Flag Football Rules

General Rules

NCAA rules will be followed except where noted within these rules:
Rec. Sports will provide footballs unless captains agree on a different ball.
The ball shall be placed on the goal line at the beginning of each half and after each score. There is no kick off.
The first team listed on the schedule will be the home team and will wear white shirts. The visiting team will wear dark shirts. Neither team will wear light gray shirts.
No player is allowed to wear metal or metal tipped cleats.

Periods, Time Factors, Substitutions

Coin Toss

The captain winning the toss shall have a choice of options for the first half or shall defer his/her option to the second half. The captain may choose to start on offense or defense or his/she may choose to defend a certain goal. The captain, not having the first choice of options for a half, shall exercise the remaining option.

Time of Play

The game shall consist of two twenty minutes halves. The clock shall run continuously until the final two minutes of the game. The official will stop the clock approximately two minutes before the end of the game and notify the captains of the remaining time. After that point the clock will be stopped as it would be under NCAA rules. The game may not end on a play where there is a defensive foul.


If the game ends in a tie there will be an overtime and the first possession will be determined by a coin toss. In the overtime each team will start 1st and goal ten yards from a designated goal line and will have three plays to score. If the score is tied after one period, play will proceed to a second period or as many periods as needed.


The official shall warn the captains at five minutes past game time if their team is not prepared to play. At ten minutes past, the game will be forfeited if the team is still not prepared to play. Two forfeits will remove a team from the league.


The officials and Rec Sports Staff will evaluate each team at the end of the game for sportsmanship. If a team receives two poor evaluations during the season it will be removed from the league. Two unsatisfactories will count as one poor.

Completion of Play

If there is severe weather the game will be counted as complete if the first half has been finished.
The Rec Sports Official has complete discretion as to whether the game should continue. If there is agreement with both captains and the official the time frames for each half may be shortened.

Time Outs

Each team is entitled to three one minute time outs per game. Each team is entitled to one time out during the overtime period.


Failure to snap the ball within 25 seconds after the ball is declared ready for play will produce a five yard penalty and the clock will stop until the ball is snapped.
It will also be a five yard penalty if a team snaps the ball before the ball is declared ready to play.
The Official may order the game clock started or stopped whenever, in his/her opinion, either team is trying to conserve or consume playing time by tactics obviously unfair.


All substitutions must occur during a dead ball. All players must be clearly on the field when the ball is snapped. An offensive player must report to the huddle before play is started. A five yard penalty will be assessed for improper substitution.

Playing the Game

First Downs

A team will have four downs to cross the next zone from their original starting place for that series of four downs. If they do not cross that zone the ball will be turned over to the opposing team.


Prior to making the ball ready for play on fourth down the official will ask the offensive team if they want to punt. If they take that option then the ball must be punted. During the play neither team my cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted. The punt much be completed in one smooth motion when the punter receives the ball from the snapper. No delay of game is allowed. Once the ball hits the ground it is dead at that spot. If the punt is caught the receiving team may advance the ball but there can be no blocking.


  1. Each team will consist of seven players.
  2. A team must have five players to start a game.
  3. In the co-ed league there must be no more than four males on the field for one team.
  4. There must be four offensive players on the line a scrimmage to start a play.
  5. Every offensive player is eligible to receive a pass

Running the Ball

The quarterback may run the ball only after the defense has crossed the line of scrimmage. If the quarterback hands the ball or laterals to another player then that player must run the ball. There can be no passing after the ball given to another player by the quarterback.

Passing of the Ball

The ball must be passed within five seconds of the snap of the ball. If it has not left the quarterback’s hand in the direction of a receiver who is beyond the line of scrimmage in that time, the ball will be blown dead and will be counted as a sack. There can be no passing after the ball is given to another player by the quarterback. The five second count will be stopped if the defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage and the quarterback may pass until his/her flag is removed (or he/she crosses the line of scrimmage) with no time restrictions.

Placement of the Ball

The ball will be placed in the center of the field at the yard marker where the ball carrier was down

Dead Ball

The ball is dead whenever any part of the player who possesses the ball touches the ground except the hands and the feet. The ball is dead whenever it touches the ground. The ball is dead whenever a flag is removed from the player who possesses the ball.

Rushing the Passer

The defense cannot cross the line of scrimmage until the official has counted to two during the five second count in which the passer must throw the ball. This restriction is null and avoid if the quarterback gives the ball to another player. If the defensive player crosses the line after the count of two the quarterback no longer has to pass the ball within the five seconds.


  1. An offensive screen block shall take place without contact. The screen blocker shall have his/her hands and arms at his/her side or behind his/her back. Any use of the hands, arms, elbows, legs, or body to initiate contact during an offensive player’s screen block is illegal.
  2. The offensive blocker my not move after he/she has set their position except in reaction to defensive player. For example, movement in pass blocking would be legal but a run sweep with moving blocking in front is illegal.
  3. The defensive players must go around the offensive player’s screen block. The arms and hands may not be used to contact the opponent’s block.


The defensive team will receive two points for a safety. The team that suffered the safety will then punt the ball from their own goal line.

Flag Removal

  1. If a runner loses his/her belt play continues. The deflagging reverts to a one hand tag of the runner between the shoulders and knees.
  2. An opponent removing an offensive player’s flag who does not have the ball is illegal.
  3. Tampering with the flag belt in any way to gain advantage is illegal. Such tampering will cause loss of possession for the offending team.
  4. A player my not guard his/her flag with hands so that it makes it more difficult for the opponent to deflag the runner.
  5. No “stiff arming” is allowed.
  6. The opponent my not hold, grasp or hinder the progress of the runner while an attempt is being made to remove the flag.
  7. A runner my not hinder the removal of his/her flag by charging into an opponent. He/she must change direction to avoid the removal of the flag.


  1. All offensive fouls shall be five yards from the line of scrimmage.
  2. All defensive fouls shall be five yards from the line of scrimmage expect for defensive pass interference which will be fifteen yards from the line of scrimmage.
  3. A penalty my not move the ball more than half the distance to an opponent’s goal line
  4. The offended team may choose to decline any penalty.
  5. Profane language or unsportsmanlike conduct will be a fifteen yard penalty on the first offense. The second offense will be a fifteen yard penalty and the removal of the offending player from the game. The player must report to the Director of Recreational Sports before he/she is allowed to play in another game.
  6. The official or the Rec Sports Staff reserve the right to remove a player from the game at any time for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Blood born pathogen policy

Any player who sustains an injury where bleeding or oozing occurs must leave the field. The bleeding must be stopped and the area completely covered before the individual is allowed to reenter the game. The intramural staff person must clear the individual before he/she resumes play. If the uniform has become contaminated with blood, it must be changed before the player reenters the game.