FLAG FOOTBALL RULES
- Field Dimensions: Roughly ½ of regular football field.
- Age Groups: 5-6, 7-8.
- 1st downs: Field divided into 3 segments. First down when you pass each segment. Four downs to get 1st down.
- Players: 5-6 year olds play 5 x 5. All other age groups play 7 x 7.
- Practice: One hour before game plus one optional practice during the week
- Standings / Playoffs: Scores will be kept and standings maintained for each league. There will be a one-day playoff tournament for each league at the end of the season.
- Coaches are volunteers whose role it is to help young people learn to play and enjoy football. Parents are encouraged to support their youth and their coach at all times.
- Coaches will be required to attend a coaches clinic and/or review all league guidelines and rules. Coaches will sign an acknowledgment that they have reviewed all league guidelines and rules prior to coaching any kids.
- Coaches in the 5-6 and 7-8 year age divisions are allowed on the field to assist players with their positions. At the snap, on-field coaches must be 5 yards behind their deepest player.
- Coaches of all other age divisions may not come on to the field of play during a game unless a player is injured. Coaches who come on the field of play anytime during a game will be penalized. One sideline warning per game will be issued after which the following penalties will result:
- coach on the field during live action = unsportsmanlike conduct
- coach on the field during a dead ball = delay of game
- Coaches are expected to adhere to RYFA Football philosophy, coaching guidelines and codes of conduct.
- Only three coaches per team are allowed on the sidelines.
Teams and Eligibility
- 5-6 year old age group plays 5x5. All other age groups play 7x7.
- A team may play with 6 players. If a team has seven uninjured players present, it must field a minimum of seven players at all times. A team may play with 6 players if they only have six uninjured players present. The opposite team has the option of playing with 6 players or 7 players if it has more than 6 players available.
- All players must be registered with the league. Playing with unregistered players will result in immediate forfeiture and league suspension.
- Coaches should use their best efforts to insure all players get a chance to play as much as possible during a game. All players present at a game must play a minimum of 10 plays. Coaches have the option of requesting this be tracked during the game. If tracked, each team will provide a representative to track the opposing teams player participation.
- Teams are required to report to their assigned field of play by the scheduled start time or face possible forfeiture.
- Age groups for players will be determined by the age of a player on September 1. For example, a player that is 6 on September 1 that turns 7 on September 15 will be eligible to play in the 5-6 year old age group. Parents may request a waiver for their child to play up or down an age group. All decisions for playing up or down will be made by the flag commissioner.
Equipment / Attire
- Teams must use a standard size ball for the age group. 5-6 and 7-8 yr olds will use a Pee-Wee ball, 9-10 and 11-12 will use a Junior size ball.
- The League will attempt to provide an official game ball that should be used by both teams. However, the teams may use their own balls as long as the referee and each coach agree the balls selected are the appropriate size.
- The League provides each player with a flag belt that must be worn during games. No other flag belt, besides the RYFA provided flag belt, may be used.
- Flags must be worn on "OUTBOARD", on each side of the players' hips in line with the hip joint.
- The League provides each player with an official RYFA Flag Jersey that must be worn during games.
- Unless it is physically impossible, jerseys must be tucked in at all times during games.
- Nicknames but NOT first or last names may be screen-printed on jerseys.
- Pants or shorts with belt loops or pockets must be taped.
- Every player must wear a protective mouthpiece during games.
- Players must wear shoes. Cleats are allowed, however cleats with exposed metal are not allowed.
- Players may tape their forearms, hands and fingers. Players may wear gloves, elbow pads, and kneepads. Braces with exposed metals are not allowed.
- Players with cast on arms or hands must be wrapped with padding and approved by a league official prior to each game.
- Players must remove all watches, earrings and any other jewelry that the officials deem hazardous.
- All offensive players must have both flags on while on the field of play or face an Improper Equipment penalty (5 yards from the original line of scrimmage and loss of down). If the flag falls off while in the field of play, this penalty will not be assessed.
The Game Details
- Games are 48 minutes long (two 24 minute halves) plus 2-5 minutes for halftime.
- The Home team gets the ball first and the Visitor picks which goal to defend.
- The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has four plays to cross a first down marker or score a touchdown.
- The field is divided into thirds. Once a team crosses a 1/3 segment of the field, they get a first down. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team takes over on its 5-yard line.
- If the offensive team fails to get a first down or score, possession of the ball changes and the opposition starts its drive from its 5-yard line.
- All possession changes, except interceptions, start on the offense’s 5-yard line.
- Interceptions may be run back.
- Teams change sides after the first 25 minutes. Possession changes to Visitor.
Regulation Play and Clock
- Games consist of two 24-minute halves. Halftime is 2-5 minutes. Teams change ends to begin the second half.
- The clock runs during the first 22 minutes of each half unless a time-out is called.
