IFAF RULE 10 – Penalty Enforcement

SECTION 2. Enforcement Procedures


ARTICLE 1. Enforcement Spots




  1. For many fouls, the enforcement spot is specified in the statement of the penalty. When the enforcement spot is not specified in the statement of the penalty, the enforcement spot is determined by the Three-and-One Principle (Rules 2-33 and 10-2-2-c).

  2. Possible enforcement spots are: the previous spot, the spot of the foul, the succeeding spot, the spot where the run ends, and — for scrimmage kicks only — the postscrimmage kick spot.

ARTICLE 2. Determining the Enforcement Spot and the Basic Spot




  1. Dead-ball fouls. The enforcement spot for a foul committed when the ball is dead is the succeeding spot.

  2. Fouls by Team A behind the neutral zone. For the following fouls committed by Team A behind the neutral zone, the penalty is enforced at the previous spot: illegal use of hands, holding, illegal block and personal foul (Exception: If the foul occurs in Team A’s end zone the penalty is a safety). However, see Rule 6-3-13 for kicking team fouls during scrimmage kick plays.
  3. The Three-and-One Principle (Rule 2-33) is as follows:

    1. When the team in possession commits a foul behind the basic spot, the penalty is enforced at the spot of the foul.

    2. When the team in possession commits a foul beyond the basic spot, the penalty is enforced at the basic spot.

    3. When the team not in possession commits a foul either behind or beyond the basic spot, the penalty is enforced at the basic spot.

  4. The following are basic spots for the various categories of plays:

    1. Running plays.


      1. Previous spot, when the related run ends behind the neutral zone.

      2. End of the related run, when the related run ends beyond the neutral zone.

      3. End of the related run, on running plays that have no neutral zone.

    2. Running plays when the run ends in the end zone after change of team possession (not on a try).


      1. Succeeding spot, when a foul occurs after a change of team possession in the end zone and the result of the play is a touchback.

      2. Goal line, when a foul occurs after a change of team possession in the field of play and the related run ends in the end zone (Exception: Rule 8-5-1-Exceptions).

      3. (Goal line, when a foul occurs after a change of team possession in the end zone, the related run ends in the end zone, and the result of the play is not a touchback.

    3. Pass plays. Previous spot, on legal forward pass plays.

    4. Kick plays.

      1. Previous spot, on legal kick plays unless the foul is governed by postscrimmage kick rules.

      2. (Postscrimmage kick spot, if the foul is governed by postscrimmage kick rules.

  5. For Team B fouls during a legal forward pass play:

    1. Penalty enforcement for Team B for personal fouls is at the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone and there is no change of team possession during the down (Rule 7-3-12). (A.R. 7-3-12:I) (A.R. 9-1-2:III)

    2. If the pass crosses the neutral zone and Team B commits a contact foul against an eligible receiver beyond the neutral zone before the ball is touched, the penalty includes an automatic first down (Rule 9-3-5).

