this sport life


< back to the list of sports

Starting play Offside and tackling
The pitch Out of bounds
Scoring Fouls and misconduct
Playing the ball Penalties
How players line up Equipment

The Canadian football field

The Canadian football field


Objective: Canadian football is played by two teams who will have twelve players on the field at any one time. The object of the game is to get the ball to the opponents end of the field, and score more points than the opposing team.

To start a game, the referee will toss a coin. The visiting captain calls. The winner of the toss can decide whether to start in offense (receive the kick) or defense (deliver the kick). When play restarts in the second half, the captain who lost the toss at the beginning of the game chooses.

Playing time lasts for one hour, divided into four fifteen minute quarters. There is a fourteen minute break between the second and third quarters (each half of the game). The clock is stopped when the ball is not in play, when a foul has been committed, or when a fair catch has been caught. The clock is also stopped for time outs.

If the scores are level at the end of the fourth quarter, and a result is needed, extra periods of 10 minutes, divided into halves, are played. Substitutes can enter the field at any time when the ball is dead (out of play).


Starting play

Goals are changed at the end of the first and third periods. At the start of the second and fourth periods, play continues from a point in the other half of the field, which is exactly the opposite of where play ended in the previous period.

For example, if the first or third period ends and the ball is 10 yards from Team A's goal line, play restarts 10 yards from the other goal line at the other end of the field. As the teams would have changed ends, the ball would still be 10 yards from Team A's goal line.

Play could also be restarted from the hash marks from the 35 yard line at the start of each half, and also after a touchdown with a kick off (the team conceding can ask the scoring team to kick from their (the scoring team) 35 yard line).

Play would also restart from the 35 yard line with a kick off or scrimmage, by a team that concedes three points, and from the 25 yard line with a scrimmage, by the conceding team after a safety touch or a rouge, except in the last three minutes of a half, when a kick off follows a safety touch.

Kick off

The players of the kicking team must be behind the ball, except for the player holding the ball at kick off. Opponents must be at least 10 yards away. From a kick off the ball must travel at least 10 yards towards the opponents' goal line, unless touched by an opponent.

It must not be kicked out of play. After the kick off, the receiving team may interfere with its opponents, but the kicking team must recover the ball before interfering with the opposition.

The Canadian football pitch

Canadian football pitch diagram

The field of play is 100 metres (110 yards) long, 59.47 metres (65 yards) wide. The goal areas between the goal lines and dead lines are 22.87 metres (25 yards) long, and the same width. The hash lines are 21.96 metres (24 yards) in from the sides of the field.

A - goal line
B - 25 yard line
C - 45 yard line
D - 55 yard line
E - hash marks
F - goal area

Notes: The lines on the field are all 5 yards apart. The line at the end of the goal area is called the dead line. The lines along the sides of the field are called side lines. All lines are usually white. The black lines on the diagram are for explanatory purposes.


Touchdown - 6 points
When the ball is in possession of a player who is in, or goes into, the opposing teams goal area

Conversion - 1 or 2 points
After a touchdown, the scoring team can score again with a scrimmage between the hash marks on or outside their opponents' 5 yard line. 1 point is scored by kicking a field goal from here, 2 points for carrying or passing the ball for a touchdown.

Field goal - 3 points
Scored by a drop kick or a place kick (except at kick off) when the ball goes over the crossbar without touching the ground after being kicked.

Safety touch - 2 points
When a team plays the ball into its own goal area, and the ball becomes dead or touches or crosses the dead line or side line, the opposing team score.

Rouge (single point) - 1 point
When the ball is played into the opposing team's goal area, and it becomes dead or touches or crosses any boundary line (dead or side line), or touches the ground, player, or any object behind those lines.

Playing the ball

Players may kick, strike and throw the ball, with certain rules.

A player is judged to have possession if the ball is firmly held by a hand, arm, or leg, or under the body. If two opponents have possession, the ball goes to the first person to gain possession. If possession was simultaneous, the team which touched the ball last get the ball.

If the player with the ball touches the ground with any part of the body except for the hands or feet, the ball is dead. If a player gains possession in their own area and is held or kneels on the ground, the ball is dead. The team in possession is allowed 20 seconds to put the ball into play.

When a team has the ball they are allowed three down to gain 10 yards. If they gain the 10 yards, they are allowed another 10 yards. If they do not gain 10 yards, the ball is awarded to the opposition from the point where it became dead.

A down starts when the ball is put into the scrimmage. The teams are separated by the scrimmage zone, which is a 1 yard area between the two teams. The scrimmage line is an imaginary line which the players line up on.

The players of the team with the ball must be clearly within and behind the scrimmage line, or in the backfield, behind the line players. There must be at least seven line players, five of them in a continuous line and not eligible for a pass. The two end players and all backfield players may receive passes.

The opponents must be at least 1 yard behind their side of the scrimmage line until the ball is in play.

One of the line players (the center) facing the opposition snaps the ball back in one action. The center may not touch the ball again until it has been played by another player. No player is allowed to move to draw an opponent offside deliberately. No line player may move after getting into their stance, until the ball is snapped. If a team is in possession within a yard of the goal line the scrimmage occurs 1 yard from the goal line.