- During the last 2 minutes of each half, the clock stops when there is an incomplete pass, a penalty, change of possession, or when a ball-carrier runs out of bounds provided the score is within 14 points. For example, the clock would stop during the final two minutes if the score were 24-12 but not if it were 24-0.
- For all divisions except the 5-6 year old age group, the offensive team has 30 seconds to snap the ball once it has been spotted. The offense may snap the ball at anytime after the Line Judge has signaled the start of the 30 second snap count whether the defense is ready or not. The referee will warn the offensive team when there are 10 seconds left on the snap count clock. In the 5-6 year old age group, the offensive team will have 45 seconds rather than 30 seconds.
- Each team has two 60-second time outs per game that does carry-over from 1st half to the second half.
- Officials can stop the clock at their discretion for an injury, pet on the field, etc. Scoring
- Touchdown: 6 points
- Extra point: 1 point (played from 5-yard line) or 2 points (played from 12-yard line)
- Extra Point Attempt Return 2 points
- The defense can score on an extra point. An extra point returned for a touchdown by the defense is worth 2 points. If the defense intercepts on an extra point but does not get a touchdown on the return, the offense for the team intercepting then starts on the 5 yard line with a fresh set of downs.
- Safety: 2 points
- Forfeits: Any forfeit will be scored as 7-0 for the non-forfeiting team
- * Note: Scores will be tracked and recorded. Standings will be maintained and used to determine playoff seeding. Winning isn’t the most important thing in this league, but coaches should teach their players the lessons associated with both winning and losing the right way.
Spotting the Ball
- The ball is spotted where the ball carrier's forward-most grounded foot is when the flag is pulled, not where the ball is.
- Note: The ball-carrier's forward-most grounded foot is the one that is both closest to his goal line and in contact with the ground. For example, should a defender pull the flag of a ball-carrier who has his front foot elevated over the goal line and his back foot on the ground six inches in front of the goal line, the ball will be spotted where his forward-most grounded foot was when the flag was pulled - six inches in front of the goal line.
- If a ball carrier's flag falls out while running, the ball is marked at the spot where the ball carrier's forward-most foot was when the flag came out.
- Defensive players that start a play without a flag can intercept a pass but cannot advance it. The ball is spotted where the interception occurred.
- A team with a lead of 28 or more points cannot advance an interception. The ball will be spotted at the point of the interception and possession will be awarded to the intercepting team.
- The play is ruled dead when the ball makes contact with the ground. In the case of a fumble or muffed snap, the ball is spotted at the forward-most grounded foot of the player who last touched it.
- Example 1: a player fumbles the ball forward. The ball is spotted where the players forward-most grounded foot was at the time of the fumble, not where the ball lands.
- Example 2: a player muffs a snap while standing in the end zone. The ball is spotted where the player's forward-most foot is at the time of the muff, not where the ball lands. This spot would result in a safety.
- Example 3: a center hikes it over the head of the QB but the QB does not touch it. The ball is spotted at the forward most grounded foot of the center. There is a loss of down on the play.
- The QB can run the ball, but only on designed run plays.
- QB cannot fake a pass play and then run. This includes any type of draw play i.e. a draw play type action is the same as a fake pass.
- QB cannot run to avoid a sack. Once a QB has shown indications of a pass play, they are no longer allowed to run the ball.
- QB can pitch the ball
- Must throw ball within 7 seconds on pass play
- Blocking is allowed on running plays, but only within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.
- No pick plays of any kind are allowed.
- Eligible Receivers: Everyone is eligible including Center
- The ball must be snapped between the legs to start play.
- Center sneak plays are not allowed. Note: A center sneak is any play in which the ball is transferred immediately to the center from the player receiving the snap. A center must take at least one step forward to receive a legal forward pass or one step backward to accept a legal handoff or pitch.
- The ball can be hiked from the center to any offensive player.
- The ball must be snapped from the spot where the referee places it.
- Any number of offensive players may shift prior to the snap but only one player on offense is allowed in motion when the ball is being snapped. The player in motion must be moving parallel to the line of scrimmage or in a backward direction. All other players on offense must be set prior to the snap.
- The QB can run the ball, but only on designed run plays.
- QB cannot fake a pass play and then run.
- QB cannot run past the line of scrimmage to avoid a sack. Once a QB has shown indications of a pass play, they are no longer allowed to run the ball.
- Direct handoffs / pitches behind the line of scrimmage are permitted. Offense may use multiple handoffs / pitches.
- No pitches or handoffs are allowed once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage.
- The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage.
- All defensive players are eligible to rush.
- Spinning is allowed, but players cannot leave their feet to avoid a defensive player (no diving).
- The ball is spotted where the ball carrier’s feet are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball is.
- All players are eligible to receive passes (including the quarterback if the ball has been handed off behind the line of scrimmage).
- Only one player is allowed in motion at a time.