Approved ruling 10-2-2


  1. A kickoff untouched by Team B goes out of bounds after illegal touching by Team A. Team A commits a personal or holding foul during the kick. RULING: Team B has these options: It may snap the ball at the spot of the illegal touching; accept a five-, 10- or 15-yard penalty from the previous spot with Team A re-kicking; snap the ball five, 10 or 15 yards beyond the spot where the ball went out of bounds; or snap the ball 30 yards beyond Team A’s restraining line.
  2. A Team A fumble or backward pass is loose in Team A’s end zone, where A33 kicks or bats the ball. RULING: Penalty – Safety (Rule 8-5-1-b). [Cited by 9-4-1-c]
  3. A Team A player clips in Team B’s end zone when a scrimmage kick has touched a Team B player in the field of play and the loose ball is still a kick. RULING: Penalty – 15 yards. Enforcement is either at the previous spot (Team A retaining possession) or at the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B.
  4. Team A punts from its end zone and the ball is returned to the A-30. A23 clips B35 in Team A’s end zone during the return. RULING: Penalty – 15 yards from the basic spot, which is the end of the run (Team A’s 30-yard line). Team B’s ball, first and 10.
  5. Team A punts from its end zone and the ball is returned to the A-30. A23 clips B35 in Team A’s end zone during the loose ball after Team B has fumbled. RULING: Penalty – 15 yards from the basic spot, which is the spot of the fumble. Team B’s ball, first and 10.
  6. Team A’s untouched punt from its end zone goes out of bounds at Team A’s 40-yard line. A2, in his end zone, clips Team B before the ball is kicked. RULING: Penalty – Safety (Rule 9-1 penalty) or Team B may snap the ball at the Team A 25-yard line after enforcement of the penalty from where the ball went out of bounds. [Cited by 8-5-1-b]
  7. Team A snaps at its one-yard line, and ball carrier A1 is downed on his five-yard line. Team B commits a personal foul in the end zone while the ball is in play. RULING: Penalty – 15 yards from the basic spot (five-yard line).
  8. A1, on his 40-yard line, punts from behind his neutral zone. B1 holds A2 behind or beyond the neutral zone after the kick crosses the neutral zone and before it has touched Team B. RULING: Penalty – 10 yards. Subject to postscrimmage kick enforcement if Team B is next to snap the ball.
  9. During A1’s run, B25 fouls 10 yards beyond the neutral zone. After advancing 30 yards, A1 fumbles and the ball is recovered by B48, who carries the ball across Team A’s goal line. RULING: Penalize Team B from the basic spot, which is the spot of the fumble. Team A retains possession of the ball (Rule 5-2-3).
  10. First and 10 at the A-30. A1 advances the ball to the B-40, where he is downed. During the run, B1 clips on Team A’s 45-yard line. RULING: Penalty – 15 yards. First and 10 at the B-25.
  11. First and 10 at the A-40. A1 advances to the B-40, where he fumbles. During A1’s run or during the fumble, B2 commits a personal foul at the 50-yard line. B1 recovers the fumble and returns the ball across Team A’s goal line. RULING: Penalty – 15 yards from the basic spot, which is the end of the related run (Team B’s 40-yard line) and first down for Team A.
  12. During the return of a scrimmage kick, B40 blocks A80 in the back above the waist at the B-25. Team B’s ball carrier is downed with the ball in his possession at Team B’s 40-yard line. RULING: Team B foul, illegal block in the back. Penalty – 10 yards from the spot of the foul. Team B’s ball, first and 10, from its 15-yard line. [Cited by 2-3-4-a, 9-3-6]
  13. Team B intercepts a legal forward pass, and the player who threw the pass is fouled during the return. RULING: Team B’s ball, first down and 10, after enforcement of the penalty (Rules 2-27-5, 5-2-4 and 9-1). [Cited by 9-1-9-a]
  14. B1 intercepts a legal forward pass (not a try) deep in his end zone and is unable to get out of the end zone, where he is downed. During the run, B2 clips A1 (a) at the B-25; (b) at the B-14; (c) in the end zone. RULING: The basic spot is the B-20. (a) First and 10 at the B-10. (b) First and 10 at the B-7. (c) Safety. (Rules 8-5-1-b, 8-6-1 and 10-2-2-d-2-a).
  15. B17 intercepts a legal forward pass (not a try) deep in his end zone and, as he attempts to run the ball out, A19 clips in the end zone. After the foul and before B17 leaves the end zone, B17 fumbles with A26 recovering on the two-yard line. RULING: Penalty – 15 yards from the goal line. Team B’s ball, first and 10 at its 15-yard line (Rule 10-2-2-d-2-c).
  16. After a safety, Team A punts the ball at Team A’s 20-yard line. The ball goes out of bounds untouched by Team B. RULING: Team B captain has the choice of the down being repeated at the A-15, or of putting the ball in play at the 50-yard line, or five yards beyond the inbounds spot.
  17. Second and 10 at the B-40. A4 takes the snap and scrambles to the right side of the field, going out of bound at the B-12. During the play, A73 blocks B95 in the back at the B-24 to prevent him from making the tackle. RULING: Penalty – 10 yards enforced from the spot of the foul. Second and 4 on the B-34.

