ARTICLE 1. a. An Approved Ruling (A.R.) is an official decision on a given statement of facts. It serves to illustrate the spirit and application of the rules. If there is a conflict between the official rules and approved rulings, the rules take precedence.
b. An official's signal [S] refers to the Official Football Signals 1 through 47.
ARTICLE 1. A live ball is a ball in play. A pass, kick or fumble that has not yet touched the ground is a live ball in flight.
ARTICLE 2. A dead ball is a ball not in play.
ARTICLE 3. A loose ball is a live ball not in player possession during:
a. A running play.
b. A scrimmage or free kick before possession is gained, regained or the ball is dead by rule.
c. The interval after a legal forward pass is touched and before it becomes complete, incomplete or intercepted (NOTE - This interval is during a forward pass play and the ball may be batted in any direction by a player eligible to touch it).
d. All players are eligible to touch,catch, or recover a ball that is loose from a fumble or a backward pass, but eligibility to touch a ball loose from a kick is governed by kick rules (Rule 6) and eligibility to touch a forward pass is governed by pass rules (Rule 7).
ARTICLE 4. A dead ball is ready for play when the referee:
a. If time is in, sounds his whistle and signals ready for play.
b. If time is out, sounds his whistle and signals either "start the clock" or "ball ready for play" (Exception: Rules 3-3-3-f-4-c and 3-3-3-f-4-f). A.R. 4-1-4:I and II
ARTICLE 5. "In possession" is an abbreviation meaning the holding or controlling of a live ball or a ball to be free kicked.
a. A player "gains possession" when he is firmly holding or controlling the ball while contacting the ground inbounds.
b. A team is "in possession" when one of its players is "in possession" or attempting to punt, drop kick or place kick; while a forward pass thrown by one of its players is in flight; or one of its players was last in possession during a loose ball.
ARTICLE 6. "Belongs to" as contrasted with "in possession" denotes temporary custody of a dead ball. Legality of such custody is immaterial because the ball must next be put in play in accordance with rules governing the existing situation.
ARTICLE 7. A catch is an act of establishing player possession of a live ball in flight.
a. A catch of an opponent's fumble or pass is an interception.
b. Securing player possession of a live ball after it strikes the ground is "recovering it".
c. To catch, intercept or recover a ball, a player who leaves his feet to make a catch, interception or recovery must have the ball in his possession when he first returns to the ground inbounds with any part of his body or is so held that the dead-ball provisions of Rule 4-1-3-a apply. (A.R. 2-2-7:I-V)
1. If one foot first lands inbounds and the receiver has possession and control of the ball, it is a catch or interception even though a subsequent step or fall takes the receiver out of bounds.
2. Loss of ball simultaneously with returning to the ground is not a catch, interception or recovery.
d. A catch by any kneeling or prone inbounds player is a completion or interception (Rules 7-3-1 and 7-3-2) (Rules 7-3-6 and 7-3-7).
e. When in question, the catch, recovery or interception is not completed.
ARTICLE 8. A simultaneous catch or recovery is a catch or recovery in which there is joint possession of a live ball by opposing players inbounds. A.R. 7-3-6:II and III
ARTICLE 1. a. Blocking is obstructing an opponent by contacting him with any part of the blocker's body.
b. Pushing is blocking an opponent with open hands.
ARTICLE 2. a. Blocking below the waist is the initial contact below the waist with any part of the blocker's body against an opponent, other than the runner. When in question, the contact is below the waist (Rule 9-1-2-e).
b. Blocking below the waist applies to the original contact by a blocker against an opponent who has one or both feet on the ground. A blocker who makes contact above the waist and then slides below the waist has not blocked below the waist. If the blocker first contacts the opposing player's hands at the waist or above, it is a legal "above the waist" block (Rule 9-1-2-e).
ARTICLE 3. A chop block is
a. An obviously delayed block at the thigh or below against an opponent (except the runner) who is in contact with a teammate of the blocker, is in the act of disengaging from the first blocker or has just disengaged from the first blocker but is still confronting him. When in question, the contact is at the thigh or below. (A.R. 2-3-3:I-IV)
b. A high-low, low-high or low-low combination block by two nonadjacent linemen with or without a delay between contacts occuring in the neutral zone.
c. A high-low, low-high or low-low combination block by any two offensive players with or without a delay between contacts when the initial contact clearly occurs beyond the neutral zone (i.e., all involved players are beyond the neutral zone).
