Rule 2 – Definitions

SECTION 1. Areas and Lines

ARTICLE 1. The Field

The field is the area within the safety area and the space above.

ARTICLE 2. Field of Play

The field of play is the area within the boundary lines (side lines and end lines) other than the end zones.

ARTICLE 3. End Zones

The end zones are the 10-yard areas at both ends of the field between the end lines and the goal lines.

ARTICLE 4. No-Running Zones

The No-Running Zones are the 5-yard areas at both ends of the field in front of the goal lines.

ARTICLE 5. Goal Lines

Goal lines, one for each team, shall be established at opposite ends of the field of play. The goal lines and goal line pylons are in the end zone. Each goal line is part of a vertical plane separating an end zone from the field of play when the ball is touched or is in player possession, the plane extends beyond the side lines. A team’s goal line is the one it is defending.

ARTICLE 6. Middle Line

Midway between the goal lines is the middle line. The line to gain for a new series is the middle of the field of play (i.e. the middle of the middle line), hereafter called middle for short.

ARTICLE 7. In Bounds, Out of Bounds

The area enclosed by the side lines and end lines is in bounds and the area surrounding and including the side lines and end lines is out of bounds.

ARTICLE 8. Team Area

The team area is outside the safety area and between the no-running lines along the side line.

SECTION 2. Team and Player Designations

ARTICLE 1. Offense and Defense

The Offense is the team which puts the ball in play by a snap, the Defense is the opposing team.

ARTICLE 2. Snapper

The snapper is the offensive player who snaps the ball.

ARTICLE 3. Quarterback

The quarterback is the offensive player who first gets possession of the ball after the snap.

ARTICLE 4. Passer

The passer is the offensive player who throws a legal pass.

ARTICLE 5. Runner

The runner is a player in possession of a live ball.

ARTICLE 6. Blitzer

The blitzer is a defensive player who lines up with all parts of his body 7 or more yards away from the scrimmage line at the snap and starts a rush towards the quarterback immediately after the snap.
Blitzers can get the right of way, if they raise one hand clearly above the head at least during the last second before the snap. There is no requirement for a player requesting right of way to blitz and a player may blitz without requesting it.
The rush has to be quick and straight to near the point where the quarterback receives the snap. If a blitzer is rushing slowly, aiming at another spot or changing direction during the rush, he loses the right of way.

ARTICLE 7. Player Out of Bounds

A player or ball is out of bounds when any part of his body touches anything out of bounds.

ARTICLE 8. Disqualified Player

A disqualified player is one who is declared ineligible for further participation in the game.

ARTICLE 9. Home Team

If neither team is at its home venue or at tournaments (more than 2 teams) then the team listed first will be designated the home team. The second listed team will be the visiting team.

SECTION 3. Down, Scrimmage and Play Classification


A down is a unit of the game that starts with a legal snap after the ball is ready for play and ends when the ball next becomes dead. Between downs is the interval during which the ball is dead. A play is the action between the 2 teams during a down.

ARTICLE 2. Scrimmage Line

When the ball is made ready for play the scrimmage line for each team is the vertical plane that passes through the point of the ball closest to its own goal line and extends to the side lines.
A player has crossed the scrimmage line if one part of his body has been beyond his scrimmage line.

ARTICLE 3. Forward Pass Play

A legal forward pass play is the interval between the snap and when a legal forward pass beyond the scrimmage line is completed or intercepted. Also any forward pass from behind the scrimmage line becoming incomplete or touched by the defense is considered as forward pass play.

ARTICLE 4. Running Play

A running play is any live ball action other than that during a legal forward pass play.
Passes completed behind the line of scrimmage are legal and are running plays.

SECTION 4. The Ball Live or Dead

ARTICLE 1. Live Ball

A live ball is a ball in play. A pass that has not yet touched the ground is a live ball in flight.

ARTICLE 2. Dead Ball

A dead ball is a ball not in play.

ARTICLE 3. When Ball Is Ready for Play

A dead ball is ready for play when the ball is placed on the ground and the referee blows his whistle.

SECTION 5. Forward, Beyond and Forward Progress

ARTICLE 1. Forward, Beyond

Forward, beyond or in advance of denotes direction toward the opposing team’s end line. Backward or behind denotes the direction towards a team’s own end line.

ARTICLE 2. Forward Progress

Forward progress is a term indicating the end of advancement by the ball carrier or airborne pass receiver of either team and applies to the most forward point of the ball when it becomes dead by rule between the end lines.

SECTION 6. Spots

ARTICLE 1. Enforcement Spot

An enforcement spot is the point from which the penalty for a foul is enforced.

ARTICLE 2. Dead Ball Spot

The dead ball spot is the point at which the ball becomes dead.

ARTICLE 3. Spot of the Foul

The spot of the foul is the point at which that foul occurs. If out of bounds, it shall be transmitted to the side line. If behind the goal line, the foul is in the end zone.

ARTICLE 4. Out-of-Bounds Spot

The out-of-bounds spot is the point at which the ball becomes dead because of being out of bounds.

