Flag Football Rules
Team Composition and Equal Playing Time
All teams will have approximately 12 players
All teams play 6 vs 6. But can play with as few as 5 in order to start the game.
This league is an equal play league. This means equal opportunity to participate in both playing time and positions. Every participant must play a full half. A participant is limited to playing a position no more than half of the total game time.
Coaches are responsible for creating practice and game plans that allow for a rotation of players through multiple positions throughout the season so they can gain experience. Section
7-10 Age Group: Pee-Wee Size Ball
10-12 Age Group: Youth Size Ball
Game balls and flag belts provided by the league.
All players must wear matching jerseys with numbers.
No metal cleats allowed.
Mouth guards are required.
No jewelry allowed.
Shorts must not have pockets and jerseys must be tucked in.
The Field Specs and Dimensions
30 yards wide x 50 yards long total with two 8-yard end zones on each end. The midfield line is the first down yard line for each team. All measurements are approximations.
No Run Zones
No Run Zones are in place to prevent teams from conducting run plays in short distances. They are 5-yard imaginary zones before the 1st down line and the end zone (these zones will be marked with cones). While in the no run zones, teams may not run the ball in any fashion. All plays must be pass plays. Each offensive squad approaches only two No-Run Zones in each drive one zone 5 yards from midfield to gain the first down, and one zone 5 yards from the goal line to score a touchdown and this will be identified by the referees prior to the snap.
Regular Season Games
Games will start on time as scheduled and are unable to be delayed waiting for coaches, players or teams. Players and coaches are expected to arrive early in order to prepare and be ready to play on time.
Postponed games may or may not be rescheduled depending on availability in the season and is at the discretion of the league director.
Forfeited games will not be rescheduled. If both teams fail to show up to their scheduled game, then both teams will be given a forfeit.
Home team receives the ball for starting the game and away team picks which direction they want to go.
At least one approved coach must be at all games. All coaches must be registered and have successfully completed and passed a background check prior to coaching. Only the approved coaches who have been cleared by the league and completed the requirements may coach a team during games as well as be on the team bench and team sidelines.
The designated team benches shall be on the same side of field and no spectators are allowed on that side of the field. The designated team sidelines are for staff, cleared and approved volunteer coaches, and registered players only.
For Ages 7-10, one coach may be on the field, behind the players, during play. For the Ages 10-12, coaches may not be on the field of play during live plays, however, coaches offensive coaches may come on the field of play to give the players a play, but must be off the field before the play begins.
A dashed safety line is marked ten feet from each sideline. All participants, coaches, parents/guardians and spectators must stay behind this dashed line at all times during the game for safety reasons. Parents/guardians and spectators are not allowed on the playing field, team sidelines or bench area. They must remain on the spectator sidelines. Parents/guardians and spectators may not run up and down the sidelines.
Disrupted Behavior Examples of disruptive/unsportsmanlike act shall include but are not limited to: loud or abusive language, comments to official(s), comments to opposing teams, throwing of objects, displaying disgust in an overt manner or, interfering with proper officiating of the game. 4 • At all divisions, the referee has the right to request that any coach be seated or to move if he/she feels it is in the best interest of the players and the match.
Sportsmanship and Conduct
We takes sportsmanship and player/spectator conduct very seriously. All players, coaches, parents and spectators must demonstrate positive sportsmanship and follow league policies at all times. Failure to do so may result in ejection from the game. Inappropriate, abusive or aggressive will not be tolerated in any capacity. The league reserves the right to eject any player, parent, spectator, coach or any other individual for any reason. Once ejected that individual must leave the facility or field immediately. Multiple ejections throughout a season may include but is not limited to ejection for the remainder or the season without a refund as well as suspension from the league for up to 2 years.
Officials and Elasticity Clause
The league will supply two referees per game. Referees shall be granted authority to assess penalties in which coaches, players, and spectators can be ejected from any game. Referees will track scores and time for each game. Their scores are considered the official and final scores. The flag football rules in this manual do not cover all rules situations that may occur in a game. Those rules and situations not covered in this manual will be governed by commonly accepted flag football rules as understood by the officials. Some violations, especially in 7-10 year old division, will be called at the discretion of the official in order to allow for a flow and continuity of the game without constant stoppage. This is to help ensure the kids develop in and enjoy the playing experience as much as possible.
Game Length, Halftime, Timeouts, and Overtime
Games are played on a 40-minute continuous clock with two 20-minute halves. The clock stops only for timeouts and injuries. Officials can stop the clock at their discretion. Halftime is 5 minutes long. Teams switch ends of the field at halftime. They remain on the same bench, but their end zone is at the opposite end for the second half. Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball. The 30 seconds includes a team’s huddle and getting up to the ball before for the snap. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced. 30 seconds begin after the referee signals a ready whistle after each play.
