FLAG FOOTBALL RULES

While our basic premise is for everyone to have fun…we still have to have rules. Please review the rules below. If you have any questions, your field refs will be happy to answer them.

Basic Policies

Rosters

Rosters must be complete before the start of week 5 games. Anyone not on the roster by the start of week 5 games will not be allowed to play in playoffs. Players must play in 3 regular season games for the team they are registered for to be eligible for the playoffs. Non-rostered substitutes are not allowed in playoff games.

Cancellation

Any team knowing in advance that they will be unable to play in a scheduled match may request to cancel and take a loss. All cancellation requests must be completed prior to 12:00pm the day of the game, or Friday for Sunday games. The GSSS Office must be contacted when canceling a game.

Forfeit

Game time is forfeit time. A team must report to the game site and be “ready to play” with the minimum number of players to avoid a forfeit. “Ready to play” means checked in with the proper game equipment and on the field/court ready to begin play at the scheduled game time. It is advised that teams show up 15 minutes prior to their scheduled start time. The GSSS Staff will be responsible for calling a forfeit

Protests

Rule interpretation and player eligibility protests must be declared immediately after the play in question.  Rulings involving official’s judgment may NOT be protested.

Conduct

All participants are expected to play according to the rules and policies set for by GSSS. Please review the “League Info” page on the website regarding player conduct.

Inclement Weather

During league play and/or playoff games, a game “under play” may be called due to inclement weather or mechanical failure of the lights. Situations that would warrant calling games due to inclement weather would be lightning and thunder, tornado warnings and conditions that would be deemed injurious to participants continued play.  The GSSS Supervisor will have the responsibility for calling games due to inclement weather or light failure. Games that are called prior to starting by the supervisor will be re-scheduled (if time permits) by the GSSS Staff.

Official Game

In the event of inclement weather during the regular season, if a game has reached halftime, it is over and the score is official. If the game has not yet reached halftime, it is considered a cancelled game and will not be counted toward playoff qualification. Canceled games will only be made up if space and time permits.

Eligibility

A participant may play for only one team. They may play on two teams if one of the teams is a Co-ed team.

Shoes

Each player must wear athletic shoes. They must be made of soft, pliable upper material (molded plastic, canvas, leather, or synthetic) that covers the foot attached to a composition bottom. Shoes with rubber cleats are acceptable; however, NO METAL may be exposed on cleats.  Screw-in cleats are allowed as long as the screw is part of the cleat.

Jerseys

During the game, shirts must be tucked in at all times and/or the entire flag belt must be visible by players and officials.

Balls

Co-ed leagues may use a regulation or youth ball (junior balls are not allowed). The league will provide a ball of each size that must be used during the game. Both teams are not required to use the same size ball. The team on Offense will determine which ball is to be used.

More Policy Information

For additional information please review the League Info page at gssocialsports.com

Game Regulations

Players

Co-Rec team = Eight (8) players  – No more than 5 males on the field at any time.
Minimum = Six (6) players

Substitute Players

A team must have the minimum number of players (6) to start a game. A team may add substitues to complete the roster. However, a team may not add any more substitutes than needed to complete a full team (8). For instance, if a team starts with six (6) players, they may not add more than two (2) substitutes and must keep the male-to-female ratio as stated in the rules. If a team does add a substitute, points will be granted to the opposing team. Points as are follows:

  • One female = 9 points
  • One male  = 6 points
  • One female, one male = 12 points
  • Two females = 12 points
  • Two males = 9 points

Game Length

A game shall consist of two 22-minute halves, with a 5-minute half-time intermission. Regular playing time will be kept on an automatic timing device. The clock will be kept running throughout the first 20 minutes of the first half. The clock will stop for the “two-minute warning” in the first half. The clock will begin again on the snap of the following play and will run continuously and will not stop for dead balls. A time-out will stop the clock. The clock will run continuously for the first 20 minutes of the second half and will not stop for dead balls. There will be a “two-minute warning” in the second half of play.  During the last two minutes of the second half, the clock will stop on time-outs, first downs (until the ball is set and ready for play by the referee), incomplete passes, out of bounds plays, and penalties (until the ball is set and ready for play by the referee).

