Touch football (American)

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Offensive touch football player tries to get out of reach of defending player. US Navy 080112-N-7367K-006 Builder 3rd Class Bryan Williams, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1, Task Force Sierra, scrambles out of a defender's reach in a two-hand-touch football game during the detachme.jpg
Offensive touch football player tries to get out of reach of defending player.

Touch football is a variant of American football and Canadian football in which the basic rules are similar to those of the mainstream game (called "tackle football" for contrast), but instead of tackling players to the ground, the person carrying the ball need only be touched by a member of the opposite team to end a down. The game is usually played by amateurs on a recreational basis.

Contents

Rules

Depending on the skill of the players, the available playing field, and the purpose of the game, the rules other than the tackling aspect may remain mostly the same or vary considerably from traditional American or Canadian football. Touch football can be played by teams as few as two or as many as twelve on each side; usually, games consist of teams of four to seven.

Positions in touch football are far less formal than its more organized counterpart. While some games roughly follow conventions, more often, all players will be considered eligible receivers (as in six-man football), and there are usually no running backs. There may or may not be a snapper; if there is not, the quarterback initiates play by hovering the ball above the line of scrimmage and pulling it backward to simulate a snap.

Generally, in touch football, nearly every play is a passing play, whereas run plays and pass plays tend to be well balanced in organized football. Some games will also implement a "blitz count", or a period of time that must elapse after the snap before the defense may cross the line of scrimmage in order to attempt to tackle the quarterback. The count thus gives the quarterback time to complete a pass in the absence of effective blocking (when teams are small, there is often no blocking at all). Other games will not use a count and thus blocking becomes important. Conversely, in the presence of a "blitz count" there is also often a "QB sneak" rule, which prevents the quarterback from taking unfair advantage of the blitz count by preventing the quarterback from crossing the line of scrimmage before the blitz count is finished.

Field during a recreational touch ball game. Sunnynook Park.JPG
Field during a recreational touch ball game.

Because of these rules, passing plays are far more common than running plays in touch football.

Along with the size of the teams, the size of the field can vary considerably. In a park, or spring practice situation, a full-sized field may be available, but many games are played in the front and back yards of suburban and rural village neighborhoods, where the whole field may not be much more than ten to thirty yards long. In most of these situations, there are no yard lines, requiring some change in the definition of a first down. Instead of requiring that a team advance the ball ten yards, sometimes two pass completions result in a first down. Another option is to eliminate first downs entirely, so that a team gets four (sometimes five) chances to score; this process is most desirable on shorter fields.

When it is desired for an odd number of players to play, it is common to allow one player to be an "all-time Quarterback" player; this player will always be on the offense or the kicking team, switching sides throughout the game. This is often better known as a "Steady Quarterback" or "Steady Q". When this occurs, there is usually no blitz count and the all-time quarterback is usually never allowed to cross the line of scrimmage.

Another common variation is the elimination of the field goal and extra point kick; this is usually due to the absence of goal posts and tees on the field as well as due to poor kicking skill by the participants. Some games eliminate kicking altogether, directing the teams to start each possession after a touchdown at the twenty-yard line, as if a kickoff and touch back had just occurred; other players prefer to change the kickoff into a "throw-off" or a "punt-off."

Scoring and game timing are much different in touch football than its more organized counterpart. For simplicity, touchdowns are usually worth 1 point and no other scoring is counted (there are no extra point attempts). In a much lesser used variation, a touchdown is worth 6 points and if the player who scored the touchdown can progress in the other direction from the end zone in which he had just scored back to the opposite end zone without being touched, it counts as a two-point conversion. The former scoring method does not allow for other scoring types such as safeties. There is usually no game clock and the game ends when one opponent has reached 10 touchdowns (in the former convention) or 100 points (in a standard convention).

