RULE 1 The Game, Field, Players and Equipment

National federations may adapt Rule 1 to meet local needs and circumstances, provided no adaption reduces the safety of the players or other participants.

SECTION 1. General Provisions

The Game

ARTICLE 1. a. The game shall be played between two teams of not more than 11 players each, on a rectangular field and with an inflated ball having the shape of a prolate spheroid.

b. A team legally may play with fewer than 11 players, but a foul for an illegal formation occurs if the following requirements are not met:

1. When the ball is free-kicked, at least four Team A players are on each side of the kicker (Rule 6-1-2-c-3).

2. At the snap, at least five players wearing jerseys numbered 50 through 79 are on the offensive scrimmage line and no more than four players are in the backfield (Rules 2-21-2, 2-27-4 and 7-1-4-a) (Exception: Rule 7-1-4-a-5). (A.R. 7-1-4:IV-VI)

Goal Lines

ARTICLE 2. Goal lines, one for each team, shall be established at opposite ends of the field of play, and each team shall be allowed opportunities to advance the ball across the other team's goal line by running, passing or kicking it.

Winning Team and Final Score

ARTICLE 3. a. The teams shall be awarded points for scoring according to rule and, unless the game is forfeited, the team having the larger score at the end of the game shall be the winning team.

b. When the referee declares that the game is ended, the score is final.

Game Officials

ARTICLE 4. The game shall be played under the supervision of the game officials.

Team Captains

ARTICLE 5. Each team shall designate to the referee not more than four players as its field captain(s). One player at a time shall speak for his team in all dealings with the officials.

Persons Subject to the Rules

ARTICLE 6. a. All persons subject to the rules are governed by the decisions of the officials.

b. Those persons subject to the rules are: everyone in the team area, players, substitutes, replaced players, coaches, athletics trainers, cheerleaders, band members, mascots, public-address announcers, audio and video system operators, and other persons affiliated with the teams.

Teams Subject to the Rules

ARTICLE 7. a. These rules apply to all competitions sanctioned by IFAF and by IFAF member federations. Subject to the agreement of IFAF, the rules may be altered by a competition authority where appropriate and necessary to adjust for:

1. The age group of the participants.

2. The gender of the participants.

b. IFAF-affiliated officiating organisations shall use the current Manual of Football Officiating published under the jurisdiction of IAFOA.

c. IFAF-affiliated teams and/or competitions and/or national federations not complying with IFAF football-playing rules are subject to sanctions.

SECTION 2. The Field

Dimensions and Markings

ARTICLE 1. The field shall be a rectangular area with dimensions, lines, zones, goals and pylons as indicated in Appendix D.

a. Where the size of the stadium does not permit a full-sized field to be marked, game management may use an IFAF yard as the unit of measurement.

1. An IFAF yard is normally 36 inches (91.44cm) long, but may be shortened to no less than 34.12 inches (86.67cm) only if necessary to fit a 100-yard field of play plus two 10-yard end zones within the available playing surface.

2. If the length of the field is reduced by an IFAF yard factor, all other field dimensions and markings stated in these rules shall be reduced commensurately (Exception: The length of the hash marks and the width of lines). The length of the yardage chain (Rule 1-2-7) shall also be reduced to correspond to the markings on the field.

b. All field-dimension lines shown must be white and 4 inches in width. (Exceptions: Sidelines and end lines may exceed 4 inches in width, goal lines may be 4 or 8 inches in width, and Rule 1-2-1-h).

c. Twenty-four-inch short yard-line extensions, four inches inside the sidelines and at the hash marks, are mandatory and all yard lines shall be four inches from the sidelines (Rule 2-12-6).

d. A solid white area between the sideline and the coaching line is mandatory.

e. White field markings or contrasting decorative markings (e.g. team names) are permissible in the end zones but shall not be closer than four feet to any line.

f. Contrasting colouring in the end zones may abut any line.

g. Only these contrasting decorative markings are allowed: competition logo, and team name and logo. These are permissible within the sidelines and between the goal lines, under these conditions: (See Appendix D):

1. The entirety of all yard lines, goal lines and sidelines must be clearly visible. No portion of any such line may be obscured by decorative markings.

