UpdatedThursday September 6, 2018 byAdministrator ETFL.



The Eastern Touch Football League is built on a strong foundation of fairness and integrity, and therefore has established a set of Rules for all Members to access and review.  These Rules are based primarily on the Canadian Touch Football Rule-Book, very similar to CFL Rules, with a few distinct differences and adaptations to make our game unique and challenging.  We hope you enjoy playing in the ETFL and thank you for taking the time to review our Rules!

Yours in Fun, Fair, Football...

ETFL Executive Team


  • This is Edition 1.0 of the Eastern Touch Football League Rules, written and edited by the ETFL Executive Team, and is property of the Eastern Touch Football League.
  • Any word or phrase presented in italics will be defined for the purpose of this Rule Book in SECTION 7 – Football Definitions A-Z.
  • Any ruling not covered in this Rule Book will be interpreted and implemented at the discretion of the Head Referee.

**Formatting issues may have occurred in the copying of this Rule-Book to the webpage.  Some parts of this Rule-Book may be under review and/or incomplete. To view the complete and up to date version, please contact the Eastern Touch Football League Executive.  




  1. SECTION 1 – Setup & Safety
    1. 1  Setting up the Field of Play
    2. 2  Personnel
    3. 3  Equipment & Apparel
    4. 4  Play Conditions
    5. 5  Sidelines
    6. 6  Game Cancellations
    7. 7  Playoffs
  1. SECTION 2 – Before, During & After the Game
    1. 1  Starting on Time
    2. 2  Coin Toss
    3. 3  Quarters, Half-time & Breaks
    4. 4  Game Timing
    5. 5  Time-Outs
    6. 6  Safe Play
    7. 7  Injuries
    8. 8  Clean-Up
  1. SECTION 3 – Gameplay Rules
    1. 1  Team Setup
    2. 2  Game-Play Overview
    3. 3  Kick-Offs
    4. 4  Offensive Play
    5. 5  Defensive Play
    6. 6  Punting
    7. 7  Turnovers
    8. 8  Huddle
    9. 9  Player Substitutions
    10. 10  Overtime
    11. 11  Field Boundaries
    12. 12  Determining a Catch
  1. SECTION 4 – Scoring
    1. 1  Scoring Overview
    2. 2  Touchdown
    3. 3  Field Goal
    4. 4  Converts
    5. 5  Rouge
    6. 6  Safety
  1. SECTION 5 – Player Positions & Rules
    1. 1  Player
    2. 2  Quarter-Back
    3. 3  Half-Back
    4. 4  Center
    5. 5  Kicker
    6. 6  Rusher
    7. 7  Holder
    8. 8  Receiver
    9. 9  Defender
    1. 1  Outline
  1. SECTION 7 – Football Definitions A to Z
    1. 1  Purpose & Definitions




1.1.1     Each game in the Eastern Touch Football League should be played on a regulation size field (110 x 65 yards), with 10-20 yard End-Zones and football uprights.

1.1.2     Before playing, the field should be inspected for holes, debris and other objects or hazards which could endanger the players.  Hazards shall be clearly marked with highly visible paint or a pylon.

1.1.3     If there are no clear field markings, pylons should be placed to mark each sideline, 45-yard line, 20-yard line, goal line and back of end zone.

1.1.4     Padding shall be placed on uprights, poles, or any object(s) on the field of play, or within such proximity to the field of play as to cause a hazard to the players before the game begins.

1.1.5     Two (2) markers are required to mark the line of scrimmage and the 20-yard first down marker.

1.2       PERSONNEL

1.2.1     Three (3) Referees are preferred to officiate a game; a Head Referee, a Back Judge, and a Linesman.

1.2.2     The Referee Team is responsible for adherence to the rules of the game, field setup, time-keeping, score, statistics as well as the management of players on the field and on the sideline during the game.  The Head Referee shall have ultimate authority over matters pertaining to the game, and the safety of the players. 

1.2.3     Each Team must have a representative present.  If a Team Rep is not present, another player from that Team can be assigned.

1.2.4     Team Representatives shall assist to reinforce the League Rules, Policies and sideline conduct of their team while at the field.  

1.2.5     Trainers, coaches and family members are permitted on the sideline, but may not enter the field of play without permission for the Head Referee.

1.2.6     Only ETFL appointed photographers and videographers may enter the field of play provided they have permission from the Referee and maintain such a distance from the players as not to interfere with any play.

1.2.7     No person other than Referees, ETFL Photographers/Videographers, or players may be on the field during play.


1.3.1     A football used for game play must be made of leather or composite/synthetic leather material having equal dimensions to a regulation size men’s CFL or NFL football, and inflated 12 – 13.5 psig.

