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How To Play Touch Football

Whether you want to play a friendly game in your backyard or organize a league, you need to know the rules.


  • Step 1: If the player with the ball gets to the end zone, it’s a touchdown, scoring six points.
  • TIP: If the opposing team intercepts a throw, they immediately take over possession, no matter what down it is.
  • Step 2: The team that just scored a touchdown tries for an extra point by lining up about 3 yards from the end zone. The opposing team’s players line up on the goal line facing them, and the team in possession has one chance to get the ball back into the end zone. After the extra-point attempt, play begins again from the middle of the field, this time with the other team in possession of the ball.
  • Step 3: Play until the agreed upon time limit is up or number of points are scored.
  • FACT: Touch football is the fifth most popular team sport in the U.S., after basketball, baseball, soccer, and slow-pitch softball, according to a survey.
  • Step 4: Possession passes to the other team after the first team either scores a touchdown or does one of the following four times: gets tagged, drops the ball, or runs out of bounds. The second team now picks up the ball where it was last in play and they now get four attempts to score by getting the ball to the opposite end zone.
  • Step 5: If the player with the ball is tagged, drops the ball, or runs out of bounds, it is ruled a down. The ball is set down where it was last in play, and the team in possession makes another try for a touchdown.
  • TIP: You can apply yardage penalties for slapping, hitting above the shoulders or below the knees, or illegal tackling.
  • Step 6: Decide between one-touch and two-touch football, which refers to the number of hands that must tag a member of the opposing team to “tackle,” or down them.
  • Step 7: Decide how the game will be won. A team can win after a set time limit or after an agreed-upon number of points are scored.
  • Step 8: Divide the players into two teams. Then, flip a coin to decide which team will kick off the game.
  • Step 9: The teams stand on opposite sides of the field. One player from the team who won the coin toss punts or throws the ball as far as they can toward the opposing team. Both teams charge toward the ball, trying to get it and carry it to the end zone opposite where they started for a touchdown before they get tagged.
  • Step 10: Find a large rectangular patch of grass to act as your playing field and decide the boundaries, which can be marked by whatever is around, like trees or lampposts, or by orange cones, if you have them. The shorter sides of the rectangle are the end zones.

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