2. No such markings may touch or enclose the hash marks or numbers.

3. A single decorative marking, centered on the midfield line, and a maximum of four smaller flanking decorative markings are allowed.

h. Goal lines may be of one contrasting colour from the white lines.

i. Advertising is permissible on the field, providing it meets the requirements of Rules 1-2-1-e, 1-2-1-f and 1-2-1-g.

j. White field yard-line numbers not larger than 6 feet in height and 4 feet in width, with the tops of the numbers nine yards from the sidelines, are recommended.

k. White directional arrows next to the field numbers (except at midfield) indicating the direction toward the nearest goal line are recommended. The arrow is a triangle with an 18-inch base and two sides that are 36 inches each.

l. The two hash marks are 60 feet from the sidelines. Hash marks and short yard-line extensions shall measure 24 inches in length.

m. 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.

n. In an indoor stadium, the roof shall be no less than 90 feet above the field.

o. If played in a stadium with a retractable roof, game management shall decide 90 minutes before kickoff whether to play the game with the roof open or closed. The roof must be closed if (from 90 minutes before the game until the end of the game) precipitation or lightning is within the vicinity of the stadium, the temperature drops below 40F (4C), or wind gusts are greater than 40 miles per hour (64 km/h). Once the roof is closed, it is not allowed to be reopened during the game.

Marking Boundary Areas

ARTICLE 2. Measurements shall be from the inside edges of the boundary markings. The entire width of each goal line is in the end zone.

Limit Lines

ARTICLE 3. a. Limit lines shall be marked with 12-inch lines and at 24-inch intervals 18 feet outside the sidelines and the end lines, except in stadiums where the total field surface does not permit. In these stadiums, the limit lines shall not be less than six feet from the sidelines and end lines. Limit lines shall be 4 inches in width and may be yellow. Limit lines designating team areas shall be solid lines.

b. No person outside the team area shall be inside the limit lines. Game management personnel have the responsibility and the authority to enforce this rule. (Exception: Hand-held cameras under the supervision of the television partners may briefly be between the limit lines and the sideline after the ball is dead and the game clock has been stopped. This exception does not allow cameras to be on the field of play or in the end zone at any time.)

c. Limit lines shall also be marked six feet from the team area around the side and back of the team area, if the stadium permits.

Team Area and Coaching Box

ARTICLE 4. a. On each side of the field, a team area behind the limit line and between the 25-yard lines shall be marked for the exclusive use of substitutes, athletics trainers and other persons affiliated with the team. The front of the coaching box shall be marked with a solid line six feet outside the sideline between the 25-yard lines. The area between the coaching line and the limit line between the 25-yard lines shall contain white diagonal lines or be marked distinctly for use of coaches (Rule 9-2-5). A 4-inch-by-4-inch mark is mandatory at each five-yard line extended between the goal lines as an extension of the coaching line for line-to-gain and down indicator six-foot reference points.

b. The team area shall be limited to squad members in full uniform and a maximum of 25 other individuals directly involved in the game. All persons in the team area are subject to the rules and are governed by decisions of the officials (Rule 1-1-6). The 25 individuals not in full uniform shall wear special team area credentials. No other credential is valid for the team area.

c. Coaches are permitted in the coaching box (see Appendix D), which is the area bounded by the limit line and coaching line between the 25-yard lines.

d. No media personnel, including journalists, radio and television personnel, or their equipment, shall be in the team area or coaching box, and no media personnel shall communicate in any way with persons in the team area or coaching box. In stadiums where the team area extends to the spectator seating area, a pass-through area should be made available for media to move from one end of the field to the other on both sides of the field.

e. Game management personnel shall remove all persons not authorised by rule.

f. Practice kicking nets are not permitted outside the team area (Exception: In stadiums where playing enclosures are limited in size, nets, holders and kickers are permitted outside the team area and outside the limit line) (Rule 9-2-1-b-1).