1.3.2     No sports equipment (i.e. helmets, padding etc.), other than running shoes or cleats, shall be worn on field while participating in a game.

1.3.3     Shoes must either be running shoes or football cleats with plastic studs or plastic molded cleats.  Shoes with metal studs are not permitted for use on the field.

1.3.4     Jewelry is not permitted to be worn on the field and must be removed before participating in a game.  If jewelry cannot be removed, it must be well padded or covered as to minimize the potential of injury.          

1.3.5     Players wearing hooded clothing must have the hoods firmly tucked in under their shirt or sweater while on the field.

1.3.6     Mouth guards, tensor bandages/braces, and ridged medical braces may be permitted for use subject to inspection by a League Official for any potential danger to other players on the field.  

1.3.7     Canes, walking devices, or other personal assistive devices which cannot be safely bodily worn are not permitted on the field while a game is being played.

1.3.8     Players must wear the Team Shirt provided by the League.  A shirt of similar colour can be worn but must be approved by a League Official or a Team Rep from the opposing team prior to starting the game.

1.3.9     Personal devices such as phones, tablets, camera or other recording devices are not permitted on the field of play except if possessed by a Referee or authorized Photographer/Videographer.

1.3.10   Umbrellas are not permitted on the field of play at any time.


1.4.1     For the safety of all people and players on or at the field, the Head Referee may call a halt to the game at anytime if he or she decides that the play conditions are unsafe for play, and for any reason.

1.4.2     Any obvious hazards on or around the field of play must be recognized and dealt with appropriately before play continues.

1.5       SIDELINES

1.5.1     All people and players, including their equipment and/or personal property (i.e. bags, chairs, coolers, tents), must maintain a minimum 2-yard safe distance away from the field of play and its boundaries wherever possible.

1.5.2     Tables, ridged chairs, garbage cans, vehicles, cooking equipment and other large items should be stored a minimum 10-yard safe distance away from the field of play.


1.6.1     Make-up Games may be scheduled in the event a game or set of games is cancelled for any reason.

1.6.2     The ETFL does not cancel games due to rain, snow or other precipitation, except in extreme circumstances where the Head Referee recognizes a danger to the players and signals a halt to the game.

1.6.3     If one half of game-play has elapsed a make-up game will not be required, and the game will be scored as it is at the time of cancellation.  Special considerations will be taken for playoff games.

1.7       PLAYOFFS

1.7.1     All players participating in a Playoff Game in the ETFL must be in good standing with the league (See League Policies, 3.1 Being in Good Standing) and have either attended or participated in three (3) Regular season games of that conjoined session.

1.7.2     Playoff structure may differ depending on the number of players and teams participating. 

1.7.3     No team participating in a Playoff game may add or ‘pick up’ players who are not already on their roster, unless they are willing to forfeit the match.





  1. Each game is kept on a tight schedule and begins promptly on the designated start time.

2.1.2     A team which is not ready to play on time, or who does not have enough players to begin the game (minimum five (5) players, see also 3.1.3), will be given the following choices;

  1. Accept a default loss (forfeit).
  2. Surrender 6 points to the opposing team while they wait for players to arrive, and an additional 6 points for every 10-minute delay to the starting of the game.
  1.       COIN TOSS
  1. A coin toss will be used to decide choice of possession to begin the game.  This is done with at least one (1) Referee and a representative from each team.  If a coin in not available, the Referee may offer an alternative deciding method.
  1. The HOME team (or the team with the higher seed, in Playoffs) will be offered the advantage of calling the toss.
  1. The winner of the toss is given the following choices to begin the game;
  1. KICK – Kick-Off the ball to Opponent, giving them first possession.
  2. RECEIVE – Receive a Kick-Off from the Opponent to gain first possession.
  3. DIFFER – Differ your choice of possession until the start of the 2nd Half, giving the Opponent the choice for the first half.
  1. Choice of end is given to the team that does not choose possession.



2.3.1     The game consists of four (4) 20-minute quarters, with a half-time break at the end of the 2nd Quarter.

2.3.2     After the half-time break, the team with choice will have the option to choose who begins the 3rd quarter with possession of the ball.  See 2.2 COIN TOSS.

2.3.3     The duration of half-time may vary and is decided by the Head Referee based on the game conditions and/or daily game schedule.

