Flag Football League Rules

Flag Football Rules

Coin Toss:

    Before the start of the game the referee will toss a coin in the presence of opposing captains, after first designating which captain shall call the fall of the coin.

    The captain winning the toss shall choose one of the following options:

    • a. Offense
    • b. Defense
    • c. To designate which goal his/her team will defend.
    • d. To defer the choice of the above options to begin the second half.

Number of Players:

    The game shall be played between 2 teams of 7 players each. A minimum of 5 players is required to prevent a forfeit. Each team will be required to provide one person, (Player or Spectator), to keep score for one half.


    Each player on the field must wear a one piece flagbelt (provided by SportsLeagues) at the waistline with three flags permanently attached, one flag on each side and one in the center of the back. If cleats are worn, they must have a one-piece molded bottom. Illegal equipment includes: the use of headgear (Exception: stocking caps are legal), forearm, hand, or elbow pads, shoes with metal cleats, shoulder pads, loose jewelry, or any unyielding or dangerous equipment. Any slippery or sticky substance of a foreign nature on equipment or exposed parts of the body is illegal. It is recommended that the pants or shorts worn by players do not have pockets.

     *** All players must wear jerseys (shirts) long enough so that they remain tucked in during each down, or cut at least 4" above the flag belt. ***

Timing Game:

    The game will consist of two halves of 20 minutes each. The referee will keep the time.   TIME OUTS--each team is entitled to two time outs per half. Time outs will be one minute in length. Time outs do not carry over between halves. The start, finish and two minute warnings (one each half) will be sounded by a whistle.

Yards and Downs:

    When a first down is gained in a zone, the team in possession of the ball is allowed four (4) downs to move the ball from that point into the next zone.

Forward Pass:

    Any member of the passing team is eligible. All forward passes must originate behind the line of scrimmage. The position of the feet will determine legality. Teams are allowed only one forward pass per down.

Dead Ball:

    A live ball becomes dead when an official sounds the whistle or declares it dead. The ball will become dead when:

    • a. the ball goes out of bounds or when it touches the goal line of the ball carrier's opponents.
    • b. any part of the ball carrier's person other than the hand or foot touches the ground. NOTE: the ball carrier may contact the ball to the ground and the ball will remain live as long as no other body parts other than the foot or hand are in contact with the ground. The ball is considered to be part of the hand.
    • c. a touchdown, touchback, safety or try for point is made.
    • d. a forward pass strikes the ground or is caught simultaneously by opposing players.
    • e. a backward pass or fumble by a player touches the ground. This includes snaps. NOTE: Backward passes and fumbles may be caught in flight in bounds by any player and advanced.
    • f. a ball carrier has a flag belt removed legally by a defensive player.
    • g. A ball carrier is legally touched with one hand below the neck once the flag belt is no longer attached.
    • h. a muff of a scrimmage kick strikes the ground.
    • i. a scrimmage kick is touched by the kicking team. The receiving team retains possession.

     NOTE: A scrimmage kick that falls to the ground untouched will remain alive.

    • j. the official inadvertently blows his/her whistle.


    Offensive screen blocking is legal as long as there is no contact. The screen blocker shall position her/his hands and arms behind their back, to their sides, or wrapped across their chest. Screen blocking down field is legal, however, the blocker must be on her/his feet before, during and after screen blocking. This is judged like a block/charge in basketball.

    A. Screen blocking fundamentals.


    • a. when she/he is behind a stationary opponent, take a position closer than a normal step
    • b. when he/she assumes a position at the side or in front of a stationary opponent, make contact with him/her.
    • c. take a position so close to a moving opponent that her/his opponent can not avoid contact by stopping or changing direction. The speed of the player to be screened will determine where the screener may take his/her stationary position. This position will vary and may be 1 or 2 normal strides from the opponent. PENALTY: Personal foul, 10 yards.

    All-male addition to the above rule:

    BLOCKING All-male league only.

    • a. Blocking on the line of scrimmage shall consist of "checking" with the body above the belt and below the neck in crouching position or standing position. PENALTY: for illegal blocks to the face or legs - 15 yards from line of scrimmage. No three point stance may be used while blocking; only the blocker's feet may be in contact with the ground. The blocker may extend their arms forward but may not extend their arms laterally or hold their opponents while blocking. PENALTY: 15 yards from line of scrimmage. Open field blocking for kick-off and punt returns shall be governed by this rule. Players may set stationary picks which shall not constitute blocking under this section; provided, however, that a moving pick shall be considered blocking and subject to the restrictions of subsection F.
    • b. The defense is restricted to use of hands above the waist and below the neck of an opponent; unnecessary roughness is not allowed. PENALTY: - 15 yards from line of scrimmage and automatic 1st down. A defensive player may use his hands to push his opponent aside but may not hold his opponent while doing so. PENALTY - 5 yards and automatic 1st down.
    • c. Neither an offensive nor a defensive player may use a forearm shiver. PENALTY: 15 -yards from line of scrimmage, and automatic 1st down if against defense.
    • d. No player shall leave his feet to throw a block. PENALTY: 15 yards from line of scrimmage.
    • e. All players on both offense and defense can use a three point stance, except that no three point stance may be used by a blocking back.
    • f. There shall be no blocking beyond the line of scrimmage by any offensive or defensive player except on punt returns and kickoff returns. There shall be no blocking by any defensive player on any return of an interception. PENALTY: for downfield blocking - 15 yards from line of scrimmage.


