Touch Football rules

indoor touch football rules

Adapted from touch football ontario 

Indoor Touch Football is played with five on-field players per team. The team that has possession of the ball is termed the offence (team O), and the team that doesn't is called the defence (team D). The offence has five downs to attempt a score.  If on the fifth down the offence does not score, the ball goes to the defence, which in turn, becomes the offence and they then have 5 downs to attempt to score.

In Indoor Touch Football, the offence can elect to decline a fifth down attempt to score and thereby give up possession of the ball.  This will result in a change of possession and therefore, the defence becomes the offence and starts from their own 5 yard line with 5 downs to attempt to score. If the offence attempts to score on their fifth down however, and does not, the change of possession will be awarded at the point of the spot at the end of that play.

A coin toss is conducted prior to the start of the game and will determine which team may start with the ball.  The winner of the coin toss can elect to have the first-half or second-half choice of options. The loser of the coin toss will have choice of options for whichever half the winner does not select.  Therefore, if the winner of the coin toss elects to have choice of options second half, (defer), the loser of the coin toss would have choice of options for the first half and visa versa.  The options/choices are 1) to start the half with the ball, or 2) select which end of the field to defend. When one team chooses to have the ball, the other team is then given the option to choose what end to defend.  However, if the team with choice selects which end to defend instead of taking the ball, the other team would automatically start the half with the ball.

To begin a game, team will start from its own 5-yard line. This is called the line of scrimmage. All offensive players must take a position on or behind the line of scrimmage. All defensive players must take a position at least one yard from the line of scrimmage on the opposite side.  Special allowances are made for the centre in that a defender must not line up within 3 yards from the centre

(for safety reasons). A player designated as the centre will then begin the play by snapping the ball between the legs to the Quarterback, who must receive the ball at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage. All players on the offence, except the centre, are allowed to be in motion prior to the snap, but are not permitted to cross the line of scrimmage until after the snap. The game
is mainly a passing game, with all players on the offence being eligible receivers. No blocking is permitted. The play is terminated when a defender touches the ball carrier with one hand or the fingers of that hand. Two-hand touches are permissible as long as there is no rough touch.

During scrimmage plays, the defence will have one or more players, called the rusher, pursue the Quarterback after the ball is snapped. Specific rules applicable to the rusher include: 

  • being at least five yards away from the line of scrimmage, 
  • being within 1-5 yards outside the centre’s outside foot, 
  • not changing sides after the ball is put down by the centre, 
  • being in this vicinity before the centre’s head goes down.

In turn, the rules grant the rusher a direct and unobstructed path to the Quarterback after the ball is snapped. No one is permitted to block or obstruct the rusher in any way. If the rusher changes sides after the ball is put down by the centre, the rusher will lose the right to a direct path to the Quarterback with the centre, however, all other players must continue to provide the rusher with a direct line to the Quarterback.  Even if the center looks up after putting his/her head down, the rusher has lost the right to a direct path to the Quarterback with the centre only.

Teams may use more than one rusher on a play. All rushers have the right to a clear and direct path to the Quarterback, provided they adhere to the rusher’s rules stated above and summarized again here; (1) line up 5 yards from line of scrimmage, 2) line up 1-5 yards from the outside foot of the centre, 3) does not change sides after the ball is put down by the centre and 4) have lined up within this area prior to the centre’s head going down).

The first defensive player to cross the line of scrimmage must have started from a point five yards down field from the line of scrimmage but does not have to line up within 5 yards of either side of the centre's feet.

Two bean bags are used by the officials to mark the line of scrimmage and the rusher's starting line. Officials will place these bags at

the appropriate spot prior to the start of each play. These bags may or may not be the same colour.  Beanbags must be at least 4” square.

