What Is A Drive In Football?

A drive in football refers to a series of plays when the offense has the football. A drive starts after a team gains possession of the football and brings their offense onto the field. A drive ends when a team scores, punts, or turns the ball over.

In short, a drive is another way to describe an offensive possession of the ball. Throughout a game, an offense will have several drives. And each time they get the ball a new drive will begin.

An opening drive in football refers to the first offensive possession of the game. A game-winning drive refers to an offensive possession that resulted in the team winning the game.

Drives in football are typically described as long or short. A long drive being one that covers a large portion of the field, includes a large number of plays or takes up a long amount of time.

A short drive is one in which the offense fails to move the ball, only runs a small number of plays or has the ball for a short period of time.

On some occasions football fans and announcers will refer to a drive as a series of plays.

Starting A Drive

To know when a drive is starting all you have to do is watch for the offense to take the field. Anytime that you see the offense jogging onto the field you know that a drive is about to begin.

A drive does not include kick returns or punt returns. It also does not include the yards earned on a fumble recovery or an interception return.

It only includes the yards gained by the offense when they take the field.

Ending A Drive

So now that we know how they start it’s time to break down all the different ways an offensive possession can end.

Touchdown/Field Goal

The best way for a drive to end is with a score. When the offense is able to bring the ball into the endzone or kick the ball through the uprights they will be awarded points.

Once you earn points the drive is over and the possession of the ball will be given to the other team via kickoff.


Turnovers are another way to end a drive in football. If the other team is able to intercept the ball or recover a fumble then possession of the ball will change teams.

Failed Fourth Down

If a team fails to get the required yardage on a fourth-down attempt then a turnover on downs will take place.

Since the offense did not gain the required yards in their four attempts they will have to give the ball to the opposing team.


Punting is another one of the most common ways to end a drive in football. When it comes to fourth down teams will not always attempt to go for the first down.

Instead, you will find that many teams will elect to punt the ball.

This ends the drive a play early but puts the ball much closer to the opponent’s end zone than a failed fourth-down attempt would.

Leave a Comment