ARTICLE 5. a. Each goal shall consist of two white or yellow uprights extending at least 30 feet above the ground with a connecting white or yellow horizontal crossbar, the top of which is 10 feet above the ground. The inside of the uprights and crossbar shall be in the same vertical plane as the inside edge of the end line. Each goal is out of bounds (see Appendix D).

b. Above the crossbar, the uprights shall be white or yellow and 18 feet, six inches apart inside to inside.

c. The designated uprights and crossbar shall be free of decorative material (Exception: 4-inch-by-42-inch orange or red wind directional streamers at the top of the uprights are permitted).

d. The height of the crossbar shall be measured from the top of each end of the crossbar to the ground directly below.

e. Goal posts shall be padded with resilient material from the ground to a height of at least six feet. Advertising is prohibited on the goals. One manufacturer's logo or trademark or an advertisement is permitted on each goal post pad. Team/national and competition logos are allowed. All padding is out of bounds.

f. The following procedure will be adopted when one or both goals are missing or have been taken down and the original goals are not available for a try or field goal attempt:

1. If a portable goal is available, it shall be erected or held in place at the request of Team A.

2. If a portable goal is not available but one goal is in place:

(a) On all scrimmage plays, Team B shall defend the end of the field where the goal is situated.

(b) On all free kick plays, Team A shall defend the end of the field where the goal is situated.

(c) After a change of possession, the teams will change ends if necessary so that Team B is defending the end where the goal is situated.

(d) There will be no change of ends at the end of the first or third periods (one minute timeout only). Captains will not have the option to select which goal line to defend at the beginning of a half.

3. Alternatively, if one goal is (or becomes) missing or unusable, the game may proceed (or resume) without using the other goal, if both head coaches agree. In these circumstances no further field goals shall be scored. Once stated, the coaches' decisions as to whether to proceed without goals shall be irrevocable.

4. If no goals are available, the game may be played if both head coaches agree. In these circumstances no field goals shall be scored. If one or both head coaches do not wish to play, then the game shall be abandoned. Once stated, the coaches' decisions as to whether to start/continue shall be irrevocable.

Approved Ruling 1-2-5

  1. Upon inspection of the field it is noted that goals with offset uprights are being used. The plane of the goal is one yard within the end zone and the post is one yard outside it. RULING: Legal. The goal post is not inbounds.


ARTICLE 6. Soft flexible four-sided pylons 4 inches by 4 inches with an overall height of 18 inches, which may include a two-inch space between the bottom of the pylon and the ground, are required. They shall be red or orange in colour. One manufacturer's logo or trademark is permitted on each pylon. Team/national logos, competition logos and the name/commercial logo of the title sponsor of the game are also allowed. Any such marking may not extend more than 3 inches on any side. They are placed at the inside corners of the eight intersections of the sidelines with the goal lines and end lines. The pylons marking the intersections of the end lines and hash marks extended shall be placed three feet off the end lines.

a. A displaced pylon is one that is no longer in its proper position. Unless it is obvious that at least some part of the pylon is touching the ground in the 4-inch by 4-inch square that is its proper position, the pylon is no longer a pylon for the purposes of the rules (e.g. Rule 8-2-1-a). A displaced pylon may be restored to its proper position at any time.

b. Touching a displaced pylon that is partially or completely out of bounds makes the ball or player out of bounds (Rule 4-2).

c. A displaced pylon that is completely inbounds is no longer a pylon and is to be considered as part of the playing surface.

d. A displaced goal line pylon that is partially in its proper position is still to be regarded as a goal line pylon for the purposes of the rules.

e. If a goal line pylon cannot be stood upright, it should be positioned so that it lies on the goal line extended out of bounds with its base covering the sideline.

f. If an end line pylon cannot be stood upright, it should be positioned so that it lies on the sideline extended out of bounds with its base covering the end line.

Line-to-Gain and Down Indicators

ARTICLE 7. The official line-to-gain (yardage chain) and down indicators shall be operated approximately six feet outside the sideline, except in stadiums where the total playing enclosure does not permit. These must be operated on the side of the field opposite the press box.

a. The yardage chain shall join two rods not less than five feet high, the rods' inside edges being exactly 10 yards apart when the chain is fully extended.

b. The down indicator shall be mounted on a rod not less than five feet high operating approximately six feet outside the sideline opposite the press box.

c. An unofficial auxiliary line-to-gain indicator and an unofficial down indicator six feet outside the other sideline are recommended.

d. Unofficial red or orange non-slip line-to-gain ground markers positioned off the sidelines on both sides of the field are recommended. Markers are rectangular, weighted material 10 inches by 32 inches. A triangle with an altitude of five inches is attached to the rectangle at the end toward the sideline.

e. All line-to-gain and down-indicator rods shall have flat ends.

f. Advertising is permitted on the down and line-to-gain indicators. One manufacturer's logo or trademark is permitted on each indicator. Team/national and competition logos are allowed.