SECTION 7. Foul, Penalty and Violation


A foul is a rule infraction for which a penalty is prescribed. A flagrant foul is a rule infraction that places an opponent in danger of injury.

ARTICLE 2. Penalty

A penalty is a result imposed by rule against a team that has committed a foul and may include one or more of the following: loss of yardage, loss of down, automatic first down or disqualification. If the penalty involves loss of a down, the down shall count as 1 of the 4 in that series.

ARTICLE 3. Violation

A violation is a rule infraction for which no penalty is prescribed, it does not offset a foul.

ARTICLE 4. Loss of a down

“Loss of a down” is an abbreviation meaning “loss of the right to repeat a down”.

SECTION 8. Shift, Motion

ARTICLE 1. Shift

A shift is a simultaneous change of position by 2 or more offensive players after the ball is ready and before the snap.

ARTICLE 2. Motion

A motion is a change of position by one offensive player after the ball is ready and before the snap.

SECTION 9. Handling of the ball

ARTICLE 1. Hand-off

Hand-off is successfully transferring player possession from one teammate to another without throwing. A fake hand-off is credible simulating of giving the ball to a nearby teammate. A faked (short/pump) pass is not a faked hand-off.


A pass is any intentional act to throw the ball in any direction. A pass starts with the final release after firmly control during an intentional movement of the hand or arm.
A pass continues to be a pass until it is completed to a player or the ball becomes dead.

ARTICLE 3. Fumble

A fumble is any act other than passing or successful handing that result in loss of player possession.
A fumble can only occur after a player gains possession of a ball.

ARTICLE 4. Possession

Possession means the firmly holding or controlling a live ball.

ARTICLE 5. Batting

Batting the ball is intentionally striking it or intentionally changing its direction with the hands or arms.

ARTICLE 6. Kicking

Kicking the ball is intentionally striking the ball with the knee, lower leg or foot and is illegal.

SECTION 10. Passes

ARTICLE 1. Forward and Backward Pass

A forward pass is determined by the point where the ball first strikes anything beyond the spot of the pass. All other passes are backward passes, even if it is lateral (parallel to the scrimmage line).
A snap becomes a backward pass when the snapper releases the ball, even if it slips from the hand of the snapper.

ARTICLE 2. Crosses Scrimmage Line

A legal forward pass has crossed the scrimmage line when it first strikes anything beyond the scrimmage line inbounds.

ARTICLE 3. Catch, Interception

A catch is the act of firmly establishing and maintaining player possession of a live ball in flight. A catch of an opponent’s pass is an interception. A player who leaves his feet to make a catch or interception must have the ball firmly in his possession when he first returns to the ground inbounds with any part of his body and maintain complete and continuous control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground to complete a pass. If the player loses control of the ball and the ball touches the ground before the process of the catch is complete then it is not a catch.


A sack is the removal of a flag (flag pull) from the quarterback who is in possession of a live ball. A player is in possession of the ball until the ball is released.

SECTION 11. Holding, Blocking, Contact and Tackling

ARTICLE 1. Holding

Holding is grasping an opponent or his equipment and not releasing it immediately.

ARTICLE 2. Blocking

Blocking is obstructing an opponent without contact by moving into his way. A moving offensive player who impedes an opponent from getting to the runner or impedes a legal blitzer is guilty of blocking. A player standing still (with the right of place) is not blocking, even if he is in between the runner and the opponent or in the way of a blitzer.

ARTICLE 3. Contact

Contact is touching an opponent with impact. Touching without an effect is no contact.

ARTICLE 4. Flag Pull

A flag pull is the removal of one or more flags from an opponent with hand(s).

ARTICLE 5. Flag Guarding

Flag guarding is an attempt by the runner to avoid a flag pull by covering the flag with any part of the body (hand, elbow or leg) or with the ball. Flag guarding is also leaning the upper body forward (diving) or stretching out a hand, with or without the ball, towards the opponent to make it more difficult for the defender to reach the flag.

SECTION 12. Jumping, Diving, Spinning

ARTICLE 1. Jumping

Jumping is an attempt by the runner to avoid a flag pull by gaining extra height compared to regular running.

ARTICLE 2. Diving

Diving is an attempt by the runner to avoid a flag pull by the forward leaning the upper body, with or without jumping.

ARTICLE 3. Spinning

Spinning is an attempt by the runner to avoid a flag pull by rotation of the body along the vertical axis. Spinning is legal.

SECTION 13. Right of Place (RoP), Right of Way (RoW)

ARTICLE 1. Right of Place

Right of place is given to a standing player. Standing means to remain at the spot with normal player posture and make no lateral movement. Jumping vertically in order to throw or catch a pass or pulling a flag whilst standing still does not give up the right of place.
Right of place supersedes right of way when determining who is guilty of a foul.

ARTICLE 2. Right of Way

Right of way is given to a player by rule who has established a direction of movement with normal player moves and does not alter that direction.
A player with Right of Way has a higher priority when determining who is guilty of committing a foul than all players except those with right of place.