What Is The Red Zone In Football? Explained

Written By: Chris Haddad
Updated: December 29, 2023

The red zone in football is one of the most important areas in the field. Teams who convert in the red zone are likelier to win the football game.

The red zone is the final 20 yards before the offense reaches the end zone. This area of the field is where teams are likely to score points.

This article will discuss the red zone and why it’s so important in football.

The Red Zone In Football

The field areas are divided so coaches, players, and even announcers can accurately detail where the football is located on the field.

For example, announcers may say the Patriots are on the opponent’s 25-yard line. This tells you that the ball is over mid-field, and the Patriots are close enough to kick a field goal, at least.

If the announcer just said the Patriots are at the “25”, listeners wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s the opponents or the Patriots’ 25-yard line.

The same goes for the red zone. There is only one red zone on the field, and it’s in the opponent’s territory.

red zone in football

Scoring Points In The Red Zone

When the offense is in the red zone, they’re in a good position to score points. Starting drives inside the opponent’s 20-yard line means the team is close enough to kick a field goal and possibly score a touchdown.

As offenses get closer to the end zone, it gets harder and harder to score. Teams who run spread offenses rely on horizontal and vertical spacing to get the ball to their athletes in space.

The closer a team gets to the end zone, the harder it is to score because of the limited vertical space. Teams only have less than 30 yards of vertical space, so we often see teams struggle in the red zone.

Successful teams convert a high percentage of the time in the end zone and don’t miss opportunities to score points.

American Football can be overwhelming. That’s why we created a FREE 9-minute video to help you learn everything you need to learn about football as a beginner.

Defending Teams In The Red Zone

If the defense allows teams to enter the red zone (their own 20-yard line), it typically means they will give up some points.

The worst-case scenario is the offense scores a touchdown and converts the extra point.

The best-case scenario is a takeaway. In the NFL and other professional leagues, teams will focus on turnovers and taking the ball away from the offense when they’re in the red zone. NFL kickers are terrific and are often automatic within 20 yards.

Youth and high school leagues are less likely to make field goals from a deep distance. More often than not, these teams will elect to go for it on fourth down.

When defending teams inside the red zone, both coaches and players must be prepared to play all four downs. This is often the difference between winning and losing football games.

Why Is It Called The Red Zone In Football?

The red zone, or the red area as it’s called, is named for its relation to danger. The red zone for the defense means that the offense is close to scoring points. This area inside the 20-yard line is where the offense converts the highest-scoring touchdowns or field goals.

For the offense, scoring in these parts of the field is important, as they often decide the winners and losers of the game. Teams that can convert in the red zone area often win football games.

The defenses that can’t stop teams inside the red zone will tend to lose more than win.

The red zone is one of the most important areas in the field, especially when starting 1st and 10 inside the red zone.

The Importance Of The Red Zone

As an offense, you should always expect to score in the red zone. Field goals are not the goal of getting into the red zone; touchdowns are.

If you’re a coach, emphasize the importance of getting to the red zone and scoring in the red zone.

The difference between kicking a field goal and scoring (with the extra point) is 4 points. Those 4 points are crucial as the game progresses. If you don’t have a strong defense, scoring as many points as possible will help them play more relaxed.

Teams who don’t consistently score points in the red zone are often ones that rank toward the bottom of the standings. The red zone is one most important parts of the field.

Keep Learning

The red zone is the area inside the 20-yard line on the opponent’s side of the field. This area is called the red area because it’s the area where points are often scored. Field goals and touchdowns are scored when the offense is in this area.

If you like learning football, don’t stop here! We’ve built the Beginners Guide To Football below to help you improve your football IQ.

Teams that convert within the red zone often win football games consistently.

It’s the defense’s job to hold the offense to a field goal or to try to get a turnover when inside of the red zone.

The red zone, also called the red area, is an important part of the field that should be practiced daily.

Let’s keep learning! Our learning center is packed with information regarding techniques, schemes, and more!

If you’re looking for more in-depth breakdowns & coaching resources, visit our coaching resource page here.

About the author 

Chris Haddad

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports & high school coach for over 12+ years. He has been featured as an authority on Hudl, Bleacher Report and countless other football-centric platforms. Chris continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about the game of football.