Markers or Obstructions

ARTICLE 8. a. All markers and obstructions within the playing enclosure shall be placed or constructed in such a manner as to avoid any possible hazard to players. This includes anything dangerous to anyone at the limit lines.

b. After the officials' pregame inspection of the playing enclosure, the referee shall order removed any hazardous obstructions or markers located inside the limit lines.

c. The referee shall report to game management personnel any markers or obstructions constituting a hazard within the playing enclosure but outside the limit lines. Final determination of corrective action shall be the responsibility of game management personnel.

d. After the officials have completed their pregame inspection of the playing enclosure, it is the responsibility of game management personnel to ensure that the playing enclosure remains safe throughout the game.

e. Yardage line markers must be placed at least 12 feet outside the sidelines and should be collapsible and constructed in such a manner as to avoid any possible hazard to players. Markers which do not conform to this standard shall be removed. Advertising on yardage line markers is permitted.

Field Surface

ARTICLE 9. a. No material or device shall be used to improve or degrade the playing surface or other conditions and give one player or team an advantage (Exception: Rules 2-16-4-b and 2-16-4-c).

Live-ball foul. Five yards from the previous spot [S27: APS].

b. The referee may require any improvement in the field necessary for proper and safe game administration.

SECTION 3. The Ball


ARTICLE 1. The ball shall meet the following specifications:

a. New or nearly new. (A nearly new ball is a ball that has not been altered and retains the properties and qualities of a new ball.)

b. Cover consisting of four panels of pebble-grained leather without corrugations other than seams.

c. One set of eight equally spaced lacings.

d. Natural tan colour.

e. Two 1-inch white stripes that are 3 to 3 inches from the end of the ball and located only on the two panels adjacent to the laces.

f. Conforms to maximum and minimum dimensions and shape indicated in the accompanying diagram. (Exception: The competition authority may authorise the use of a smaller ball for competitions involving female or junior players.)

g. Inflated to the pressure of 12 to 13 pounds per square inch (psi).

h. Weight of 14 to 15 ounces.

i. The ball may not be altered. This includes the use of any ball-drying or ball-warming substance. Mechanical ball-drying and ball-warming devices are not permitted near the sidelines or in the team area.

Administration and Enforcement

ARTICLE 2. a. The game officials shall test and be sole judge of not fewer than three and not more than six balls offered for play before and during the game. The game officials may approve additional balls if warranted by conditions.

b. Game management shall provide a pressure pump and measuring device.

c. Unless provided by the competition authority, the home team shall provide a minimum of three legal balls and should notify the opponent of the ball to be used. The opponent may provide one or more legal balls in addition to those supplied by the home team if they wish to do so.

d. During the entire game, both teams shall use only balls that meet the required specifications and have been measured and tested according to rule.

e. All balls to be used must be presented to the referee for testing at least 60 minutes before the start of the game. Once the teams have presented the game balls to the referee, they remain under the general supervision of the officials throughout the game.

1. The referee's first priority is to have three legal balls. If the competition authority or the home team does not provide at least three legal balls, the referee shall inform the away team and offer them the opportunity to provide legal balls. If fewer than three legal balls are provided, the game will proceed with only the legal ball(s) being used. If no legal balls are provided, the referee shall select up to three balls which in his judgement are the best available.

2. When more than three legal balls are presented, the referee shall select the balls in best condition from those presented by both teams.

f. When the ball becomes dead outside the nine-yard marks/top of numbers, is unfit for play, is subject to measurement in a side zone or is inaccessible, a replacement ball shall be obtained from a ball person. (A.R. 1-3-2:I)

g. The referee or umpire shall determine the legality of each ball before it is put in play.

h. The following procedures shall be used when measuring a ball:

1. All measurements shall be made after the ball is legally inflated.

2. The long circumference shall be measured around the ends of the ball but not over the laces.

3. The long diameter shall be measured with callipers from end to end but not in the nose indentation.

4. The short circumference shall be measured around the ball, over the valve, over the lace, but not over the cross lace.