ARTICLE 3. Postscrimmage Kick Enforcement




  1. Under postscrimmage kick enforcement rules, fouls by Team B that satisfy the conditions in paragraph b (below) are treated as if Team B had been in possession at the time the foul was committed, even though by Rule 2-4-1-b-3 team possession had not changed.

  2. Postscrimmage kick enforcement applies only to fouls by Team B during a scrimmage kick and only under the following conditions:

    1. The kick is not during a try, a successful field goal, or in an extra period. (A.R. 10-2-3:IV)

    2. The ball crosses the neutral zone.

    3. The foul occurs before the end of the kick. (A.R. 10-2-3:I, II and V)
    4. Team B will next put the ball in play.
      If these conditions are all met, the penalty is enforced according to the Three-and-One Principle. Team B is taken as the team in possession with the postscrimmage kick spot as the basic spot (Rule 10-2-2-c). (A.R. 10-2-3:I-VII)

Approved ruling 10-2-3


  1. Either team fouls during a scrimmage kick after the ball has been touched beyond the neutral zone. The foul is beyond the neutral zone, and Team B will next put the ball in play. RULING: For fouls by Team B, penalty enforcement will be by the Three-and-One Principle with the postscrimmage kick spot as the basic spot (Rule 2-25-11). Team B’s ball first and 10. For fouls by Team A, penalty enforcement is either from the previous spot or from the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B (Rule 6-3-13). [Cited by 10-2-3-b-3, 10-2-3-b-4, 5-2-3-a]
  2. Team A’s punt is blocked, crosses the neutral zone and is untouched by Team B beyond the neutral zone. It rebounds behind the neutral zone before Team B clips or holds. The ball is loose at the time of the foul. RULING: The foul is during the kick. If Team B is next to snap the ball, enforcement is according to postscrimmage kick rules. [Cited by 10-2-3-b-3, 10-2-3-b-4]
  3. Team A’s punt is blocked behind the neutral zone before Team B clips or holds beyond the neutral zone. The ball never crosses the neutral zone during the play. RULING: Rule 10-2-3 applies only when a scrimmage kick crosses the neutral zone. Team A retains possession after the penalty is enforced at the previous spot. [Cited by 10-2-3-b-4]
  4. Team A’s successful field goal attempt is snapped from Team B’s 30-yard line, and a Team B player fouls at the 20-yard line during the kick. RULING: Team A may decline the penalty and accept the score or void the score and have Team B penalised at the previous spot (Rule 10-2-5-d). [Cited by 10-2-3-b-1, 10-2-3-b-4]
  5. Team A’s untouched, unsuccessful field goal attempt is snapped from Team B’s 30-yard line. Team B fouls at the 15-yard line during the kick. RULING: Team B’s ball. The postscrimmage kick spot is at the 30-yard line and the enforcement is from the 15-yard line, the spot of the foul, with no possible repeat (Rules 2-25-11 and 8-4-2-b). [Cited by 10-2-3-b-3, 10-2-3-b-4, 2-25-11-b-1-a, 8-4-2-b-2]
  6. Team A’s punt crosses the neutral zone. During the kick, B79 holds A55 one yard beyond the neutral zone. B44 catches the kick at the B-25 and returns to the B-40 where he is tackled. RULING: B79’s foul is covered by postscrimmage kick enforcement. The 10-yard penalty is enforced at the end of the kick, which is the B-25. First and 10 for Team B at the B-15. [Cited by 10-2-3-b-4]
  7. Team A snaps the ball at the A-35 on fourth and seven. Just after the snap lineman B77 grabs guard A66 and pulls him to one side, allowing linebacker B43 to shoot the gap to try to block the kick. B44 catches the kick at the B-25 and returns to the B-40 where he is tackled. RULING: B77’s holding foul is not covered by postscrimmage kick enforcement since it is before the kick. The 10-yard penalty is enforced at the previous spot. The penalty yardage gives Team A first down at the A-45. [Cited by 10-2-3-b-4]

ARTICLE 4. Fouls by Team A During Kicks


Penalties for all fouls between the goal lines by the kicking team other than kick-catch interference (Rule 6-4) during a free kick play or a scrimmage kick play in which the ball crosses the neutral zone (except field goal attempts) are enforced either at the previous spot or at the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B, at the option of Team B (Rules 6-1-8 and 6-3-13).

