Flag Football Rules

Youth Flag Football Rules
tournament rules - revised version 3.6.[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [500.8 KB]


Adult Flag Football 


  • Blocking:
    • Blocking shall take place with either arms fully extended or by your shoulders. If you start the play with your arms extended they must stay extended. If you start with your arms by your shoulders they must stay there. NO PUMPING OF THE ARMS.
      • The defensive rusher may not “bull rush” the offensive blocker.
        • Blitzers are also not allowed to “chop” blockers arms
      • Offensive line that pumps their arms while blocking will be assessed a 5 yard penalty.
      • Defensive rushers must make a move to avoid the offensive blocker.
      • If the defensive rusher knocks down the offensive blocker the defense will be assessed a 5 yard penalty.


  • Players on the field:
    • 7 players on the field at a time.
      • 5 players for indoor
  • Blitzing
    • Must be 2 yards off the ball in order to blitz


  • Ball In Play, Dead Ball, Out of Bounds
    • Ball in Play
      • The offense must snap the ball within 15 seconds of the referee sounding the ready for play whistle.
        • Penalty: Delay of game, five (5) yards.
    • Ball is Declared Dead When:
      • A forward pass strikes the ground.
      • A backward pass or fumble by a player strikes the ground.
      • A runner has a flag belt removed by a defensive player.
      • A runner is touched with one (1) hand between the shoulders and knees, including the hand and arm, if his flags fall off without a defensive player touching them.
      • A snap hits the ground.
      • A muff of a punt strikes the ground.
      • A lateral or backward pass hits the ground. The team in control of the ball prior to the fumble or backward pass will maintain possession, unless it was fourth down and the offense did not reach the goal line to gain.
    • Out of Bounds
      • A ball in player possession is out of bounds when either the ball or any part of the runner touches the ground or anything else, except a player or game official, which is on or outside a boundary line. If the runner inbounds, bumps into, or is touched by a player or an official on the sidelines out of bounds, the ball is still in play.

Zone Line-to-Gain, Number of Downs

  • Zone Line-to-Gain
  • Each zone is 20 yards in length.
  • The zone line-to-gain in any series shall be the zone (next field marker) in advance of the ball, unless distance has been lost due to penalty or failure to gain.
    • In such case, the original zone line-to-gain shall be maintained.
    • The most forward point of the ball, when declared dead between the goal lines, shall be the determining factor.
    • Number of Downs
      • The offense shall have four (4) downs to reach the zone line-to-gain.
  • Kicking the Ball
    • Punt
      • The kick must be executed behind the scrimmage line within a reasonable time.
      • Neither team may cross the scrimmage line until the ball is kicked.
      • There are no quick kicks. All punts must be announced to the referee.
      • The receiving team may advance balls kicked into the end zone.\
      • If you choose to punt indoor, the ball gets moved up to the next line. (Either mid-field or red line)
  • Snapping, Handing and Passing the Ball
    • The Scrimmage Line
      • Snapping - the snap does not have to be between the snapper's legs. The player receiving the snap must be at least two (2) yards behind the scrimmage line.
        • Penalty: Illegal Snap, five (5) yards from the previous spot.
      • During the snap, the men's or women's offensive team must have at least four (4) players on their scrimmage line within one (1) yard of the scrimmage line.
      • Penalty: Illegal Formation, five (5) yards from the previous spot.
      • No player of the offensive team shall make a false start. A false start is any movement simulating the start of a play.
        • Penalty: False Start, five (5) yards from the previous spot.
      • Encroachment - After the snapper has touched the ball, it is encroachment for any player to break the plane of his/her scrimmage line, except the snapper's right to be over the ball.
        • Penalty: Encroachment, five (5) yards from the previous spot.
      • Offensive players are responsible for retrieving the ball after the scrimmage down. The snapper will bring the ball from the huddle to the scrimmage line (first ball spotter-orange). A towel may be used to help keep the ball dry and placed under the ball.
      • All offensive players must be motionless for one (1) second preceding the snap. After all players are set, a player moving parallel to or away from the scrimmage line is legal.
        • Penalty: Illegal motion, five (5) yards from the previous spot.
      • An offensive player that moves or shifts (other than going legally in motion) must stop for one (1) second before the snap.
        • Penalty: Illegal Shift, five (5) yards from the previous spot.
    • Handing the Ball
      • Any player may hand the ball forward or backward at any time.
    • Forward Pass
      • All players are eligible to touch or catch a pass. Only one (1) legal forward pass per down is allowed.
    • A Forward Pass is Illegal
      • If the passer’s foot is beyond Team A’s scrimmage line (first ball spotter orange) when the ball leaves his/her hand.
      • If thrown after team possession has changed during the down.
      • If intentionally grounded to save loss of yardage.
      • If a passer catches his/her untouched forward or backward pass.
      • If it is the second forward pass in that down.
        • Penalty: Illegal Forward Pass, five (5) yards, spot of the pass or loss of down, if prior to possession change.
    • Interference
      • After the ball is snapped and until it has been touched, there shall be no offensive pass interference beyond the offensive scrimmage line when the legal forward pass crosses the offensive scrimmage line (orange ball spotter).
        • Penalty: Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards, previous spot, or loss of down.
      • After a legal forward pass is released by the passer and until it is touched, there shall be no defensive pass interference beyond Team A’s scrimmage line while the ball is in flight which crosses Team A’s scrimmage line.
        • Penalty: Defensive Pass Interference, ten (10) yards, previous spot or automatic first down.
    • If opposing players catch a pass simultaneously, the ball becomes dead, is considered a completed pass, and belongs to the offensive team.

