FLAG FOOTBALL RULES
Coordinators & Referees may issue warnings to players for team and personal unsportsmanlike conduct or safety concerns. (Yelling to frighten someone making a catch is considered unsportsmanlike and will be penalized without warning). Staff may also ask players to leave the game for a specified amount of time if they feel it is for the betterment of the team and/or game. If a player fails to respect a staff member’s decisions or heed their warnings, they may be ejected from the game, season or an indefinite amount of time.
Judgment calls made by the referee shall NOT be contested. A formal protest can be made at any time by letting the referee and the league coordinator aware of the situation. After the protest is filed, the game will continue as scheduled. If the protest is not filed until the conclusion of the game, the final score of that game will be official and will not change. SportsLink will review the protest and make a ruling before the next week’s game.
Any individual who by his/her misconduct (profanity, gestures, physical or verbal abuse toward officials, players, etc.) causes himself/herself to be removed from a contest is automatically ineligible to participate for the remainder of that contest, any other games that day and at least one full week. That person may also be assessed additional suspensions.
Additional rules and policies may be added or amended by SportsLink before or during the season.
- Molded cleats or tennis shoes are the only allowable footwear. NO METAL CLEATS ARE ALLOWED. Shoes must be worn at all times. Shirts must be worn and tucked in or kept short.
- No denim or khaki pants/shorts or cargo shorts are allowed. Sport clothes must be worn. Shorts/Pants with belt loops are not allowed.
NEW 2016 RULE – POCKETED SHORTS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED, BUT IT IS OK TO PLAY IN THEM.
- Flags must be evenly distributed, one on each side and one on the back. If flags are not properly distributed, players may be ruled down when touched.
- Jersey color assignments in the event of a “same color” conflict, home team will wear a “light” color and the visitors will wear a “dark” color. Teams should bring two jerseys to each game to avoid a conflict. All players on a team should be wearing the same color. We will require teams/players to wear pinnies if conflicts.
- All balls must be official NCAA or NFL weight & size. No junior balls are allowed. Balls must be adequately pumped up. Any discrepancies on weight, size or inflation will be settled by officials & staff.
- There will be paid refs for each game.
- A game shall consist of two 22-minute halves with a continuous running clock.
- NEW FOR 2014: 5v5 leagues are 20 minute halves
- Stop timing will be used during the last 2 minutes of the second half if the score is within 20 points or less. At that time the clock will stop on all incomplete passes, out-of-bounds, change of possession, penalties, injuries if necessary, extra point attempts, and time outs. Teams shall be notified and the clock shall stop at the beginning of the 2-minute period.
- The clock will run during all Extra Point attempts (except in the final 1:00 of the 1st half and 2:00 of 2nd half).
- Two 1-minute timeouts are allowed per game. (Timeouts may not be carried over to overtime).
- After a stopped clock, time will begin at the snap of the ball.
- There will be a 25 second play clock. You will have 25 seconds from the time the official considers the ball placed, until the time the ball must be snapped. You are in charge of retrieving the marker and placing it.
- During a change of possession, the offense must allow the defense to set. The offense cannot begin play until the official has signaled ok.
- During the first half, the clock will stop inside 1:00 for a change of possession and touchdowns. This is done so the defense can not stall and run the clock out. The clock will not run on extra point attempts. After the extra point try or change of possession, the clock will start when the offense snaps the ball and will continue to run until time expires, a score, or change of possession.
- Half time shall be 1-5 minutes in duration.
- Coin Toss - The toss of coin will take place within three minutes of kickoff in center of field. The toss will be called by the visiting captain before the coin is flipped. The winner may choose one of two privileges and the loser gets the other:
(a) Receive or kick
(b) Goal his team will defend
Immediately prior to the start of the second half, the captains of both teams must inform the officials of their respective choices. The loser of the original coin toss gets first choice
How the Game is Played
Players & Formations
- SportsLink will be offering 7v7 and 8v8 flag football leagues.
- 7v7 Leagues, teams will field 7 players (4 males maximum) at a time. There must be a minimum of 5 players and at least 1 female on the field at all times.
- 8v8 Leagues, teams will field 8 players (5 males maximum) at a time. There must be a minimum of 5 players and at least 1 female on the field at all times.
