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FLAG Flag Football Official Rules
TIME: 55 minute game clock will be kept. Clock does not stop. Each half is 25 minutes with a five (5) minute half, and teams will remain on the field. Team time outs DO NOT stop the clock. Each team gets one team time out per half. Team time outs delay the start of the huddle clock by 30 seconds. A half cannot end on a team time out. At the end of the first half timed session, there will be one additional play to complete the half. At the end of the second half timed session there will be five additional plays to complete the game (conversions do not count as one of the additional plays). The 30 second play clock remains in effect for each additional play. A half cannot end on a team time out – there must be one final play in regulation at the end of the time out. For example, if there are 10 seconds remaining in the half, and either team calls a time out, the offense is given one final play in regulation after the time out is over, since the game clock will have expired during the time out. Once that play is run, regulation time is officially over, and there is then one extra play in the first half, or five extra plays in the second half.
OVERTIME: There is no overtime during the regular season (games may end in a tie). During the playoffs, the “sudden death” method is used. Play starts at the 15-yard line and each team will have one possession (4 downs) to attempt to both score a touchdown and complete an extra point conversion. In the event that the game remains tied after both teams complete their initial possession, each team is required to attempt a two-point conversion upon every touchdown scored thereafter. This method is repeated until the tie is broken.
PLAYERS ON FIELD: Games are played between two teams of seven (7) players each. A team may play with six (6) players, but their opponent may choose to play with seven (7). If a team has five (5) or fewer players on the field at the start of their scheduled game time, they must forfeit the game. No team may recruit players from a different team to supplement their roster.
An offense may have 8 players in the huddle, as long as the 8th player exits the huddle, raises his/her hand while leaving the field, and clears the field before his/her team’s next play begins. If this fails to happen, the result is a penalty for too many players on the field.
EQUIPMENT: All players MUST wear flags at all times. A player’s flags must be worn outside or on top of shirts, sweatshirts or team jerseys and be clearly visible to opposing players and referees. Failure to do so may result in a penalty. Team jerseys will be issued to each player. Players may wear other tops of identical color rather than the jersey; however, an opposing team may require the player to wear the provided jersey if they feel the alternate top does not adequately distinguish the player. Players cannot wear outer garments that have pockets or belt loops of any kind. Hoodies must have the hood tucked under jersey while on playing field. Any metal brace must be covered during play.
FOOTBALLS: Teams will provide their own footballs. Games are played with footballs of “collegiate”, “professional”, or “official” sizes. All balls must be properly inflated and approved by the referee. The referee will decide whether the ball meets the specifications or may authorize substituting a non-sanctioned ball.
CONTACT: All efforts must be made to reduce heavy contact. Tackling a player involves a motion to de-flag ONLY. Any other motion to obstruct a player’s motion is ILLEGAL. ANY CONTACT other than de-flagging against a passer in a passing motion is a penalty. Charging, running through an opposing player who has position on the field, on either offense or defense is illegal.
DIVING: “Diving” qualifies as a body motion in any direction where ones advance results in the ball carrier landing on the ground and not on one’s feet. Remaining upright and leaping into the air to advance the ball is legal provided no contact is made with a defending player who had position prior to the leap. Contact will result in an offensive charging penalty. A player may not dive forward to advance the ball in any instance. You may not dive on or towards the ground to advance the ball. Diving to catch or deflag is legal provided normal contact rules apply. Diving into a player to deflag is roughing. Illegal diving is a 10 yards penalty.
PUNTS: No kicks. The opposing team takes possession on its own 5.
DEFLAGGING: Deflagging occurs when the clasp of the flag being worn by the ball carrier is judged by the Referee to have been unclipped by a defensive player. If a flag falls off inadvertently, play is still live until the player with the ball whose flag fell off inadvertently (or was deflagged prior to possession) is “tackled” by one hand touch from an opposing player. Deflagging prior to possession is a defensive unnecessary roughness penalty.
SNAPPER: Every play must start with a center snapping to another player. The snapper is eligible for receptions.