2.3.4     On a hot day, an additional ‘water-break’ may be allowed at the discretion of the Head Referee.

2.4       GAME TIMING

2.4.1     A Referee will signal the start of a game and keep time throughout.  Time signals will be whistled by the referee in the following order;

  • Start of game (Timer starts from 20 mins).
  • Quarter-time; End of 1st Quarter (time stopped, change ends).
  • Begin 2nd Quarter (timer starts from 17 mins).
  • 2 minutes until 5 plays remaining in the half (time stops).
  • 5 plays remaining.
  • Halftime (10 minutes)
  • Start of 3rd Quarter (timer starts from 20 mins).
  • Quarter-time; End of 3rd Quarter (time stopped, change ends).
  • Begin 4th Quarter (timer starts from 17 mins).
  • 2 minutes to 5 plays remaining in the game (time stops).
  • 5 plays remaining.
  • End of game.


2.4.2     Other than detailed in the timing above, the Game Clock will not stop unless prompted by a Team Timeout, Injury Timeout, or Referee Timeout.

2.4.3     Kick-offs and Convert attempts do not count as a play after ‘5-Plays remaining’ has been signalled.  A down may be replayed if a penalty has been applied to the play.

2.4.4     Penalty will occur to any team or player who intentionally interferes with game timing.  This includes delays caused by player or sideline interference or being late.  See also 2.1 Starting On Time.

2.4.5     A game or half can be ended at any time if prompted by a team or team captain, provided that both teams consent.

2.5       TIME-OUTS

2.5.1     Teams are given three (3) time-outs to use throughout the game; one (1) in the first half, one (1) in the second have, and one (1) ‘floating’ time-out which will carry over to the 2nd half if not used in the 1st.

2.5.2     Injury Time-outs are used to stop the clock in the case of an injury where time must be taken to carefully assess an injured player and allow getting them safely off the field of play.  See also 2.6.4.

2.5.3     A Referee keeping time may call additional time stoppages to discuss a ruling, clarify a situation, or deal with various game interruptions etc, at his or her own discretion.

2.6       SAFE PLAY

2.6.1     No player may intentionally contact or use any part of a goal post or cross bar to his/her advantage while participating in a scrimmage play.  To do so will result in penalty and/or loss of down.  Accidental contact is permitted.

2.6.2     Diving, ducking, or leaping over a player to avoid a tag or extend a play is illegal.

2.6.3     Tackling, hip-checking, or targeting the head of another player is illegal.

2.7       INJURIES

2.7.1     In the event of an injury which requires a stoppage or pause in play, the injured player must remain on the ground or drop to one knee.  The Referee will then know to signal an Injury Time-out (2.5.2). 

2.7.2     The injured player must leave the field for a minimum of one play.

2.7.3     A participant who is bleeding for any reason must leave the field of play until appropriate medical treatment can be administered.  The participant may return to the field once bleeding has stopped, with permission from the Head Referee.

2.7.4     Clothing or other garments which have been saturated with blood must not be worn or left on the field.

2.8       CLEAN-UP

2.8.1     It is important that all Members clean up after themselves and encourage others to do the same.  The ETFL relies on City Permits to have access to our fields.  Mess and garbage left endangers our ability to keep out permits.

2.8.2     If you are unsure where to place your garbage please seek out a League Official.



3.1       TEAM SETUP

3.1.1     During Kick-offs, each team should have no more than 6 players on the field.

3.1.2     During regular play, the team on OFFENSE should consist of not more than 6 players (1 Quarterback, 1 Center, and 4 Receivers), while the team on DEFENSE should consist of not more than 7 players (1 Rusher, 6 Defenders), although the defensive team is not obligated to designate a rusher.  See also, Section 5 - PLAYER POSITIONS & DEFINTIONS.

3.1.3     A minimum of five (5) players must be present for a team to participate in a regular season game or play-off game without a default loss.


3.2.1     Possession of the ball means to be on OFFENSE, while the opposing team is on DEFENSE.

3.2.1     When on OFFENSE, a team has a set of 3 downs in which to advance the ball 20-yards (3 for 20).  Upon gaining 20- yards or more, that team is awarded a new set of downs.  Failure to gain 20-yards in 3 downs will result in a change of possession to the opponent at the spot of the ball after a completed pass, or the previous line of scrimmage.

            EXAMPLE 3.2.1(a)

Team A has possession of the ball while Team B defends. On 1st down, Team A completes a short pass for 7 yards.  The line of scrimmage is moved to the new spot, and it is now 2nd down & 13-yards.  On the 2nd down play, Team A completes a longer pass for 10 yards.  Again, the line is moved, and it is now 3rd down & 3-yards.  The next play yields an incomplete pass attempt by Team A, gaining them 0-yards.  Team A now must turn the ball over to Team B at the line of scrimmage as they failed to gain 20-yards in 3 downs.