ARTICLE 4. a. A block in the back is contact against an opponent occurring when the force of the initial contact is from behind and above the waist (Exception: The runner) When in question, the contact is below the waist. (Rule 9-3-3-c) A.R. 9-1-2:XX and XXI A.R. 9-3-3:VII A.R. 10-2-2:XXXIV
b. The position of the blocker's head or feet does not necessarily indicate the point of initial contact.
ARTICLE 5. The frame of a player's body is at the shoulders or below other than the back (Rule 9-3-3-a-1-c Exception).
ARTICLE 1. a. Clipping is a block against an opponent occurring when the force of the initial contact is from behind and at or below the waist (Exception: The runner) (Rule 9-1-2-d).
b. The position of the blocker's head or feet does not necessarily indicate the point of initial contact.
ARTICLE 1. Deliberately advancing is an attempt by the runner to advance the ball after any part of his person, other than a hand or foot, has touched the ground or after the ball has been declared dead by rule (Exception: Rule 4-1-3-b).
ARTICLE 1. A down is a unit of the game that starts with a legal snap or legal free kick 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.
c. A valid or invalid fair catch signal deprives the receiving team of the opportunity to advance the ball, and the ball is declared dead at the spot of the catch or recovery or at the spot of the signal if the catch precedes the signal.
d. If the receiver shades his eyes from the sun, the ball is live and may be advanced.
ARTICLE 2. A valid signal is a signal given by a player of Team B who has obviously signalled his intention by extending one hand only clearly above his head and waving the hand from side to side of the body more than once.
ARTICLE 2. Forward progress is a term indicating the end of advancement by the runner or airborne pass receiver of either team and applies to the position of the ball when it became dead by rule (Rules 4-1-3-a & 4-1-3-b and 4-2-1 & 4-2-4). A.R. 5-1-3:I-V
ARTICLE 1. A foul is a rule infraction for which a penalty is prescribed. A flagrent personal foul is a rule infraction so extreme or deliberate that it places an opponent in danger of catastrophic injury. A violation is a rule infraction for which no penalty is prescribed and that does not offset the penalty for a foul.
ARTICLE 4. Touching of a ball not in player possession denotes any contact with the ball. It may be intentional or unintentional, and it always precedes possession and control. Intentional touching is deliberate or intended touching. When in question, a ball has not been touched on a kick or forward pass (Exception: Rules 6-1-4 and 6-3-4).
ARTICLE 1. 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 sidelines. A team's goal line is that which it is defending. (A.R. 2-11-1:I)
ARTICLE 2. A restraining line is part of a vertical plane when a ball is touched or is in possession. The plane extends beyond the sidelines. (A.R. 2-11-2:I)
ARTICLE 6. Nine-yard marks 12 inches in length, every 10 yards, shall be located nine yards from the sidelines. They are not required if the field is numbered according to Rule 1-2-1-j.
c. Loss of player possession by unsuccessful execution of attempted handing is a fumble (Exception: The snap (Rule 2-23-1-c)).
d. A backward handoff occurs when the runner releases the ball before it is beyond the yard line where the runner is positioned.
c. Hurdling an offensive player before the snap is a dead-ball foul. This includes offensive players in a three- or four-point stance.
a. A legal kick is a punt, drop kick or place kick made according to the rules by a player of Team A before a change of team possession. Kicking the ball in any other manner is illegal. A.R. 6-1-2:I
b. Any free kick or scrimmage kick continues to be a kick until it is caught or recovered by a player or becomes dead.
c. A tee is a device that elevates the ball for kicking purposes. It may not elevate the ball's lowest point more than two inches above the ground. (A.R. 2-15-4:I)
ARTICLE 7. A scrimmage kick made in or behind the neutral zone is a legal kick by Team A during a scrimmage down before team possession changes. A scrimmage kick has crossed the neutral zone when it touches the ground, a player, an official or anything beyond the neutral zone. A.R. 6-3-1:I-V
ARTICLE 10. A scrimmage kick formation is a formation with at least one player seven yards or more behind the neutral zone and no player in position to receive a hand-to-hand snap from between the snapper's legs, and it is obvious that a kick may be attempted. A.R. 1-4-2:I
ARTICLE 1. The neutral zone is the space between the two lines of scrimmage extended to the sidelines and is the length of the ball. The neutral zone is established when the ball is ready for play and is resting on the ground with its long axis at right angles to the scrimmage line and parallel to the sidelines.