RUSH: A defensive rush is allowed but must occur with a player that is 5 yards off the line of scrimmage. Once a defensive player located 5 yards off the line of scrimmage crosses the line of scrimmage, any defensive player can rush.
FUMBLE: All fumbles are dead at the spot. If a ball is fumbled in mid-air, the defender may recover the ball before it touches the ground. Center snap missed by the QB is a dead ball at the spot of the first touch of the ground.
ILLEGAL MOTION OR OFFSIDES BY THE OFFENSE: Illegal motion or offsides by the offense results in a dead ball. The play will be immediately blown dead by the referee and the appropriate penalty assessed.
INADVERTENT WHISTLE: In the event of an inadvertent whistle, the possessing team can select to take the ball at the spot of the ball at the time of the whistle, or simply replay the down.
BALL SPOTTING: The position of the ball marks the line of scrimmage. (A players body is NOT where the ball is spotted, nor is the spot where the opposing player is standing when the de-flagging is made). The referee calls the ball spot and cannot be challenged.
HUDDLE CLOCK: 30 seconds. This will not be further extended to allow exchanging for a selected football.
PASS INTERFERENCE/ILLEGAL CONTACT: Pass interference is when a defensive or offensive player is obstructed from catching a “thrown ball.” Pass interference is not assessed when both players are making a play for the ball and have inadvertent, incidental contact. If feet get tangled inadvertently while running a route, there is no illegal contact or interference. Ball catch-ability negates pass interference.
If defensive pass interference occurs in the end zone, the ball will be placed on the one-yard line with an automatic first down.
Illegal contact is contact made during pass routes by either player, offensive or defensive, prior to a ball being thrown which obstructs either the running of a route or the allowance of coverage of that route. Ball catch-ability is irrelevant.
An offensive player making contact with a defensive player past the line of scrimmage is illegal contact. “Contact picking” or blocking a defender off coverage of another receiver is illegal contact. An offensive player may, however, block a defensive player either after a ball is caught or after the ball carrier crosses the line of scrimmage.
KNEE/FALL DOWN: If a player’s knee touches the ground or falls down while his flags are still on, he may get up and advance the ball until he is de-flagged. If the ball carrier, while still on the ground, is touched by an opposing player, the ball carrier is considered de-flagged and the play will be blown dead. If the referee determines that the ball carrier is in an unsafe position, he or she may whistle dead without an actual “touch” by an opposing player.
FUMBLE: All fumbles are dead at the spot. In the event a QB drops the snap, the ball is considered fumbled and will be spotted from the location of the drop. If a ball is fumbled mid-air, any player may recover the ball before it touches the ground and advance the ball. If a ball carrier uses his ball carrying hand to keep his body from contacting the ground, and the ball touches the ground but the carrier remains in control of the ball, the carrier is not down and the play continues.
A CATCHABLE BALL: must be released and in the vicinity of an ascertainable receiver.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER STEPS OUT OF BOUNDS: If an offensive player steps out of bounds, and it is NOT as a result of being pushed out by a defender, the player becomes an ineligible receiver unless and until the ball is first touched by another player on either team. For example, if Player A steps out of bounds (including out of the end zone) and then runs back in, they have made themselves an ineligible receiver. If they then catch a pass that is not first touched by another player on either team, it is ruled an incomplete pass. (There is no further penalty assessed.)
PADDING: No pads allowed. EXCEPTION: To protect an injury.
ONE RUN PER POSSESSION: Only 1 run is permitted per possession; all other plays must be pass plays. Note that extra point attempts after a touchdown constitute separate possessions, and therefore a new run play is available.
RUN PLAYS: A run play occurs when any player advances the ball across the line of scrimmage by running; this includes forwarded passes caught behind the line of scrimmage and subsequently run across. In comparison, a pass play occurs when the ball is passed over the line of scrimmage.
PASSING: A legal forward pass requires that both feet of the throwing player are behind the line of scrimmage. Any individual down may not have more than one forward pass in its execution.
RECEPTION: One foot in bounds for legal reception.
BLOCKING: No contact above shoulders or below waist. You may not leave your feet to block. No high/low blocks allowed. 5 yard chuck on pass coverage is allowed.