3.2.2     The line of scrimmage is an invisible line on the field, parallel with the goal-line, where an offensive play begins.

3.2.3     The ETFL uses a ‘Steam-Boat’ style rush, which means there is a time count before any defenders can cross the line of scrimmage to attempt a tag on the Quarterback.  Upon the snap of the ball (see 3.4 OFFENSIVE PLAY) the Back- Judge Referee counts out three (3) ‘Steam-boats”, at the end of which a defender (or, rusher) may cross the line without penalty.  See also 3.5 DEFENSIVE PLAY.

3.3       KICK-OFFS

3.3.1     A Kick-Off occurs at the beginning of the game, to begin the 3rd quarter and following each scoring play.      

3.3.2     In a standard Kick-Off, the kicking team places the football at the 45-yard line, and kicks from a tee (on the ground) to the receiving team who then can advance the ball forward.  The ball can also be positioned on the ground by a holder.

3.3.3     After a safety, a Kick-Off occurs from the 35-yard line.  See also, 4.6 SAFETY.

3.3.4     When there are 5 plays remaining in a half, the kick-off after a score does not count as a scrimmage play.


3.4.1     To begin a new offensive series, the team with possession of the ball must first huddle before approaching the line of scrimmage.

3.4.1     A play begins when the football, which has been placed on the line of scrimmage, is passed backward (or, snapped) through the legs of the Center (see Section 5 - PLAYER POSITIONS & DEFINITIONS) to the Quarter-back (QB), or holder, in the case of a kicking play, and the ball is ‘live’.  The QB can now advance the ball forward across the line of scrimmage by way of throwing.  The QB also has the option to pass laterally to a Half-back (HB).  By no means can the QB or HB advance the ball forward across the line of scrimmage except by throwing.  See also 5.3 HALF-BACK.

3.4.2     Once a pass is completed (see also, caught, catch), the receiver may advance the ball, or attempt a lateral pass.  Once a player who is in possession of the ball is tagged the play is over, and the ball placed at the spot of the tag, establishing a new line of scrimmage.

3.4.3     The OFFENSE will use their remaining downs and attempt to repeat this process until a) 20 yards or more is gained, resulting in a new set of downs.  b) they score.  c) a turn-over occurs.  d) a penalty occurs.

3.4.4     The team on OFFENSE may score points by Touchdown, Field-Goal, Convert or Rouge.  See also, Section 4 - SCORING.

3.4.5     Only one (1) forward pass is allowed per play.  This pass must be thrown from behind the line of scrimmage or it will be an illegal forward pass.  There is no limit on how many lateral passes can be made.

  1. While in the ball is in play by way of throwing, kicking or advancing on foot, the ball and play are considered ‘live’.  The ball, and the play, will be considered ‘dead’ after one of the following occurs (see also, dead ball);


  1. The player carrying the ball is tagged by a defender.
  2. The player carrying the ball steps out of bounds.
  3. The ball travels out of bounds.
  4. The ball hits the ground after an attempted forward pass or lateral pass (except in 5.3.3). 
  5. An illegal forward pass is completed to a player on the same team.
  6. A whistle is blown by a Referee to end play.
  1. Receivers are not allowed to cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is snapped, but may line up in any desired configuration, as well as motion to any place on the field behind the line of scrimmage without penalty.
  1. After a play is whistled dead, and new markers are set, the Referee will indicate a 20-second timer, within which the offensive team must snap the ball to begin the next play.



3.5.1     The team who is not in possession of the football is on DEFENSE, with the goal being to prevent the opposing team from advancing the ball forward or scoring or causing a change in possession by turnover.

3.5.2     The defending team may have up to 7 players on the field at once, and in various configurations depending on defensive strategy.

3.5.3     A one-handed tag of the ball carrier is required to down the play and therefore stop forward progression of the football.  A touch to a players clothing also counts as a tag.

3.5.4     No defender shall cross the line of scrimmage until the ‘Steam-boat’ count is over unless A) the ball is passed either forward or laterally to another player.  B) the ball hits the ground before reaching the QB.

3.5.5     A turnover (change in possession) is when one of the following occurs;

  1. The offensive team fails to gain 20 yards in 3 downs (turnover on downs).
  2. An interception (live ball caught by a defender).
  3. An offensive penalty.
  4. A missed Field-Goal (see also 4.3 FIELD GOAL).
  5. A team punts the ball, giving up possession in the process.

