Arena Football Rules

Rules

 

SEC. 1 - FIELDING A TEAM

 

A. There is a maximum of six (6) players allowed on the field at one time (standard 4 men and 2 women).

1. There is no limit to the number of women allowed on the field at one time (6 women - 0 men).

2. No more than 4 men players are allowed on the field under any circumstances.

B. To start a game, a team must have a minimum of 5 players, 1 of whom must be women.

C. When starting a game with 1 woman, a team is still allowed to have 4 men on the field.

D. If a team is playing either a man or woman short, any players arriving late may enter the game at any time.

 

SEC. 2 - START OF GAME

 

A. The “away” team will start the game on offense.

B. The “home” team will be on offense to start the 2nd half.

C. Teams are assigned “home” or “away” on the season schedule 

 

SEC. 3 - GAME CLOCK

A. Play will be divided into two halves. GOAL staff will provide remaining time updates of 15-10-5-2 minutes throughout both halves. There will be NO additional time given at half time.

B. FIRST HALF: The first half will last 18 minutes.  The first 17:30 minutes of the first half of the game will be a "running-clock". 
An official two minute warning will be announced, but time will continue to run.. The GOAL official will communicate the current score and remaining time outs for each team.  The official shall sound his whistle for play to start immediately, after the information has relayed to both teams.

1. LAST 30 SECONDS OF PLAY (FIRST HALF):

a. With 30 seconds or less remaining in the 1st half, the game clock will ONLY stop after a touchdown (conversion would be untimed), time out, penalty (see Sec. C) or a change of possession.

b. The clock will begin and the offense may snap the ball only after the official has given the ready for play signal.

c. If a foul by the defense has occurred and time has run out, the offensive team may choose to extend the period by one down (enforcement as usual).

d. If time expires at the end of either half and the ball is in play, then time will not be called until the completion of the play.

e. If a touchdown occurs during a play in which the time expires, the touchdown will count and an untimed extra point conversion will be allowed.

C. SECOND HALF: The second half will be 20 minutes.  In the second half of the game, the clock will be a "running-clock" for the first 18:30 minutes.

1. LAST 2 MINUTES OF PLAY (SECOND HALF):

a. A 10 second official time out will be called for the 2-minute warning, after the completion of the previous play from scrimmage (Ex. Play starts with 2:10 on the clock and continues until 1:52 is left on the clock.  The 2-minute warning will be given with 1:52 remaining on the clock). The official will communicate the current score and remaining time outs for each team. The game clock will start on the next snap by the offensive team.

b. The game clock is stopped for 2-minute warning, touchdowns, dead balls, out of bounds, incomplete passes, change of possession, penalties (See Sec. C), injuries, and time outs. The game clock will start on the next snap by the offensive team.

c. After a touchdown, the extra point attempt will be untimed. The clock will begin on the next offensive snap, after the change of possession and the official has given the ready for play signal.

d. The official will allow 1 minute after the change of possession for teams to substitute players.

 

 

 

 

 

SEC. 4 - OFFENSIVE "READY FOR PLAY"

 

A. After the immediate completion of a play, the line judge who is behind the QB will wait for the offensive players to be on the line of scrimmage (except for the QB) and yell “GAME ON”.  The offensive players must stay still for one second for the “GAME ON” to be called.  In order to expedite this process, the quarterbacks are asked to retrieve the ball marker to be placed on the new line of scrimmage.

B. At the beginning of a new possession, once the ball has been signaled "ready for play" by the official, the offensive team has 20 seconds to snap the ball. The offensive team cannot snap the ball until the official has called “GAME ON”.

C. After the play, once the ball marker has been placed on the new line of scrimmage and the 20-second play clock will begin and the offense may snap the ball after “GAME ON” is called.

 

SEC. 5 - TIMEOUTS

 

A. Each team is allowed 2 one-minute timeouts per game.

B. The team that calls a timeout has the option of denoting the timeout as a "clock stoppage only" timeout and play will continue immediately without a one-minute pause. The clock will stop at the time the timeout is called, and start again on the subsequent snap of the ball.

C. The 20-second play clock will start when the ball is made "ready for play" by the official.

D. The team calling the timeout will be charged with one of their two timeouts. 
NOTE: Both teams will be allowed to make any necessary substitutions before the ball is snapped.

