Touch Football Terminology

If you're new to touch football, understanding some of the basic terminology may help you find your feet a little sooner.

Possession (when you've got the ball)

When your team has the ball, you've got six (6) touches to score a try.

Losing possesion: Your team will lose possession if the following happens:

  • If you get touched six times;
  • If the Half (see below) gets touched with the ball;
  • If the Half grounds the ball in the in-goal area (attempting to score);
  • If the ball is dropped to the ground or lost forward into another player; or
  • If you give away a penalty.

Posession: the team with the ball is considered to be "in possession".

Attacking player: a player on the team in possession.

Defending player: a player on the team not in possession.

Touch: Contact on any part of the body between a player holding the ball and a defending player. A touch includes contact on the ball, hair or clothing, and can be made by a defending player or the player holding the ball. You get six of these before having to turn over the ball to the other team.

Tap: The method of commencing the match, recommencing the match after half-time and after a try has been scored. It is also a method of recommencing play when a penalty is awarded.

Rollball: The normal act of bringing the ball into play following a touch or a change of possession. Players should perform a rollball by controlling the ball and placing it on the ground while facing the tryline they are running towards, and stepping over it. You can use your foot to roll the ball backwards (as long as it doesn't go more than one metre), but it's not recommended.

Mark: The location on the field where the touch was made and the rollball is to be performed, or where a tap is to be taken for a penalty.

Try: The act of scoring. You must place the ball down on or over the tryline (in the in-goal area). It's worth one (1) point.

The Half: The player who takes possession of the ball after a rollball. The half can't score a try; and if they try to, or get touched with the ball in their hands, their team loses possession of the ball.

Ruck: Area where the rollball occurs with the ball carrier, the defender and the acting-half.

Player Positions

Six (6) players take the field for each team. Two middles, two links and two wings.

Middle: Occupies the middle playing possitions on the field. Middles are generally the most consistent and fittest players in the team.

Link: Positioned between a Middle and Wing. They are the most deceptive runners and the best ball handlers.

Wing: Occupies the 'outside' position of the team, positioned between the Link player and the sideline. They are usually the fastest players in the team, as they have to cover a large part of the width of the field.

Common Penalties (when you do something wrong)

Most penalties occur when the "non-offending" team is disadvantaged by the actions of an opposition player. The most common penalties are below.

Late Pass (Touch & Pass): When the ball is passed after the player is touched by a defender. A penalty to the other team will be given where the touch was made.

Forward pass: When the ball is passed in a forward direction (towards the attacking tryline). The ball must leave the hands in a backward direction. A penalty will be given to the other team where the pass was made from.

Offside: When a defending player doesn't make it back at least seven (7) meters from a rollball (or ten meters from a tap). A penalty will be given to the other team on the mark where defending player should have been (i.e 7m in front of the rollball or 10m in front of the tap).

Over-step: When the person with the ball is touched but does not perform the rollball on the exact point where they have been touched. A penalty will be given to the other team where the ball-carrier was at the time they were touched.


Referee: The on-field official responsible for controlling the match. Some matches may be controlled by up to three (3) referees.

Team Sheet: A form that needs to be ticked by every player involved in a match. Players must have their name on the team sheet be ticked-off for each match that they play to be covered by the competition insurance.

Club Official: A registered official from your club that acts as a person responsible for overseeing any club-based issues on game day. Easily recognised on game day by their bright orange vests!

Drop-Off: How a winner is determined when the match is drawn at full time (in matches where a result is required, such as finals, etc.). Both teams "drop off" two players each from the field (4-on-4) and are given two (2) minutes of extra time to try and score. At the end of the two minutes, if one team has scored more tries, then they win the match, if a further player from each team leaves the field (3-on-3) and the match continues until a team scores a try.