3.6       PUNTING

3.6.1     A Punt is a ‘place-kick’ (also call a drop-kick) performed by a player whose team has elected to turn over possession of the football by way of punting.  The kicker may hold the ball out in front of their body, drop the ball and attempt to kick it out of the air before it hits the ground.  If the ball is dropped or fumbled by the player during this process the play shall be whistled ‘dead’ and the down will be over. 

3.6.2     Immediately after punting, the kicking team automatically loses possession of the ball to the opponent, unless the punt is blocked.

3.6.3     A blocked or deflected punt, after which the ball travels through the air is considered a ‘live’ play. 

3.6.4     A blocked or deflected punt, if deflected in the air by an opponent, may be recovered and advanced by either team in a legal manner.  If recovered by the punting team, they may attempt a forward pass (if a forward pass has not already been made) or attempt to punt the ball again.

3.6.5     A punt which has been deflected by a player on the punting team will be treated as not having been contacted at all.

3.6.6     Play will be whistled ‘dead’ if; a) a blocked punt hits the ground. b) the ball is recovered in the air by either team after an offside deflection. c) a live ball is still on the ground for more than 3 seconds after a punt.

3.6.7     The punting team must allow a receiving player a radial distance of 5 yards in which to pick up the ball and make a football move.  Failure to allow 5 yards will result in a 10-yard ‘NO YARDS’ penalty against the punting team.  See also Section 6 - PENALTIES.

3.7       TURNOVERS

3.7.1     A turnover is when the ball changes possession.  This can be forced by rule of the game, by penalty, or by the defending team.

3.7.2     A change in possession occurs immediately after; a) a punt, b) an interception, c) a turnover on downs, d) a safety, e) an offensive interference penalty, or f) a missed field goal.

3.8       HUDDLE

3.8.1     A huddle is an on-field assembly of players of the same team to determine offensive or defensive strategy for the next play.

3.8.2     After a time-out, change of end, or change in possession (except for Kick-offs), the offensive team must huddle before starting their next play. Otherwise, huddles are not mandatory.

3.8.3     After an offensive huddle is broken (see, breaking the huddle) neither team may substitute players from the sideline.

3.8.4     ‘Sleeper’ plays are not allowed (see, sleeper play).


3.9.1     A player substitution is when a player enters the game from the sideline, either to replace an exiting player of the same team or to fill a vacant position.

3.9.2     Offensive player substitution can occur only while the substituting team is in huddle or in time-out.

3.9.3     Defensive player substitutions can occur only while play is dead or in time-out, and not after an offensive huddle has been broken.

3.10     OVERTIME

3.10      Overtime in the ETFL will decided by converts.  A coin toss shall be performed to decide the right to choose first possession.  Each Team will have three (3) attempts to convert as many points as possible.  The team with the most points after 3 plays is the winner.  If the score is still tied after 3 plays, the next team to score will win in sudden death.


3.11.1   The field of play is determined by boundaries which are marked either with lines or pylons along the parallel side-lines and parallel end-lines.

3.11.2   The boundary line itself is considered out-of-bounds. 


3.12.1   In order for a catch to be completed a receiver must stop the rotation and maintain full control of the ball while keeping at least one foot in contact with the in-bound field of play.

3.12.2   The ball cannot be stripped by another player once it has been established that the receiver has met the criteria of 3.11.1.  The result would be a completed catch, and the ball spotted where the catch was made.

3.12.3   A ball can be caught out of bounds so long as the receiver can contact one foot to the in-bound play area before stepping out-of-bounds.

3.12.3   The Head Referee has final judgement in cases where a catch may be questionable.




4.1.1     Scoring is required to win a game in the Eastern Touch Football League.  Below is a quick reference for ways to score points, and how points will be awarded;     

  1. TOUCHDOWN (4.2) = 6 points.
  2. FIELD GOAL (4.3) = 3 points.
  3. CONVERTS (4.4);
    1. 5-yard Passing (1-XP) = 1 point.
    2. 10-yard Kicking (PAT) = 1 point.
    3. 10-yard Passing (2-XP) = 2 points.
  4. ROUGE (4.5) = 1 point.
  5. SAFETY (4.6) = 2 points.

4.2       TOUCHDOWN

4.2.1     A touchdown is scored when a player catches the football in the opposing end-zone or carries the ball across the opposing goal-line, into the end-zone.  The scoring team is awarded 6 points and a convert attempt, followed by a kick-off to change possession.

4.2.2     Any part of the football which enters the end-zone or ‘breaks the plane’ of the goal line counts as a touchdown.