- For the 5v5 and 6v6 leagues – 4 players must be present to play. 1 must be a female if a coed league.
- All plays must originate with a snap from center. The ball must be snapped to the quarterback from the ground. There must be a verbal call for the snap. The player who calls “hike” must be the player who receives the snap. If the center picks up the ball and replaces it on the ground without snapping, this will be considered a false start penalty.
- Players may line up in any formation as long as they are behind the line of scrimmage. Motion from the players prior to the snap is allowed as long as no one advances towards the line of scrimmage.
- Players may not break the neutral zone until the ball is snapped. If a player steps into the neutral zone, but gets back before the ball is snapped, there will not be a penalty.
- Offensive players are responsible for retrieving the ball after a down has ended.
Carrying the Ball
- During the game, the ball will be spotted at the location where the flag was pulled, NOT where the ball is.
- Example: If a player is straddling the line of the end zone and their foot is in, but the flag was pulled out, the ball will be marked outside the end zone.
- The quarterback will NOT be able to run for positive yardage until after the 5-count. He/She CAN run if blitzed and when the 5-count expires (regardless if defense rushes). Anyone he/she pitches the ball to before the 5-count expires, can also run.
- A ball carrier may not deliberately guard their flags. “Spinning” to avoid being de-flagged is legal. Actions such as slapping with the hand or stiff-arming are examples of flag guarding. Hands or arms down the side of the body while spinning are considered guarding.
- If a player inadvertently loses their flags, or the opposition pulls a flag before gaining possession of the ball, the play will continue and the player must be downed by a one-hand touch.
- A player will be ruled “down” when any part of the body other than the hand or foot touches the ground.
- A fumbled or muffed ball is dead when it strikes the ground.
- There is a “No Run Zone” within 10 feet of the end zone. When the spot of the ball is within this “No Run Zone” the ball must be passed across the line of scrimmage. If a player attempts a running play within his zone, a penalty of 10 paces and loss of down will occur. If the new line-of-scrimmage is outside the “No Run Zone,” the team is able to run. The line-of-scrimmage for the current down determines whether a running play is allowed.
- It is illegal to attempt to steal a ball in a player’s possession. The object of the game is to de-flag a ball carrier, not steal the ball.
- In pulling a flag or making a play on a ball, a player’s feet MAY leave the ground. Diving is legal by the defense, however; the diving player is still responsible for any contact they initiate. A defender cannot dive directly TOWARD an offensive player. It must be from the side or behind and solely an attempt to pull a flag and NOT to hinder the player’s progress. An offensive player must make an effort to avoid contact if a defensive player has obtained “the spot” first and vice-versa.
- A player cannot jump to ADVANCE the ball. A jump backwards or sideways is legal, as long as the player is not moving FORWARD.
Blocking & Defense (Rushing, Blitzes)
- No blocking, tackling, or unnecessary roughness. This includes defensive players avoiding contact with the quarterbacks arm (illegal contact).
- During all plays, players will not be allowed to cross the line of scrimmage until the rush count (5 count in coed & 3 count in men’s) is completed, unless they blitz or the quarterback pitches the ball.
- The defense has five blitzes per game. There are no restrictions on how many can be used in a half. At the time of blitzing, you can blitz as many players as you would like. There is no limit to how many can rush after the 5-count also. NOTE: Men’s leagues will have a 3-count rush instead of a 5-count. If a down is replayed, blitzes are returned. All actions on that penalized play are returned/replayed (other than unsportsmanlike conduct).
- Diving and jumping are NOT allowed for any offensive possession in an effort to advance the ball after securing possession. Diving/Jumping on defense as an effort to pull a flag from the side or behind, while not hindering a player’s progress or creating an unsafe situation will be allowed. It will be at the ref’s discretion what is and what is not a dive or jump.
- There are no extra points awarded for a female scoring on an interception return.
- A forward pass may be thrown from any point behind the line of scrimmage. Once the line of scrimmage is crossed, a player can not go back and throw.
- All incomplete backward passes shall be marked down at the point of ground contact.
- Only one forward pass may be attempted from behind the line of scrimmage on a given play.