Approved Ruling 1-3-2

  1. On fourth down, kicker A1 enters the field with an approved game ball and asks the referee to substitute it for the ball used during the previous down. RULING: Substitution of the ball is not permitted. [Cited by 1-3-2-f]

Marking Balls

ARTICLE 3. Marking a ball indicating a preference for any player or any situation is prohibited.

Live-ball foul. Fifteen yards from the previous spot [S27: UC-UNS].

SECTION 4. Players and Playing Equipment

Recommended Numbering

ARTICLE 1. It is strongly recommended that offensive players be numbered according to the following diagram that shows one of many offensive formations:

Players' Numbering

ARTICLE 2. a. All players shall be numbered 1 through 99. Any number preceded by zero ("0") is illegal.

b. No two players of the same team shall participate in the same down wearing identical numbers.

c. Markings in the vicinity of the numbers are not permitted.

[a-c] Live-ball foul. Five yards from the previous spot [S23: IPN].

d. When a player enters the game after changing his jersey number, he must report to the referee, who then informs the opposing head coach and announces the change. A player who enters the game after changing his number and does not report commits a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. (A.R. 1-4-2:I)

[d] Live-ball foul. 15 yards from the previous spot [S27: UC-UNS]. Flagrant offenders shall be disqualified [S47: DSQ].

Approved Ruling 1-4-2

  1. The Team A player who started the game wearing jersey number 77 enters the game wearing number 88. RULING: The player must report to the referee who, without stopping the game or play clock, uses his microphone to announce the change and the relevant flank official informs the opposing head coach. If A88 fails to report it is a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. [Cited by 1-4-2-d]

Mandatory equipment

ARTICLE 3. All players must wear the following mandatory equipment:

a. Helmet.

b. Hip pads.

c. Jersey.

d. Knee pads.

e. Mouthpiece.

f. Pants.

g. Shoulder pads.

h. Socks.

i. Thigh guards.

Specifications: Mandatory Equipment

ARTICLE 4. a. Helmets.

1. The helmet must be fitted with a facemask and a secured four- or six-point chin strap, all points of which must be secured whenever the ball is in play.

2. Helmets for all players of a team must be of the same colour and design.

3. Helmets must carry a warning label regarding the risk of injury and a manufacturer's or reconditioner's certification indicating satisfaction of National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) test standards. Reconditioned helmets shall show recertification to indicate satisfaction with the NOCSAE test standard.

b. Hip pads. Hip pads must include a tailbone protector.

c. Jersey. See Rule 1-4-5.

d. Knee pads. Knee pads must be covered by pants. Furthermore, the pants and knee pads must cover the knees. No pads or protective equipment may be worn outside the pants. (See Appendix E.)

e. Mouthpiece. The mouthpiece must be an intra-oral device of any readily visible colour. It must not be white or transparent. It must be made with FDA-approved base materials (FDCS) and cover all upper teeth. It is recommended that the mouthpiece be properly fitted.

f. Pants. Players of a team must wear pants of the same colour and design.

g. Shoulder pads. There are no specifications for shoulder pads. (See Appendix E.)

h. Socks. Players of a team must wear socks or leg coverings that are identical in colour and design. (Exception: Unaltered knee braces, tape or a bandage to protect or prevent an injury, and barefoot kickers)

i. Thigh guards. There are no specifications for thigh guards. (See Appendix E.)

Approved Ruling 1-4-4

  1. A player or players of a team wear(s) tights (with stirrups) that cover their legs. RULING: Legal. All other squad members of this team also must wear tights or knee-length socks of the same colour. All squad members of a team must wear socks or leg coverings that are identical in colour and design. All squad members of a team may wear short socks of the same colour and design.

Jersey Design, Colour and Numerals

ARTICLE 5. a. Design

1. The jersey must have sleeves that completely cover the shoulder pads. It must not be altered or designed to tear. The jersey must be full-length and tucked into the pants or made even with the waist line. It must cover all pads worn at or above the waist. Vests and/or a second jersey worn concurrently during the game are prohibited.

2. Other than the player's numbers, the jersey may only contain:

3. Any item in paragraph 2 must not exceed 16 square inches in area (i.e., rectangle, square, parallelogram), including any additional material (e.g. patch).

4. A border around the collar and cuffs not more than 1 inch wide is permissible, as is a maximum 4-inch stripe along the side seam (insert from the underarm to pants top).

5. Jerseys may not be taped or tied in any manner.

b. Colour.

