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Guide to XFL Rules and League Format

The main goal of Vince McMahon’s football league, the XFL, is to fill the void for fans of the sport when there are no NFL or NCAA games.

On this page we’re a close look at the XFL rules and league format.

We go through every detail you need to know about the XFL Conferences, the regular season, the playoffs, and more.

XFL Draft Rules

Let’s start with the XFL draft rules and the whole process behind building a roster. The event takes place in October, and the structure is designed to balance the strength of the teams. For that purpose, the XFL draft features several phases for the different types of players by position.

The league uses a snake draft in which the order of selection is reversed after each phase, so every team has an equal opportunity to acquire strong players.

The first stage of the selection process features the quarterbacks. Every organization submits their list of desired quarterbacks, and the XFL assigns them to each team.

After that, the real draft starts in the following phases.

  • Phase 1: Offensive skill positions
  • Phase 2: Offensive linemen
  • Phase 3: Defensive front seven players
  • Phase 4: Defensive backs
  • Phase 5: Open draft (any position)

At the end of the draft, each team has a roster of 71 athletes that has to be cut to 52 players by the start of the regular season. There’s usually a supplementary draft designed to add even more talent to the XFL.

If you want to find out more details about XFL rules for the draft, take a look at the following page.

XFL Trades

The XFL teams have the right to trade players between each other during both the preseason and the regular season.

At this point, the XFL is yet to announce if there will be trade windows and restrictions at certain points of the campaign, most notably the playoffs.

XFL Conferences

Similarly to the other major sports league in the USA, the XFL format features two conferences: an Eastern Conference and Western Conference.

Each of the XFL conferences includes four teams as follows.

XFL Eastern Conference

  • DC Defenders
  • New York Guardians
  • St. Louis BattleHawks
  • Tampa Bay Vipers

XFL Western Conference

  • Dallas Renegades
  • Houston Roughnecks
  • Los Angeles Wildcats
  • Seattle Dragons

On top of the eight teams that are part of the XFL, there’s another team unofficially called “Team 9”. It’s a practice group designed to keep players ready to fill in the other rosters in the case of an emergency and to give other athletes the chance to earn a place in the XFL.

To learn more about every team in the organization, visit this page.

XFL Schedule

The XFL schedule doesn’t feature preseason games, so it is split into just regular season and playoffs. Official dates for the season are released in the middle of October after the XFL draft is complete. The ticket sales for the games open several days later.

The regular season schedule takes place within the span of ten weeks, and the games go on between February and April. The playoffs start a week after the end of the regular season.

Most XFL games are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. However, there are several Thursday encounters, too.

The following pages features the full schedule and results of the current XFL season.

XFL Regular Season

The XFL regular season features ten games. Each team plays five games at home and five games away.

Each organization will face the other members of their Conference twice, home and away, and the teams in the other Conference once during the regular season.

At the end of the regular season, the best two sides in each Conference earn a place in the playoffs.

There is no bye weekend in the XFL, so the league goes straight to the postseason once the regular season is finished.

XFL Playoffs

Once the best two teams in each Conference are decided, it’s time to move on to the XFL playoffs. They are separated into two rounds: Conference Finals and the Championship game.

Let’s explore how both of them work.

XFL Conference Finals

After the regular season is over, the two teams with the best record in each Conference face each other in the XFL Conference Finals.

Only one game is played, and the organization with the better record during the regular season receives the home advantage.

The winners of the two XFL Conference Finals then proceed to the last match of the competition.

XFL Championship Game

The XFL Championship game is the conclusion of the season. The two Conference champions meet each other to determine the winner of the competition in a pre-determined location.

The game uses the standard XFL rules that we explain below.

Rules for XFL Games

One of the main goals of the XFL is to improve the experience of the fans and clear out some of the controversial rules in the NFL and college football. This is why the league has applied its own set of rules.

We’ve split them into four categories, as follows

  • Game format rules
  • Scoring rules
  • Other gameplay rules
  • Officiating rules

We’ll now detail all the XFL rules in each of these.

Game Format Rules

The first group of XFL rules features are those that determine the format of the game in terms of length and the different periods.

Regular Time in the XFL

Each XFL game is split into two halves that are 30 minutes long. Each half is split into two quarters that last for 15 minutes.

The total game time is 60 minutes.

Overtime in the XFL

The XFL’s overtime allows both teams to take turns in five rounds similar to penalty shootouts in soccer and hockey. Both sides have five possessions and have one play to score from the 5-yard line. Each successful play brings 2 points.