Each team has two 45 second timeouts per half. Timeouts will not carry over to halves. Repeated delays of game may result in an additional penalty. Delay of game includes taking too much time with game start, huddles, timeouts, in between plays, quarters and halves, and substitutions. If the score is tied at the end of 40 minutes, the game will be declared a tie.
General Rules and Regulations
At the start of each game, home team gets the ball first on offense. Away team then gets to decide the direction they want. The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has 4 plays to cross midfield. Once a team crosses midfield, they have 4 plays to score a touchdown. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team starts its drive on its own 5-yard line. If the offensive team fails to cross midfield, possession of the ball changes and the opposition starts its drive from its own 5-yard line. All possession changes, except interceptions, start on the offense’s 5-yard line. Interceptions in the end zone that are downed will be brought out to the 5- yard line. If interception is not returned to end zone, possession begins where runner’s flag was pulled.
Teams change sides after the first half. Possession changes to the team that started the game on defense.
A touchdown is 6 points, a team that scores a touchdown must declare whether it wishes to attempt a 1- point conversion (from the 5-yard line) or a 2-point conversion (from the 10-yard line). PAT (Point After Touchdown): 1-point (5-yard line) or 2-points (10-yard line). Any change, once a decision is made to try for the extra point, requires a charged time out. Decision cannot be changed after a penalty. Interceptions on conversions can be returned and will be awarded 2 points.
Safety: 2 points. A Safety occurs when the ball carrier is declared down in his/her own end zone. They can be called down when their flags are pulled by a defensive player, their flag falls off, they step out of bounds or they hit the ground with their knee or arm. A Safety also occurs when there is an offensive penalty in the end zone.
The mercy rule will come into play to discourage a team from running up the score. When a team is up by 21 points or more, that team will only have 2 downs to advance to mid field, and then 2 downs to advance from midfield to the endzone. In addition, the team that is down by 21 points or more will start with the ball at midfield and will have 4 downs to score. It will also be the responsibility of the winning coach to make necessary adjustments with substitutions or changing player positions to make the game more fair once up by 21 points or more. The officials may stop tracking the score on the visual scoreboard if they feel a lopsided game is occurring. This is to help players, coaches and parents redirect their focus off the score and back to having fun and developing in the sport. The officials will continue to keep score on their official scorecard though and may return the score display once they feel it is appropriate.
Live Ball/Dead Ball
The ball is live at the snap of the ball and remains live until the official whistles the ball dead. The official will indicate the neutral zone and line of scrimmage. It is an automatic dead ball foul if any player on defense or offense enters the neutral zone. In regard to the neutral zone, the official may give both teams a “courtesy” neutral zone notification to allow their players to move back behind the line of scrimmage. A player who gains possession in the air is considered in bounds as long as one foot comes down in the field of play. The defense may not mimic the offensive team signals, by trying to confuse the offensive players, while the quarterback is calling out signals to start the play. This will result in an unsportsmanlike penalty. Substitutions may be made on any dead ball. Any official can whistle the play dead. Play is ruled “dead” when:
The ball hits the ground.
The ball carrier’s flag is pulled off.
The ball carrier steps out of bounds.
A touchdown, PAT or safety is scored.
The ball carrier’s knee or arm hits the ground.
The ball carrier’s flag falls off.
The receiver catches the ball while in possession of one or no flag(s)
The 7 second pass clock expires.
There are no fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball carrier’s feet were at the time of the fumble. In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the offense can choose two options: Take the ball where it was when the whistle blew and the down is consumed or replay the down from the original line of scrimmage.
Only one running play is allowed per four downs. The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage, and play will count as a pass play, not a run play. The ball is spotted where the furthest point of the ball is when the flag is pulled. The quarterback cannot directly run with the ball. The quarterback does have the ability to scramble in the back field but cannot advance the ball beyond the line of scrimmage. The quarterback is the offensive player that receives the snap. The ball is spotted where the furthest point of the ball is when the flag is pulled. Scrambling and subsequent running by the quarterback beyond the line of scrimmage may happen under the following conditions: 1-If the defense rushes after the 3 second passing clock. If the defense does not rush, the quarterback is not allowed to run. 2-If the quarterback hands off to another player and then the ball is handed back off to the quarterback in a separate football move. Direct handoffs and tosses behind the line of scrimmage are permitted.
Teams are not allowed to run in the “No Run Zones.” Reminder: Each offensive squad approaches only two No-Run Zones in each drive – one 5 yards from midfield to gain the first down, and one 5 yards from the goal line to score a touchdown.
The player who takes the handoff from the quarterback can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage. Once the quarterback makes a handoff move, including a fake handoff or toss, all defensive players are eligible to rush.