4.2.3     The scoring team will then attempt an extra-point conversion.  See also 4.3 CONVERTS.

4.3       FIELD GOAL

4.3.1     A field goal is scored when the team in possession of the ball successfully completes a kick off the ground through the uprights.  The kicking team is then awarded 3 points.

4.3.2     Kicking Procedure; The ball must be snapped backward from the line of scrimmage to a holder who can then place the ball on the ground and hold it there.  The ball is kicked and one of the following will occur;

  1. The field goal is successful – Kicking team is awarded 3 points and will then kick off to the opposing team.
  1. The field goal is missed – no points awarded, receiving team can either advance the ball from the kick, or let the ball hit the ground, resulting in a dead play and turnover at the line of scrimmage.
  1. The field goal is blocked or deflected by any player – no points awarded, the ball is ‘live’ until it hits the ground.

4.4       CONVERTS

4.4.1     After scoring a touchdown, the scoring team can choose to attempt an extra point conversion from either the 5-yard line, or the 10-yard line.  Extra points will be awarded for successfully completing one of the following;

  1. 1 Point Passing Conversion (1-XP) – the scoring team completes a passing play in the end-zone from a 5-yard line of scrimmage.
  2. 1 Point Kick Conversion (PAT) – the scoring team attempts to complete a kick from the ground, through the uprights from a 10-yard line of scrimmage.  Refer to 4.2.2 for Kicking Procedure.
  3. 2 Point Passing Conversion (2-XP) – the scoring team completes a passing play in the end-zone from a 10-yard line of scrimmage.

4.4.2     No points are awarded for unsuccessful convert attempts.

4.4.3     A convert attempt, if caught or intercepted by the defending team, may be returned across the opponent’s goal-line, for which the returning team will be awarded the points equal to that of the initial convert attempt, provided that the ball is still live, and there is no penalty on the play.

4.5       ROUGE

4.5.1     A Rouge is a single point awarded to a team who possesses the ball and;

a. Successfully punts the ball through the opposing teams end-zone back line, or into the end-zone and out of bounds, or;

b. Punts the ball, and successfully tags an opposing player who is holding or carrying the ball in their own end-zone after the punt, or;

c. downs the ball within the opposing teams end-zone after punting.

4.5.2     A rouge will not be awarded when the kicked ball meets the uprights or goal post before touching a player, or if the ball is intercepted by a defender in the end-zone.

4.6       SAFETY

4.5.1     A Safety occurs when a player, who’s team is in possession of the ball, is tagged, or the ball is downed, in their own End-zone area by a defender.  The Defending team is then awarded 2 points, and has a choice from the following options;

  1. Receive a Punt from the opposing teams 35-yard line.
  2. Kick-Off to the Opposing team.
  3. Gain possession of the ball, starting at your own 35 yard-line.




5.1       PLAYER

5.1.1     A player is defined as a person or Member on the field participating in a sanctioned game while adhering to all Rules and Regulations outlined by the Eastern Touch Football League as defined in the League Rules and League Policies.

5.2       QUARTER-BACK (QB)

5.2.1     The QB is the player who receives the snap from the center, who can then attempt to advance the ball forward by passing, perform a hand-off or pass the ball laterally.

5.2.2     The QB, or any other player, cannot advance the ball forward past the line of scrimmage except by forward pass.

5.2.3     A forward pass which is caught behind the line of scrimmage will be whistled down as a dead play, and the ball will be spotted where the reception was made.

5.3       HALF-BACK (HB)

5.3.1     The HB is a player who lines up, either to begin a play or by motion, to a position behind the line of scrimmage where he can receive a lateral pass from the quarter back after the snap

5.3.2     Upon successfully receiving a lateral pass, the HB then becomes the QB.

5.3.3     In exception to 3.4.6.c, a lateral pass attempt from a QB to a HB, when the HB contacts the ball prior to the ball touching the ground, is still considered a ‘live play’.  The HB, who has now become the QB, can pick up the ball and still has the option to attempt a forward pass across the line of scrimmage.

5.4       CENTER

5.4.1     The center is the offensive player who snaps the ball back to the QB from the line of scrimmage where the play begins.

5.4.2     The center must be allowed an area of 1 yard in front and in either direction in which no stationary defending player may be standing at the time of the snap.  This allows the center to snap the ball and begin his route in safety.

5.5       KICKER

5.5.1     The kicker is defined as any player attempting to kick the football.

5.6       RUSHER

5.6.1     A rusher is a defending player who crosses the line of scrimmage during a play for the purpose of tagging or hurrying a QB on the offensive team.

