Rules for the offense

The following are rules regarding the offensive side of the ball.


Only five offensive players besides the quarterback may be eligible to catch a forward pass. If teams have seven a side, the center is automatically ineligible. If more than seven a side, the center and one lineman is ineligible, etc.

  • Ineligible players can receive a backwards pass or a "backwards moving" handoff.
  • Ineligible players can also receive a forward pass or a forward-moving handoff if behind the offensive line of scrimmage, but only after the defense crosses the neutral zone (i.e. after "four mississippi", a blitz, a muffed snap or a fumble). Linemen on the team with an extra player may never receive a forward pass or forward-moving handoff.
  • Ineligible players must line up on the offensive line of scrimmage adjacent to each other, no more than an arm's distance apart. The ball and the center's hands can be in the netural zone.
  • Ineligible players must raise their hand as they approach the line so the defense can identify them before the ball is snapped.

There are no rules regarding number of players in motion; number of players on the line vs offset, etc.

Note: Offenses cannot re-huddle. Once the huddle has been broken there can be no re-huddle.

Last updated: Dec.16.2017


Blocking is allowed.

Downfield blocking on any forward pass is not allowed before the ball is touched downfield by receiver (or defender). For a forward pass which does not cross the neutral zone (e.g. screen pass or shovel pass) downfield blocking is not allowed before the ball leaves the QB's hand.

Downfield blocking beyond the neutral zone immediately negates the four mississippi count, as does a muffed snap or a fumble, and the defense is free to immediately cross the neutral zone.

Offensive players can make contact with defenders in the neutral zone with hands, but cannot move past the neutral zone on a forward pass, before another player has touched the ball. Ineligibles cannot move past the neutral zone on a forward pass until the ball (or punt) has crossed over the neutral zone.

Last updated: Dec.16.2017


Any number of forward passes are allowed from behind the offensive line of scrimmage however a team with an extra player may only throw one forward pass per play. A player cannot pass to himself, unless the ball is first touched by another player.

A player must have his torso behind the line the scrimmage to throw a legal forward pass.

Once past the offensive line of scrimmage, only backward passes are allowed.

Backward passes are allowed from any player to any player at any time including to otherwise ineligible linemen.

An incomplete forward pass behind the offensive line of scrimmage is considered a dead ball, an incomplete backwards pass, including a muffed snap, is a live ball.

A drop-kick from scrimmage is equivalent to a forward pass. (No one has actually ever attempted this. Standard forward pass rules apply..)

Last updated: Jan.06.2018

Grounding the ball

A quarterback cannot intentionally throw the ball to the ground to avoid a sack unless the thrown ball lands clearly over the line of scrimmage, or, in the event the ball does not cross the line of scrimmage, a legal receiver is in the area. There are no rules regarding being 'outside the tackles'.

Last updated: Sep.10.2021


Rushing plays are legal and any player may run with the ball. The defense is free to cross the neutral zone the moment an offensive player is blocking with feet in or past the neutral zone, and/or the moment the ball leaves the quarterback's hand.

Note: There is no 'forward progress' given on any advance. The ball carrier is down at the spot of the ball at the moment of the tag, regardless of the route they take.

Last updated: Dec.16.2017

The snap

The ball must be snapped from the ground (not from a standing position). The center must touch the ball to ground before snapping, even in bad weather.

If the quarterback is directly under center (for a direct snap), defenders cannot reach through the netural zone for a tag, even on a blitz.

Offensive players, if offsides on a play—moving into or beyond the neutral zone before the snap—can and must retreat back to their line of scrimmage and re-set while the play continues without penalty. If an offsides offensive player does not re-set, an offsides penalty will be called (8 paces; replay the down).

Last updated: Feb.11.2018

Play clock

Offenses are allowed 40 seconds, from the time the ball is spotted back at the LOS, to restart play. Each quarterback must use a countdown timer watch to keep track of the play clock. The defense is responsible for spotting the ball and alerting the QB to start the play clock.

A 4-pace delay of game penalty will be enforced if the play clock expires before the ball is put back in play.

Last updated: May.27.2018