Touch football (American)

Touch football is a variant of American 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.

The Pro Bowl has, by a gentlemen's agreement among its players, operated on a modified two-hand touch system since 2018.[1]

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
Offensive touch football player tries to get out of reach of defending player.

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 football. Touch football can be played by teams as few as two or as many as eleven 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.

Sunnynook Park
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.

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

External links

  • "OFL rules (variation of American touch football rules)".
List of types of football

This is a list of various types of football, most variations found as gridiron, rugby, association football.

Royal Shrovetide Football

The Royal Shrovetide Football Match is a "Medieval football" game played annually on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in the town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, England. Shrovetide ball games have been played in England since at least the 12th century from the reign of Henry II (1154–89). The Ashbourne game also known as "hugball" has been played from at least c.1667 although the exact origins of the game are unknown due to a fire at the Royal Shrovetide Committee office in the 1890s which destroyed the earliest records. One of the most popular origin theories suggests the macabre notion that the 'ball' was originally a severed head tossed into the waiting crowd following an execution. Although this may have happened, it is more likely that games such as the Winchelsea Streete Game, reputedly played during the Hundred Years' War with France, were adaptations of an original ball game intended to show contempt for the enemy.One of the earliest references to football in the county of Derbyshire comes in a poem called "Burlesque upon the Great Frost" from 1683, written after the English Civil War by Charles Cotton, cousin to Aston Cockayne, Baronet of Ashbourne (1608–84):

Two towns, that long that war had ragedBeing at football now engagedFor honour, as both sides pretend,Left the brave trial to be endedTill the next thaw for they were frozenOn either part at least a dozen,With a good handsome space between 'emLike Rollerich stones, if you've seen 'emAnd could no more run, kick, or trip yeThan I can quaff off Aganippe.

Shrovetide football played between "Two towns" in Derby is often credited with being the source of the term "local derby". A more widely accepted origin theory is The Derby horse race. Whatever the origins the "local derby" is now a recognised term for a football game played between local rivals and a Derby is a horse race.

A previously unknown tentative link between Royal Shrovetide football and La soule played in Tricot, Picardy was established in 2012 by history and sociology of sport lecturer Laurent Fournier from the Universite de Nantes. Whilst undertaking a study of "folk football", he noticed that the Coat of arms of the Cockayne family (seated in Ashbourne from the 12th century) painted on a 1909 Shrovetide ball displayed in the window of the Ashbourne Telegraph office contained three cockerels in its heraldic design. He recognised this matched the emblem of Tricot (also carrying three cockerels) where La soule is played on the first Sunday of Lent and Easter Monday. He was welcomed to Ashbourne by the Royal Shrovetide Committee and was a guest at the Shrovetide luncheon. Research into Royal Shrovetide Football's lost history is ongoing (August 2012).

Touch football

Touch football may refer to:

Touch football (American), a variant of American football where players touch rather than tackle opponents

Touch (sport), a variant of rugby league football in which players touch rather than tackle opponents

Touch rugby, other games derived from rugby football in which players touch rather than tackle opponents

Rec footy, a non-contact version of Australian rules football

Touch Aussie Rules, one of the variations of Australian rules football

Touch Football Australia, the national governing body of touch football (rugby league)

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