Flag Football Rules


Flag Football is a 5-on-5 game filled with fun and action. In this game, the offensive team plays for a first down at midfield and a touchdown in the end zone. Running and passing plays are allowed, although there are “no-running zones” at midfield and near each goal line. The defensive team covers receivers, rushes the passer and grabs flags to make “tackles.” Only coaches in the U7 and U9 division are allowed one coach on the field. All other division coaches must coach from their sideline and not on the field.


Cleats are allowed, except for metal spikes. Inspections must be made. All players must wear a protective mouthpiece; there are no exceptions.  Team jerseys are supplied and need to be tucked in if they hang below the waist.  Shorts color should be solid black and must be supplied by parents.

The Basics

A coin toss determines first possession. The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has three plays to cross midfield. Once a team crosses midfield, it has three plays to score a touchdown. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team takes over on its 5-yard line. If the offensive team fails to cross midfield, possession of the ball changes and the opposition starts its drive from its 5-yard line. All possession changes, except interceptions, start on the offense’s 5-yard line. If a ball is intercepted, the offense will regain possession where the runner is marked down.Teams change sides after the first 20 minutes. Possession changes to loser of coin toss and the clock does not stop. There are no kickoffs.  Run blocking is NOT allowed. After the ball has broken the line of scrimmage, all offensive players must stand still besides the ball carrier and may not run alongside or near the ball carrier. Teams must field a minimum of four players at all times.

Starting the Game

The ball must be snapped between the legs, not off to one side, to start play.  There are no center sneaks!  If you have a running play designed to go to the center, he/she must hike the ball and then step back toward the QB before he/she can receive the handoff.


Games are played in two 20-minute halves with a 5-minute half time.  Each team gets one timeout per half and they can save them both for the second half.  The clock will only stop if the timeout is called within the last two minutes of a half.

If the score is tied at the end of 40 minutes, the game is over and recorded as a tie.  Overtime will only occur during the playoffs.  In overtime, teams will choose to go for 1 point from the 5 yard line (pass only) or 2 points from the 12 yard line (run or pass) in overtime. Teams must go the same number of points per round (ie. if the first team chooses to go for 2, the 2nd team must go for 2, as well).

The team has 35 seconds to snap the ball once the ball and blitz cone are spotted. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced.  Officials can stop the clock at their discretion.

During the last two minutes of each half, the clock will stop on:

A fumbled ball ends the play but does not stop the clock.



The quarterback may scramble, but may not completely pass the line of scrimmage. Only direct handoffs behind the line of scrimmage are permitted, no pitches. Offense may use multiple handoffs.  There are “pass-only zones” located five yards before the end zone and five yards before the first-down midline.  These zones are designed to avoid short-yardage, power-running situations which may injure players.

The player who takes the handoff can elect to throw or run with the ball but must be behind the line of scrimmage if throwing. Once the ball has been handed off, all defensive players are eligible to rush. Spinning is allowed, but players cannot leave their feet to avoid a defensive player (no diving, jumping or hurdling). The ball is spotted where the ball carrier’s feet are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball is. Absolutely NO laterals or pitches of any kind are allowed.

Flag guarding is when an offensive player uses their hands, arms, or any other part of their body to block their flag from being pulled by a defender. Players must use the clip on their flag belt. If a belt is tied and can not be pulled, it will be counted as an interference penalty.


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 and must be lateral to the line of scrimmage.  A player must have at least one foot inbounds when making a reception. If the receiver is running and his flag comes undone, he is still eligible to make a catch. The ball will be spotted where the catch is made. Receivers and defenders may leave their feet to attempt a catch, but may not leave their feet once they have possession of the ball.


Forward passes must be caught BEYOND the line of scrimmage.  No passes to receivers who are behind the line of scrimmage (ie No Bubble or Quick screens).

Dead Balls

Substitutions may be made on any dead ball.

Play is ruled “dead” when:

Note: There are no fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball was lost.

Defenders must pull flags only. If defender miss a flag and is holding on to the clothes of the runner, they must let go before pulling they flags. If a defender is holding on to a runners clothes while their flags are pulled, referees will call a penalty for interference.

Rushing the Quarterback

All players who rush the passer must be behind the seven-yard blitz cone.  The referee will place the cone before the ball is snapped.  Any number of players can rush the quarterback. Players not rushing the quarterback may defend on the line of scrimmage. Rushers must attempt to pull the flag of a quarterback. f a rusher comes in contact with the quarterbacks arm it will counted as an interference penalty.

Once the ball is handed off, the seven-yard rule is no longer in effect, and all defenders may go beyond the line of scrimmage. Remember, no blocking or tackling is allowed.  Offensive players may not get in the way of the blitzer.


Interceptions may be returned for a touchdown.  This includes on extra points, except the points awarded will match the attempted points (ie. if the offense was going for 2 pts and the ball was intercepted and returned to the other endzone, the defense gets 2 points).


If the referee witnesses any acts of tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped and the player will be removed from the play, given a warning, and will be ejected from the game if behavior continues.. FOUL PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

Trash talking is illegal. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. (Trash talk is talk that may be offensive to officials, opposing players, teams or spectators.) If trash talking occurs, the referee will give one warning. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the game.


All penalties will be called by the referee.



Referees determine incidental contact that may result from normal run of play. All penalties will be assessed from the line of scrimmage or from the spot of the foul. Only the head coach may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretations. Players cannot question judgment calls. Games cannot end on a defensive penalty unless the offense declines it.


There will be an end-of-season tournament for all divisions.

When possible, there will be different bracket levels that will be grouped by strength.  This way, each team has a legitimate chance to win a championship.  If there are not enough teams in a division for divided tournaments/brackets, all teams will participate in one bracket.

Tournaments are single-elimination.  Once you lose your season is over.  

Championship teams will receive 1st place medals and the coach will have a trophy.