Flag Football Rules

Revised – July 13th, 2021 

DESCRIPTION OF GAME 

The game of flag football is played similar to regulation football, with the exception that instead of the ball Carrier being tackled, their flag belt is removed by a defensive player. 

Flag belts must be the style with a detachable belt containing three 16” flags that are two inches wide. Velcro belts are prohibited. If the official believes the flag should be replaced, the player must do so.

PLAYING FIELD 

  1. The field must be lined. 
    1. Cones are a supplement to lines, not a replacement for lines.  
  2. The recommended regulation dimensions are: 
    1. Minimum: 60 yards x 30 yards with yard end zones. 
      1. These fields will have three first down zones that measure 20 yards each. 
    2. Maximum: 70 yards x 40 yards, with 10-yard end zones. 
      1. These fields will have two first down zones that measure 20 yards each and a middle zone that measures 30 yards. 

POSITION AND NUMBER OF PLAYERS 

Elementary and Junior High divisions will consist of eight players. Any combination of players for the line or backfield may be used. All players are eligible for hand-offs or passes. 

TIME OF GAME 

  1. There will be four quarters that are:
    1. 10 minutes for elementary 
    2. 12 minutes for junior high
    3. 5-minute halftime and 1 minute between quarters. 
  2. Until the final two minutes of the game, the clock shall stop only for: 
    1. Requested time-outs. 
  3. After all touchdowns, the clock will start again when the ball is received or touched after the kickoff. 
  4. After a time out, the clock will start when the ball is snapped. 
  5. During the last two minutes of the game: 
    1. The clock shall stop on an incomplete pass, a run out of bounds, penalty, time-out, first down, and immediately after any scoring play. 
    2. The clock will start again when the ball is snapped, except for first downs. 
      1. For first downs, the clock will start again when the official places the ball and is ready for play. 
    3. The clock will not run during PAT attempts. The clock will not stop due only to a fumble during any portion of the game. 
  6. Each team is allowed 4 time-outs per game. 
    1. Each time out shall be one minute in duration. 
    2. Coaches are permitted to talk to the entire team during time-outs. 
    3. Teams must be ready for play immediately at the end of the 1-minute time-out. 

FLAG FOOTBALL – EQUIPMENT 

  1. Jerseys
    1. Each player must have jerseys of the same color and shorts (without pockets) or pants of the same color. Jerseys must be tucked in or hemmed above the belt. 
    2. All uniforms must have numbers.  
  2. The official ball
    1. Junior size for all elementary divisions 
    2. Intermediate-size (CF 7) for all Junior High divisions. 
    3. Any brand may be used as long as it is of good quality and inflated as specified by the manufacturer.  
  3. Equipment such as shoulder pads, thigh pads, kidney pads, and forearm pads are prohibited. Knee pads are permissible. 
  4. Mouthguards/mouthpieces are required. 
    1. Players without mouthguards may not play.
  5. No cast of any kind (even if padded) will be allowed on the playing field. 
    1. Players with a cast of any kind may not play. 
  6. All team members must wear a flag belt of a color that contrasts the uniform shorts. 
    1. Blue and black are not considered contrasting colors.
    2. The official will have the authority to determine if flags are of a contrasting color and if a team needs to change their flags.  
  7. All players must wear shoes. 
    1. No metal or detachable cleats are permissible. 

SCORING 

All points are the same, regardless of a pass or a run. 

Touchdown: 6 points 

Safety: 2 points (see rule #36 for after-safety procedure) 

Try after touchdown 

From 5 yards 2 points 

From 3 yards 1 point 

KICKOFFS 

  1. All kickoffs shall be from the 20-yard line on the 60-yard field, or from the 30-yard line on a 70-yard field.
  2. The receiving team must be at least 10 yards from the kickoff line. There must be three people on the line of scrimmage. 
  3. The ball must travel 10 yards for the ball to be in play and a free ball. 
  4. If the kicking team touches the ball before it travels 10 yards, the ball is dead and the receiving team gets a first down where the ball was touched. 
  5. Any kick that touches a receiver and then hits the ground is a dead ball. The kicking team cannot recover. 
  6. The receiving team receives a first down where the ball lands after being touched. 
  7. If the kicking team touches the ball after it has gone 10 yards, but before the receiving team touches it, the kicking team will maintain possession at the spot the ball was touched. 
  8. If the kickoff goes out of bounds, the receiving team may accept the ball at the point where it went out, or a re-kick will be taken from 5 yards behind the previous spot. 