How the players line up at a scrimmage

Canadian players diagram

Offense players
C - center
G - guard
T - tackle
TE - tight end
SE - split end
QB - quarterback
RB - running back
F - flanker Defense players
DT - defense tackle
DE - defense end
LB - line backer
CB - corner back
DB - defense back
S - safety
MLB - middle line backer


Forward pass
Only one forward pass is allowed per down. It is thrown from behind the scrimmage line forwards towards the opponent's goal to be caught by any eligible receivers. The ball must not touch the ground, goalposts, crossbar, officials, or other object.

Onside (lateral) pass
When the ball is thrown, handed, knocked, batted, or fumbled by a player who is parallel to, or in the direction of their own dead line. The place where the ball goes out of play, is caught, or strikes the ground, a player, or an officials, determines whether it is an onside or offside pass.

Hand off pass
When the ball is handed and not thrown to another player behind the scrimmage line. The player receiving the ball must not be in a line players position, but apart from this, there is no restriction on the number of hand off passes during a play.

Offside pass
When the ball is passed from in front of the scrimmage line towards the opponents' dead line, or when it is knocked with the hand or arm towards the opponents' dead line. An offside pass is penalized by the opposing team being awarded points or the option of playing from that position

An offside pass in a team's own goal area may be penalized by the opposing team being awarded points, or the option of playing from that position, or a scrimmage on their own 25 yard line, if they intercept an opponent's forward pass and then makes an offside pass in their own goal area.

If a team makes an offside pass in their own goal area and retains possession, the opposing team may claim 2 points or the option to play from that position. If a team gains possession in their own area from an opponent's kick or fumble, and makes an offside pass, the opposition gains 1 point, or the option to play from that position.


A player is offside if the ball has last been touched by one of their own team behind them, except when onside, hand off, and forward pass rules apply. A player in an offside position is played onside if the ball touches an opponent or a team member carries the ball past. If a player moves across the line of scrimmage before the ball is played, they are offside.


Holding the ball carrier with the hands or arms.

When a player obstructs, blocks, or charges an opponent to stop them from getting near to the ball, ball carrier, or player to receive the ball.

Interference without direct contact.

Defensive players
May only tackle the player with the ball, although they can interfere with opponents who are a attempting to cover the ball carrier or who are going through the defense to receive a forward pass.

Offensive players
Can interfere with any player to protect the player with the ball, except when the ball has been thrown forward or kicked across the scrimmage line. After a forward pass across the scrimmage line, only eligible receivers may interfere with opponents.

Out of bounds

The ball is out of bounds if it or the player in possession touches a side line (in front of or behind the goal), dead line, the ground, or any object outside those lines. Generally, the ball is put back into play at a scrimmage between the hash marks opposite the place where it went out.

When the ball is carried off the field, or is thrown out by a forward pass, that team keeps possession, unless after the third down, when no yards have been gained. When the ball is kicked out of bounds, the opponents get possession, except at a kick off. If it is kicked out from a kick off, the kick off is repeated or an option goes to the opposition.

If the ball is not touched and goes into the opposition's goal area or hits the goal, the ball is dead and the opposition puts it into play at the 25 yard line. If the ball is fumbled out of bounds, or it touches a player before going out, the team that last touched the ball gain possession. It is scrimmaged either where the ball went out of bounds, or where the ball was last touched on the field of play, whichever is closer to the goal line of the team with possession.

A player who goes off the field, except as a result of bodily contact, must remain out of that play.

Fouls and misconduct

Players may not:-

- Hold an opponent, unless they have the ball

- Tackle an opponent from behind (clipping), unless they have the ball

- Kick an opponent

- Strike an opponent

- Charge or fall on an opponent with a dead ball (piling)

- Trip an opponent

- Tackle an opponent off the field

- Grasp an opponent's face guard

- Give direct contact assistance to the rear of the ball carrier

- Use the body of another player to jump up

- Hold hands or lock hands at a scrimmage

- Touch the kicker when they are kicking from a scrimmage

- Use any unnecessary force or contact with an opponent

- Verbal or physical abuse of any opponent, official, or spectator


Infringements are penalized by any one or more of the following:-

- Loss of down (the offending team is allowed one less down for that play)

- Loss of yards (they lose 5, 10, or 25 yards), but not a down

- Loss of ball

- An option to the other team (they choose from penalty or to play their advantage)

- First down awarded automatically (if the defending team commit a foul)

- Removal of a player (substitution allowed)

Also, if a teams officials infringe the rules, the team on the field may be penalized.


The ball is an inflated rubber bladder in a leather case, and is not round. It is 28 to 28.6 centimetres (11 to 11¼ inches) long, weighs 396 to 425 grams (14 to 15 ounces), and has a circumference of 70.5 and 72.4 centimetres (27¾ to 28½ inches) at the longest, and 52.8 and 53.6 centimetres (20 7/8 to 21 1/8 inches) at the shortest.

A players clothing must not be dangerous to other, or similar in colour to the ball. Players have numbers on their chests and backs and on the upper arms of their jerseys. They will wear the following:-

- Helmet
- Face mask
- Jersey
- Numbers
- Chest and shoulder padding
- Rib and kidney padding
- Trousers/Pants
- Below the belt padding
- Thigh padding
- Shin padding
- Lightweight boots

- - -

back to list of sports


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Original Source