Madden 17 How to: The Basics

It’s Madden season! If you’re new to the game, here are the basics you’ll need to know to get playing.

by Remy Cabache

It’s Madden season! Madden 17 is now available (on Xbox One through EA Access) which just adds to the greatness of this time of the year. Football is well and truly back.

Football is one of the fastest growing sports worldwide, with leagues and teams appearing all over the place, the NFL playing games in two countries other than the USA and more and more talk of an NFL franchise finding a home in London, it’s only natural that more and more people will be picking up a copy of Madden to get into the game.

Due to the nature of the game, it is not necessarily the easiest game to pick up and play, especially if you skip the tutorials and go straight into the game (I urge you to do the tutorials, especially if you are new to the game). As I understand the urge to get straight into the game, I thought I’d lay out the basics for all you newcomers to the game.

Key football definitions:

Before I really get into it, here are some terms and words that I’ll be using that you’ll need to understand.

Play: You may notice that football is very stop-start, well a play is the bit that you want to watch. A play starts when the ball is snapped and it ends when a player is tackled, a player goes out of bounds or scores or if a pass is incomplete.

Snap: A snap is the action of the ball being given to the quarterback by the center. This starts the play.

Downs: Downs is effectively another word for attempts. Each team has 4 attempts to get 10 yards. If they get past the 10 yards, they get another 4 attempts to get 10 more yards, and so on. You may hear of see “1st & 10” or “3rd & 3”, the first number is which down it is. The second number is how many yards you need to get a new set of downs.

Scheme: A scheme is the types of formations, players and plays the team likes to use. Every scheme has strengths and weaknesses.

In-game screen:

Whether you’re playing on offense or defense, this will be the screen you see, so I’m just going to take you through each aspect of it.

    • This is the scoreboard:

    • The first is the downs and yardage:

    • More cues for this are show on the screen, too:

    • (the orange line marks where you need to get to for the first down).
    • Next is the scores and timeouts:

    • The number is the team’s score, and the 3 yellow rectangles signal how many timeouts the team has left (you start each half with 3).
    • Next is the quarter and the game clock:
    • The number (1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th) is showing which quarter of the game you are in and the time shows how long is left in each quarter.
    • The final section of the scoreboard shows two things:

    • The number accompanied by the arrow is where you are on the field. Here, it is saying that you are on your own 40 yard line (if the arrow pointed up, you would be on the other team’s 40 yard line). The second number the play clock and it shows you how long you have to snap the ball. You don’t have to wait for it to run all the way down, but if it hits ‘:00’ before you snap the ball, you will lose 5 yards.
    • The play clock is also shown here on the on-field down marker:
    • The final part of the screen is this little circle:
  • This shows which player you are currently controlling.


When you are in the game they have clear diagrams of the controls for every situation. When you load up the game and get to the main menu, scroll along to the ‘Customize’ tab, go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Settings’ again and you should see ‘Controls’ at the bottom of that list. They are also accessible during games from the in-game pause menu; scroll through to the ‘Options’ tab, and it is once again under ‘Settings’.

Play calling:

As the game is made up from each team picking plays to run, each team has what is called a playbook. That is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a collection of different plays. In a game, you will have to choose every play that your team runs, to do that, you will see a screen like this:

The easiest and quickest way to select a play, especially when you’re a beginner, is to select the ‘Coach Suggestions’. This will suggest plays that would typically be run in that situation or could work against the opposition’s defensive scheme and tendencies. When you select that, this screen follows:

Each play has information about why it is suggested and what it is. It does suggest more than three plays, it just shows three at a time, all you need to do I scroll down. If you scroll sideways it will show plays from different categories: ‘Strategy’, ‘Community’ and ‘Frequent’.

This process is the same for defense and special teams.

Next I’ll be going more in depth into the different types of offensive and defensive plays.

Hopefully this tells you enough to get into a game and not feel out of place. If not, let us know in the comments what you’d like to know or what you need help with.

Remy Cabache