Indoor Football Review

This article takes a detailed look at indoor football, often referred to as arena football. We explain indoor football, discuss the goals, the pitch, and the ball, and compare it with other football variants.

What is Indoor Football?

Indoor football is a variation of eight-man gridiron football played indoors on a smaller field than American or Canadian football. It’s known for its high-scoring, fast-paced action and unique rules, like walls surrounding the field and a trampoline behind the end zones.

The Indoor Football League (IFL) is the most prominent league in the United States. Here is a more detailed explanation:


  • Smaller than traditional football: 66 yards long and 28 yards wide (about ¼ the size of an NFL field).
  • Walls surround the field except for the end zones, which have trampolines behind them.
  • Nets above the walls prevent balls from leaving the field of play.
  • Lines mark first downs, scoring zones, and penalty areas.


  • 8 players per team on the field at any time.
  • Larger rosters (20 active, 4 inactive) than traditional football due to more substitutions.
  • Positions include quarterback, offensive and defensive linemen, receivers, defensive backs, and a fullback/linebacker hybrid.


  • Faster pace than traditional football due to the smaller field and fewer players.
  • Games consist of four 15-minute quarters.


  • Touchdowns worth 6 points (including 1-point conversion kick or 2-point conversion play).
  • Field goals are worth 3 points.
  • Safeties are worth 2 points.

Special rules

  • The ball can be bounced off the walls to complete passes or advance the ball.
  • Two-point conversions must be attempted from the 5-yard line.
  • Onside kicks are replaced with a play where the receiving team tries to recover the ball after it’s kicked off the wall.


  • The major indoor football league is the Arena Football League (AFL), which is set to restart in 2024.
  • Other leagues, such as arenafootball2 and the China Arena Football League, have existed.

Indoor Football Goals Explained

In indoor football, scoring primarily happens through touchdowns and field goals.


  • Worth 6 points: Similar to traditional football, a touchdown occurs when a player catches the ball in the end zone or crosses the goal line with the ball.
  • Two-point conversion: After a touchdown, teams can attempt a two-point conversion by throwing or running the ball into the end zone from the 5-yard line.

Field Goals

  • Worth 3 points: Unlike traditional football, where field goals are kicked through the uprights, arena football uses a drop kick. The kicker drops the ball and kicks it as it hits the ground.
  • Special goalposts: The goalposts differ from traditional football. They have:
    Wider uprights (9 feet wide compared to 18 feet in the NFL).
    Lower crossbar (15 feet above the ground instead of 10 feet).
  • Netting on either side: These nets prevent missed kicks or throws from leaving the field and keep the ball in play, potentially leading to exciting returns.

Scoring with the walls

In arena football, players can utilize the walls surrounding the field. If a player throws or bounces the ball off the wall and it lands in the end zone, it still counts as a touchdown.

Similarly, if a player makes a successful drop kick that bounces off the net and goes through the goal posts, it’s a valid field goal.

Indoor Football Pitch

Find a detailed explanation of the indoor football pitch below.

Key features

  • Walls: Surround the field except for the end zones, typically made of padded panels to absorb impact.
  • Nets: Extend above the walls to prevent balls from leaving the playing area.
  • Goal posts: Wider uprights (9 feet) and lower crossbar (15 feet) compared to traditional football.
  • Trampolines: Located behind each end zone, used to deflect missed field goals and kickoffs back into play.


  • First down lines: Every 10 yards along the field.
  • Scoring zones: End zones marked in bright colors for touchdown identification.
  • Penalty areas: Designated areas for specific penalties.

Indoor Football Ball

Size and Weight

  • Smaller than a traditional American football: about 8.75 inches long and 5.25 inches in diameter.
  • Slightly heavier than a traditional football: around 14 ounces.


  • Typically made of composite materials like polyurethane or leather.
  • Some balls might use a combination of materials for specific properties.
  • The material choice aims for a better grip and handling than a standard football.


  • Four white panels with red laces, similar to a traditional football but smaller.
  • The panels help maintain air pressure and create a consistent aerodynamic shape.
  • The laces improve grip for throwing and catching.


  • Designed for the fast-paced nature of arena football.
  • A firmer grip allows for quicker throws and catches.
  • Lower bounce helps maintain control on the smaller field with walls.
  • Weight contributes to a faster throw due to less air resistance.

Differences from Traditional Football

  • Smaller size for quicker movement and throws.
  • Heavier weight for better grip and throws in a faster game.
  • Lower bounce due to the smaller field and walls.

Indoor Football vs Other Types of Football

Here’s a comparison of indoor arena football to other popular football varieties:

FeatureIndoor Arena FootballAmerican FootballCanadian FootballFutsal
Playing FieldIndoor, smaller (66×28 yards), walls & trampolinesOutdoor, large (120×53.3 yards)Outdoor, wider field (110×65 yards)Indoor, hardcourt, smaller (42×25 meters)
Players8 per team on field11 per team on field12 per team on field5-7 per team on field
ScoringTouchdowns (6pts), field goals (3pts), safeties (2pts)Touchdowns (6pts), field goals (3pts), safeties (2pts)Touchdowns (6pts), field goals (3pts), two-point conversions (2pts), rouge (1pt)Goals (1pt)
PaceVery fast & high-scoringFast & physicalModerately fast, strategicFast & technical
Unique RulesBounce off walls, two-point conversions from 5-yard line, drop kicks for field goalsNoneThree downs, wider field, rouge points, twelve men on fieldSmaller court, no offside
PopularityLess popular, regional leaguesMost popular in North AmericaPopular in Canada & internationallyPopular worldwide
AccessibilityEasier to build indoor arenasRequires large outdoor fieldsRequires large outdoor fieldsCan be played on various indoor/outdoor courts

Key Differences

  • Field size and features: Indoor arena football uses a much smaller field with unique elements like walls and trampolines, leading to a faster and more unpredictable game.
  • Number of players: Arena football has fewer players on the field, impacting gameplay strategies and emphasizing individual skills.
  • Scoring: Arena football has some variations in scoring rules, like the two-point conversion attempt from the 5-yard line and dropkicks for field goals.
  • Pace and style: Arena football is generally faster and higher-scoring, while other forms prioritize strategy and physicality to varying degrees.
  • Popularity and accessibility: While American football dominates in North America, arena football has a smaller regional following. However, its indoor nature makes it more accessible for facility development.

Choosing the Right Football

The best football for you depends on your preferences.

  • Fast-paced action and unique rules: Go for arena indoor football.
  • Traditional gameplay and large-scale stadiums: Choose American or Canadian football.
  • Technical skills and smaller court setting: Futsal might be your choice. If you are interested in it, read about futsal rules more.

Ultimately, explore and try different variations to discover which football game excites you the most!


In summary, indoor football, or futsal, is a faster and more exciting version of traditional football.

Fewer players emphasize individual skills like agility and quick throws, while unique rules like drop kicks for field goals add another layer of excitement.

Whether you love the traditional game or crave something thrilling and unpredictable, indoor arena football offers a great experience.

What is indoor football❓

In this version of football, two teams of six players compete on a field enclosed by walls rather than traditional boundary lines. Unlike the standard eleven-player format, this game does not pause for throw-ins, corners, or goal kicks.

What is the name of the indoor football sport❓

Futsal is the international name for indoor football.

Is indoor football same as futsal❓

Futsal is played on hard surfaces. Indoor soccer is played on turf. Walls surround indoor soccer pitches. Futsal courts don’t have surrounding walls at all.

Who invented indoor football❓

Jim Foster, a promotions manager with the National Football League (NFL), invented indoor football.

When was invented indoor football❓

Indoor football was invented in 1986.