Arena Football 101

Rules of Arena Football and the Basics of the Game

Game System and Rules of the Game.


  • An indoor padded surface 85 feet wide and 50 yards long with eight-yard end zones.
  • Goal posts are nine feet wide with a crossbar height of 15 feet (NFL goal posts are 18-1/2 feet wide with the crossbar at 10 feet).


  • The official football is the same size and weight as the National Football League ball. Each ball is manufactured by Spalding.


  • Eight players on the field; 20-man active roster; four-man inactive roster.
  • Four (4) offensive players must line up on the line of scrimmage.
  • Three (3) defensive players must be down linemen (in a three of four-point stance). One linebacker may blitz on either side of the center.
  • Alignment is two (2) or more yards off the line of scrimmage. No stunting or twisting.
  • Offensive motion: One receiver may go in forward motion before the snap.


  • Four 15-minute quarters with a 12-minute halftime.
  • The clock stops for out-of-bounds plays or incomplete passes only in the last minute of each half or when the referee deems it necessary for penalties, injuries or timeouts.
  • Each team is allowed three (3) time-outs per half.

  • Four (4) downs are allowed to advance the ball ten (10) yards for a first down, or to score.
  • Six (6) points for a touchdown.
  • One (1) point for a conversion by place kick after a touchdown, two (2) points for a conversion by drop kick and two (2) points for successful run or pass after a touchdown.
  • Three (3) points for a field goal by placement or four (4) points for a field goal by drop kick.
  • Two (2) points for a safety.


  • Kickoffs are from the goal line. Kickers may use a one-inch tee.
  • Punting is illegal. On fourth down, a team may go for a first down, touchdown or field goal.
  • The receiving team may field any kickoff, if they fail to pass the goaline the kicking team will be awarded one (1) point ("Uno").
  • Any kickoff untouched which is out of bounds will be placed at the 20-yard line or the place where it went out of bounds, whichever is more advantageous to the receiving team.
  • If the kick passes through the uprights during a kickoff, the kicking team will be awarded two (2) points. ("Deuce"). 


  • Passing rules in Arena Football are the same as outdoor NCAA Football in which receivers must have one foot inbounds. A unique exception involves the rebound nets. A forward pass that rebounds off of the end zone net is a live ball and is in play until it touches the playing surface.


  • Overtime periods are 15 minutes during the regular season and the playoffs.
  • Each team gets one possession to score. If, after each team has had one possession, one team is ahead, that team wins. If the teams are tied after each has had a possession, the next team to score wins.