- A player must have at least one foot inbounds when making a reception.
- An offensive player who voluntarily runs out of bounds during live action may not return to the field of play until the ball is dead.
- An offensive player who is forced out of bounds during live action by contact with a defender may return to the field of play during live action without penalty.
- If a defensive player pulls a receivers flag prior to a legal reception of a pitch or forward pass, the defense will be flagged for Illegal Flag Pull but the play will not be whistled dead. If the receiver catches the pass or pitch, the play will remain live until the receivers other flag is pulled. If both flags are pulled illegally and the catch is made, the play remains live until a defender touches the ball carrier with two hands.
- When a pass is thrown, any player from either team has a right to catch the ball. If in the attempt to catch the ball, a player hinders an opposing player by physical contact (pushing, shoving, slapping, etc), pass interference will result. Referees will determine incidental contact that is a normal part of flag football.
- If a ball is simultaneously caught by 2 opposing players, possession will be awarded to the offense with the ball being dead at the spot.
- All passes must be forward. Passes do not have to cross the line of scrimmage, but they must clearly be forward of the throwers hand. No backward or swing passes that are not clearly forward.
- Shovel passes are allowed.
- The quarterback has a seven-second “pass clock.” If a pass is not thrown within the seven seconds, play is dead, loss of down. Once the ball is handed off, the seven-second rule no longer is in effect.
- Interceptions change the possession of the ball at the end of the run back. Interceptions are the only changes of possession that do not start on the 5-yard line.
Rushing the passer:
- Can rush from anywhere on the field, but must provide a 7 yard buffer from the line of scrimmage for any player rushing the QB.
- Substitutions may be made on any dead ball.
- Play is ruled “dead” when:
- Ball carrier’s flag is pulled
- Ball carrier steps out of bounds
- Touchdown or safety is scored
- Ball carrier’s knee hits the ground
- The ball is fumbled and hits the ground
- Ball carrier’s flag falls out
- The ball must be snapped between the legs, not off to one side, to start play.
- *Note: There are no kickoffs.
Sportsmanship / Conduct
- Contact is limited to incidental contact that is a normal part of flag football.
- Players are expected to behave in a civil manner. Flag slamming, flag throwing, or other uncivil acts will result in a verbal warning for the first offense and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for each subsequent offense.
- Taunting, trash talking, cursing or other offensive language or behavior by players, coaches or their fans will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the first offense and forfeiture for the second offense.
- Reckless play deemed by the referee to be potentially dangerous or harmful (e.g., tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, roughing, pushing, etc.) will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Two such acts committed by one player during a game will result in automatic ejection.
- Play that is deemed by the referee to be intentionally malicious (e.g. clothes lining, blatant tackling with no effort to pull flags, etc.) will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and immediate player ejection. Two such acts by one team during a game will result in immediate forfeiture and potential league sanctions.
- Players, Teams or Coaches who are found to have intentionally cheated will be suspended indefinitely.
- Players, Coaches, or Spectators who are ejected from a game, must vacate the premises. Failure to do so will result in game suspension and forfeiture.
- Field Supervisors and Game Officials have the authority to suspend play and declare a forfeit if players, fans and/or coaches behave in a manner that is threatening or dangerous. One "Game suspension" warning will be issued.
- When appropriate, Field Supervisors, Game Officials, or other officials that work for or with RYFA Football will make reports to the RYFA Football Board. In addition to the penalties assessed during a game, conduct violations carry the additional penalties associated with league participation.
A) Unsportsmanlike Conduct -7-day suspension from practice and play.
- B) Ejection from a Game - 14-day suspension from practice and play.
- C) Physically threatening an official - season suspension.
- D) Hitting an official - indefinite suspension (minimum 1 year).
- E) Public intoxication - season suspension.
- F) Fighting (on or off the field) - season suspension.
- G) Second offense of A or B - season suspension.
- H) Playing an ineligible player - forfeiture of game and possible action against the coach and team.
- All penalties will be assessed at the end of the play.
- Spinning is allowed but players cannot leave their feet to avoid a defensive player.
- Diving or leaping to advance the ball is not allowed. If a player dives or leaps, the ball will be marked where the player left his feet.
- Blocking is allowed. All blocking must be above the waist and below the neck and on the front of a player’s body i.e. no blocking in the back.
- Any player that steps out of bounds during play must return to the field of play immediately or be penalized for illegal participation.
- Any player that comes onto the field from out of bounds after the play has begun will be penalized for illegal participation.
- Referees will determine incidental contact that results from normal play.
- The head coach (or the on-field coaches in the 5-6, and 7-8 year old divisions) may ask the referee for a rules clarification or interpretation but the request must come immediately after the play in question. Any stoppage of play by a coach to question a call or rule pertaining to a play other than the one just played will result in a delay of game penalty.