The team with more points after the five rounds wins. If there’s a tie, the teams take turns for additional possessions until one of them scores and the other doesn’t.

If any of the teams can’t be caught by the opponents mathematically before the end of the initial five rounds, the game ends.

25-Second Play Clock

The XFL features a 25-second play clock that begins right after the ball is spotted for the next play.

Comeback Period at the End of Each Half

There is a comeback period that starts when two minutes are left in each half. During that period, the game clock is stopped on plays that end in the field of play. It is restarted when the ball is spotted and five seconds of the play clock have passed.

Another rule of the XFL’s comeback period is that the game clock is stopped completely on incomplete passes and out-of-bounds plays. It resumes when the ball is snapped.

Up Tempo Game Clock for the Rest of the Game

When a play ends outs of bounds or on an incompletion, the game clock stops until the ball is spotted.

This doesn’t apply to the comeback period.

Timeouts in the XFL

Each team has the right to call two timeouts per half.

Timeouts each last one minute.

Halftime in the XFL

The break between the two XFL halves lasts ten minutes, and the teams then return to action.

Scoring Rules in the XFL

Here are the main XFL rules in relation to scoring.

Touchdowns in the XFL

When a team scores a touchdown in the XFL, it receives six points.

Touchdowns also lead to the opportunity for an additional play as explained below.

Field Goals in the XFL

Each team has the change to go for a field goal during a play from scrimmage.

The players can’t go for field goals from open play.

Point-After Touchdown

After scoring a touchdown, each team will have the opportunity to go for an extra play for 1, 2, or 3 additional points.

No field goals are allowed. Instead, the ball is placed on the 2-, 5-, or 10-yard, respectively, and the team has to reach the end zone, similarly to regular touchdowns.

If the defense wins the ball and scores a touchdown, it receives the same number of points the offense was going for.

Other Gameplay Rules in the XFL

Here are the other rules that are focused on the gameplay in the XFL.


The main goal of the XFL Kickoff rule is to protect the players from concussions. That’s why the kicker has to kick the ball from the 30-yard line in the air between the end zone and the 20-yard line of the opposition.

If the kicker kicks the ball out of bounds or doesn’t reach the 20-yard line of the opposition, the ball is taken to the 45-yard line of the kicking team.

If the kicker sends the ball into the end zone, and it’s downed, that counts as a “Major” touchback. As a result, the ball is moved to the return side’s 35-yard line.

Another case covered is when the ball bounces in and bounces out of the end zone or is downed in the end zone. In such a scenario, the ball is moved to the return side’s 15-yard line.

During kickoffs, the players of the coverage team must stay on the 35-yard line, and the members of the return team are lined up on the 30-yard line. They are not allowed to move until the ball is caught by the returner or three seconds after the ball touches the ground.

If a member of the return team touches the ball and it goes out of bounds, the ball is placed in the spot it went out of bounds.

The teams are allowed to run traditional onside kicks, but they must warn the officials first.


The punting team is not allowed to move over the line of scrimmage before the ball is released. The gunners and the defenders can’t cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.

There are two ways for a “Major” touchback here. The first one is if the ball goes out of bounds inside the 35-yard line, and the second happens if a punted ball falls in the end zone or goes out of bounds there. In any of these scenarios, the ball is placed on the 35-yard line.

Double-Forward Passing

The XFL teams have the right to send a second forward pass in each play if the ball hasn’t surpassed the line of scrimmage with the first forward pass or through running. Once the ball is over that line, no forward passes are permitted.

Successful Catches in the XFL

For a catch to be successful, the XFL player must control the ball before it touches the ground. He also must touch the ground inbounds with any part of his body and maintain control for long enough to perform an act common to the game.

Illegal Man Downfield

No player can be more than three yards below the line of scrimmage until the passer throws a legal forward pass that crosses the line of scrimmage. Any part of the body counts for this rule.

Officiating Rules in the XFL

Here’s what we know about the XFL rules for officiating.

Replay Rulings

There are no coaches’ challenges in the XFL rules. Instead, all qualifying plays will be reviewed by the Replay Official.

He also has the right to correct any calls involving players’ safety and obvious errors that could impact the outcome of the game in the last five minutes of the game or in overtime.

Ball Spotting

The XFL features one official whose only job will be to quickly spot the ball and get a new one after each play to save time.

More on the XFL

Here are some other pages about the XFL you may be interested to read.

We also feature lots of XFL content on our blog. Here are some of the latest posts.

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