American football rules (IFAF-NCAA changes)

American football (referred to as football in the United States and Canada, also known as gridiron elsewhere) is a sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, the team with control of the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the team without control of the ball, the defense, aims to stop their advance and take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, or else they turn over the football to the opposing team; if they succeed, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team’s end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent’s goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

The rules applicable to games played by members of the BAFL in Belgium are those of the IFAF. For the sake of clarity the Belgian American football league follows the same rule as a majority of other european competitions.

The IFAF rulebook is available here.


Summary of differences between NCAA and IFAF rules


1-2-5-f Procedure for dealing with missing goals
2-16-10-a Punter needs only be 7 yards deep; kicker/holder need only be 5 yars deep to count as a scrimmage kick formation
2-27-12 Whether a disqualified player is suspended for the next game is matter for the disciplinary authority
3-1-1 Pre-game warmups not subject to the rules
3-1-1-d During coin toss, teams must remain in the team area
3-2-4 Play clock reset only if it drops below 20 seconds before ball ready
3-2-5 No minimum time for a play after spiking
3-3-2 Running clock
3-3-7 No short timeouts
3-3-8 Two minutes warning cannot happen before 2’00
4-1-2-b Ball may belong to recovering team after inadvertent whistle
4-1-3 Ball is dead if players in vicinity believe it is
6-1-7-b/8-6-2 All touchbacks are from the 20-yard line
7-2-5 Fumble/backward pass at rest awarded according to forward fumble principles
9-1-3&4/9-5-1 No-half game suspensions
9-2-2-d Two players in same position can wear the same number
9-2-2-e No disqualification for illegal cleats
9-2-7 Referee may require persons to be removed from the playing enclosures
9-6 Flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct fouls can be reviewed for additional sanctions
12 Video judge rule
This list ignores differences that address field limitations, NCAA competition structures (e.g. conferences) or equipment restrictions. It also ignores minor wording changes that do not have significant effect on the way the game is played.

Leave a comment