Flag Football Rules

Flag Football Rules

Roster - Due by your first game time.
If the roster has not been received by game-day staff by your first game time, your game will be forfeit.


I. Game Equipment

A. Football - Any ball approved for High School or College competition. If a game ball

provided by the league is not used, both team captains must agree on the game ball. Each

team may use their own game ball, but fairness and playability will be determined

by the officials.


B.Flag Belts

• League will provide belts for all players

• Any belt used for play not provided by the league will have to be approved by the



II. Player Equipment

A. Uniforms

Jerseys—matching colors with numbers recommended but not required

All shirts/jerseys must be tucked in at all times

• Footwear — is required (NO METAL CLEATS)

• Mouthpieces — not required but HIGHLY recommended.

• Assorted Illegal Equipment — Players will be disqualified from a contest until the

following items are removed: This will be at the discretion of the officials!



I. Timing

A. Two (2) 20-minute running clock halves

     Exception: Final 2 minutes of the 2nd Half

• Clock stops and the Two-Minute Warning will be issued.

• After 2-minute warning, the clock will stop on:

• Incomplete Pass

• Out of Bounds

• Defensive/Offensive Penalty

• 1st Down (once the LOS has been set the clock will run)

• Change of Possession

• Extra Points will become an un-timed down after the 2-minute warning

• Clock starts on the snap of the ball


B. Halftime: 2 minute period


C. Time-outs: 2 timeouts per half.  Timeouts do not carry over.


D. Mercy Rule: If a team is ahead by 18points (any combination of scores) or more at the 2-minute warning, the game will be called.  If the game reaches a spread of more than 18 after the two minute warning the game will be played out.    


II. Scoring

-Touchdown 6 points

-3 yd Extra Pt. 1 point

-10 yd Extra Pt. 2 points

-Safety 2 points


The ball will be spotted where the ball carriers flag is pulled, not where the ball is. Ball and flags must break the plane for a 1st down or a touchdown!



III. Game Play Rules


A. Beginning of Contest

• Minimum Players to start: 5 players

• Coin Toss: Winner of coin toss will choose to:

-Play offense  

-Play defense

-Defend a goal

• Beginning of the game and the second half will begin at the 3yd mark.

• After half the teams switch ends and the ball switches possession


B. Zone Line to Game

• Zone Line to Gain will be the next 20 yd Section

• Each offensive team will receive 4 plays to get a 1st down or touchdown

• On fourth down if a team elects to go for it and fails to achieve a 1st down or touchdown, the

defensive team will take over at that spot.  Spot is defined as the result of the play regardless  

of a positive or negative gain. 

 • If a team elects to not go for it on 4th down, the defensive team will take over at their own

   3yd line.


C. Pre-Play Protocol and Formations

• Play Clock shall be 25 seconds

• Substitutions may occur before the offensive team breaks their huddle. As the snapper                 

   addresses the ball, no more substitutes will be allowed. If a team then tries to substitute,  

   a delay of game penalty will be called.

• Formations

• Offensive formations: 3 players required on the line of scrimmage

• Players within 3 yards of the center must go into a route 

• Motion (by offensive players)

• Offensive players may go in motion prior to the snap.

• All motion must be parallel or away from the line of scrimmage

• Only 1 player may be in motion at the time of the snap


D. Snap: the offensive team will be allowed to snap the ball from an upright position, overhand or 

     underhand to the Quarterback in one continuous motion (it’s NOT required to snap the ball between

                    the legs)


E. Blocking

• Any use of hands or any other extremity to slow or deter a defensive player will result    

   in an offensive penalty

• There is no blocking, shielding, or picking allowed at the line of scrimmage or down field 


F. Ball Exchange

• The football may be exchanged in the following methods:

                - Hand-off (behind the line of scrimmage) No Laterals!

                - There may be multiple handoffs behind the line of scrimmage EX: reverse

- Forward pass (beyond the line of scrimmage)

Limit of one pass per play

May be overhand or underhand


 G. Ball-handling

• Ball carriers are prohibited from certain actions while in possession of the ball:

• Diving (Example: for yardage or end zone)

• Jumping to avoid a tackle

• “Steamrolling” a defender by initiating excessive contact

• Flag Guarding which includes but is not limited to:

• Stiff-arming the defensive player

• Swatting or swiping away the tackler’s hands

• Blocking flags with the ball

• Any ball that contacts the ground is automatically down at the spot

• Includes unsuccessful snaps and fumbles

• Includes your hands or knees touching the ground

  **Exception: incomplete pass**


H. The QB

• The Quarterback CANNOT run the ball.

• The QB has a 7-second pass clock. If a pass is not thrown within the 7 seconds, play is dead, loss of down, ball returns to the line of scrimmage. Once the ball is handed off the 7-second rule is no longer in effect.

• All players are eligible to receive passes (including the QB if the ball has been handed off behind the line of scrimmage.

• Players must have at least one foot in bounds when making a catch.

• In the situation where the QB throws the ball and the ball is deflected which results in a 

  completion by the offensive team behind the LOS that individuals only option is to run the



IV. Defensive Guidelines


A. Formation

• Defensive players may line up in any formation desired.