 

SEC. 6 - SCRIMMAGE LINE

 

A. Centers may adjust the ball, including picking it up to reposition before each play as long as he/she does not move the ball in a manner to intentionally draw the defensive players off sides.

B. The offensive formation must include 4 players on the line of scrimmage.

C. All offensive players (except a motion player) must be set (remain motionless) for one full second before “GAME ON” is called.

D. The player in motion may initially move towards the line of scrimmage, but must be in a parallel or backward motion to the line of scrimmage at the time the ball is snapped.

E. There is no blocking at the line of scrimmage (see SEC. 18, "BLOCKING").

 

 

 

SEC. 7 - DEFENSIVE RUSH COUNT

 

A. Defensive players may rush at the end of the five-second count by the line judge. ONE THOUSAND ONE, ONE THOUSAND TWO etc.

B. If the defense crosses the line before the end of the five-second count, offsides will be called AFTER the played has been completed.

 

SEC. 8 - PLAY LIMITS/FIRST DOWN

 

         A. The field will be divided into halves by cones at mid-field.

B. The offensive team has a limit of six plays with one first down to cross mid-field.

C. An automatic first down is awarded once the ball crosses mid-field.

D. The offense then has a limit of six plays with one first down to score a touchdown.

E. A first down is earned by completing two passes beyond the line of scrimmage or crossing midfield.

F. If a team fails to earn a first down by completing two passes or crossing mid-field, or if a team fails to score within the downs allotted, the other team will assume possession of the ball.

G. The offensive team may elect to punt on fourth down (see "PUNTS" below). 
       

H. A first down cannot be carried over from one half to the other. 

I. Any penalty enforcement that results in an automatic first down will reset the six-play count. 
Example:  Used 4 plays to get 2 completions.  On 3rd down and goal, pass interference is committed by the defense.  The next down/distance is 1st and goal as the six-play count is automatically reset.



SEC. 9 - PUNTS

 

A. If the offensive team decides to punt, they must inform the opposing team and the GOAL staff.

B. No fake punts are allowed.

C. All punts must be kicked and the receiving team may not attempt to block the punt in any way

D. The punting team must stay on the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted.

E. Five players from the receiving team must be on the line of scrimmage.

F. The receiving team may call for a fair catch or catch and advance the ball. 
            G. If the ball hits the ground it becomes a dead ball.

H. The ball will be spotted at the exit point of where it traveled out of bounds. 
I. The ball will be placed on the 2-point conversion line, if it travels outside / downed in the end zone.

J. No blocking is allowed (see SEC. 18 "BLOCKING").

K. Game clock will start when the ball is kicked.

 

SEC. 10 - BLOCKING

 

A.     No blocking or contact of any kind is allowed in GOAL touch football.

1. This includes:

a. Downfield "blocking" of any kind including "picks."

B. Blocking during punts or interceptions.

C. At the line of scrimmage.

D. While guarding a receiver.  NOTE: All players MUST AVOID CONTACT with the opposing team at all times during the game.

 

SEC. 11 - OPEN PLAY

 

A. The official will announce an "OPEN PLAY" and the ball may be thrown to EITHER a male or female receiver on the next play from scrimmage.

1.  OFFICIAL'S ANNOUNCEMENT - EXAMPLE: "1st down and 2, open" (1st down, 2 completions needed to get a first down and any gender may catch the ball). Alternatively, "3rd down and mid, open" (3rd down, ball must cross mid-field to get a first and any gender may catch the ball). 

 

SEC. 12 - GENDER PLAY

 

A. The official will announce a "GENDER PLAY" and a female player must be an operative player on the next play from scrimmage.

1. Gender Play

a. Teams must use a female as an operative player within 3 consecutive downs. A female may be used at anytime during the offensive possession.

b. Once a female has been used as an operative player (judged to be the intended receiver, primary runner for positive yards or throws the ball as a quarterback for positive yards), then the gender count is reset by the official. The official will announce "GENDER IS GOOD" and the next play is an "OPEN PLAY" (see below).

c. The gender count will extend from the previous series to include extra point conversions.