Overtime

If the score is tied at the end of regulation play during the regular league season, the game will be declared a tie. Overtime procedures will be used in the playoffs ONLY. A new coin toss will determine offense, defense or direction (all overtime periods are played toward the same goal line). Each team will get 4 downs starting from the 10yd line, if tied after the round another will be played until there is a winner. Penalty’s will be administered the same throughout. Interceptions for touchdowns count; however if it is not scored then the intercepting team is given the ball at the 10yd line with a new set of downs.

Mercy Rule

The NIRSA “Mercy Rule” will be in effect.
1.    If a team is 25 or more points ahead in a Co-ed game, when the referee announces the 2 minute warning for the second half or any time after, the game shall be over. If the game is not ended by the mercy rule, the clock will stop on all dead ball situations the final two minutes.
2.    If a team is up by 35 points anytime in the second half after the losing team has had one series.

NO CONTACT at any time! 

Short Specific Rules

Illegal Equipment

Any equipment that in the official’s judgment could be injurious is illegal to wear. Pants, shorts and shirts must not have pockets, exposed drawstrings and/or belt loops. All jewelry must be removed before playing. (This includes earrings, necklaces, sunglasses, watches, and rings) Stocking hats may be worn but any hat with a hard bill will not be allowed. Helmets, casts, shoulder pads, and boots are all examples of illegal equipment.

Flags

The GSSS staff will furnish flag belts for all contests. Flags are to be worn on the waist and must be accessible at all times. Jerseys must be long enough to tuck in or short enough so that they are 4″ above the player waistline. In the case of a player wearing leggings, the jersey must be 4” above the waist or shorts must be worn so the jersey can be tucked into the shorts.

Scoring

Touchdown – 6 points for a male, 9 points for a female (female runs the ball across the goal line, catches a ball in the endzone or passes to any player who scores.)
PAT (run or pass) –
1. 3 points from the 20
2. 2 points from the 10 (3 pts by a female)
3. 1 point from the 3 (2 pts by a female)

Start of Game

The game shall start with a coin toss, or odds game. The referee shall toss a coin in the presence of the opposing team captains. One (1) captain of the visiting team will be designated to call the fall of the coin. The call must be made prior to the flip. The captain winning the toss shall choose one of the following:
(1) Take option in the first half
(2) Take option in the second half.
The options available to teams each half are:
A. To choose whether his/her team will start on (a) offense or (b) defense.
B. To choose the goal his/her team will defend.
C. The opposite team shall than choose between the remaining options.
*The team not having the first choice of options for a half shall exercise the remaining options.

Starting Play

To start each half, following a touchdown, or touchback, the ball will be placed on the 14-yard line of the team in possession. There will be no kickoffs.

Time Outs

Each team will be allowed two time-outs per half. The referee may declare a time-out for any injury or rule interpretation between officials. Each team is granted one timeout per overtime period in playoffs.

Lines to Gain

The field is divided into 20-yard zones. A team shall have four (4) consecutive downs to advance the ball into the next zone. This may be affected by penalty.

Scrimmage Line

The scrimmage line for the offensive team is the yard line and its vertical plane that passes through the forward point of the ball that is placed at the orange ball spotter. The scrimmage line for the defensive team is the vertical plane that passes one yard from the point of the ball nearest its own goal line.

Ball Responsibility

The offensive team is responsible for retrieving the ball after the down.

Flag Belts

Every eligible participant on the field of play must have a legally secured flag belt at the time of the snap.

Minimum Line Players

The offensive team must have at least 5 players on their scrimmage line at the snap. All remaining players must be on or behind the scrimmage line.

