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Which Sport Is Harder, Basketball Or American Football?

We have all heard the question “which sport is harder, basketball or American football?” This blog post will explore this question in depth. To answer the question, we will compare both sports and their aspects. Such as mental effort, physical exertion, and so on. We hope you enjoy reading!

What is American Football?

Before diving in which sport is harder. It would be better if you understood what both sports involve. American football is a sport involving two teams of eleven players each. The team which has possession of the ball is known as the offense, while the other team is called defense.

American football is considered a full-contact sport because there are hardly any rules limiting physical contact between players on both teams.

There are four different types of downs in American Football. They are first down, second down, third down, and fourth down; once these have all been used up you get to go again (this is known as an ‘Offense’).

The Offense will try to advance ten yards before scoring and advancing into their opponents’ end zone for six points. Plus another if successful with an extra play following it (known as “the extra point” or “the PAT”).

American Football

What is Basketball?

On the other hand, Basketball is a ball game which is played by two teams of five people. The objective of the game is to shoot a ball through a net guarded by another player. Without that player touching the person shooting or the ball before it goes in (known as ‘dribbling’).

Players can only move with their feet and holding on to the ball for more than three seconds results in a turnover – this means play passes from one team to another.

The Physicality

Moving onto the first aspect that we will be looking into, the physicality required in both sports. Basketball is a relatively low contact sport. This means that players are generally not allowed to push or tackle another player in an attempt to get the ball.

As for American Football, however, it involves both pushing and tackling – this makes American football much more physical than basketball.

However, when you look at professional basketball. There’s no way near as many injuries involved compared with American football (which can cause serious brain damage).

So while Basketball may not be considered ‘physical’, American football requires great endurance throughout playtime. It is due to the physical nature of the game itself.

As mentioned earlier, because each game is so physically taxing on its players, especially since they must wear protective pads during games, American Football is frequently seen as being more difficult than basketball.

While most people involved in football are usually bigger and stronger. Basketball players have to be extremely quick with lightning-fast reflexes. This means that they need great stamina. Basketball involves a lot of running during games. So, when it comes to professional leagues, you have to be physically fit.

While both sports need significant amounts of physical effort during the game. Due to how severe collisions can become at times, American Football is renowned for being one of the sports with the hardest hits. especially because American Football players tend to weigh more than basketball players, making them harder hitters!

Furthermore, even though injuries do occur frequently in American football. But there’s no denying that contact sport fans enjoy watching these bone-crunching tackles on full display. Especially if their favorite team or player gets involved.

Although though basketball isn’t known for its “heavy hitting,” it nevertheless demands a lot of physical effort to play. Speed and quick responses are necessary for success at the highest level in basketball because of its rapid tempo. Players must therefore develop their mental toughness. In addition, one must be physically fit before competing at the highest level.

American Football

As was already noted, American football is significantly more physical than basketball because it involves pushing and tackling. Also, since American Football players often weigh more than basketball players, they are harder hitters!

The Psychology

Arguably the mental toughness is equally important in sports, as is physical toughness. Hence, the psychological aspect is important in all sports. More specifically we will be looking at the difference in the psychological effort required in American football and basketball.

In Basketball, a player must have excellent court awareness and a deep understanding of the sport to succeed. This is because basketball requires players to play as a team. Rather than being individual players – this means they need good leadership skills.

In American Football, there’s no denying that quarterbacks are extremely important to their teams’ success. It is due to how much control they have over everything on the field. Furthermore, since it involves other positions such as wide receivers who rely heavily on throwing accuracy from their quarterback.

This makes American football significantly more psychological-demanding compared with basketball!

Furthermore, while both sports require lots of mental strength throughout the game. American Football is known for having one of the most intense atmospheres you’ll ever come across at sporting events.

American football is a full-contact sport, which means players are constantly hitting each other to stop the opposition from gaining yards. This makes it much more psychologically demanding compared with Basketball!