Runners may not leave their feet to advance the ball. Diving, leaping, or jumping to avoid a flag pull is considered flag guarding. Spinning is allowed, but players may not leave their feet to avoid a flag pull. Jumping in the air in a forward motion to advance the ball, while attempting to avoid a flag pull, is not allowed. Lateral moves to the left or right are permitted. Runners may leave their feet if there is a clear indication that he/she has done so to avoid collision with another player without a flag guarding penalty enforced. No blocking or “screening” is allowed at any time. Offensive players must stop their motion once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage. No running with the ball carrier.
All jerseys must be tucked in before play begins. The flags must be on the player’s hips and free from obstruction. Deliberately obstructed flags will be considered flag guarding. Flag guarding is an attempt by the ball carrier to obstruct the defender’s access to the flags by stiff arming, dropping the head, hand, arm or shoulder, or intentionally covering the flags with the football jersey.
All passes must be from behind the line of scrimmage, thrown forward and received beyond the line scrimmage. Shovel passes are allowed. The quarterback has a 7-second “pass clock.” If a pass is not thrown within the 7 seconds, it is considered a dead ball and loss of down. If the quarterback is standing in the end zone at the end of the 7-second clock, this is a safety.
All players are eligible to receive passes (including the quarterback, if the ball has been handed off behind the line of scrimmage). Only one player is allowed in motion at a time. All motion must be parallel to the line of scrimmage and no motion is permitted towards the line of scrimmage. A player must have a least 1 foot inbounds when making a reception. In the case of simultaneous possession by both an offensive and defensive player, possession is awarded to the offense. No blocking at any time. Laterals beyond the line of scrimmage are allowed. For an illegal forward lateral, the ball will be placed down at the spot where the illegal lateral was made.
A legal flag pull takes place when the ball carrier is in full possession of the ball. Defenders can dive to pull flags, but cannot tackle, hold or run through the ball carrier when pulling flags. It is illegal to attempt to strip or pull the ball from the ball carrier’s possession at any time. If a player’s flag inadvertently falls off during the play, the player is down immediately upon possession of the ball and the play ends. A defensive player may not intentionally pull the flags off of a player who is not in possession of the ball.
Rushing the Passer
Rushing is allowed in the 10-12 year old age division after 3 seconds. No rushing is allowed in the 7-10 year old division. If rushing is allowed, there is no limit on the number of players that can rush the quarterback. Once the ball is handed off, any defensive player may cross the line of scrimmage at any time. Quarterback can only run if the defense rushes. If the defense does not rush, the quarterback is not allowed to run. Teams are not required to rush the quarterback after the 3 second clock in the 10-12 year old division. Teams are not required to identify their rusher before they play. Players rushing the quarterback may attempt to block a pass; however, no contact can be made with the quarterback in any way. Blocking the pass or attempting to block the pass and then making contact with the passer will result in a roughing the passer penalty. The offense cannot intentionally impede the rusher in any way. The rusher has the right to a clear path to the quarterback, regardless of where they line up prior to the snap. If the offensive player does not move after the snap, then it is the rusher’s responsibility to go around the offensive player and to avoid contact. A sack occurs if the quarterback’s flags are pulled behind the line of scrimmage. The ball is placed where the quarterback’s feet are when flag is pulled. A Safety is awarded if the sack takes place in the offensive team’s end zone.
Offense must have a minimum of 3 players on the line of scrimmage including the center. The quarterback must be off the line of scrimmage. One player at a time may go in motion parallel to the line of scrimmage. No motion is allowed towards the line of scrimmage. Movement by a player who is set or a player who runs toward the line of scrimmage while in motion is considered a false start. The center must snap the ball with a rapid and continuous motion between his/her legs or to the side of their body to a player in the backfield, and the ball must completely leave his/her hands.
Conduct and Penalties
The referee will call all penalties. Only the volunteer coach may ask rule clarifications and interpretations. Players and spectators may not question judgement calls. Referees determine incidental contact that may result from normal run of play. If the league supervisor or referee witnesses any acts of tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking, or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped, and the player will be ejected from the game. Foul play will not be tolerated. Ball carriers must make an effort to avoid defenders with an established position. Defenders are not allowed to run through the ball carrier when pulling flags. The defense or offense may not mimic the opposing teams’ signals, by trying to confuse the opposing players while they are calling out plays. All penalties will be assessed from the line of scrimmage, except as noted. (spot fouls). Games may not end on a defensive penalty, unless the offense declines it. Penalties are assessed live ball then dead ball. Live ball penalties must be assessed before play is considered complete. Penalties will be assessed half the distance to the goal yardage when the penalty yardage is more than half the distance to the goal.