Motion

One offensive player may be in motion at the time of the snap, but not in motion toward the opponent’s goal.

Shift

The action of one or more offensive players who after taking a set position, move to a new set position before the ensuing snap.

Snapping the Ball

Each time the ball is snapped, it must be a quick and continuous motion of the hand(s). The ball must leave the hand(s) in this motion.

Long Snap

The player who receives the snap must be at least two (2) yards behind the offensive scrimmage line. No Direct Snaps!

Ball in Play

On each play after the referee sounds the ready for play whistle, the team on offense has 25 seconds to put the ball in play.

Diving

A player, who is attempting to remove the flag belt, may leave his/her feet. Any contact will be considered the fault of the person diving. Diving by the offensive player is illegal.

Handling and Passing the Ball

Handling the Ball

Any player may hand the ball backwards or forwards at any time at any location on the field.

Backward Pass

A runner may pass the ball backward given that its initial direction is parallel with or towards the defenders end line.

Backward Pass - Out of Bounds

A backward pass or fumble which goes out-of-bounds between the goal lines belongs to the team last in possession at the out-of-bounds spot. If out-of-bounds behind the goal line, it is a touchback or a safety. If intentionally thrown out-of-bounds to conserve time it is a penalty (Loss of down and 10 second run-off).

Fumble

Unintentional loss of possession. The loose ball remains live until it hits the ground and therefore becomes dead. While the ball is live, it may be recovered and advanced by any legal player.

Dead Ball

A backward pass or fumble which touches the ground between the goal lines is dead at the spot where it touches the ground and belongs to the team last in possession unless it is lost on downs.

Eligible Receivers

All players are eligible to touch or catch a pass.

Legal Forward Pass

During a scrimmage down, one (1) forward pass may be thrown providing the passer’s feet are behind the offensive scrimmage line when the ball leaves the passer’s hand, and the initial direction of the ball is towards the offense’s end line.

Illegal Forward Pass

A forward pass is illegal if:
1.    The passer’s foot is beyond the scrimmage line when the ball leaves his/her hand.
2.    Thrown after team possession has changed during a down.
3.    Intentionally thrown to the ground or out-of-bounds to save loss of yardage. (EXCEPTION=A Spike to stop clock)
4.    A passer catches his/her untouched forward or backward pass.
5.    There is more than one forward pass per down.

Legal Catch or Interception

A pass is considered a catch as long as the first part of the person to make contact with the ground, after the catch, is inbounds. One foot must touch inbound to be considered a catch.

Simultaneous Catch by Opposing Players

If members of opposing teams catch a pass simultaneously, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the team that snapped the ball at the spot of the catch.

Incomplete Pass

When a forward pass touches the ground or anything out-of-bounds, it becomes dead.

Blocking

Blocking

All players will be limited to screen blocking. Screen blocking is legally obstructing an opponent without contacting him with any part of the screen blocker’s body.

Offensive Screen Blocking

The offensive screen block shall take place without contact. The screen blocker shall have his/her hands and arms at his/her side or behind his/her back. Any use of the arms, elbows, or legs to initiate contact during an offensive player’s screen block is illegal. A blocker may use his/her hand or arm to break a fall or to retain his/her balance.

Screen Blocking Fundamentals

A player who screens shall not:
1.    Take position closer than a normal step from the opponent when he/she is behind a stationary opponent.
2.    Make contact with the opponent when he/she assumes a position at the side or in front a stationary opponent.
3.    Take a position so close to a moving opponent that his/her opponent cannot avoid contact by stopping or direction. The speed of the player to be screened determines where the screener may take his/her position. This position will vary and must be at least one (1) normal step or stride from the opponent.
4.    After assuming his/her legal screening position move, to maintain the position the player must move in the same direction and path of his/her opponent. If the screener violates any of these provisions and contact results, he/she has committed a personal foul.