ARTICLE 5. Fouls During or After a Touchdown, Field Goal or Try




  1. Fouls by the nonscoring team during a down that ends in a touchdown (not on the try).

    1. Fifteen-yard penalties for personal fouls and for unsportsmanlike conduct fouls are enforced on the try or the succeeding kickoff, at the option of the scoring team. If there is no kickoff, the accepted penalty is enforced on the try.

    2. Five- and 10-yard penalties are not enforced on the try or the succeeding kickoff. Such penalties are declined by rule unless enforcement is made possible by illegal touching of a kick during the down. (A.R. 6-3-2:III-IV)

  2. Penalties for defensive pass interference fouls on a try from the three-yard line are enforced one-half the distance to the goal line. If the try is successful, the penalty is declined by rule.

  3. When a foul(s) occurs after a touchdown and before the ball is ready for play on the try or there was a live-ball foul treated as a dead-ball foul on the touchdown play, enforcement is on the try or the succeeding kickoff, at the option of the offended team. If there is no kickoff, the accepted penalty is enforced on the try. (A.R. 3-2-3:V)

  4. Penalties for live-ball fouls during field goal plays are administered by rule. To accept points on a successful field goal, Team A must decline penalties for Team B live-ball fouls. By accepting the penalty for a Team B live-ball foul, Team A elects to cancel the score and have the penalty enforced at the previous spot. Penalties for live-ball fouls treated as dead-ball fouls and those for dead-ball fouls after a field goal down are enforced at the succeeding spot.

  5. Penalties for fouls during and after a try down are administered under Rules 8-3-3, 8-3-4, 8-3-5 and 10-2-5-b. (A.R. 3-2-3:VI-VII)

  6. Distance penalties for fouls by either team may not extend a team’s free kick restraining line behind its five-yard line. Penalties that would otherwise place the free kick restraining line behind a team’s five-yard line are enforced from the next succeeding spot.

