NLFA 9-MAN TACKLE RULES
1) All players must have agreed to the Adult Waiver Form and NLFA Players Agreement before participating. Players must be 18 years of age, but no older than 35 to participate in the NLFA.
1) At the start of each game, captains from both teams will meet at midfield for the coin toss to determine who will start with the ball. The visiting team will call the toss.
2) The winner of the coin toss has the choice of offense or defense. The loser of the coin toss has the choice of direction.
3) The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its own 20-yard line and has four (4) plays to get the first down.
4) If the offensive team fails to get a first down after three (3) plays, they have the option to either punt or attempt to get a first down on their 4th down.
5) If the offensive team crosses mid-field, gets the first down, and fails to either get another first down or score a touchdown after three (3) plays, they have an option to attempt a 3-point field goal kick or attempt to get a first down or touchdown on their 4th down.
6) If the offensive team fails to get a first down or score after going for it on their 4th down attempt, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team starts its drive where possession was lost.
7) After a team has scored, the new offensive team will start its drive on its own 20-yard line.
8) Teams change sides at the end of each quarter. After the half, possession changes to the team that started the game on defense.
III. TIMING / OVERTIME
1) Games are played on a 60-minute continuous clock with two 30-minute halves consisting of two 15-minute quarters each and a 12-minute half-time break.
a. Play Clock: Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced.
2) CLOCK STOPPAGE:
a. Timeouts: Each team has three (3) 30-second timeouts per half. During a team’s timeout, the game clock will be stopped. Unused timeouts do not carry over.
b. Injury: In the event of an injury, the clock will stop and then restart when the injured player is safely removed from the field of play.
c. End of Regulation: There will be a 2-minute media timeout at the end of the First (1st) and Third (3rd) quarters.
d. Change of Possession: Promotional timeouts will be directed towards a change of possession opportunities and will last for 15 seconds.
e. 2 Minute Warning: During the last 2 minutes of each half, the clock will be stopped for a total of 30-seconds.
f. Officials Discretion: Officials can stop the clock at their discretion.
g. For first downs, change of possession (Touchdowns), and penalties.
h. If the score is tied after the end of both halves, the game will then go into overtime.
a. Each team is allowed a minimum of one possession. The first possession goes to the winner of the regulation coin toss.
b. The ball will then be placed on the opponent's 20-yard line and the offensive team will have four (4) plays to score a touchdown or kick a field goal.
c. After a touchdown has been made, the scoring team has the option to go for 1 extra point (pass play) or 2 extra points (run play).
d. After the first offensive team has either scored or turned the ball over, the opposing team has the same scoring opportunity from the same 20-yard line in the same direction.
e. If the score is still tied after each team has had an offensive possession, then the game will be declared a tie.
f. All regulation rules and penalties are still in effect.
g. There are no timeouts.
IV. TEAMS / ROSTERS
1) Each player is required to wear their team jersey during all games.
2) The HOME Team will wear a DARK jersey/uniform, while the AWAY team wears the WHITE jersey/uniform.
3) Teams must consist of at least 16 players with a maximum roster of 25 players.
1) Players must wear a helmet, shoulder pads, and cleats; however, cleats with exposed metal are not allowed.
2) Players must remove all watches, earrings, and any other jewelry that the officials deem hazardous.
3) Teams must have matching and numbered jerseys. A player without a similar or matching jersey will not be allowed to play.
4) Each team must use NLFA footballs.
5) Helmet Visors may be worn and can be dark tinted. However, the player's eyes must at least be able to be seen by the officials. NO mirror tint on visors of any kind will be allowed.
1) Touchdown: 6 points
2) NO PAT (Point After Touchdown). A team that scores a touchdown must attempt a 2-pt. conversion (from the 3-yard line).
3) Field Goal: 3 points – A field goal is when the placekicker kicks the ball through the uprights. It can be attempted at any time but is usually attempted on fourth down with the football inside the opponent's 35-yard line. In order to figure the length of a field goal, you have to add an additional 10 yards for the distance of the End Zone to the goal post and another 7 yards for the snap of the ball back to the holder to the line of scrimmage. *(If played on a 100-yd field. NLFA specific)
4) Return of An Extra Point Attempt by Defense: 2 points (on 2-pt. conversions only)
5) Safety: 2 points – Safeties occur when the ball carrier is declared down in his own end zone. They can be called down if they step out of bounds or if they hit the ground with their knee or arm and are declared down after being touched by a player on the opposite team. After a safety, the scoring team will receive possession at their own 30-yard line.
