paul Jasienski

You Don’t Need To Commit Straight Away

As you can probably gather from the last few points there should be plenty of time to decide wether you want to take the sport seriously or not. It’s better to know for sure before spending your wages on all the gear. 

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You’re Not Too Old

Well I guess you might be but I’ve played with and against some 50 year olds that can still whoop ass. Most of these guys are interior lineman where speed isn’t as important and some of them are still faster than me. It’s never too late to try something new but just remember, tape is your friend!! 

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You’re Not Too Big Or Too Small

I’m hoping to release another article soon on how new players find their playing positions. All body sizes have their different advantages/disadvantages in each individual position. The main thing to remember is that your technique is far more important especially at the amateur level and this will come with time and good training. 

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You Can’t Be Too Good Or Bad

It’s obvious that you can’t be too good as that will only be a good thing for you but if you’re worried you might suck then fear no more. There is a huge difference between the 3 divisions of British American Football (Prem, Div 1 & Div 2). Obviously, every team is going to be different but my Nan could walk into a few teams at the bottom that I won’t mention. You just need to find your level.

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There is likely to be a team near you

There is a fantastic tool here on Gridiron Hub that allows you to find a club near you.

Find a few clubs near you and do some research. Of course, every club is different, and having played at all levels I’d say that the Prem has easily the toughest mentality with the best coaches and athletes in the country. Div 2 is so much fun but it’s not taken as seriously and the coaching can be suspect. Div 1 is a blend of both and can be both competitive and enjoyable. 

As a rookie, I wouldn’t actually know what the best route to take is when it comes to selecting a club. It depends on whether coaching or game time is more important to you I guess. Id suggest trying out a few teams and see which one is the best fit. 

If you are looking into giving it a go this year I hope this helps. The Britball community is a great one and you wouldn’t have to go far to have your questions answered should you have any. 

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