Variable rules

Kickoff

Change of possession after scoring is often accompanied by rules determining where the ball is thrown from as opposed to actually kicking since throwing offers more control to players who may be playing in street-accessible areas and don't wish to chase a ball through traffic. When the kickoff style is open to variance after each score, the desired rules are called out and whichever is heard first, is the accepted rule. When the rules are agreed on before the start of a game and are made to be steady throughout, they are referred to as Auto-. The most accepted Auto- rules are Half Court, In Hands-- this offers a rule that gives advantages to both the kicking and receiving teams.[ citation needed ]

First touch

This rule controls the action of the offensive team's current quarterback, and requires that the blocking/countdown rule not be in use. When teams are even, a "shift" (hand-off) between two offensive players begins the play. It takes a touch from a defender assigned to the quarterback (the "first touch",) to stop his initial forward progress and determine where the ball will be thrown from. The assigned defender is stuck to the quarterback, unable to act as a pass defender or hinder the quarterback in his search of a receiver.

Depending on the group, first touch can refer to the quarterback's ability to run or walk after the shift. For example, one group may refer to first touch as the ability for the quarterback to run after the shift, get touched, and still throw the ball. Another group may use the rule to mean that the quarterback has the ability to walk or powerwalk forward, get touched, and throw. The first variation favors a game with many players, while the second may be best for games where there aren't many players.

Another addition to this rule is the "two-man touch," which penalizes the defense for being unaware of their assignments and teammates by making all players who touch the active quarterback stick to him, removing a defender from the field temporarily.

This rule is commonly and informally referred to "first taught," the result of players creating another past tense verb for "touch."

Hand Touch

As the name suggests, this rule determines the number of hands that must land on an offensive player simultaneously to stop the play/first touch situation. One-hand touch is often used with younger players, as two-hand touch demands greater dexterity. When used against more mature players, one-hand touch puts more pressure on the offense to juke and misdirect the defense. A variant called "rough touch" is also sometimes used, in which the defensive player must place both hands on the ball carrier with sufficient force to lightly shove him in order to stop the play. This is somewhat subjective, but tends to reduce the frequency of disputed touches.

No/Half Court

In Half Court, the ball is kicked off at the halfway mark in the field. In No Half Court, the ball is expected to be thrown from the kicking team's goal line. Half Court is practical when playing on a long field, but it puts the kicking team closer and potentially limits the maneuverability of the receiving team. Half Court is preferred by kicking teams as it dramatically shortens the amount of space and time between the teams.

No/In Hands

In Hands means that the ball will be thrown to any specific person, usually at the kicker's discretion. No In Hands means that the ball will be thrown in the general area of the team, but without a target. In Hands saves the receiving team the trouble of chasing a bobbling ball, and is preferred.

First Down

Rules on first downs vary depending on the playing group and field size. In shorter fields, it may be impractical or unnecessary to create landmarks which would reset the downs, as four downs should be all the time needed to go from one end to the other. However, longer fields may need a halfway marker which, when reached, would reset the downs. Multiple markers can be used in this way depending on the field length. As stated above in the article, a number of completed passes may also result in a first down, if the teams desire it so. It is uncommon to see both length-based and pass-based rules in use simultaneously.

Extra Points

Some games count touchdowns as 1 point each. However, if traditional scoring is desired and no goal posts are available, teams have the option of using "automatic" extra points. After a touchdown (6 points), teams can choose whether to automatically earn an extra point (for 7 total), or risk the extra point and attempt a 2-point conversion (for 8 total).

Field Goals

If traditional scoring is desired and no goal posts are available, teams can implement a "field goal zone" close to the endzone. Anytime a team is within this zone, they may elect to automatically score 3 points and kickoff to the other team. This gives teams a choice whether to risk going for the touchdown, or take the free points.

Safeties

If traditional scoring is used, teams score 2 points for a safety, and then receive the ball off of a free kick. However, if simplified "1 point-per-touchdown" scoring is used, this creates a dilemma. Solutions are to score 1/2 point or 1 full point for the safety and receive the ball off of a free kick; or have the safety result in a "turnover" to the opposite team, with the ball placed near the goal line.

See also

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Gridiron football Sport primarily played in the United States and Canada

Gridiron football, also known as North American football or, in North America, simply football, is a family of football team sports primarily played in the United States and Canada. American football, which uses 11-player teams, is the form played in the United States and the best known form of gridiron football worldwide, while Canadian football, featuring 12-player teams, predominates in Canada. Other derivative varieties include indoor football and Arena football, football for smaller teams, and informal games such as touch and flag football. Football is played at professional, collegiate, high school, semi-professional, and amateur levels.