2. Forced Gender Play

a. A forced gender play will result when the offense has not used a female within the last 2 plays (judged to be the intended receiver, primary runner for positive yards or attempts to throw the ball as a quarterback for positive yards). The official will announce "GENDER PLAY" and a female player must be involved in the next play from scrimmage.

b. If a female is in the backfield/slot position, she MUST receive the snap from center as the quarterback. The ball cannot be snapped past the slot position on a forced gender play.

c. If a female has been declared the quarterback, the official will announce "OPEN PLAY." The offensive team MUST allow the defensive team time to adjust out of their "forced gender" formation.

d. If the quarterback (male or female) is sacked/fumbles the snap from center, the next play MUST also be gender.

                       3. Legal Gender Play Examples 
 

a. In the judgment of the official, a forward pass is thrown by a male quarterback intended for a female receiver. The pass must result in an attempt for positive yards, but does not have to be caught by the female receiver.

b. A female runner who receives a hand-off/pitch must gain positive yards.

c. A female quarterback who attempts a forward pass (in the judgment of the official) for positive yards. The forward pass may be thrown to a male or female receiver.

d. A female runner receives hand-off/pitch from a male quarterback, and then throws it to a female offensive player in an attempt to gain positive yards (does not have to be caught by the female receiver).

e. A female runner receives hand-off/pitch from a male quarterback, who in turn hand-off/pitch to a female offensive player must gain positive yards.

4. Illegal Gender Play Examples

a. In the judgment of the official, a forward pass thrown by a male quarterback intended for a female receiver that does NOT (or would not have) result in positive yards.

b. In the judgment of the official, a forward pass thrown by a male quarterback that is NOT intended for a female receiver.

c. A female who runs with the ball (receives hand-off/pitch) in which the play does NOT result in positive yards.

d. A female receiver who transfers the ball to a male runner during a gender play (hook & ladder). Play will be called dead by the official.

e. A female runner who receives hand-off/pitch from a male quarterback, who in turn throws/hands-offs to a male offensive player.

f. A female snaps (or hikes) the ball.

g. A pass that is deflected by a male and caught by a female.

h. A male/female quarterback who deliberately throws the ball into the ground, to stop the clock or has no intentions for a play to result in positive yards.

5. MALE COVERAGE for a Forced Gender Play

a. Male defensive players must set up in "man-to-man" coverage before the ball is snapped, with only ONE defender guarding the quarterback. Males may never cover a female on a "forced gender play" (see EXCEPTION # 6 "MALE COVERAGE When the Defense is Short Females" below).

b. Male defensive players are NOT obligated to cover their opposing male receivers if they run a pattern on forced gender.

c. ONLY after a female receiver catches the ball, may the male defensive players leave their man-to-man assignments to tag her down. If the play results in a hand-off/pitch, the male defensive players must wait until the female has gained positive yards to tag her down.

d. A male defender may NOT knock down/intercept a ball that is thrown/deflected on a hand-off/pitch.

e. If the offensive formation includes MORE than 3 women, the offense must designate which 3 females will have gender play protection. The remaining female(s) in the formation will not have gender protection and can be covered by a male using "man-to-man" coverage. These male defenders may knock the ball down, but cannot intercept the ball.

6. MALE COVERAGE When the Defense is Short Females

a. If the defense team is down a female player (4 men - 2 women on the field), a male may cover the opposing team's female receiver on a forced gender play.

b. The offense will designate which female is to be covered by the male defender before the snap of the ball. The defensive team must rotate their male players every gender play to cover the offense's extra female. Once the rotation is complete, and then the male that began the rotation may cover her again.

c. The male may guard the female, but may not contact the ball (knock down or intercept) or otherwise interfere with the female player until the ball is caught. EXCEPTION: A thrown ball into the END ZONE, may be knocked down, but may NOT be intercepted.

7. FEMALE COVERAGE

a. Female defenders have the following options; woman-to-woman coverage, zone coverage or the use of a free safety anywhere/anytime on the field.  There is no pre snap restriction as to where the female defenders can be aligned.

b. If the offensive team only has 2 females on the field, the 3rd female can be used to play zone or set up as a safety. Double-team coverage may NOT be used in the scenario.

c. A defensive woman MAY intercept or knock down a ball on forced gender.