    It is a foul for a defensive player to tackle, trip, push, shove, or elbow the ball carrier or blocker. The runner's forward progress may not be impeded in any way. PENALTY: Personal foul, 10 yards, and if flagrant, the offender shall be disqualified.

Ball carrier restrictions:

    It is a penalty for the ball carrier to stiff arm, charge into, knee or try to knock over a defensive player at any time. This is judged like a block/charge foul in basketball.


    • A. Spinning and diving is legal. However, the ball carrier must be in control of his body at all times.

     *** The ball carrier must attempt to avoid contact with all defensive players.

Protected scrimmage kick:

    The kicker on punts will have absolute protection. The referee shall notify the defensive team prior to a punt. Players from either team may not pass the scrimmage line until after the ball has been kicked. PENALTY: 5 yards.

    • a. Quick kicks are illegal and the kicker after receiving the ball must kick the ball immediately and in a continuous motion. PENALTY: Illegal kick, 10 yards.
    • b. If the ball from snap hits the ground after a touch by the kicker or any other offensive player the ball is dead. The kicker must be at least four yards deep when receiving the snap.

Fouls to prevent play:

    If the defensive team commits a foul so near its goal line that they can be penalized only by halving the distance to the goal line, the object being (in the opinion of the officials) to consume time, it shall be regarded as a refusal to allow play to proceed. In that event, the referee shall warn the offending team once, and then if the offense is repeated, it is in the officials power to award a touchdown.

Ball in play:

    A team has 25 seconds to put the ball in play after the referee has signaled ready for play. PENALTY: Delay of game 5 yards. Dead ball foul. If a team delays with under 2 minutes in the game, the first infraction shall be a loss of down. A second delay of the game infraction will carry a loss of possession.


    Touchdown: 6 points; Try-for-Point: 1 pt. from the 3 yd. line, 2 pts from the 10; Safety: 2 pts

Mercy Rule:

    The official on the field has the right to call the game at any time if he/she feels that the game is out of reach.  


    There will be no overtime during the regular season. During the playoffs there will be overtime. All overtime periods are played towards the same goal line. A coin toss will determine which team has the options, as in the beginning of the game. Each team will start 1st and goal from the 10 yard line. An overtime period consists of one series of downs for each team. This process will be repeated until a winner is determined. Try-for-points will be attempted.

    • a. Penalties shall be assessed according to the regular rules of the game.
    • b. Interceptions: Intercepted passes may be returned in an overtime period. If the defense intercepts the ball and returns it for a touchdown, they will win the game. If they do not return the interception for a touchdown, the ball will be placed on the 10 yard line to begin their series of 4 downs. Each team is entitled to one time-out per overtime period.

Fifteen Yard Rule

    After the ball is ready for play, each team a player must momentarily be within 10 yards of the ball before the snap. PENALTY: Illegal Procedure 5 yards.

Out of bounds:

    Only one foot must touch in bounds in order for a pass reception to be considered legal.

Inadvertent Whistle:

    In flag football it is not uncommon for a ball to be mistakenly blown dead. In these cases, the offensive team shall have the option of replaying the down from the previous spot, or accepting the ball at the spot where it was blown dead. On all loose balls such as a pass in flight, the down must be replayed from the previous spot. After a change in possession, the team in possession at the time the ball is blown dead shall have the option of accepting the play or replaying the down.


    Examples include: Abusive or insulting language directed at the officials or an opposing player; Any acts of unfair play; Intentionally kicking at the ball (other than during a legal kick); Spiking the ball into the ground; Throwing the ball high into the air; Intentionally kicking at any opposing player (DQ); Intentionally contacting a game official during the game; (DQ); Intentionally swinging and arm, hand, or fist at an opposing player (DQ). PENALTY: Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Dead Ball, 15 yards (and/or objection). The second unsportsmanlike foul by the same player or non player results in a disqualification. Referee's discretion: Three "flagrant" unsportsmanlike fouls in the same game will result in a forfeit.


    The Coed program will use the same rules as mentioned with the following modifications.

1. Five players at a minimum

    • Must be present to begin a contest. Failure to field a minimum of five players will be deemed a forfeit. Two women on the field are required for the game. Maximum of seven players will be allowed to play on a team. Four men and three women.

2. Forward Pass:

    • The term "CLOSED" means a male player may not complete a forward pass to any other male player. The term "OPEN" means any player male or female, may complete a forward pass to any other player.
      • a. Any member of the passing team is eligible to receive a pass. During the offensive team's possession, if a male completes a forward pass to a male receiver, the next forward pass completion must involve either a female passer or receiver for positive yards. Penalty: Illegal forward pass penalizes 5 yards and loss of down.
      • b. There are no other restrictions concerning a male passer completing forward passes to a female receiver, or female to female, or female to male.
      • c. Any foul whether accepted or declined, shall have no effect on whether the next forward pass completion is "OPEN" or "CLOSED".

3. Scoring:

Touchdowns by female players will count 9 points. Touchdowns for male players will count 6 points. Try-for-points will be the same as in women and men's play.

4. Mercy rule:

    If a team is 23 or more points ahead when the horn sounds for the 5 play warning, the game will be over. If at any time during the final two minutes a team reaches a lead of 23 points or more, the game will be over.

    NOTE: These rules may be modified over the season after notification of the captains. If there is a dispute or disagreement with any rule, both captains and the game officials may agree to suspend any of the above rules for that game only. If an agreement cannot be reached by both captains, then the above rules will prevail.


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