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Youth A7FL Rules
Please take the time to familiarize yourself with our rule book before you step on the field. Our rules are designed to make our game safer. league officials and refs are required to have rule book on hand at every game!
Table of Contents (*indicates rule update) (*IndIcates Youth Rule)
- Throw-Offs *
- Blocking Rules *
- Line of Scrimmage
- EQUIPMENT / UNIFORM
- Player and Team Conduct
- Pass Rushing Rules
- Keeping Score
- *Tackling & Ball Carrying Rules *
- *Time & Challenges
- QB Cadence and Position
- Wide Receivers and Defensive Backs
- Field Size
Throw-Offs (back to top)
To start each half and after every touchdown, the defending team will throw the ball off from their own 35 yard line. The team throwing will be allowed 3 players and the receiving team 1 player. If the ball crosses the goal line it will be an automatic touchback and the ball will be spotted at the 20 yard line. The receiver may opt for a fair catch and once he signals the play will be blown dead. If the receiver drops the fair catch a 10 yard penalty will be assessed. Throw-Offs can only be thrown out of bounds on 4th down (ball will be spotted where it crosses the out of bounds line). If using a Throw-Off after a score or before a half, the ball must be thrown in bounds. The receiver must always be the first to touch the ball. If the receiver wishes to not return, the official will whistle the play dead and the ball spotted where it lies. A Throw-Off is an untimed down.
A muffed catch can be recovered but not advanced by the throwing team and only if a fair catch has not been signaled for.
If the ball is thrown out of bounds to start a half or after a score, the receiving team has the option of taking that spot or pushing the throwing team back 10 yards and making them throw again. If the team throwing off throws the ball out of bounds a second time, the receiving team will automatically be awarded a spot at the 50 yard line.
Blocking Rules (back to top)
- No holding at all, not even inside the jersey. Penalty will be 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.
- Clipping (blocking behind the back) will result in a 15 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage. Blocking in the back is only permitted inside the tackle box behind the line of scrimmage while a defender is being pass blocked.
- No chop blocking ever (blocking below the waist) 15 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage.
- No intentional hands to the face
- Do not blind side a defender that has no chance of making the play. If you blind side someone that is 10 yards away from the play you will receive a 15 yard penalty. It is also a judgment call by the referee to eject a player for this penalty depending on it severity. Crack back blocks are also illegal. A player is not permitted to “peel back” and block towards the goal he is defending. Motion crack backs from receivers are not permitted.
Line of Scrimmage (back to top)
- The line of scrimmage is set by the referee before the start of each play with a flat cone. The two offensive linemen must be lined up on the cone and the defense must be on the other side of the cone. If a defensive player is lined up off-sides the ref will warn the player to get back, if the player does not get back on-sides before the snap, the player’s team will penalized 5 yards. The 2 offensive linemen must be on the line of scrimmage. There is no minimum requirement for the number of defensive linemen to be on or off the line of scrimmage.
Offsides (back to top)
- 14 minimum roster, 30 max on roster
- If any offensive player other then the quarterback moves early the play will be blown dead and the ref will call for a “reset”. The play clock will continue to wind when a reset is called. If a defensive player jumps early, the whistle will blow and we will instantly reset. A ref can give a waring for defensive offsides and opt to throw a flag on each infraction after the warning. If the infraction is on the defense, the offense will be awarded a new play play clock.
Player & Team Conduct Rules (back to top)
- A punch will land you a season suspension for an entire year, even if you miss. Depending on your teams actions during this type of infraction the league can suspend or fine your entire team for as long as it feels necessary. There is zero tolerance for fighting.
- 3 strikes you’re out rule. This applies to anyone cutting up, cursing a ref, threatening to fight, a dirty hit, cursing around children or women you will get a warning. After you get a warning you will get a 2 game suspension to be served immediately following the game you just played.
- Clean up your garbage, clean up the field.
Trash talking or fighting can result in the suspension of the offending team, or teams, or individual involved. A7FL does not tolerate any pushing or shoving after the play is over or any trash talk that involves threats or personal insults. Trash talk is part of the game but in good taste.
Team and Sideline conduct. Players may yell but do not curse. Sportsmanlike conduct is to the benefit of players and fans in the audience. Refs will call 15 yard penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct every time.
Smoking or drinking of alcohol or any other substance deemed illegal or banned is not tolerated. Any player or staff caught in violation of this provision means their team will be sent home and they will forfeit that game. It is the teams responsibility to instruct their fans to be in the stands and to not step on the field.
Pass Rushing Rules (back to top)
- No late hits on the QB
- If you have a blind side shot on the QB you must hit him high, Do not lower your shoulder into the QBs back if he can’t see you.
- You may rush as many guys as you like and blitz whenever you want.
- Play the whistle.
Keeping Score (back to top)
4 downs are allowed in order to get a first down. A first down is 10 yards.
Touchdowns will be worth 6 points. After a team scores they will need to complete either a 1 point conversion from the 5 yard line or a 2 point conversion from the 10 yard line.
Only the 30 second play clock will run during the conversion. If a turnover occurs during the attempt the play will be blown dead and no points will be rewarded.
If a team is leading by 7 Touchdowns (42 points) at the start of the 4th quarter the game will be ended.
Safeties are worth 2 points and the defense will regain possession on the opponents 45 yard line going in.
In order to win you need to get a stop and a score. An interception or fumble returned for a touchdown ends the game. Each team will have 1 time out with a 30 second play clock. The ball will be spotted at the 25 yard line with the ability to get 2 first downs (sticks are up).
Referees (back to top)
A ref must carry himself as a professional and he is owed respect in return. A ref must have the following.
- A penalty flag
- Stop Watch
- Printed rule book on hand.