8.  GENDER BLITZ

a.  Any time a female is quarterback or on any gender play, a team must wait seven seconds before being eligible to blitz.

            b.  Only one player is permitted to blitz the quarterback.

9.  HANDS AND ARMS DOWN

a.  All players on the line of scrimmage must keep their hands and arms at their sides until the reception is made.

b.  A 5 yard penalty and a replay of down will be the penalty for this “illegal use of hands”.

8. PENALTY ASSESSMENT ON GENDER PLAY

a. If the foul is on the defensive team, the offense will have one of two options:

           1. Accept the penalty and repeat the gender play.

2. Decline the penalty and take the result of the play. (Example: The offense completes a pass on a gender play, where the defense committed a penalty).

b. If the foul is on the offensive player, the penalty will be assessed and the next play will be gender.

 

SEC. 13 - PASSING

 

A. Complete/Incomplete Pass

1. A forward pass is completed when caught by any player of the offensive team who has at least one-foot in-bounds and is past the line of scrimmage.

2. If an offensive and defensive player catches the ball simultaneously, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the passing team at the spot of the catch.

3. If a player goes out-of-bounds and comes back in-bounds to catch the ball, it is an incomplete pass (penalty assessed).

B. Reception in the End Zone 

1. A touchdown will be signaled by the official when the football has broken the plane of the opponent's goal line.

C. Reception at Mid-Field

1. A first down will be signaled by the official, when the football has broken the plane of the mid-field line at the completion of a play. 
(Example: On 3rd and Mid, the ball carrier crosses midfield with the ball, then returns behind the midfield line and is tagged.  The next down will be 4th and mid).

D. Turnovers 

1. A change of possession can only occur due to downs or an interception of a pass.

a. A catch of an opponent's pass or fumble before it hits the ground is an interception.

2. A fumble is not a turnover (the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble).

3. A lateral is not a forward pass and cannot be advanced if intercepted (the ball is dead at the spot of occurrence and possession awarded to the intercepting team).

4. A player must be in bounds and have control of the ball before an interception is called

E. Hook & Ladder Play

1. FORCED GENDER with Male Involved  â€¨      

a. The ball is dead at the point of release by the female (the hook) to the male (ladder). The official will call "GENDER IS GOOD" for the completed pass to a female and no penalty will be assessed. On a forced gender play, a male cannot be the "hook." 

2. OPEN PLAY     â€¨      

a. If you execute the hook and ladder (female is either one) on an "open play", the play is legal, however, it does not satisfy the gender requirement.

3.  ANY PLAY

a. If you execute this play with females being BOTH the hook and the ladder the play will be allowed to continue w/o interruption. It will be a completed pass, the ball will NOT be called dead at the spot of the lateral and it will count as a gender play. If a TD is scored as a result of this play, then 8 points will be awarded.

 

SEC. 14 - RUNNING THE BALL

 

A. Quarterback (QB) limitations

1. If the offensive line of scrimmage is BEFORE midfield, the QB may run at any time.

2. If the offensive line of scrimmage is in the opposing teams' half of the field, then the QB CANNOT run for positive yards unless a defensive player crosses the line of (This includes extra point attempt plays).

B. A team may at any time execute a running play from scrimmage with the following guidelines:

1. The QB rule above applies until the ball is transferred to another player.

2. At the time the QB transfers the possession of the ball to another player, the 5-second rush protection is lost. Transfer of possession is executed by:

a. Hand-off

b. Pitch/Lateral

c. Forward pass caught behind the line of scrimmage.

3. A ball that is transferred from the QB to another player behind the line of scrimmage may be advanced across the line of scrimmage regardless of where the line of scrimmage originates.

4. If the ball is transferred to another player and then back to the QB, the 5-second rush protection is NOT regained.

5. A ball that has been transferred may still be thrown down field unless:

a. The ball has traveled past the line of scrimmage.

b. A forward pass of any kind has been thrown.

6. Forward hand-offs or passes that occur beyond the line of scrimmage are illegal. The play will be blown dead and the ball placed where it was initially handed-off or passed from. 