FLAG FOOTBALL SPORTSMANSHIP 

  1. If any coach, manager, or other non-player in the bench area is ejected, the game is immediately declared a forfeit. 
  2. If that individual is an adult, they must leave the premises immediately.
  3. If the ejected individual is not an adult, they should be moved away from the field, under the supervision of a responsible adult. 
  4. The game will not continue, even as a practice game. No exceptions!

RULES OF PLAY 

  1. A coin toss will be conducted with team captains prior to the game. 
    1. The winner of the coin toss must choose one of the following. 
      1. To kickoff or receive. 
      2. Which goal line to defend. 
      3. Defer choice to the second half. 
    2. The other team gets to choose one of the remaining two choices. 
  2. Prior to the second half, the captain of the team that lost the coin toss is now given his choice, unless the team winning the toss chose to defer. The opponent is granted the other choice. 
  3. After each quarter the teams shall change goals. 
    1. Team possession, the number of downs, the relative position of the ball, and the first down line will remain the same. 
  4. Ball must be snapped between the legs of the center in a direct and continuous manner to a teammate in the backfield. 
    1. Center sneaks are not permitted. 
      1. Penalty = 5 yards 
  5. There is a 30 second time limit to any huddle from the time the ball is placed by the official to the time of the snap. 
    1. Penalty = 5 yards 
  6. No hideouts are permitted. All players must start from the huddle. 
  7. If the offensive team fails to advance the ball to the next zone line in four downs, they shall lose possession of the ball at the point where it was declared dead on fourth down. 
  8. Similar to a touchdown, if any part of the ball is on or over the first down line, it is a first down. 
  9. After three downs a team must declare to the game official whether they will punt or make an attempt to gain a first down. 
    1. Fake punts are not allowed. 
    2. Rushing the punter is not allowed. 
    3. The receiving team must have three players on the line of scrimmage. 
    4. Players other than the punter may not move until the ball has been kicked.
      1.  Penalty = 5 yards
  10. The ball must be punted (not just snapped) within the 30 second time limit from when the official places the ball on the ground ready for play. 
    1. Penalty = 5 yards 
  11. The offensive team may throw as many passes (forward or backward) as they wish behind the line of scrimmage as long as they only throw one pass from behind the line to a receiver across the line.
    1. Penalty = Loss of down and 5 yards. 
  12. Pass interference by the offense. 
    1. Penalty = Loss of down and 10 yards from the line of scrimmage 
  13. Pass interference by the defense. 
    1. Penalty = 10 yards from the line of scrimmage and an automatic first down. 
  14. No ball carriers are permitted at any time within one yard of where the ball was originally placed.
  15. No defensive player may run within one yard of where the ball was originally placed.
    1. Penalty = 5 yards and loss of down 
    2. Officials are required to place beanbags 1 yard to each side of the ball. 
  16. The ball carrier may spin only one time per defender. 
    1. Penalty = 5 yards 
  17. The ball carrier may not butt or ram a defender.
    1. Penalty = 10 yards from infraction 
  18. An offensive player may not use his hands or any part of the arm to prevent a defensive player from removing his flags. 
    1. Penalty = 5 yards from the infraction 
  19. Straight-arming is prohibited. 
    1. Penalty = 10 yards
  20. Any player who gains possession of the ball while not wearing a flag belt will be allowed to maintain possession of the ball but the ball will be down at the spot it was received. 
  21. A player who loses his flags while in possession of the ball will be down at the spot where he lost his flag. 
  22. Any flag pulled prior to a player receiving the ball will be allowed to continue play. Defenders must then touch the player with two hands below the waist. 
  23. A fumbled ball that touches the ground is dead and cannot be advanced. Unless on 4th down, the offense always retains possession. The clock never stops due only to a fumble. 
  24. A ball that is snapped but not caught is marked at the point where it touches the ground. 
  25. It shall be a foul to tackle, hack, straight arm, trip, hold, or rough up another player.
    1. Officials must be particularly vigilant in preventing the holding of the ball carrier’s clothes by the defender. Players twice guilty of breaking this rule shall be immediately disqualified.
      1. Penalty = 10 yards from point of foul or from the line of scrimmage if the infraction occurs beyond the line. 
  26. Defenders shall not impede the progress or “wrap-up” the ball carrier in an attempt to remove a flag. 
    1. Penalty = 10 yards from the point of infraction or line of scrimmage (whichever is best for the non-offending team). Players twice guilty of breaking this rule shall be immediately disqualified. 
  27. Enforcement for a foul committed by the defense in his own end zone will be first and goal on the 1-yard line for the offense. If the ball is closer than the 1-yard line, it will be half the distance to the goal. 
  28. Any offensive penalty occurring in its own end zone will be an automatic safety. 
  29. No penalty will exceed half the distance to the goal. 
  30. When the offense or defense breaks the plane of the neutral zone, the ball is dead.
    1. Penalty = 5 yards
  31. Substitutions are unlimited. 
    1. Once a player is in the game they must remain for at least one play. 
      1. Penalty = 5 yds 
  32. All kickoffs and punts entering the end zone or intercepted passes that are caught in the end zone are touchbacks and can not be advanced. 
  33. A ball carrier may not hurdle or dive. 
  34. After all touchbacks, the ball shall be placed on the 20-yard line. 
  35. After a safety, the ball is put in play on the 20-yard line of the team that scored. There is no free kick and the ball belongs to the team that scored. 
  36. When a flag is pulled, the ball is placed where it was possessed in the carrier’s hands.