- And knowledge of our rules. If the ref lacks any of the following you have a choice to not hire him for your game.
If you are ejected from a game you will be fined $15.00. The length of ejection is to be determined by the ref. It is up to their own discretion to sit you for a quarter or a game. You will not be eligible to play until your fine is paid. If you are ejected for throwing a punch you are suspended for the entire year and your team could face further fines and or suspensions.
Tackling & Ball Carrying Rules (back to top)
- Anytime a ball carrier is in the open field and approaching a defender, he must make a move. A ball carrier is not permitted to lower his shoulder and initiate contact unless it is within the tackle box and within the first 5 yards of his run. If contact is unavoidable a ball carrier may lower his shoulder to protect himself.
- At the youth level we are adopting the thud mentality when it comes to contact. Everything is full speed with proper tackling technique and if the result is a completed tackle it will NOT be a flag. Once a player is wrapped up, officials will be inclined to blow plays dead early once forward progression is stopped.
- Every tackle must be made by attempting to wrap up. You are not permitted to throw a shoulder, head, or elbow to try and make a tackle. YOU MUST WRAP UP WHEN TACKLING! A 15 yard personal foul and or ejection will be assessed.
- No head hunting or close lining. Do not wrap around a players neck or head. The penalty will result in a 15 yard personal foul and or ejection.
- No pile-ons. If the player is down and you jump on the pile you will be ejected.
- If a players forward progress is stopped the play will be whistled dead by the ref.
- No slamming or suplex style tackles will be tolerated. Once a ball carrier is lifted off of their feet that will count as a tackle and is reviewable.
- Tackling below the knees is only permitted if you are the first available tackler and you attempt to wrap. If you are the second tackler you must hit above the waste and you must attempt to wrap up high.
- No leg whipping or tripping.
- Ball carriers are permitted to lower a shoulder into a would be tackler but never their head. If a ball carrier lowers the crown of their head before impact it will result in a 15 yard penalty and or possible ejection.
- Stiff arms are LEGAL however, if a ball carrier purposely aims a stiff arm at a defenders face it could be called a personal foul. Incidental stiff arms are ok and are up to the discretion of the ref.
- To make a safe tackle keep your eyes to the sky get your butt low, hit and wrap up. Guys tackling with their heads down or throwing their body at ball carriers legs with no attempt to wrap up will be flagged 15 yards.
- Play the whistle and play smart we’re all for good hits but PLAY SMART!
How Time is kept (back to top)
- 4 quarters each 15 minutes.
- There is a 2 minute warning at the end of the 2nd and 4th quarter.
- Clock stops for incomplete pass or out of bounds during the 2 minute warning only.
- Timeouts (3 per half) 3 challenges per half. CHALLENGES ARE PERMITTED UNDER 2 MINUTES. If you lose a challenge you lose a timeout.
- During regulation the clock will stop during special teams, penalties, and change of possession.
- If the chain crew isn’t set by the time the offense is about to hike the ball, the ref will stop the clock to allow the chain crew to catch up.
- A fumble on 4th down with 2 minutes or less remaining in the 2nd and 4th quarters, or in OT, can only be advanced by the original ball carrier or a defensive player. If any other player gains possession that team will remain in possession but the play will be blown dead.
QB Cadence and Position (back to top)
- The QB can start from the Shotgun or behind the lineman. He must be in between the 2 down linemen or if there are 3 down linemen he can be on the center. The QB can not be deeper then 5 yards from the line of scrimmage when in the shotgun.
- If the QB moves early (rolls before cadence) it’s a 5 yard penalty.
- The QB must be set just like the O Line and receivers.
- All QB cadences must consist of 3 sounds and the offense can move on any of the 3 sounds. For example if your cadence is Down, Set, Go you can go on either Down, Set, or go but there is no going on 2 or trying to draw the defense offsides.
- All passes must at least reach the original line of scrimmage or a penalty will result in a 10 yard loss and a loss of down. A receiver must be in the area (refs discretion) unless the QB is outside of the tackle box or pocket.
Wide Receivers and Defensive Backs (back to top)
- Defensive holding (DB holding receiver) 5 yards automatic first down (not a spot foul)
- No contact after 5 yards – (when player doesn’t have the ball) 5 yards automatic first down
- Contact on a receiver during a pass that is ruled catchable, is a spot foul and called pass interference.
- DBs can not lead with their head on open field tackles.
- DBs can not launch themselves into a defenseless receiver without attempting to wrap up and make a good form tackle.
- You can not lead with an elbow to make a tackle. You must attempt to wrap up on the secondary.
- DBs may blitz but must obey the Pass Rushing Rules listed above.
- 1 foot in for in bounds and TDs. If a player would have landed in bounds but is pushed out he is still in.
Field Size (back to top)
- 120 full length field (100 yards goal line to goal line, with each end zone being 10 yards for a total field length of 120 yards) x 40 yard width field
Equipment & Uniforms (back to top)
- All players must have matching jerseys and matching shorts.
- No hard pads or hard plastic pads are permitted. Soft padded knee pads, thigh pads, rib pads, and soft body protection is permitted.
- Padding in the shoulder area must be the kind that is embedded in your shirt. “Shock Pads” and separate shoulder pads are not permitted.
- Mouth pieces are mandatory.
- Soft padded head gear such as head band or skull cap must be either black, white, or team color and be form fitting, team logo and/or sponsor is allowed on headgear. Soft padded head gear, head band or skull cap, from 2nd Skull or equivalent with 2-4 millimeters maximum padding is permitted. Any other type of head gear or type of hat is not permitted. A bandanna or durag is permitted.
- Rugby league type head gear that is heavily padded is not permitted. Contact A7FL for official head gear suppliers and additional information.