American Football

Noticeable Differences of football and basketball

Basketball and football are completely dissimilar sports. Even the ball they are using for play is different. We can only anticipate many more differences after that. Here are a few examples:

Field / Court360×160 feet94×54 feet
Number of Players11 on field, 80+ on roster5 on court, 12+ on roster
GameplayHard-hitting contactModerate contact
Game Length60 minutes48 minutes

There are also noticeable differences in skills. Football requires a lot of specialists such as a quarterback in passing, a lineman in tackling etc. Basketball players on the other hands need to be efficient in every skill such as dribbling and shooting. Here are the differences.

Kicking / PuntingJumping

Winning a Championship | NFL vs. NBA

The NFL and the NBA are where all elite American football players and basketball players aspire to compete, respectively. But which league is the tougher to win?

Since the NFL has 32 teams competing every season. It’s much more difficult to win a championship compared with only 30 NBA teams. This makes winning an international title in American football seem like mission impossible!

Furthermore, while both leagues have their Championship games for each sport at the end of every professional season; The Super Bowl is arguably considered one of America’s biggest sporting events due to how many people tune in.

On the other hand, basketball doesn’t always receive as much media coverage. But that doesn’t stop the hype around playoff time when all eyes are glued on TV screens. Winning an NBA Championship involves beating several rounds before reaching finals.

Which puts less pressure on individual players and allow them to play better. Because they’re not receiving constant criticism from fans and the media.

It’s also worth noting that basketball is considered a more international sport compared with American football. Since players from all around the world can potentially play in either league – this makes it much easier for them to bond as a team. And improve their teamwork on the court.

Which ultimately gives them an edge over teams who don’t have ‘international’ teammates!

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. Physicality

This is most likely the main justification behind the claim that football is more violent than basketball. Football players frequently collide with 300-pound titans on both ends, and every play involves a painful number of collisions. Football concussions are as frequent in Texas as handguns. Football thus dominates basketball in terms of physicality in the debate between the two sports.

In terms of long term health, football is also more dangerous than basketball. The hard hitting tackles may cause life threatening injuries and even CTE which is the byproduct of concussion and repeated head trauma. Even Lebron James prohibited his sons to play football because of its nature.

2. Mental Aspect

Aside from the physical demands of the game, playing football requires extraordinary mental fortitude. Quarterbacks must be forced to pass. Receivers must run routes to deceive opponents and other obstacles. In order to fulfill its duties, the offensive line must run and block.

3. Climate Exposure

Basketball is played nearly exclusively indoors, though not all arenas are created equal. Think about having to drive through rain or snow. Moreover, picture doing it for 90 minutes. Football is a game that tests players’ physical prowess, intellect, and mental toughness.


After a brief comparison of American football and basketball, it is clear that American football is the more difficult game. American football involves a variety of abilities, and for the most part, you need to be a living embodiment of power, explosiveness, and quickness. A 60-minute game on the gridiron also needs a lot of endurance because it is much larger than a basketball court.

Aside from the physical demands of the game, playing football requires extraordinary mental fortitude. Quarterbacks must be forced to pass. Receivers must run routes to deceive opponents and other obstacles. In order to fulfill its duties, the offensive line must run and block. Also, because football is played on an open field, players may come into contact with rain and snow. It goes without saying that’s difficult and awful!

Yet on the other hand, just because something is tougher doesn’t automatically make it great. According to several sources, because football is difficult, many children or their parents decide not to play it. In addition to safety issues, many children may also have issues with the equipment and playing.

Conversely, basketball is fundamentally a game that can be played everywhere, including the driveway. You don’t need any particular tools to begin started, and even if you don’t have a hoop to shoot into, you can just walk on your dribble. Is football harder than basketball based on these factors? Of course, but basketball is also lot simpler to pick up if you’re simply playing for fun. Hence, even though the complexity factor favors football in this basketball vs. football debate, that would also be a drawback in the playability factor.


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