Teams are permitted only one forward pass on each scrimmage play. The ball may be passed laterally among team mates as many times as they wish during a play. A lateral is a pass by which the ball travels parallel to or, in the direction of, the passer's dead-ball line. An attempted lateral that results in the ball going forward to a team mate is illegal, and is ruled an offside pass when touched by a team mate. Fumbles are not recoverable in touch football. The ball is considered dead when it hits the ground during a scrimmage play, except on the initial centre-Quarterback exchange when the ball is snapped, and on a lateral to an offensive player that occurs 1) behind the line of scrimmage and 2) before a forward pass is thrown. In the latter case, in order for the ball to be considered live, it must touch the intended player first before hitting the ground.

Scoring

Points are awarded for touchdowns, converts and safety touches.

A touchdown is scored when a team gets the ball into the opponent's end zone by running with the ball across the goal line or by gaining possession of the ball in the end zone through a completed pass from a team mate. Touchdowns count for six points.

After a touchdown, the scoring team has the choice of attempting a one-point convert from the five-yard line, or a two-point convert from the ten-yard line. All converts must be passing or running plays. Kicking is not permitted at any time in Indoor Touch Football. 

A safety touch counts for two points and is awarded to a team when its opponents cause the ball to go into their own end zone and the play is ruled dead prior to the ball being taken out of the end zone. 

A game is usually divided into two halves of 25 minutes. The clock runs continuously during the halves, except for a ‘time out’.  At the end of the first half there is a two (2) minute rest period before the second half begins.

Each team has one 60-second time out per half, which if not used, cannot be carried over to the next half. Officials may call any number of time outs, at their discretion, to deal with measurements, rule explanations or injuries. However, if an official calls an injury time out, the injured player or players must sit out for at least one play before returning to the field. If this/these player(s) wish to remain in the game and not sit out for one play, the team must use their team time out. 

The official’s time out is a courtesy and must result in all injured players sitting out for at least one play. Since the time has already been stopped, using a team time out to keep a player in the game for the next play does not result in having any additional delay in the game. Rather, the time out is considered consumed and replaces the official’s time out.

A team must have a minimum of four players on the field at the designated starting time to begin a game. If a team does not have the minimum number of players to start the game or if they refuse to take the field within a reasonable time frame when advised by the official at the start of the game, a delay of game penalty will be applied and that team will lose choice for both halves and a 10 yard dead ball penalty will be applied at the start of the game. If both teams do not have enough players to start, the penalties will

offset and choice of options will be awarded by a coin toss.  A 10-minute grace period will be provided to allow players to arrive and for the game to start, however the game clock will start at the designated start time.

Play-offs

In the case of a tie at the end of a play-off game, both teams get 3 chances to make converts.

Coin toss to decide who which team goes first and which side of the field is used for all plays.

The converts are 1 or 2 point plays and the points are added to the game score. Once the offence has announced their 1 or 2 point play selection they can not change. Teams alternate plays until one team is mathematically eliminated or a winner is determined.

The ball is live, so intercepted balls brought past the line of scrimmage would give defence points. Any target zone pass interference in the end zone would result in the awarding of the points attempted. If the penalty is not in the end zone, then yards are added and convert attempt replayed.

General Information

Participants in the game of Touch Football must consider the safety of all players in the game. Aggressive play must be tempered with control in order to avoid unnecessary body contact and the possibility of injury to opponents. Players who show no regard for this concept will be penalized for the unnecessary contact they cause. Sportsmanship and consideration for the well-being of others is an integral part of the game of Touch Football.

The rules of Touch Football exist to ensure that no team creates an unfair advantage over the other team. Therefore, infractions such as interference, tripping, unnecessary roughness, contacting the passer, obstruction, offside, unsportsmanlike conduct and objectionable conduct will be called by the officials, when committed by players during a game. It is imperative that all

participants display sportsmanship during a game. Persistent arguing, obscene language, threats to players, officials or spectators bring disgrace to the sport and will not be tolerated. 

Players who are ejected from the game and written up by an official are automatically fined and miss at least the following game. No-show teams are fined. See Football Polices for current fees and related information.