 

 

SEC. 15 - STOPPAGE OF PLAY

 

A. When an opponent touches the ball carrier with two hands.

1. This does not have to occur simultaneously if the offensive player has not taken more than 2 steps.

2. Once the ball has contacted carrier, they are eligible for downed contact.

3. The football is considered part of the body if the ball is touched in a tag situation.

B. Ball carrier leaves the field of play or scores.

C. Receiver catches the ball in the end zone to score a touchdown or extra point.

1. A player that has ball control and is pushed out of the end zone or sideline before his/her feet touch the ground will be considered in bounds.

D. An eligible receiver becomes ineligible if he/she goes out of bounds (prior to or during a pass) and remains ineligible for the remainder of the play.

1. A penalty will be assessed if the ineligible receiver catches the ball. EXCEPTION: If the eligible receiver is forced out of bounds, he will become eligible to legally catch a pass as soon as he/she returns in bounds.

E. Ball touches the ground because of a fumble, punt or incomplete pass.

F. Ball carrier slips or falls and any part of this body (except feet or hands) are touching the ground.

G. Timeout is called.

H. If an inadvertent whistle is blown the ball becomes dead immediately.

1. If this happens during a running play or after a player has caught the ball, the offensive team has the following 2 options:

a. Ball will be placed at the spot of the runner/receiver at the time of the whistle.

b. Replay the down.

2. If a forward pass is in flight, or during a punting or hiking situation, the down will be replayed.

I. A QB is permitted to stop the game clock legally to save time, if immediately upon receiving the snap, throw the ball directly into the ground. 
NOTE: Spiking the ball to stop the clock is legal on an OPEN play only.

 

SEC. 16 - SCORING

 

A. Six points are awarded for a touchdown (see "C. Gender Exceptions" below).

B. After a touchdown, the offensive team will attempt an extra point conversion.

1. The gender count will extend from the previous series to include extra point conversions.

2. Teams receive 2 points for a 10-yard conversion (2-point conversion line) and 1 point for a 5-yard conversion (1-point conversion line) (see "C. Gender Exceptions" below).

3. An intercepted extra point conversion attempt cannot be run back.

C. Gender Exceptions:

1. On an OPEN PLAY, if a woman-to-woman pass results in a touchdown, that team will receive 8 points (instead of 6). On a FORCED GENDER play, the touchdown will result in 6 points.

a. Teams will still then have the option for a one or two point conversion.

2. ON BOTH AN OPEN OR FORCED GENDER PLAY- if you execute the hook and ladder play with females being BOTH the hook and the ladder that results in a touchdown, then 8 points will be awarded. 

a. Teams will still then have the option for a one or two point conversion.

3. On an OPEN play, a woman-to-woman pass from the 2-point conversion line will result in 3 points being awarded. On a FORCED GENDER play the conversion will result in 2 points.

4. On an OPEN play, a woman-to-woman pass from the 1-point conversion line will result in 2 points being awarded. On a FORCED GENDER play, the conversion will result in 1 point.

D. Two points are awarded for a safety when one of the following occurs in the end zone:

1. Any offensive penalty occurring in the end zone.

2. The ball carrier or QB is tagged in the end zone (not on a punt or intercepted pass).

3. The ball carrier or QB runs out of bounds in their own end zone.

4. The center snaps the ball out of the end zone.

5. A player fumbles in his or her own end zone. 
NOTE: After a safety, the offensive team will punt a free kick from the 2 point conversion line. 

 

SEC. 17 - UNABATED RUNNER

 

A. Once a player running unabated has crossed the opposing team's 2 point conversion line they have 5 seconds to perform one of the following 2 options:

1. Score a TD.

2. Take a knee/run out of bounds.

B. If the runner has not scored a TD, taken a knee or gone out of bounds within the 5 second limit or stops before the 2 point conversion line, the official will blow the play dead and the clock will stop.

1. The runner may be ejected from the game and a 15-yard dead ball unsportsmanlike penalty will be called. Penalty will be enforced from the spot that the player stopped running.

 

SEC. 18 - BALL PLACEMENT FOR PENALTIES

 

A. Dead-Ball Foul

1. Succeeding Spot - The spot where the ball next would be put in play if no distance penalty were to be enforced. EXAMPLE: Receiver catches the ball and runs out of bounds. While out of bounds, the defender pushes the receiver. The ball will be spotted where the receiver went out of bounds, and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike dead ball penalty will be added to the play because of the penalty.