5.6.2     The rusher, or any defender, must maintain a 1-yard radial distance from the placement of the football during the snap to allow right-of-way for the opposing center.

5.6.3     A rusher may not cross the line of scrimmage until the ‘steam-boat’ count is either complete or negated by the play.

5.6.4     Defensive teams are not required to assign a rusher.

5.7       HOLDER

5.7.1     The holder is the player designated to position the football on the ground for the purpose of a kicking play.

5.7.2     The holder can attempt a forward or lateral pass and is subject to the same rules regarding a QB in that case.

5.8       RECEIVER

5.8.1     A receiver is an offensive player on the field during a play who is not a QB, HB, or center, and is the intended target of a pass.

  1. A receiver who leaves and re-enters the field during a scrimmage play may continue in the play but loses eligibility as a targeted receiver.  If this receiver catches a forward pass, the pass will be ruled incomplete.


  1. After a completed catch, if a receiver falls or rolls to the ground, without having been tagged or touched by another player, and maintains control of the football, the receiver may either roll on the ground or run to advance the ball until they score or are tagged.

5.9       DEFENDER

5.9.1     A defender is a defensive player on the field during a play.



6.1       OUTLINE

6.1.1     Penalties are called by Referees in The Eastern Touch Football League in order to regulate player conduct in the game and enforce the game-play rules as stated in this document.

6.1.2     Penalties are indicated only by a Referee, using a ‘flag’ or other highly visible object, and can be enforced at any time during the game.

6.1.3     The Head Referee has final consideration and judgement on any and all indicated penalties, especially in cases where a correct call may not be known, or must be interpreted as closely as possible to this Rule Book.


6.2.1     Pass interference (PI) is when a player takes away an opponent’s positional advantage during a passing play.

6.2.2     Target pass interference can only occur when the ball is in the air and the player with positional advantage has a reasonable chance to make a play on the ball.  When these two conditions do not apply, the pass interreference will be determined to have occurred in a remote zone.

6.3       CONTACT

6.3.1     Body contact is permitted provided that the contact is initiated from a legitimate and simultaneous attempt to make a play on or toward the football and both players are allowed equal opportunity to do so at the arrival point of a pass.  Contact prior to the arrival of the ball which creates an advantage over an opponent is pass interference.

6.3.2     Incidental contact is determined by the Referee when contact is made that does not intentionally affect a players positional advantage


To be continued.......




7.1       PURPOSE

7.1.1     The purpose of this section is to define italicized words in the context of this Rule Book, as well as any other verbiage used by other regulation or regulatory document produced by the Eastern Touch Football League.

7.1.2     The following is a list of terms followed by their definitions;


Advance – the ball; to make a move with the football, either throwing or carrying, which moves its position down-field toward the opponent’s goal-line.

Away Team the Team scheduled in the away slot, or lower seed.  Does not get choice to call coin toss.

Back-Judge; a qualified Referee positioned in the back-field behind the QB.

Ball carrier; the player holding the ball during a live play.

Breaking the huddle; the act of players walking away from a huddle to prepare for the play.

Contact; the act of one player touching another player or opponent with any part of the body.

Dead - play; a state in which play is stopped, the ball is dead and cannot be legally advanced by any player.

Dead Ball Line; an imaginary moving line, perpendicular to the goal-line, indicating the on-field position or spot of the ball if at any point in became dead.

Default Loss; automatically losing a scheduled game.

Defender; player on the defensive team during a play.

Defense; the state in which a team does not have possession of the ball.

Down – of a set; a scrimmage play, starting with a snap, in which the offense can attempt to legally advance the ball.

Down - the ball; to make the play dead.

Down-field; in the direction of the opponent’s end-zone.

Ejection – player, or person; a call by a Referee initiating a player or person to be removed from the field of play and its sideline(s).

Eligible; to be legally allowed to (perform an action).

End; the area of the field (or end-zone) which a certain team will be defending.

End-zone: area located at either end of the field between the goal-line and back-line.

ETFL; Acronym for ‘Eastern Touch Football League’.

ETFL appointed; having been given authority or permission to act on behalf on the Eastern Touch Football League.

Field; the location where a football game takes place.

Field – of play; the legal in-bound area within which scrimmage plays take place.

Finals; the last games of the session Play-Offs which will decide the Championship Teams.

First Down - gaining; the first of a new set of downs awarded to a team for gaining the required yardage by advancing the ball legally.

Flag; a marker on the field thrown by a Referee indicating that a penalty has occurred.

Floating – time-out; a time-out which if not used in the first-half will carry over to the second-half of a game, to be used only once.  See also, Time-out.

