Every play is a fourth down, which means that the play must score, or the team loses the ball. No kicking is permitted, but players may pass at any time from any spot and in any direction. There can be a series of passes on any play, either from behind or beyond the line of scrimmage.
The teams line up in an offensive football formation. To start the game, the ball is placed into the center of the field, and the team that wins the coin toss has the chance to put the ball into play. The ball is put into play by centering. The back receiving the ball runs or passes to any of his teammates. The one receiving the ball has the same privilege. No blocking is permitted. After each touchdown, the ball is brought to the center of the field, and the team against which the score was made puts the ball into play.
To down a runner or pass receiver, a two-handed touch above the waist is made. The back first receiving the ball from the center has immunity from tagging, provided he does not try to run. All defensive players must stay 10 ft away unless he runs. The referee should wait for a reasonable length of time for the back to pass or run. If the ball is still held beyond that time, the referee should call out, “Ten seconds.” The back must then throw or run within 10 seconds or be rushed by the defense.
The defensive players scatter to cover the receivers. They can use a one-on-one defense, with each player covering an offensive player, or a zone defense. Since the team with the ball loses possession after each play, the following rules are used to determine where the ball should be placed when the other team takes possession.
- If a ball carrier is tagged with two hands above the waist, the ball goes to the other team at that spot.
- If an incomplete pass is made from behind the line of scrimmage, the ball is given to the other team at the spot where the ball was put into play.
- When an incomplete pass is made by a player beyond the line of scrimmage, the ball is brought to the spot from which it was thrown.
The team in possession should be encouraged to pass as soon as is practical, because children tire from running around to become free for a pass. The defensive team can score by intercepting a pass. Since passes can be made at any time, on interception the player should look down the field for a pass to a teammate.
Variation: The game can be called Third Down, with the offensive team having two chances to score.