B. Live-Ball Foul

1. Previous Spot - The spot where the ball was put into play. 
EXAMPLE: Receiver catches a long pass and is touched at the 5-yard line. However, on the play, one of the offensive players holds a defensive player. This is a 'live ball' foul for holding and 10 yards is assessed from the original line of scrimmage, NOT at the 5-yard line where the receiver was downed.

C. Double Foul

1. If there is a double foul during a down in which there is a change of possession, the team last gaining possession may keep the ball unless the foul was committed prior to the change of possession.

2. If double foul occurs after change of possession, the defensive team retains the ball at the spot of its foul or dead ball spot.

3. If one of the fouls of a double foul involves disqualification (ejections/suspensions) player(s) must be removed, but no penalty yardage is to be assessed.

D. Loss of Down

1. After a loss of down penalty (prior to fourth down) the number of the ensuing down is one greater than that of the previous down. If it occurs on fourth down, it is a loss of the ball to the defensive team unless it is a combinations penalty, in which case the distance penalty is enforced in addition to the loss of the ball.

 

 

SEC. 19- UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT - COOLING OFF PERIOD/EJECTIONS/SUSPENSIONS

 

A. Cooling Off Period
1. Player(s) will be removed from the current game for a full series to "cool-off."

a. Teams MAY make a substitution for the player's(s) position on the field during a cooling-off period.

B. Ejection

1. Player(s) will be removed from the current game and MAY NOT re-enter the game.

2. Teams MAY NOT make a substitution for the ejected player(s) position on the field.

3. Player(s) will be eligible to play in the next scheduled game.

C. Suspension

1. Player(s) shall be removed from the current game and MAY NOT re-enter the game.

2. Teams MAY NOT make a substitution for the suspended player's(s) position on the field

3. The suspended player(s) will NOT be eligible to play in the next scheduled game. If the next scheduled game is a forfeit/rain out, then the suspension will extend to the following weeks game.

4. Player(s) must leave the field or the game will be called and a forfeit noted for the team for whom the player is a member.

5. If that player is caught playing the next scheduled game, the team will have a forfeit recorded and a forfeit fine assessed. In addition, the coach of the team will sit out the next scheduled game.

 

Section 20- Linesman responsibilities

 

I.  Linesman Duties:

A.  Each team will be responsible to provide one “linesman” for either the game before or following their scheduled game.

1.  Teams who play at either 7p or 8:20p will serve in the game after their contest.

2.  Teams that play at either 7:40p or 9p, will serve in the game prior to their game.

B.  The “linesman” schedule is posted in conjunction with the weekly scheduled, as there will be a line that reads “officiated by” underneath the games.

1.  Team Captains will have their names assigned in the “officiated by” section of the schedule

2.  Team Captains are not required to serve as a “linesman”, however it is their responsibility to fulfill their team’s duties.

C.  Linesman are PROHIBITED from having cell phones with them on the field, unless given permission from the “referee” prior to the start of the game due to a family emergency (birth, death, accident, etc…)

1.  A referee will offer a one time warning to any linesman looking at their phone during the time of play.

2.  If problem continues, the linesman may be removed from the game and their team will be subject to the coinciding penalties  for not providing a linesman (see Section below “Failure to Provide a “Linesman” when scheduled”).

 

 

II.  Failure to Provide a “Linesman” when scheduled:

A.  Teams that fail to have a “linesman” present by the start of the game they are scheduled for, will result in a -10 point penalty for their team’s next scheduled game

B.  If a team fails to have a “linesman” present for two games within the same season, that team will start their next scheduled game with a -15 point penalty.

C.  If a team fails to have a “linesman” present for three games in the same season, that team will be forced to forfeit their next scheduled game.

D.  Teams that fail to have a “lineman” present for four games will be removed from the league.

 

 

Section 21- “Mercy Rule”

I.  A team that is down by 24 or more points at any time in the second half and fails to reduce that deficit after an offensive possession will result in the game being called due to the “Mercy Rule”.

 

 



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