How to Play Touch Football

Touch football is played with the aim of moving the ball towards the opponents score line by running and passing the ball backwards to your team mates.

There are no tackles, instead, when an attacking player with the ball is touched by an opponent, they perform a roll-ball.

What Do I Need?


That’s it!

No padding.
No shin-guards.
No mouth-guards.
No helmets.

At the social-level, Touch is one of the cheapest team sports that you can play because all you need to play is a pair of shoes and a shirt!

Think you’re ready to play touch football?
Click here to see where you can get started!

Here's some touch football basics:


A "touch" is contact on any part of the body between the player in possession of the ball and a defending player.

A touch includes contact on the ball, hair or clothing and may be made by either the defending player or the player in possession.

Roll-ball A "rollball" is the normal act of bringing the ball into play following a touch or a change of possession.

To perform a rollball:

  1. Face your opponent's scoreline and stand parallel to the sidelines
  2. Place the ball on the ground
  3. Step over the ball or roll it backwards (no more than 1 metre)

You do not need to use your foot to roll the ball. The ball must pass on the inside of your supporting foot.

The defending team can move forward once the Acting Half makes contact with the ball.

The Half

The "acting half", "dummy half", or just "the half", is the player who takes possession of the ball behind the player who performs a rollball.

The half may run with the ball but cannot score or be touched, otherwise their team loses possession.

Passing The player in possession may deliver the ball to another onside attacking player by "passing" the ball to them.

The ball may be passed, flicked, knocked, thrown or otherwise delivered to any other onside attacking player provided the pass leaves the player's hands in a backward direction.

An attacking player cannot deliberately pass the ball into an opposition player.

Try (Scoring)

A "try" is the result of an attacking player, in possession of the ball (who is not the half), placing the ball on or over the team's attacking scoreline prior to being touched by a defender.

Each try is worth 1 point, however some competitions award 2 points if a female player scores.


A "penalty" is awarded by the referee when a player or team infringes the rules.

When a penalty is awarded, possession of the ball is given to the non-offending team, and they are instructed to take a tap on the mark indicated by the referee. In most situations, the mark for the tap will be where the infringement occurred.

Common penalties include:

  • Forward Pass
  • Late Pass (passing the ball after being touched)
  • Offside

A "tap" is used to start play at the beginning of a match, to restart play after half-time, to restart play after a Try has been scored, or to restart play after a penalty is awarded.

To take a tap:

  1. Place the ball on the ground, at the mark indicated by the referee
  2. Release the ball
  3. Tap the ball with your foot (don't let it go more than 1 metre)
  4. Pick the ball up.

The defending team can move once you have tapped the ball.

Substitution / Interchange

A player on the field may be substituted with a replacement player from their own team at any point during the match.

To substitute correctly:

  1. The player leaving the field must enter the defined "interchange area" before the replacing player can leave.
  2. The replacement player must enter play in an onside position.

At no point should there be more than the allowed number of players on the field (normally 6). If the player does not leave the field before the replacement enters, the team may be penalised.

In a breakaway situation, players cannot interchange until the next touch is made.

Onside / Offside Defending Team

If a rollball is being performed by the attacking team, defending players must retire a distance of seven (7) metres from the mark where the touch was made.

If a tap is being performed by the attacking team, the defending team must retire at least 10 metres.

The referee will indicate where the defending team must retire to and defending players who do not retire the correct distance may be called "out of play" (or "offside") by the referee, and may be penalised if they interfere with the attacking play.

Attacking Team

An attacking player is considered offside if they are in front of the player in possession of the ball. Other than when their team is performing a tap, an attacking player can remain offside without penalty as long as they do not interfere with defending players.

Attacking Team The "attacking team" is the team which has possession of the ball or is gaining possession of the ball (after a changeover, penalty, etc.)
Defending Team The "defending team" is the team without possession of the ball.

A "drop-off" is a system used to determine a winner of a match if the scores are even at full-time. This usually only occurs during the finals series or where a game must have a winner and cannot be drawn.

In a drop-off, teams reduce their number of on-field players by two (2) players and play two (2) minutes of extra time to determine the winner. If the scores are still level, each team will lose one (1) more player and extra-time will continue until the next Try is scored.