• QB Rush: “defensive rushers” may rush the QB upon the snap of the ball. To be 

considered a “defensive rusher,” players must begin the play BEHIND the 7 yard mark. At the snap, those players can advance across the line of scrimmage.

• The rusher must have a straight line to the QB.  The rusher however cannot line-up on center. 

• All other players cannot cross the line of scrimmage UNLESS the ball is handed off                    

                   behind the line of scrimmage

                • There can be multiple rushers as long as they start behind the seven yard marker


B. Tackling

• A legal Tackle is one in which a flag is pulled from the offensive player that is in

   possession of the ball.

• Illegal Tackles include but are not limited to:

• Pulling an offensive players flag before they are in possession of the ball.

• Shoving an offensive player in possession of the ball out of bounds

• Grasping and clutching an offensive player in possession in an attempt to slow

   or impede their progress (otherwise holding)

• If a players flag falls off while during the play, the offensive player with the ball will be down at that spot.   It DOES NOT become two hand touch after that!


C. Interception

• All interceptions are live.  If an interception takes place in the end zone and that players flag is pulled the ball will be placed will be placed at the intercepting teams 3 yard line.

• In the case of an INT where the intercepting team commits a penalty.  The referee will mark the spot of the infraction which now becomes the line of scrimmage (LOS).  At the conclusion of the

play the ball will come back to the new LOS and a 10yd penalty will be marked off with no loss of down. 


V. Overtime

The overtime format will be based off of college rules. Each team will receive one possession (possession = 4 plays) per overtime period until a winner is declared.

• Coin Flip: The coin flip will determine the order of possession for overtime.

• Possession will be taken at the 20 yard line

• Each possession will consist of 4 plays to score. If at the end of 4 plays or on a change of possession due to turnover, that team’s offensive possession ends.

• After the 2nd overtime teams will be required to go for the 2 point conversion

• At the end of each overtime period, the order of possession will be reversed.


VI. Penalties

• All Off. Penalties will result in a 10 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage and loss of down

• All Def. Penalties will result in a 10 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage and an automatic 1st   



Penalties: Any penalty in side the 10 yd line will be half the distance to the goal

• Delay of Game—failure to snap within the 25 second play clock

• False Start—offensive player moving from their set position prior to the snap

• Illegal Snap — center faking a snap to draw the defensive players offside

• Illegal Shift — two offensive players in motion at the time of the snap

• Illegal Forward Motion — player moving towards the LOS at the time of snap

• Illegal Forward Pass—offensive player passing the ball forward once they have established a

   position beyond the LOS -OR- a pass that does not go beyond the LOS.

• Illegal Formation — not enough players on the line of scrimmage at the time of snap (3 needed)

• Illegal Block — blocking by contact or movement to impede the process of a defender

• Illegal Participation — once the offensive team breaks the huddle and there are more than 7 players on

  the field

• Encroachment — any defensive player crossing the line of scrimmage before the hand-off

   that IS NOT stationed behind the 7 yd mark prior to the snap

• Pass Interference — any attempt by an offensive or defensive player to gain an advantage

   through illegal contact while the ball is in the air

• Holding — any player attempting to gain an advantage in the passing game or attempting to pull a flag  

   by clutching or grabbing a player or the uniform of the player

• Flag Guarding — action committed by the ball carrier that prevents the defense from having an

opportunity to pull the flag (includes: swatting of hands, holding the ball to block a pull, stiff arm of the defender, improper attachment of the belt, un-tucking uniform to hang over flags, etc…)

• Roughing the Passer — Contact with the quarterback above the beltline

• Roughing — any action that involves excessive contact by an offensive or defensive player

• Stripping—any defensive player that attempts to remove the ball or cause a fumble by swatting,

   striking or pulling on the offensive player in possession of the ball



Inadvertent whistle- Play will be stopped immediately.  The officials will mark the ball at the spot when the whistle was blown.  The offensive team will have the option to except the play where it stands or replay the down.  These are the only options!


Cussing/use of foul language-

If a player is caught using abusive/foul language there will be an unsportsmanlike penalty accessed to the offending team. The penalty will be 15 yds from the end of the play.  There are children and spectators watching these games and we don’t need to deal with this. 


 VII. Unsportsmanlike Conduct (15yd penalty assessed at the end of the play)

• Unsportsmanlike Conduct includes but is not limited to rough play, taunting, inappropriate language and actions towards officials, opposing players, and fans. Players & fans can and will be removed from the contest and complex for unsportsmanlike conduct.

• Rough play will not be tolerated. These guidelines have been created to provide a fun and safe

environment to play flag football for all participants. Excessive contact will result in penalties.

It can also result in being ejected from the contest and from the league.

Anything not covered in the rules will be at the discretion of the
officials or the league supervisor.


  Program Coordinator

Adult Sports Coordinator
Johnson County Park and Recreation District

Okun Fieldhouse
20200 Johnson Drive
Shawnee, KS 66218
P: 913-826-2900
F: 913-826-2911
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All Parks and Facilities 

913-686-6030 (must dial area code) 

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