1. Players of opposing teams shall wear jerseys of contrasting colours. Players on the same team shall wear jerseys of the same colour and design.

2. The visiting team shall wear white jerseys; however, the home team may wear white jerseys if the teams have agreed in writing before the start of the competition.

3. If the home team wears coloured jerseys, the visiting team may also wear coloured jerseys, if and only if the following conditions have been satisfied:

(a) The home team has agreed in writing prior to the game; and

(b) The competition authority certifies that the jersey of the visiting team is of a contrasting colour.

4. If on the kickoff at the start of each half the visiting team wears a coloured jersey in violation of the conditions specified in Rule 1-4-5-b-3 (above), it is a team foul for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Administer as a dead-ball foul. 15 yards at the succeeding spot following the kickoff. If the kickoff is returned for a touchdown, the penalty is assessed either on the try or on the succeeding kickoff, at the option of the home team. [S27: UC-UNS] (A.R. 1-4-7:III)

5. If a coloured jersey contains white, it may appear only as any of the items listed in paragraph a-2 above.

c. Numerals.

1. The jersey must have clearly visible, permanent Arabic numerals measuring at least 8 and 10 inches in height front and back, respectively. The number must be of a colour that itself is clearly in distinct contrast with the colour of the jersey, irrespective of any border around the number.

2. Teams wearing jerseys/numerals that do not conform to this rule will be asked to change into legal jerseys before the game and before the start of each quarter until the jerseys are changed.

Officials shall charge a team timeout (or a delay penalty if all timeouts have been used) at the start of each quarter the illegal jerseys are worn. (A.R. 1-4-5:I) [S23: IJY]

3. All players of a team shall have the same colour and style numbers front and back. The individual bars must be approximately 1 inches wide. Numbers on any part of the uniform shall correspond with the mandatory front and back jersey numbers.

Approved Ruling 1-4-5

  1. The home team is wearing red jerseys with orange numerals. In the judgment of the officials, the numerals and the body of the jersey do not contrast enough to make the numbers readily visible. The referee asks the home team head coach to change to a legal jersey. The head coach tells the referee that his team will not change into different jerseys. The referee informs the head coach that his team will be charged a timeout at the beginning of each quarter that the illegal jerseys are worn. RULING: After the ball is declared ready for play for the opening kickoff, the referee charges the home team with a timeout for illegal equipment. For each quarter that they continue to wear the jerseys, the team is charged with a timeout after the ball is declared ready for play and before the ball is put in play for the first play of that quarter. [Cited by 1-4-5 Penalty]

Optional equipment

ARTICLE 6. The following items are legal:

a. Towels and hand warmers.

1. Solid colour towels no smaller than 4 inches by 12 inches and no larger than 6 inches by 12 inches with no words, symbols, letters, or numbers. Towels may bear the team logo. They may also contain a single manufacturer's or distributor's normal label or trademark not to exceed 2- square inches in area. Towels that are not a solid colour are not permitted.

2. Hand warmers worn during inclement weather.

b. Gloves.

1. A glove is a fitted covering for a hand having separate sections for each finger and thumb, without any additional material that connects any of the fingers and/or thumb, and that completely covers each finger and thumb. There is no restriction on the colour of gloves.

2. Gloves should have a securely attached label or stamp ("NF/NCAA Specifications") indicating voluntary compliance with appropriate test specifications on file with either the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) or the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), unless made of unaltered plain cloth.

c. Eye shields. Eye shields must be clear, not tinted, and made from moulded or rigid material. Eyeglasses and goggles also must be clear and not tinted. No medical exceptions are allowed.

d. Insignia.

1. Persons or events may be memorialised by an insignia with an area not greater than 2.25 square inches on the uniform or helmet.

2. Team/national decals and advertising are allowed on helmets.

e. Eye shade. Any shading under a player's eyes must be solid black with no words, numbers, logos or other symbols.

f. Game information. Any player may have written game information on the wrist or arm.

