A Quickstart Guide to Flag Football Rules

Implement Official Flag Football rules in your PE program with the videos below. This video series includes helpful tips for set-up, gameplay, scoring and common penalties in Flag Football.

Flag Football is played with 7 players on each team. Players compete for 60 minutes split into two 30-minute halves. Divide the field into four 25-yard boxes with a first down every 25-yards. If you’re playing on a shortened field like we are, limit the amount of first downs available. Start your game with either a coin toss or a longest throw competition. The winner chooses possession or the side they’d like to start on. Kick-offs start by throwing off. Players race down to pull the returner’s flag belt. Offense has four plays to reach a first down or score. If they advance the ball pass the first down marker, they receive a new set of downs. If the offense fails to reach the first down marker, possession changes. Punting is not allowed. Possession continues until a team either scores or fails to convert on fourth down.

Flag Football Gameplay: After the Snap

There is no contact in flag football. Blocking, kicking and punting is not allowed and fumbling the ball results in a dead ball. Once the quarterback snaps the ball, he/she has four seconds to release it. While blocking isn’t allowed, rushing the quarterback still is. The defensive rusher must wait a total of two seconds before going after the quarterback. Depending on the length of your game, the defense can blitz a certain amount of times per half. During a blitz, the defensive player can rush immediately. The quarterback is not allowed to run past the line of scrimmage unless a defensive player rushes first. Handoffs running north and south are not allowed. Laterals are legal, but only one per play. Encourage your students to include everyone on their team and get creative with their play calling.

Scoring and Extra Points

Scoring is like traditional football. Touchdowns are worth 6 points. Instead of kicking a field goal, scoring teams must attempt an extra point. They can choose to start from the 5, 10 or 15-yard line. If successful the offensive team will score 1 point from the 5 yard line, 2 points from the 10-yard line and 3 points from the 15 yard line. Play continues until the game clock runs out. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins!

Common Penalties in Flag Football

While many common football penalties are not allowed in flag football, there are a few specific penalties to watch out for during the game.

  • No blocking! Players are not allowed to block incoming rushers.
  • Early Pull! Players must wait until their opponent has possession of the ball before pulling a flag belt.
  • Flag Guarding! Players are not allowed prevent the defense from grabbing their flag belt.
  • Flag Tampering! Students must position the Flag belts on their hips. Flags must be visible at all times. Students might wrap the belt around their flag or untuck their shirt to make pulling their flag more difficult. This is not allowed in flag football.

Encourage your students to play within the rules of the game for more fun and competitive play all around.

Flag Football Regulation Belts:

Official Flag Football flag belts include two flags on each side of the hip. Gopher’s ClickPro Official Flag Belt System features adjustable sliders that guarantee flags are in the correct spot every time!

One Response

  1. I just wrapped up a season of flag football, we had a great season, but lost in the championship game. The opposing team purposely were using brand new flags and belts meanwhile, my kids were using the same gear we received from the beginning of the season. I didn’t realize they did this until after the game was over. This 1000% affected my teams ability to pull the other team’s flags. I felt cheated as all the teams should be playing on a level playing field. This felt like an unfair advantage that they planned out. I cannot find anything in any rule books that addresses the issue. Any feedback would be helpful.

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