1) The field dimensions are 40 yards by 80 yards with two 10-yard end zones.
2) First downs are awarded every 10 yards starting from the front of each end zone.
3) Stepping on the boundary lines is considered out of bounds.
1) The ball is spotted where the ball carrier has the ball. Forward progress will be measured by where the ball is when the carrier is stopped.
a. SCORING: To score, only the football needs to cross the plane of the goal line.
2) Handoffs may be in front, behind, or to the side of the offensive player. The offense may use multiple handoffs, pitches, and laterals.
3) A maximum of (4) backs is allowed in the backfield at one time.
4) The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage.
5) STIFF ARMS: When running the ball, stiff arms to the upper chest are legal. When using the stiff arm, the arm must remain straight the entire time. Pushing, shoving, grabbing/pulling, or stiff arms to the face, or neck will be issued a penalty.
6) Only one (1) offensive player is allowed to be put in motion at a time. No motion is permitted towards the line of scrimmage.
1) All passes must be thrown from behind the line of scrimmage.
2) Intentional grounding – A quarterback is allowed to intentionally ground the ball to avoid a sack, provided he gets the throwback to the line of scrimmage. He does not have to be outside the pocket to do so.
3) No "Tuck Rule" - There will be NO "Tuck Rule" in the NLFA. The play will result in a fumble.
1) OFFENSIVE BLOCKING MOVES
a. Legal Moves: Straight Arm, Upper Body Block, Body Positioning
b. Illegal Moves: Holding, Grab/Pull, Clipping/Blocking Below the Knees, Crack-back, Cut-block, Block in the Back, Hands to the Face
2) An offensive player who uses any of the listed illegal moves will be issued a penalty.
1) All players except the 3 down linemen are eligible to receive passes (including the quarterback if the ball has been handed off behind the line of scrimmage).
2) Only one (1) player is allowed in motion at a time. No motion is permitted towards the line of scrimmage.
3) A player must have a least one foot inbounds when making a reception.
4) In the case of simultaneous possession by both an offensive and defensive player, possession is awarded to the offense.
5) Interceptions that take place during a 2-pt. conversion attempt can be returned for 2-pts.
XII. RUSHING THE PASSER / DEFENDING
1) DEFENSIVE RUSHING MOVES
a. Legal Moves: Bull Rush, Spin, Swim, Under, Rip/Inside, Counter/Club
b. Illegal Moves: Grab/Pull, Punches, Hands to the face, Holding, Horse-collar
2) A defensive player who uses any of the listed illegal moves will be issued a penalty.
3) Up to five (5) defensive players are eligible to rush at any time. The "illegal rush" penalty for violating these rules is a 5-yard penalty.
1) All punts are declared a free-kick, and the punter must be at least 10 yards behind the center. NO fake punts. However, if the punter muffs the snap or the ball goes over his head, it then becomes live, and the defense is allowed to make a play on the ball.
a. The defense must have 3 players on the line.
b. No one may move until the ball is kicked. Penalty – Illegal procedure: 5 yards.
a. The offense must have three (3) down linemen during each play and must have five (5) players on the line of scrimmage with their shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage.
b. A maximum of (4) backs is eligible to be in the backfield.
c. One player at a time may go in motion.
a. The defense is not obligated to rush and must have 3 to 4 down linemen on the line. However, a defense can only rush up to five (5) players and the Nose Guard (NG) cannot line up directly over the nose of the football. The Nose Guard must be at least (1) one yard off of the nose of the football. Penalty – Illegal procedure: 5 yards.
b. A defensive player lined up as a lineman must have “hands in the dirt” while on the line. They can either be in a 3 or 4-point stance. Penalty – Illegal procedure: 5 yards.
c. Defensive linemen must line up no wider than shoulder to shoulder (“shading”) on the offensive lineman in front of them. – Illegal formation: 5 yards.
3) SPECIAL TEAMS (Field Goal)
a. The field goal unit may have five (5) players on the line with two (2) ends off the line.
b. The backfield will consist of the kicker and the holder only.
c. The spot of the ball for field goal attempts can be placed about 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
XV. LIVE BALL / DEAD BALL
1) The ball is live at the snap of the ball and remains live until the official whistles the ball dead.