Enforcement of Penalties

  • Basic Spot
  • For loose ball plays the basic spot of enforcement is the Previous Spot.
  • Punt, exclude post scrimmage kick fouls
  • Legal forward pass
  • Backward pass, including the snap or fumble made by A-1 from on or behind his/her scrimmage line
  • The run or runs which precedes such legal pass, punt or fumble
  • Punts (before possession is gained) basic enforcement spot is previous spot (where ball was kicked from).
  • On all running plays the basic enforcement spot is from the end of the run.
  • All fouls are marked off from the basic enforcement spot except an offensive foul behind the basic enforcement spot that becomes a spot foul.
  • Live ball fouls committed by either team after Team B gains possession during a try or in overtime shall be enforced at the succeeding spot. All dead-ball fouls are administered separately and in the order of occurrence.

Yardage for Penalties

  • Loss of Five (5) Yards
  • Delay of game (dead-ball foul)
  • False start (dead-ball foul)
  • Encroachment (dead-ball foul)
  • Illegal snap (dead-ball foul)
  • Offensive player leaving the field on the wrong side (dead-ball foul)
  • Illegal procedure
  • Illegal formation
  • Illegal motion
  • Illegal shift
  • Player receiving snap within two (2) yards of scrimmage line
  • Illegal forward pass (loss of down, if by Team A)
  • Intentional grounding (loss of down)
  • Illegal substitution
  • Aiding runner by teammates
  • Required equipment worn illegally
  • Offensive player not within 15 yards of the ball once the ready for play whistle is blown, the player may line-up outside the 15-yard zone
  • Player out-of-bounds when ball is snapped
  • Intentionally throwing a backward pass or fumble out-of-bounds (loss of down)
  • Illegal contact
  • Eligibility lost by going out of bounds and participating in the play
  • Offensive pass interference (loss of down)
  • Defensive pass interference (automatic first down)
  • Stiff arm
  • Flag guarding
  • Illegal flag belt removal
  • Personal foul
  • Roughing the passer (automatic first down)
  • Illegally secured flag belt on touchdown (Team A - loss of down, Team B automatic first down and player disqualified)
  • Illegal participation
  • Illegal stripping
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct (players, coaches, substitutes, or others)
  • Illegal player equipment
  • Spiking, kicking or throwing ball during dead ball
  • Receipt of an unsportsmanlike penalty
  • Kick-catch interference
  • Jumping (Quarterbacks are able to jump when attempting a pass)

Other Rules

    • You must have ONE foot in bounds to complete a catch
    • The BALL must cross the plain for a touchdown (flag and feet location do not matter)
    • You may NOT attempt to strip the ball
    • The Quarterback is able to run as soon as they catch the hike.
    • Except in the red zone



Overtime Procedures


  • There will be only one coin toss. The winning captain will have choice of offense of defense. Unless moved by penalty, each team will start 1st and goal from the opposing team’s 20 yard line. The offensive team will have 4 downs to score a touchdown. One overtime period consists of 4 downs for each team.  If the score is still tied after one period, play will proceed to a second period or as many as are needed to declare a winner. If the first team with the ball scores, the second team will then have 4 down in which to tie the score. If the defense intercepts a pass or fumble and returns it for a touchdown, they win the game. If they do not return it for a touchdown, the series is over and they will receive the ball on the opponent’s 20 yard line. Each team is entitled to only one time-out during the entire overtime.



Elite Training Partners

Our Location

Elkhart Sports Center
1162 Fremont Ct
Elkhart, IN 46516

Phone: 574-294-5050
Email: tm3sports@gmail.com


Send text to: 574-202-4840


Use our contact form.

ESC Hours

April - October

  • 4PM - 8PM Monday - Friday (depending on business)
  • Closed Sat. and Sun.

November - March

  • 4PM - 10PM Monday - Friday
  • 7AM - 10PM Saturday & Sunday


All hours and days are subject to change

Print Print | Sitemap
© Elkhart Sportscenter