Flag Football Rules & Regulations

UpdatedFriday February 28, 2020 byTewksbury Youth Football.

Flag Football Rules & Regulations

Updated for 2020 Season by Tewksbury Youth Football

**Rules apply to All Levels of Play**

5 vs. 5 Flag Football Rules

The Basics

• Designated team captains will meet at midfield for a coin toss before the start of the game; Away team captain will choose heads or tails before the referee tosses the coin into the air; Winning team gets first choice deciding to start on offense or defense (No Deferring)

• The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has four plays to cross midfield. Once a team crosses midfield, it has four plays to score a touchdown. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team takes over on its 5-yard line.

• You will have 3 downs to get to midfield and then another 3 downs to get a touchdown.  If no 1st down/touchdown is obtained in the 3 downs you have the option on 4th down to risk going for it or “punt”.  If you choose to go for it and fail to achieve the first down/touchdown the defense will take over from that spot rather than going back to their 5 yard line.  If you choose to punt the defense will take over from their 5 yard line and no 4th down will be played

• We will enforce the no-run rule 5 yards from midfield and 5 yards from end zone.  Failure to comply will result in a loss of down.

• If the offensive team fails to cross midfield when going for it on 4th Down, possession of the ball changes and the opposition starts its drive from the spot of the ball

• Interceptions may be run back; possession will start wherever the interceptor is marked down

• 2nd Half - Teams change sides after the first 20 minutes. Possession starts with whichever team started on Defense to start the game

• Field dimensions are approximately: 50 yards long by 25 yards wide with 5-10 yard end zones with 5 yard no-run zones before mid-field line and goal lines.

Players/Game Schedules

Teams must field a minimum of four players at all times.


• Games are played in two 20 minute halves with a running clock. Clock will stop in last two minutes of each half.

• Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced.

• Each team has one 60-second and one 30-second time-out per half.

• Officials can stop the clock at their discretion.

There is no overtime in the regular season.


• Touchdown: 6 points

• Extra point: 1 point (played from 5-yard line MUST PASS) or 2 points (played from 10-yard line)

• Extra Point Attempt Return for TD: 2 points

• Safety: 2 points

• Forfeits: Any forfeit will be scored as 7-0 for the non-forfeiting team

Please remember that scoring is part of the game but not the main focus; always place the kids before the win!


• The quarterback cannot run with the ball past the line of scrimmage.

• Only direct handoffs behind the line of scrimmage are permitted. Offense may use multiple handoffs

“No-running zones” located five yards from each end zone and five yards on either side of midfield are designed to avoid short-yardage, power-running situations

• The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage.

• Once the ball has been handed off, 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.

• Laterals and backward pitches are NOT allowed.


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

• As in the NFL, only one player is allowed in motion at a time.

• A player must have at least one foot inbounds when making a reception.


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.

Dead Balls

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 fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball hits the ground.

**Note: There are no kickoffs, and no blocking is allowed.

Rushing the Quarterback

All players who rush the passer must be a minimum of seven yards from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. Any number of players can rush the quarterback. Players not rushing the quarterback may defend on the line of scrimmage.

Once the ball is handed off or thrown, the seven-yard rule no longer is in effect and all defenders may go behind the line of scrimmage. A special marker, or the referee, will designate seven yards from the line of scrimmage. Remember, no blocking or tackling is allowed.



If the field monitor or referee witnesses any acts of tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped penalty will be assessed and the player may be ejected from the game (Referee Discretion)


Trash talking is illegal. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. (Trash talk is talk that may be offensive to officials, opposing players, teams or spectators.) If trash talking occurs, the referee will give one warning. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the game.

Defensive Penalties

Offside -- 5 yards from the line of scrimmage and repeat the down

Illegal contact (holding, blocking, etc.) -- 5 yards and repeat the down

Illegal flag pull (before receiver has ball) -- 5 yards and repeat the down

Illegal rushing (starting rush from inside 7-yard marker) -- 5 yards and repeat the down

Substitution fouls (player enters field after ball is blown ready for play, i.e. to deceive opponents, or 6 players on the field) -- 5 yards and repeat the down

Interference with opponent or ball at the snap -- 5 yards and repeat the down

Defensive holding -- 5 yards from the spot of the foul

Pass Interference -- 10 yards and Automatic First Down

Roughing the Passer -- 10 yards Automatic First Down

Unnecessary Roughness -- 10 yards Automatic First Down

Unsportsmanlike Conduct -- 10 yards Automatic First Down

Offensive Penalties

Delay of game -- 5 yards and loss of down

Substitution fouls -- 5 yards and loss of down

Illegal motion (more than one person moving, etc.) -- 5 yards and loss of down

False Start -- 5 yards and loss of down

Illegal Snap -- 5 yards and loss of down

Offensive holding -- 5 yards and loss of down

Player out of bounds (if player goes out of bounds, player cannot return to the field and catch ball) -- 5 yards and loss of down

Offensive pass interference (illegal pick play, pushing off/away defender) -- 5 yards and loss of down

Flag guarding (swatting opponents hands away in an effort to guard or stiff-arms) -- 5 yards from the point of foul and loss of down

Unnecessary Roughness -- 10 yards Loss of Down

Unsportsmanlike Conduct -- 10 yards Loss of Down


• Cleats are allowed, except for metal spikes. Inspections will be made.

All players must wear a protective mouthpiece; there are no exceptions.

• No pockets or hoops on shorts.

• No hats with brims or bills.

• The official game shirt MUST be the outermost garment worn during play


Seeding Playoffs - Teams will be ranked based on season standings. Example: 4 team division - The number 1 and 4 teams in the regular season will play first round and the number 2 and 3 teams will play first round. Winners of those games will play for the championship.


Tiebreakers for Post Season - Tiebreakers will be in the following order:

1. Head to Head Competition

2. Point Differential - points scored minus points allowed for the season

3. Total Points Allowed

4. Coin Flip

Overtime (Playoffs Only)

If the score is tied at the end of 40 minutes, teams move directly into overtime (only in the playoffs).

• Coin flip will determine possession (called by away team Captains)

• The referee will determine which end of the field the overtime will take place on

• Each team will get one possession starting at mid-field

  • In the event of a score, the offense will decide if they want to go for one point or two point conversion; if the team to get possession first scores, the defense will have a chance on offense to either tie or win the game
  • Both teams must go for two point conversion on the third round of Overtime (should it last that long)

Playing Field

The typical playing field is 50 yards in length and 30 yards wide with 10 yard end zones at each end. These dimensions can be modified to suite the area or other concerns.

No-Running Zones: Will be marked 5 yards from each end zone and 5 yards on both sides of midfield. The no-run zone is only in play when there is a line to gain (i.e. attacking to the midfield line and end zone).

 “and the most important rule of all... HAVE FUN!!!”