Down (gridiron football)

A down is a period in which a play transpires in gridiron football. The down is a distinguishing characteristic of the game compared to other codes of football, but is synonymous with a "tackle" in rugby league. The team in possession of the football has a limited number of downs to advance ten yards or more towards their opponent's goal line. If they fail to advance that far, possession of the ball is turned over to the other team. In most situations, if a team reaches their final down they will punt to their opponent, which forces them to begin their drive from further down the field; if they are in range, they might instead attempt to score a field goal.

This is a glossary of terms used in Canadian football. The Glossary of American football article also covers many terms that are also used in the Canadian version of the game.

  1. Legally positioned at the kick-off or the snap. On kick-offs, members of the kicking team must be behind the kick-off line; members of the receiving team must be at least 10 yards from the kick-off line. On scrimmages, at the snap the offence must be behind the line of scrimmage; the defence must be at least one yard beyond the line of scrimmage.
  2. A player of the kicking team who can legally recover the kick. The kicker and any teammates behind the ball at the time of the kick are onside. Thus on kick-offs all players of the kicking team are onside, but on other kicks usually only the kicker is. The holder on a place kick is not considered onside.
  1. A defensive position on scrimmages, also called free safety. Typical formations include a single safety, whose main duty is to cover wide receivers. See also defensive back.
  2. A two-point score. The defence scores a safety when the offence carries or passes the ball into its own goal area and then fails to run, pass, or kick the ball back into the field of play; when this term is used in this sense, it is also referred to as a safety touch.
Comparison of American and Canadian football

American and Canadian football are gridiron codes of football that are very similar; both have their origins in rugby football, but some key differences exist.

Strategy forms a major part of American football. Both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent in order to win the game.

American football rules Rules for American football

Gameplay in American football consists of a series of downs, individual plays of short duration, outside of which the ball is dead or not in play. These can be plays from scrimmage – passes, runs, punts, or field goal attempts – or free kicks such as kickoffs and fair catch kicks. Substitutions can be made between downs, which allows for a great deal of specialization as coaches choose the players best suited for each particular situation. During a play, each team should have no more than 11 players on the field, and each of them has specific tasks assigned for that specific play.

Kickoff (gridiron football)

A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in gridiron football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team". The receiving team is then entitled to return the ball, i.e., attempt to advance it towards the kicking team's end zone, until the player with the ball is tackled by the kicking team, goes out of bounds, or scores a touchdown. Kickoffs take place at the start of each half of play, the beginning of overtime in some overtime formats, and after scoring plays.

American football positions Specific roles that players take in American football

In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position." Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions," meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the jobs that the players are doing.

Street football (American) Amateur American football

Street football, also known as backyard football or sandlot football, is a simplified variant of American football primarily played informally by youth. It features far less equipment and fewer rules than its counterparts, but unlike the similar touch football, features full tackling.

Comparison of American football and rugby union

A comparison of American football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

A comparison between American football and rugby league is possible because of their shared origins and similar game concepts. Rugby league is arguably the most similar sport to American football after Canadian football: both sports involve the concept of a limited number of downs/tackles and scoring touchdowns/tries takes clear precedence over goal-kicking.

The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.

Two-point conversion

In gridiron football, a two-point conversion or two-point convert is a play a team attempts instead of kicking a one-point conversion immediately after it scores a touchdown. In a two-point conversion attempt, the team that just scored must run a play from scrimmage close to the opponent's goal line and advance the ball across the goal line in the same manner as if they were scoring a touchdown. If the team succeeds, it earns two additional points on top of the six points for the touchdown, for a total of eight points. If the team fails, no additional points are scored. In either case, if any time remains in the half, the team proceeds to a kickoff.

A comparison of Canadian football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

Punt (gridiron football)

In gridiron football, a punt is a kick performed by dropping the ball from the hands and then kicking the ball before it hits the ground. The most common use of this tactic is to punt the ball downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes. The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team. A punt is not to be confused with a drop kick, a kick after the ball hits the ground, now rare in both American and Canadian football.

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