FLAG FOOTBALL – BLOCKING 

  1. Blocking must be an effort to impede the opponent. It should never be the intent to push or shove to knock the opponent to the ground. 
  1. In an attempt to block an opponent, the arms must stay at the chest. 
    1. Any contact above the shoulders is illegal. 
    2. Blocking must only be with the hands, and only between the shoulders and waist. 
    3. Penalty = 10 yards from the point of illegal contact. 
  2. The center may not be blocked until the opponent can see his face. 
  3. No high/low blocking. 
  4. A blocker’s feet must be in contact with the ground. He may not dive toward another player. 
  5. Players may use their hands but may not grab, hold, or shove 
  6. Players may not contact an opponent’s head or neck. 
  7. Players may not lower either shoulder, whether or not contact is made with an opponent. 
  8. It shall be a foul to use a flying block or block below the waist. At least one foot must be on the ground at the time the block is made. 
    1. Penalty – 15 yards from the point of the infraction or the line of scrimmage
      1. Whichever is best for the non-offending team 
  9. Excessive Force: If an official judge that, in spite of proper and legal technique, the aggressiveness of a player seems excessive, malicious, or unsafe, the official shall assess a penalty of 10 yards. Further violations will result in ejection. 
  10. A block must be part of a football play. If a block occurs far away from the action, the official shall assess a penalty of 10 yards. Further violations will result in ejection. 

TIE SCORES 

  1. Tie games will not play overtime unless it is a playoff game. 
  2. Playoff games that end in a tie will be decided with a California tiebreaker. 
    1. Each team will receive four plays, beginning 20 yards from the goal line. 
    2. Teams that score a touchdown will have the standard PAT option of one or two points. 
    3. The team that gains the most yardage or points will be declared the winner.

COACHING​

  1. One coach on offense and defense.
  2. Once the play starts coach can’t instruct anymore. * 5-yard penalty and loss of down
  3. Coach (on the field) can’t tell players what to do after the ball is snapped. * 5-yard penalty and loss of down

CONCUSSION OR SYMPTOMS OF CONCUSSION

  1. The coach shall not allow a player to continue play in the game if a concussion is suspected. Prior to returning to practice or competition, the athlete must be medically cleared by an appropriate health care professional. Referees will have no duty to police concussions or concussions symptoms.
  2. Visit www.nfhslearn.com for more info about concussions and concussion symptoms.