- A forward pass is illegal if:
- It is thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage. The quarterback’s entire body AND ball must cross the line of scrimmage for it to be an Illegal Forward Pass.
- It is intentional grounding. (An intentional grounding foul is called when the passer throws a forward pass that has no realistic chance of being completed. To be considered a realistic pass, there must be an eligible offensive player in the area where the ball lands. The passer can avoid an intentional grounding penalty if he is able to scramble out of the “pocket” and throw the ball away. To be considered out of the pocket, the passer must be outside the boundaries set by the first player on the left and right of the snapper. The ball must be thrown at least as far as the line of scrimmage, but it may land out of bounds as long as it reaches the proper distance forward.
- It is the second forward pass during a play.
- It is thrown to his/herself.
- It is thrown forward after a change of possession.
- A player must have complete possession of the ball and land with at least one foot or knee inbounds, to be a legal reception.
- If an offensive player goes out-of-bounds on his or her own accord and returns inbounds, it is an illegal participation foul (dead ball and loss of down) if they catch the first pass. Such a player cannot be the intended primary receiver and can only catch a tipped ball.
- There will be no kickoffs. Possessions beginning a new half will begin at the ten-foot “No Run Zone.”
- Following any touchdown, the ball shall be placed on the 10-foot line, possession being given to the opponent of the scoring team.
- Following a safety, the ball shall be punted from the 10-foot line with possession belonging to the team who just scored the safety.
- If a kick is to be made, the kick must be made immediately upon receiving the snap. There will be a 5-second count once snapped. The ball shall be spotted at the place where it hit the ground.
- Once a team captain declares to punt, he/she may change the decision only through the use of a charged time-out or delay of game penalty.
- On 4th downs, the offensive team does have the option to punt the football. The offensive team must declare if they intend to punt or go for the first down. If they declare they are punting, the offensive team must allow the defensive team time to set up for the punt return. The snap is required and the football must be kicked immediately. If the ball is kicked out of bounds, it will be spotted where it left the field. Players must wait until the ball is kicked to cross the line of scrimmage.
- From the time the ball is snapped to the time the ball is kicked a player will have a maximum of 5 seconds to hold the ball.
- PUNTS MUST BE DECLARED WITHIN THE 1ST 15 SECONDS OF THE HUDDLE CLOCK.
- Teams can accept or decline all penalties, even if it takes you in/puts you out of the No Run Zone. Referees will have actual flags to throw so teams can see there was a penalty on a play. For simplicity, all penalties are live until the ref blows the whistle dead.
- The line-of-scrimmage for the current down determines scoring/running options. If a penalty takes a team outside the “No Run Zone,” they will be able to run and eligible for 8 point touchdowns by a girl.
Offensive Penalties (All 10 PACES from the line of scrimmage & loss of down):
- Illegal Contact
- Illegal Forward Pass
- Illegal Motion
- False Start
- Delay of Game
- Delay of Game for excessive arguing or complaining – new for 2016
- Fielding Too Many Players
- Flag Guarding – From the spot of foul
- Diving & Jumping – From the spot of foul
- Pass Interference – From the original spot
- Unsportsmanlike Conduct – Can be in addition to another penalty. Player must sit one play.
- Intentional Grounding – If foul occurs inside 10 paces from own end zone, penalty is half the distance to the goal. If QB is in his/her own end zone, a safety is awarded.
- Girl Play Foul – If line of scrimmage was not crossed, remains a Girl Play.
Defensive Penalties (10 PACES from line of scrimmage & replay the down):
- Illegal Contact
- Fielding Too Many Players
- Delay of Game – excessive arguing/complaining – new for 2016
- Diving with contact – Spot of the foul, automatic first down
- Pass Interference – Spot of the foul, automatic first down
- Unsportsmanlike Conduct – automatic 1st down. Can be in addition to another penalty. Player must sit one play.
- Point values will be as follows:
A. Touchdown: 6 points for men and 8 points for females.
~Girl points are only awarded on offense, not on an interception return.
- B. Safety: 2 points (and reception of a punt from the offensive team).
C. PAT: 1 point will be from 10-foot line.
~ Defensive player returning an intercepted pass on this attempt: 1 point.
D. PAT: 2 points will be from the 20-foot line.
~ Defensive player returning an intercepted pass on this attempt: 2 points.