ARTICLE 1. a. After the ball is ready for play, encroachment occurs when an offensive player is in or beyond the neutral zone after the snapper touches or simulates (hand(s) at or below his knees) touching the ball before the snap (Exception: When the ball is put in play, the snapper is not encroaching when he is in the neutral zone).
a. After the ball is ready for play, offside occurs when a defensive player is in or beyond the neutral zone when the ball is legally snapped, contacts an opponent beyond the neutral zone before the ball is snapped, contacts the ball before it is snapped, threatens an offensive lineman (who immediately reacts) before the ball is snapped, or is not behind his restraining line when the ball is legally free-kicked.
b. Offside occurs when a player of the kicking team is not behind his restraining line when the ball is legally free-kicked (Exception: The kicker and holder are not offside when they are beyond their restraining line).
ARTICLE 2. a. A forward pass is determined by the point where the ball first strikes the ground, a player, an official or anything beyond the spot of the pass. All other passes are backward passes. When in question, it is a forward pass rather than a backward pass when thrown in or behind the neutral zone.
b. When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward toward the neutral zone, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts the forward pass. If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer's hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player. (A.R. 2-19-2:I)
d. A snap becomes a backward pass when the snapper releases the ball. A.R. 2-23-1:I
ARTICLE 3. a. A legal forward pass has crossed the neutral zone when it first strikes the ground, a player, an official or anything beyond the neutral zone inbounds. It has not crossed the neutral zone when it first strikes the ground, a player, an official or anything in or behind the neutral zone inbounds.
c. A legal forward pass is beyond or behind the neutral zone where it crosses the sideline.
ARTICLE 4. A catchable forward pass is an untouched legal forward pass beyond the neutral zone to an eligible player who has a reasonable opportunity to catch the ball. When in question, a legal forward pass is catchable. (A.R. 2-19-4:I and II)
ARTICLE 1. 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
ARTICLE 2. a. The scrimmage line for each team when the ball is ready for play is the yard line and its vertical plane that passes through the point of the ball nearest its own goal line and extends to the side lines.
ARTICLE 1. A shift is a simultaneous change of position by two or more offensive players after the ball is ready for play for a scrimmage and before the next snap. A.R. 7-1-3:II and III A.R. 7-1-4:I-IV
ARTICLE 1. a. Legally snapping the ball (a snap) is handing or passing it backward from its position on the ground with a quick and continuous motion of the hand or hands, the ball actually leaving the hand or hands in this motion.
b. The snap starts when the ball is moved legally and ends when the ball leaves the snapper's hands. A.R. 7-1-5:I-II
c. If, during any backward motion of a legal snap, the ball slips from the snapper's hand, it becomes a backward pass and is in play (Rule 4-1-1).
d. While resting on the ground and before the snap, the long axis of the ball must be at right angles to the scrimmage line (Rule 7-1-3-a-1).
f. If the ball is touched by Team B during a legal snap, the ball remains dead and Team B is penalised. If the ball is touched by Team B during an illegal snap, the ball remains dead and Team A is penalised. A.R. 7-1-5:I-II
i. The position of the ball at the snap (Rule 9-1-2-e) refers to an imaginary line through the ball parallel to the sidelines from end line to end line.
ARTICLE 5. The spot of the foul is the point at which that foul occurs. If out of bounds between the goal lines, it shall be the intersection of the nearer inbounds line and the yard line extended through the spot of the foul. If out of bounds between the goal line and the end line or behind the end line, the foul is in the end zone.
ARTICLE 7. The inbounds spot is the intersection of the nearer inbounds line and the yard line passing through the dead-ball spot, or the spot where the ball is left between an inbounds line and a sideline by a penalty.
g. Where a return kick occurs.
2. On an unsuccessful field goal attempt that has crossed the neutral zone and is untouched by Team B after crossing the neutral zone and declared dead beyond the neutral zone, the postscrimmage kick spot is the previous spot. If the previous spot is between Team B's 20-yard line and the goal line, and the unsuccessful field goal attempt that has crossed the neutral zone and is untouched by Team B after crossing the neutral zone, and is declared dead beyond the neutral zone, the spot where the kick ends is the 20-yard line. A.R. 10-2-2:XXV
3. When Rule 6-3-11 is in effect, the postscrimmage kick spot is the 20-yard line.
ARTICLE 10. When "basic spot" is stated in a penalty, fouls during a running play, a legal pass play or a legal kick play are penalised from the "basic spot". Fouls by the offensive team behind the "basic spot" are enforced from the spot of the foul.
a. The basic spot on running plays when the run ends beyond the neutral zone is the spot where the related run ends, and fouls by the offensive team behind the basic spot are spot fouls (Rules 2-30-4 and 10-2-2-c-1). (Exception: Offensive team facemask, illegal use of hands, holding, illegal block and personal fouls, behind the neutral zone, are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A's goal line).
c. The basic spot on running plays that occur when there is no neutral zone (interception runbacks, kick runbacks, fumble advances, etc.) is the spot where the related run ends, and fouls by the offensive team behind the basic spot are spot fouls (Rules 2-30-4 and 10-2-2-c-3) (Exception: Rule 8-5-1 Exception).