2) The official will indicate the neutral zone and line of scrimmage. It is an automatic dead ball foul if any player on defense or offense enters the neutral zone. In regard to the neutral zone, the official may give both teams a “courtesy” neutral zone notification to allow their players to move back behind the line of scrimmage.
3) A player who gains possession in the air is considered in bounds as long as one foot comes down in the field of play.
4) Substitutions may be made on any dead ball.
5) Any official can whistle the play dead.
6) Play is ruled “dead” when:
a. The ball hits the ground.
b. The ball carrier steps out of bounds.
c. A touchdown or safety is scored.
e. The ball carrier’s knee or arm hits the ground and is declared down after being touched by a player on the opposite team. However, if the ball carrier has not been touched, the play is still live until the opposing team touches the ball carrier or makes a tackle.
f. Inadvertent whistle.
7) NOTE: Fumbling out of the end zones – If the ball is fumbled forward into and out of the end zone, it is placed back at the spot of the fumble.
8) In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the offense has two options:
a. Take the ball where it was when the whistle blew and the down is consumed.
b. Replay the down from the original line of scrimmage.
9) A team is allowed to use a time out to question an official’s rule interpretation. If the official’s ruling is correct, the team will be charged a time-out. If the rule is interpreted incorrectly, the time out will not be charged and the proper ruling will be enforced. Officials should all agree upon any controversial call in order to give each team the full benefit of each call. (Similar to a coach’s challenge)
XVI. UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
1) If the referee witnesses any acts of targeting, elbowing, cheap shots, illegal blocking, or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped and the player will be ejected from the game. The decision is made at the referee’s discretion. No appeals will be considered.
2) Offensive or confrontational language is illegal. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. If offensive or confrontational language occurs, the referee will give one warning, and then a penalty will be enforced. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the game.
3) Players may not physically or verbally abuse any opponent, coach, or official. Doing so will result in suspension or ejection for the entire season.
a. Fighting will not be tolerated period. If a fight breaks out during a game the referees will be interviewed by the league afterward. One or both teams can face suspensions for the entire season or be banned permanently by the League.
b. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty shall be enforced for any player or staff member on either team addressing the opposing sideline during the game.
5) Fans and players are required to keep fields safe and kid-friendly:
a. Keep younger kids and equipment such as coolers, chairs, and tents a minimum of 10 yards off the field.
b. There will be no smoking on the sidelines.
6) The penalty provisions for any use of illegal equipment result in an unsportsmanlike foul charged to the head coach and charged a timeout, or a 5-yard penalty if no timeouts remain.
1. The referees will call all penalties.
2. Referees determine incidental contact that may result from the normal run of play.
3. All penalties will be assessed from the line of scrimmage, except as noted. (Spot Fouls)
4. Only the team captain or head coach may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretations. Players may not question judgment calls.
5. Games may not end on a defensive penalty unless the offense declines it.
6. Penalties are assessed live ball, then dead ball. Live ball penalties must be assessed before play is considered complete.
7. Penalties will be assessed half the distance to the goal (3-yard line) yardage when the penalty yardage is more than half the distance to the goal.
1) DEFENSIVE PENALTIES
Offside + 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Replay of Down
Illegal Rush + 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Replay of Down
Illegal Procedure + 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Replay of Down
Roughing the Passer + 10 yards from the line of scrimmage & Automatic First Down
Taunting / Offensive Language + 10 yards from the line of scrimmage & Automatic First Down
Defensive Pass Interference SPOT FOUL, Automatic First Down
Holding SPOT FOUL, + 5 yards & Automatic First Down
Face Masking SPOT FOUL, + 15 yards & Automatic First Down
Horse-collar Tackle SPOT FOUL, + 15 yards & Automatic First Down
*Defensive Unnecessary Roughness SPOT FOUL, + 15 yards & Automatic First Down (ejected when flagrant)
2) OFFENSIVE PENALTIES
Offside / False Start - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Replay of Down
Illegal Motion - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Replay of Down
Delay of Game - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Replay of Down
Impeding the Rusher / Holding - 10 yards from the line of scrimmage & Replay of Down
Illegal Blocking - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Loss of Down
Ineligible Man Down Field - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Loss of Down
Illegal Forward Pass - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & Loss of Down
Offensive Pass Interference - 10 yards from the line of scrimmage & Loss of Down
Hands to the Face SPOT FOUL, - 5 yards & Loss of Down
*Offensive Unnecessary Roughness SPOT FOUL, - 15 yards * Loss of Down (ejected when flagrant)