- Players may not question calls. Coaches may not question judgment calls.
- Penalties may be declined.
- In the case of offensive and defensive penalties occurring on the same play, the down will be replayed unless one of the infractions was a personal foul. In that case, the personal foul would take precedence over the non-personal foul. Example: A defender interferes with a pass and, following the whistle; the offensive player turns and pushes the defensive player in anger. While both the defense and offense are flagged respectively for pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct, the offense alone would then be penalized for the personal foul of unsportsmanlike conduct.
- Games cannot end on a defensive penalty, unless the offense declines it.
- If team calls a time-out when it has none left, the official will assess a 5-yard penalty. On the first penalty, the clock will stop while the penalty is assessed if it happens within the last two minutes of the half or the game (otherwise, the clock will continue to run). On the second penalty, the 5-yard penalty will be assessed and the clock will continue to run no matter how much time is left in the half or the game.
- The ball may not be stripped from runner.
- Last Man Rule
- In the event that the defensive player commits a flagrant holding penalty and there are no other defensive players between the offensive player and the end-zone, the referee has the discretion to place the ball on the 1 yard line if it is obvious the flagrant holding penalty prevented a touchdown. Otherwise it is a 10-yard penalty and automatic first down for flagrant holding.
- In the event that the defensive team intercepts an extra-point conversion attempt, and the defensive player is flagrantly held by the (original) offensive player, two points shall be awarded to the (original) defensive team. Inadvertent Whistle
- In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the offense has two options:
- Take the ball at the spot where the whistle blew.
- Replay the down from the original line of scrimmage.
- If a personal foul is committed during or immediately after a play whistled dead by an inadvertent whistle, the penalty for the personal foul would take precedence over the inadvertent whistle ruling.
- Roughing/Unsportsmanlike conduct = 10 yards from end of play.
- Delay of game = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Too many players on the field = 5 yards from line of scrimmage.
- Illegal pitch = 5 yards from original line of scrimmage or point of infraction if beyond the line of scrimmage.
- Improper Equipment = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage and loss of down.
- When the listed penalty yardage is in excess of half the distance between the goal line and the spot from where the penalty yardage is to begin, the penalty will be "Half the distance to the goal line." Example: The original line of scrimmage is 7 yards from the goal line. The defense is flagged for being off-sides. The ball will be moved toward the goal and spotted at the 3 1/2 yard mark.
- Illegal participation (player enters the field of play after the ball has been snapped) = 5 yard from the original line of scrimmage and automatic first down.
- ALL OFFENSIVE PENALTIES RESULT IN AN AUTOMATIC LOSS OF DOWN
- Note: Loss of Down means no repeating of down. An offensive penalty on 1st down costs the offensive team yardage plus the 1st down play during which the penalty occurred. The next play run by the offense would be 2nd down. Penalties on 2nd down are followed by a 3rd down play. Penalties on 4th down plays result in a change of possession.
- Illegal Hike/Illegal Motion/False Start = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Illegal Forward Pass = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Offensive Pass Interference = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Flag Guarding/Blocking = 5 yards from spot of foul. The flag guarding offense must be obvious (i.e. it is not a penalty if the offensive players arm inadvertently gets in the way of the flag while the offensive player is attempting to elude the defender).
- Illegal block = 10 yards from spot of the foul. An illegal block occurs in any of the following situations:
- Any block more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.
- Any illegal pick play (i.e. where an offensive player intentionally sets a pick to slow down a defensive player).
- Any block above the shoulders, in the back, or below the waist.
- Illegal Center Sneak = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Failure to pass within 7 seconds = Loss of down only.
- Illegal participation (player enters the field of play after the ball has been snapped) = 5 yard from the original line of scrimmage and loss of down.
- Illegal ball = head coach ejection for first offense and forfeiture for the second offense.
- Offside/Illegal Rush = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Pass Interference = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Face guarding = 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Holding/Illegal Contact/Illegal Flag Pull = 10 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
- Holding an offensive player with the ball = 5 yards from the spot of the foul.
- Roughing the passer = 10 yards from end of play.
- Roughing the center = 10 yards from end of play. The center is in a vulnerable position when snapping the ball. A defender cannot line up over the center and under no circumstances can a defender hit the center before the center has had time to snap the ball and square up to any defender.
- All divisions will have a one-day playoff tournament at the end of the regular season.
- Seeding Playoffs - Teams will be ranked based on season standings. Highest ranked teams play lowest ranked teams in a single elimination tournament.
- Example: 4 team division - The number 1 and 4 teams in the regular season will play in one game and the number 2 and 3 teams will play in the other game. The winners would play for the championship. Tiebreakers for Post Season Seeding- Tiebreakers will be in the following order:
- Head to Head Competition
- Point Differential - points scored minus points allowed for the season (a maximum of 15 points per game)
- Total Points Allowed
- 4. Coin Flip