2. Enforce roughing the passer on a completed forward pass from the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone and there is no change of team possession during the down. A.R. 2-30-4:I and II A.R. 10-2-2:XXXIII
4. Enforce offensive team facemask, illegal use of hands, holding, illegal block and personal fouls, behind the neutral zone, from the previous spot. (Exception: Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A's goal line).
e. The basic spot on legal kick plays before a change of possession is the previous spot, and fouls by the offensive team behind the basic spot are spot fouls (Exception: Offensive team facemask, illegal use of hands, holding, illegal block and personal fouls, behind the neutral zone, are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A's goal line). (Rule 2-30-2, 2-30-3 and 10-2-2-e) (Exception: Rule 9-1-3-b on scrimmage kicks).
ARTICLE 11. The postscrimmage kick spot is the spot where the kick ends. Team B retains the ball after penalty enforcement from the postscrimmage kick spot. Team B fouls behind the postscrimmage kick spot are spot fouls (Rules 2-25-9 Exceptions and 10-2-2-e-3).
b. A holder is a player who controls the ball on the ground or on a kicking tee. During a scrimmage-kick play, he remains the holder until no player is in position to make the kick or, if the ball is kicked, until the kicker has had a reasonable time to regain his balance.
1. A lineman is any Team A player legally on his scrimmage line when the ball is snapped. An interior lineman is any Team A player legally on his scrimmage line and positioned between the end Team A players who are also on the line of scrimmage at the snap. An ineligible pass receiver of Team A is "on his scrimmage line" at the snap when he faces his opponent's goal line with the line of his shoulders parallel thereto and his head breaking the plane of the line drawn through the waistline of the snapper.
2. An eligible pass receiver of Team A is "on his scrimmage line" at the snap when he faces his opponent's goal line with the line of his shoulders approximately parallel thereto and his head breaking the plane of the line drawn through the waistline of the snapper.
3. A Team A player also is a lineman when, after the ball is ready for play and the snapper touches or simulates (hand(s) at or below his knees) touching the ball, his head breaks the plane of the line drawn through the waistline of /the snapper (Exception: Rule 7-1-3-b-1).
b. A back is any Team A player whose head or body does not break the plane of the line drawn through the rear-most part, other than the legs or feet, of the nearest Team A player (except the snapper) on the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. A lineman becomes a back before the snap when he moves to a legal backfield position and stops. (A.R. 2-27-4:I)
ARTICLE 5. The passer is the player who throws a legal forward pass. He is a passer from the time he releases the ball until it is complete, incomplete, intercepted or he moves to participate in the play. A.R. 10-2-2:XXXIII
b. An airborne player is a player not in contact with the ground.
ARTICLE 8. The snapper is the player who snaps the ball. He becomes the snapper when he assumes his position and touches or simulates (hand(s) at or below his knees) touching the ball (Rule 7-1-3-a-1).
b. A legal incoming substitute becomes a player when he enters the field of play or end zones and communicates with a teammate or an official, enters the huddle, is positioned in an offensive or defensive formation, or participates in a play.
c. Each team shall designate a coach as its head coach, and so identify him on the roster form.
ARTICLE 2. The 25 second clock is any device under the direction of the appropriate official used to time the 25 seconds between the ready for play signal and the ball being put in play. The type of device is determined by the game management.
a. A running play includes the spot where the run ends and the interval of any subsequent fumble or backward or illegal pass from the time the run ends until possession is gained, regained or the ball is declared dead by rule. (A.R. 2-30-4:I and II)
2. There may not be more than one running play behind the neutral zone if no change of team possession occurs. (Rule 10-2-2-c-2).
ARTICLE 3. The end zones are the 10-yard areas at both ends of the field between the end lines and the goal lines. The goal lines and goal line pylons are in the end zone and a team's end zone is the one it is defending. A.R. 8-5-1:X A.R. 8-6-1:I
b. An unsportsmanlike act toward an opponent that causes the opponent to retaliate by fighting (Rule 9-5-1).
Editor: Jim Briggs, BAFA/BAFRA Rules Committee