Approved ruling 10-2-5


    Fouls during a touchdown or field goal by Team A:
  1. During a touchdown run Team B clips in the field of play or the end zone. RULING: Team A has the option of the penalty being enforced on the try or the succeeding kickoff (Rule 10-2-5-a-1). [Cited by 10-1-7]
  2. Team B commits a personal foul during a down when Team A scores a touchdown, and then Team A fouls after the score and before the ready-for-play signal on the try. RULING: Allow the score. Team A has the option of enforcement on the try or the succeeding kickoff. Team B then also has the option of Team A being penalised on the try or the succeeding kickoff. The yardage assessed on the live-ball/dead-ball penalties may cancel (Rule 10-2-5). [Cited by 10-1-7]
  3. Team B holds during Team A’s touchdown run. Team A fouls after the score. RULING: Allow the score. The penalty for Team B’s holding foul is declined by rule. Team B has the option of Team A being penalised on the try or the succeeding kickoff (Rule 10-2-5-a-2 and 10-2-5-c). [Cited by 10-1-7]
  4. A Team B player slugs an opponent during or after Team A’s touchdown run. Team B is offside on the successful try. RULING: Allow the touchdown. Disqualify the Team B player for fighting. Team A has the option of a penalty against Team B on the try or the succeeding kickoff. After the successful try, Team A has the option of repeating the try with the offside penalty enforced on the try (Rules 10-2-5 and 8-3-3-b). [Cited by 10-1-7]
  5. Team B roughs the forward passer during a touchdown pass play. RULING: Allow the touchdown. Team A has the option of enforcement on the try or the succeeding kickoff. [Cited by 10-1-7]
  6. Team B is offside during a successful field goal down. RULING: Team A has the option of accepting the penalty at the previous spot and repeating the down or keeping the points by declining the penalty. [Cited by 10-1-7] Fouls after a touchdown by Team A:
  7. Team A fouls after it scores a touchdown, and Team B fouls on the successful try. RULING: Allow the touchdown. Team B has the option of Team A being penalised on the try or the succeeding kickoff. Team A then has the option of Team B being penalised on a repeat of the try. Team B personal-foul penalties may be enforced on the subsequent kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods. Yardages assessed on the succeeding kickoff may cancel. [Cited by 10-1-7]
  8. Team A fouls after it scores a touchdown, and Team B fouls after a successful try. RULING: Allow the score. Team B has the option of Team A being penalised on the try or the succeeding kickoff. For the foul after the try, Team B is penalized on the kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods. [Cited by 10-1-7] Fouls during a try with no change of team possession (this does not include live-ball fouls treated as dead-ball fouls or loss-of-down fouls):
  9. Team B fouls during an unsuccessful try. RULING: Team B is penalized, and the try is repeated. The try is exempt from postscrimmage kick enforcement (Rule 10-2-3). [Cited by 10-1-7, 8-3-3-b-1]
  10. Team B fouls during a successful try. RULING: Repeat the down after enforcement or the penalty is declined by rule. Penalties for personal fouls may be enforced on the succeeding kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods (Rule 8-3-3-b-1). [Cited by 10-1-7, 8-3-1, 8-3-3-b-1]
  11. During a successful kick try from the three-yard line, Team B is offside. After the ball is dead, Team B commits a personal foul. RULING: If Team A elects to repeat the try, both penalties against Team B are enforced before the snap (Rule 10-1-6). If Team A declines the offside penalty and accepts the point, the penalty for Team B’s dead-ball foul is then enforced on the kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods (Rule 8-3-5). [Cited by 10-1-7, 8-3-1, 8-3-3-b-1]
  12. During an unsuccessful kick try from the three-yard line, Team A commits an illegal motion foul. After the ball becomes dead, Team B fouls. RULING: Team B obviously will refuse the penalty for the Team A foul. Team B is penalized on the kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods. [Cited by 10-1-7, 8-3-1] Fouls after a try and before the succeeding kickoff:
  13. Either team fouls. RULING: Enforce the penalty on the kickoff unless the try is the last down of the game. [Cited by 8-3-1, 8-3-5]
  14. Both teams foul before either penalty is completed. RULING: The fouls cancel. [Cited by 8-3-1, 8-3-5]
  15. The penalty for Team B’s foul after a successful try is accepted and will be enforced on the free kick; then:

    1. Team A fouls after the try. RULING: Enforce the penalties in occurrence order on the kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods.

    2. Team B fouls after the try. RULING: Enforce both Team B penalties in occurrence order on the kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods.

    3. Both teams foul before either penalty is completed. RULING: These fouls cancel. The penalty for Team B’s original foul is enforced on the kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods. [Cited by 8-3-1, 8-3-5]

ARTICLE 6. Half-Distance Enforcement Procedures


No distance penalty, including tries from on or inside the three-yard line, shall exceed half the distance from the enforcement spot to the offending team’s goal line [Exceptions: (1) Defensive pass interference on scrimmage downs, other than the try (Rules 7-3-8 and 10-2-5-b); and (2) On the try, defensive pass interference when the ball is snapped from outside the three-yard line].

ARTICLE 7. Special Enforcement of Post-Possession Fouls


In extra periods or during a try, fouls after a change of team possession have special enforcement.

  1. Penalties against either team are declined by rule. (Exceptions: Penalties for flagrant personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, dead-ball personal fouls and live-ball fouls treated as dead-ball fouls are enforced on the succeeding play).

  2. A score by a team committing a foul during the down is cancelled. (Exception: Live-ball foul treated as a dead-ball foul.) (A.R. 8-3-2:VII)

  3. If both teams foul during the down and Team B had not fouled before the change of possession, the fouls cancel and the down is not repeated. On a try, the try is over.