Illegal equipment

ARTICLE 7. Illegal equipment includes the following (see Appendix E for additional details):

a. Equipment worn by a player that could endanger other players.

b. Tape or any bandage other than that used to protect an injury, subject to the approval of the umpire.

c. Hard, abrasive or unyielding equipment that is not completely covered and padded, subject to the approval of the umpire.

d. Cleats that extend more than inch from the base of the shoe (See Appendix E for full specifications).

e. Any equipment that could confuse or deceive an opponent.

f. Any equipment that could provide an unfair advantage to any player.

g. Adhesive material, paint, grease or any other slippery substance applied to equipment or on a player's person, clothing or attachment (Exception: Eye shade (Rule 1-4-6-e)).

h. Uniform attachments other than towels (Rule 1-4-6-a).

i. Rib pads, shoulder pad attachments and back protectors that are not totally covered. (A.R. 1-4-7:II)

j. Visible bandannas worn on the field outside the team area. (A.R. 1-4-7:I)

k. Jerseys that do not conform with Rule 1-4-5.

l. Non-standard overbuilt facemask. (A.R. 1-4-7:IV) (See Appendix E for examples.)

m. Equipment that has been modified in a way that reduces the protection of the player wearing it or any other participant.

Approved Ruling 1-4-7

  1. A33 is wearing a bandanna under his helmet, with part of the bandanna protruding from underneath the back of the helmet. RULING: Illegal equipment. Bandannas may be worn under the helmet as long as no part of the bandanna is visible when the helmet is in place. The visible bandanna is considered a uniform attachment ( 1-4-7-h). A33 must leave the game for at least one down and may not return until the bandanna is removed or completely hidden under the helmet. Team A may request a team timeout, if one is available, to prevent A33 from missing a down, but the bandanna must be hidden or removed. [Cited by 1-4-7-j]
  2. At the end of a down, B55's shoulder pad has become exposed and is not covered by the jersey. RULING: Illegal equipment. Because the pad became exposed through play, B55 is not required to leave the game. The pad must be covered by the jersey before the ball is next put into play. [Cited by 1-4-7-i, 1-4-8-c]
  3. Both teams come onto the field before the game wearing coloured jerseys. The visiting team has not obtained written agreement from the home team to wear non-white jerseys, or if such agreement has been obtained the competition authority has not certified that the jerseys are of contrasting colours. RULING: Foul by the visiting team for violation of the jersey-colour rule. A 15-yard penalty will be assessed at the succeeding spot after the ball is dead following the opening kickoff of each half. If the opening kickoff of a half is returned for a touchdown, the 15-yard penalty is assessed either on the try or the kickoff ( 1-4-5-b). [Cited by 1-4-5 Penalty]
  4. As Team A is about to break its huddle, the referee notices that A35 is wearing an overbuilt facemask. RULING: A35 must leave the game for one down to get a legal facemask. Team A may use an available charged timeout in order that A35 not miss a down, but he may not play with the illegal facemask. [Cited by 1-4-7-l]
  5. Each member of the offensive line is wearing a towel, all of which are white, 4" by 12", with a small team logo. The snapper's towel also has a large skull-and-cross-bones symbol. RULING: It is legal for any player to wear a towel. The towels are all legal except the snapper's. He must leave the game for at least one down and may not return until the towel is removed or replaced with one that is legal. Team A may keep him in the game by using a charged timeout, but he may not wear the illegal towel. (Rules 1-4-6-a and 1-4-8)

Mandatory and Illegal Equipment Enforcement

ARTICLE 8. a. No player wearing illegal equipment or failing to wear mandatory equipment shall be permitted to play. (Exception: Rule 1-4-5-c).

b. If an official discovers illegal equipment, or if a player is not wearing mandatory equipment, the player must leave the game for at least one down and is not allowed to return until the equipment is made legal. The player may be allowed to return without missing a down if the team takes a charged team timeout, but in any event he may not play with illegal equipment or without mandatory equipment.

c. If equipment becomes illegal through play, the player is not required to leave the game for one down, but he may not participate until the equipment is made legal. (A.R. 1-4-7:II)