- Once a team captain declares the his/her choice of going for a 1or 2 point conversion after scoring a touchdown, he/she may change the decision only if a charged time out is granted to either team, or be issued a delay of game penalty.
- If a ball is intercepted on a 1 point or 2 point conversion and the now-defensive team commits a penalty, the intercepting team will automatically be awarded the 1 or 2 points.
Regular season games will not have overtime. A tie at the end of regulation games will stand. Playoff games that end in a tie will be decided in the same format as the NCAA. Each team will get four downs starting at the two-point conversion (20 foot) line to attempt to score. Any time outs and blitzes left from the 2nd half will carry over.
First Downs, Field Setup & Substitutions
- For fields that are 200 feet or greater in length, we will have two first downs. Fields less than 200 feet will have one first down.
- Our standard field size will be 200 feet with 25-foot end zones. Teams will have 50 feet spacing to achieve a first down or score.
- There will be a 10-foot “No Run Zone” prior to each end zone.
- A team shall have four downs to complete the task of a first down.
- Play will start from the ten-foot “No Run Zone” at the start of the game and after each score.
- There are no kick-offs.
- All substitutions must be made on one side of the field only.
- Any touchdown pass caught by a girl or thrown by a girl will be worth 8 points (vs. 6), when originating outside the 10-foot “No Run Zone.” Extra points will be a standard one (from 10 feet) or two (from 20 feet) points. If a penalty takes a team’s line-of-scrimmage outside the “No Run Zone,” the team is able to get 8 points on a girl score. The line-of-scrimmage for the current down determines whether there is a possibility for “girl scoring.”
- One out of every three plays must involve a girl AS AN OPERATIVE PLAYER. The play, incomplete or complete, must have been initiated by a girl or been obviously intended for a girl. Any forward pass thrown TO a girl or BY a girl, must cross the line of scrimmage. Failure to involve a girl will be loss of a down, 10 pace penalty, and a female must now be the operative player on the next play. See below for unique examples:
- When a female calls for the snap and is sacked, this counts as a female play.
- When a female calls for the snap and pitches the ball backwards to a male, he must throw to a female across the line of scrimmage to count as a female play.
- When a male calls for the snap and pitches the ball backwards to a girl, she must either run for the positive yards or throw an attempted pass across the line of scrimmage to count as a female play.
CLARIFICATION on TIPPED BALLS: If a ball is tipped, whoever ends up catching the ball determines the gender of the play, regardless of the quarterback’s intent. If the pass is incomplete, the gender of the first person to touch/tip the ball determines the gender of the play. If the ball is untouched, it’s the official’s decision.
- If a girl play was established, but a penalty results in a loss of down, the next play would be open. If the line of scrimmage was not crossed, the play will remain a girl play. If the down is replayed, the girl play will be also.
- Calls made by an official on the fact of whether or not a play was a “girl play” in some cases are judgmental and not to be argued over once the call has been made.
- Girl points are only awarded on Offense, not on interception returns.
Women’s League Additional Rules
- Women’s leagues are played either 5v5 or 6v6.
- Must have 4 females present to start a game.
Indoor League Additional Rules
- Indoor leagues are 5v5 unless otherwise stated.
- Coed is played with 3 males and 2 females. Teams can replace a male with a female, but no more than 3 males can be on the field at one time.
- First down is at midfield.
- Teams will start on 3 yard line to begin game and after an opponent’s score.
- Extra points: 1 pt will be from 3 yd line. 2 pt will be from 5 yd line.
- Girl points are not awarded for plays starting inside or on the 3 yard line (no run zone).
- Wall, ceiling, and netting are out of bounds. Players cannot use the the wall to assist in making a catch. A player must secure the ball and one foot on the turf prior to making contact with the wall to be considered a completion.
- All punts will be throws. There is no punting of the football due to ceiling height.
- No cleats are allowed. Must wear turf, tennis shoes, or flat soled shoes.
- All offensive penalties are 5 paces from line of scrimmage and loss of down.
- All defensive penalties are 5 paces from line of scrimmage and replay the down.
- Games are 20 minute halves.
All players must have a valid SportsLink Player’s Card to play in our leagues unless otherwise noted.