Forward pass; a throwing of the football which travels in a direction either perpendicular to, or down-field past the line of scrimmage.

Forward progression; the farthest advancement of the football after a play is whistled dead.  See also, Spot.

Foul; see Penalty.

Goal Line; A marked line on the field indicating the beginning of an end-zone area.

Good Standing; see ETFL League Policies, Section 3, 3.1 Being in Good Standing.

Half – field; the yard line on the field marking 55-yards, or the equal halfway point between the two end-zones.

Halftime; a brief period of time between the 2nd and 3rd quarter in which the players rest and ball possession to start the 3rd quarter is decided.

Head Referee; a qualified Referee responsible for all final decisions regarding player safety and ruling during a game.

Higher Seed; in a playoff game or Final, the team which is ranked higher compared to their opponent.

Holder; the player who attempts to position and hold the ball on the ground before a kick.

Home Team; the team schedule in the home slot, or the higher seed.  Gets choice to call coin toss.

Illegal; not allowed, an action subject to rule or penalty.

Injured player; a player who has dropped to one knee, or remains lying down, who is perceived as having endured an injury which requires a stoppage in play to assess the injury and take appropriate action.

Lateral Pass; a pass which much travel in a direction away from the opponent’s end-zone, behind throwing players dead-ball line.

Line of scrimmage; an imaginary line on the field indicating the position of the football at the beginning of a play.

Linesman; a Referee positioned to follow play from the sideline.

Live - play; a state in which the play is live, and the football can be played or legally advanced by the ball carrier.

LOS; acronym for “line of scrimmage”.

Marker; a bean-bag or similar highly visible object which serves to mark the line of scrimmage and/or first down yardage yet to be gained.

Motion; a pre-snap action involving an offensive player who moves from one spot behind the line of scrimmage to another.

Offense; the players or team who has possession of the ball and is attempting to score.

Pattern; a series of routes run by a receiver in a designed play.

Participant; a player, referee, ETFL Official or other person on the field during play.

Penalty; a call by the Referee to penalize a player and/or team for an illegal play or action.

PI; acronym for pass interference.

Play – in game; scrimmage, a point in the game in which the ball is live.

Play-clock; a countdown of the remaining time left in a quarter, half, or game, the starting and stopping of which is controlled by a Referee.

Play-Off Game; Post-season play.  A tournament style game played after the regular season is over and team rankings have been decided, leading up to the Finals.

Psig; pounds per square inch, gauged; a unit for measuring air pressure.

Receiver; an offensive player down-field of the line of scrimmage; the targeted player of a forward, backward or lateral pass.

Regular season game; a game, scheduled during a session, which will count toward overall ranking come Play-Offs.

Regulation size – football; having dimensions equal to, or within tolerance of a specified regulation.

Remote (zone); an area away from the target zone.  See 6.2.2.

Required yardage; the total amount of yardage to be gained before an offense is awarded a new set of downs.

Route; the intended running lane or direction of a receiver.

Rusher; a defensive player who crosses the line of scrimmage to hurry or tag an opponent QB.

Sanctioned; being organized by, approved by, or having permission to operate under the rules and regulation of, The Eastern Touch Football League.

Score – action; an action or event which results in points being awarded to a team.

Score – of the game; the amount of point earned or accrued by each team during or at the end of a game.

Sleeper play; a play or action meant to deceive the other team and or referee to gain a strategic advantage (i.e. attempting to disguise a player near the sideline who is part of the play).

Snap; the action of the center to start the play and toss the ball back to the QB.

Spot; the position of the ball on the field after a play is whistled dead.

Steam-Boat; the unit which a Referee will use to count out the delay before a defender can become a rusher.

Tag; the act of physically tagging or touching the ball carrier in order to down the play.  Clothing is considered part of the body and will count as a tag if touched.

Target/targeted – of a pass; intended player or receiver whom the ball is thrown in the direction of.

Target (zone); the area to which the ball is travelling through the air and will land in based on perceived trajectory.

Time-out; a game action in which the play-clock is stopped either by the Referee or by the request of a team and/or player.

Water-break; an additional break in play to allow players to hydrate when the weather is hot.

Whistled; an audible indication from the Referee to begin or end a scrimmage play, or to indicate a game-time event.

Yard Line; a marker line (or scale), either on the field, marked by a pylon or imaginary, which indicates the positional yardage on the field of play relative to each goal-line, beginning from 55-yards (half) and descending by 1-yard increments in the direction of each end-zone.

Zone; a defined area in the field of play.