Approved Ruling 1-4-8

  1. After the ball is ready for play, an official identifies a player(s) who is obviously not wearing a mouthpiece. RULING: The player(s) must leave the game for at least one down and may not return until properly equipped with a mouthpiece. The player(s) may remain in the game by spending an available team timeout, but they may not play until properly equipped.
  2. Late in the first half, Team B has used its three timeouts. At the end of a play the line judge notices that B44, a player who participated in the previous play, is equipped with an eye shield that is either tinted or not clear. RULING: Equipment violation. B44 must leave the game for at least one down and may not return if he is wearing an illegal eye shield.
  3. When the ball is dead after a scrimmage down, the umpire notices that linebacker B55 has an exposed back pad at waist level, which apparently became exposed through play during the previous down. RULING: B55 is not required to leave the game, but he must cover the exposed pad with his jersey before the next down.
  4. An official discovers a player wearing illegal equipment or not wearing mandatory equipment. RULING: The official notifies the player that he must leave the game. The official is not to stop either the game clock or the play clock. If possible, the referee will use his microphone to make a brief announcement identifying the player and his team and the reason why he must leave the field. This announcement should be made from the referee's position to officiate the next play, and must not delay the start of the next play.

Coaches' Certification

ARTICLE 9. The head coach or his designated representative shall certify in writing to the umpire before the game that all players:

a. Have been informed what equipment is mandatory by rule and what constitutes illegal equipment.

b. Have been provided with the equipment mandated by rule.

c. Have been instructed to wear and how to wear mandatory equipment during the game.

d. Have been instructed to notify the coaching staff when equipment becomes illegal through play during the game.

Prohibited Signal Devices

ARTICLE 10. Players may not be equipped with any electronic, mechanical or other signal devices for the purpose of communicating with any source (Exceptions:

1. A medically prescribed hearing aid of the sound-amplifier type for hearing-impaired players.

2. A device for transmission or reception of data specifically and only for the purposes of health and safety.)

Administer as a dead-ball foul, 15 yards at the succeeding spot. Player is disqualified. [S7, S27, S47: UC-UNS/DSQ].

Prohibited Field Equipment

ARTICLE 11. Jurisdiction regarding the presence and location of communication equipment (cameras, sound devices, etc.) within the playing enclosure resides with game management personnel.

a. Motion pictures, any type of film, facsimile machines, videotapes, photographs, writing-transmission machines and computers may be used by coaches or for coaching purposes any time during the game or between periods.

1. Game management is responsible for assuring identical television capability and identical video and Internet connectivity in the team area and in the coaches' booths of both teams.

2. Teams are responsible for their own computers or other coaching equipment.

3. A monitor is permitted on the sideline only to assist team or game management medical personnel in the diagnosis and treatment of participants.

b. Only voice communication between the press box and team area is permitted. Where press-box space is not adequate, only voice communication may originate from any area in the stands between the 25-yard lines extended to the top of the stadium. No other communication for coaching purposes is permitted anywhere else, including the use of any communication equipment (e.g. mobile phones or radios) for voice, text, image or any other type of message from inside or outside the playing enclosure by or to any person subject to the rules.

c. Media communication equipment, including cameras, sound devices, computers and microphones, is prohibited on or above the field, or in or above the team area (Rule 2-31-1).


1. Camera equipment attached to a goal support behind the uprights and crossbar.

2. Camera(s) embedded in any pylon.

3. A camera, with no audio component, may be attached to the cap of any official with prior approval of the official and the participating teams.

NOTE: Cameras worn by officials solely for the purposes of officiating development may be worn by any official without requiring the permission of the participating teams.

4. A camera, with no audio component, may be attached to cables that extend over the team area and field of play, including the end zones.

5. A team videographer may be in the team area as one of that team's 25 credentialed individuals. This video may not be used during any live broadcast or digital stream of the game.

d. Microphones attached to coaches during the game for media transmission are prohibited.

e. No one in the team area or coaching box may use any artificial sound amplification to communicate with players on the field.

f. Any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach or other team personnel is prohibited.

g. No drones (unmanned aerial vehicle) may be used inside the playing enclosure. If a drone violates this space, the referee shall order the game stopped until such time as the drone is removed from the space.

Coaches' Phones

ARTICLE 12. Coaches' phones and headsets are not subject to playing rules penalties before or during the game.

a. A competition may develop a policy to provide guidance in handling situations dealing with failure of coaches' headsets.

Referee microphone

ARTICLE 13. A microphone is strongly recommended for the referee to be used for all game announcements. It is strongly recommended that it be a lapel-type microphone. The microphone must be controlled by the referee. It may not be open at other times. Officials' radio communication systems are not subject to the rules before or during the game. (Exception: A system that interferes with a media broadcast is not permitted.)

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Editor: Jim Briggs, BAFA/BAFRA Rules Committee