- Touchdowns = 6 points
- Extra Points = Ball placed on 5 yard line, if run or passed in, 1 point. Ball placed on 10 yard line, if run or passed in, 2 pts (in either case, a return by the defense to the opposing teams end zone equals 2 points for the defense).
- Safety = 2 points (ball taken mid-field by opponent)
PENALTIES: (all penalties assessed from line of scrimmage; repeat down unless otherwise noted)
LOSS OF 5 YARDS:
- Illegal defensive rush (rushed ahead of 5 yard marker)
- Illegal forward pass (and loss of down) (play continues and defense has right to accept/decline penalty)
- Delay of game
- Offensive player illegally in motion at the snap or false start (only one player in motion allowed at time of snap, motion cannot be toward the line of scrimmage) (Dead ball foul – penalty stops play and down is repeated)
- Intentionally grounding pass (and loss of down)
- Too many players on field
- Defensive encroachment (on the “bladder line” is off sides)
- Equipment violation (failure to wear flags or team jersey properly)
- Offensive holding
LOSS OF 10 YARDS:
- Defensive holding
- Offensive pass interference
- Illegal contact after 5 yards line of scrimmage (prior to completed pass or ball carrier not across line of scrimmage)
- Unsportsmanlike conduct (includes taunting and excessive end zone celebrations)
- Unnecessary roughness (including but not limited to): tripping, clipping, charging, ball stripping, pushing out of bounds and illegal blocking.
LOSS OF 25 YARDS AND PLAYER SITS OUT FOR TWO SUCCESSIVE OFFENSIVE SERIES:
- Excessive and repeated unsportsmanlike conduct (in the judgment of the referee)
- Excessive and obvious roughing of a passer
SPOT OF FOUL:
- Defensive pass interference
- If in end zone, offense takes ball on 1-yard line, with automatic first down. Defensive Pass interference will be a spot foul. NOTE: If Pass Interference by either team’s player is conspicuously intentional or unsportsmanlike, the team may be penalized an additional ten (10 ) yards.
- Flag guarding (less 5 yards)
- Illegal diving (less 10 yards)
PENALTIES ASSESSED NEAR GOAL LINE:If penalty length is sufficient to cause a TD, the penalty is assessed at half the distance to the goal line.
FIRST DOWN DETERMINATIONS: Penalties during a play are assessed before a first down determination is made. The only penalty associated with an automatic first down is defensive pass interference in the end zone.
- Roughing the Passer: A defensive player rushing the QB may not contact any part of the QB’s body, including the ball while still in the QB’s hand, unless the contact is incidental in an attempt to deflag the QB. While a defensive player may put his hands up in an attempt to block the line of sight of the QB, any subsequent contact of the QB is roughing the passer, even if the defensive player also get a piece of the ball.
- Intentional Grounding: Illegal Intentional grounding exists when a quarterback under pressure throws the ball away to avoid a sack and the ball does not cross the line of scrimmage or is not thrown within the “vicinity” of an offensive player. “Vicinity” is the judgement of the referee as they must determine if there was a valid attempt to have a reception.
- Ejection: Referees and league officers can eject players from individual games and suspend or otherwise eject players from the league for conduct deemed in gross violation of the mission of the league. This conduct includes, but is not limited to: excessive rough conduct on the field and abusive treatment of fellow players and referees. Any player ejected from a game is automatically suspended from that player’s next game, and may be subject to further action as addressed elsewhere in these rules.
- Sportmanship: The determination of sportsmanship violations is reserved for the judgment of the referees. Behavior outside the traditional notions of sportsmanship constitutes a violation of this rule. This includes, but is not limited to: taunting, offensive language or conduct, physical violence, or interfering with the referee’s ability to officiate. The referees may impose a loss of ten (10) or twenty-five (25 yards), depending on the severity of the infraction. Flagrant or severely egregious conduct may result in ejection and referral of player conduct to the Director of Rules and Competition for more serious penalties. League officers may institute other equitable remedies. Chronic violations may merit suspension from the league.
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