Blocking and Interlocked Interface

Teammates of a runner or passer may interfere for him/her by screen blocking, but shall not use interlocked interference by grasping or encircling one another in any manner.

Use of Hands or Arms by Defense

Defensive players must go around the offensive player’s screen block. The arms and hands may not be used to contact the opponent. A player may use his/her arms or hands to break a fall or retain his/her balance.

Flag Belt Removal

Basics

Every player must have a securely fastened flag belt at the snap. When the flag belt is clearly taken from the runner the down shall end and the ball is declared dead at the spot of the ball when the belt is removed. A player who removes the flag belt from the runner should immediately hold the flag belt above his/her head to assist the official.

Inadvertant Removal

If a flag belt inadvertently falls to the ground, a one-hand tag between the shoulders and knees constitutes down.

Defensive Contact

In an attempt to remove the flag belt from a runner, defensive players may inadvertently contact the body and shoulders of an opponent with their hands, but not their face or any part of their neck or head. A defensive player may not hold, push, or knock the runner down in an attempt to remove the flag belt.

Runner

Flag Guarding

Runners shall not guard the flag belt by using any part of their body or the ball to deny the opponent an opportunity to remove the flag belt. Examples include but are not limited to:
1.    Placing or swinging the hand or arm over the flag belt.
2.    Placing the ball in possession over the flag belt.
3.    Lowering the shoulders in such a manner that places the arm over the flag belt.
4.    Bending over in such a manner that obstructs the front and/or sides of the belt.

Stiff Arm

The runner shall be prohibited from contacting an opponent with extended arm or hand.

Obstructing the Runner

The defensive player shall not hold, grasp, or obstruct the forward progress of a runner when in the act of removing the flag belt.

Charging

A runner shall not charge into an opponent in his/her path. The runner must avoid contact by changing direction.

Knee Touching Ground

The ball becomes dead if any part of the ball carrier, other than the hands or feet, touches the ground.

Stripping

Balls may not be stripped or knocked out of the hand of a runner or passer.

Kicking

Protected Scrimmage Kick

The only kick permitted shall be a punt. For each scrimmage kick, offensive team must announce that they are going to punt. The offensive team must have all players on the line of scrimmage except the punter) until the ball is kicked. No one shall rush the kicker and no player from either team shall cross the scrimmage line until the ball is kicked.

Kick

Any player becomes a kicker when the ball hits his/her knee, lower leg, or foot makes contact with the ball before it strikes the ground.

Punting After the Snap

After receiving the snap, the kicker must punt the ball immediately and in a continuous motion.

Ball Hitting the Ground

When receiving a kick a team may choose to let the ball hit the ground before they pick it up and run; however if the receiving team touches the ball and the ball than touches the ground, the play becomes dead and the ball is spotted where it hit the ground.

Behind the Goal Line

The receiving team may receive the protected scrimmage kick behind the goal line and either down the ball for a touchback or run the ball out of the end zone. If the ball goes out of the end zone, it is ruled as a touchback.

Fair Catch

There are NO fair catches. Any reception off a kick is live unless it is dropped by the receiver.

Illegally secured flag belt is grounds for immediate ejection.

Penalty Enforcement

Captain's Choice

When a foul occurs, the Referee shall notify both captains. The Referee shall inform the captain of the offended team regarding their options on the penalty. Once a penalty has been accepted or declined, that choice may not be changed. A team may choose to accept a penalty but decline the yardage.

Establishing the Zone Line-to-gain

The zone line-to-gain shall be established after all penalties are administered and prior to the ready for play signal.

Half the Distance

A measurement cannot take the ball more than half the distance from the enforcement spot to the offending teams goal line. If the penalty is greater than this, the ball is placed halfway between the enforcement spot and the goal line.

Loss of Down Fouls

Fouls by the offense that result in a loss of down include;
1.    Illegal backward pass
2.    Illegal forward pass
3.    Offensive pass interference
4.    Insecure flag belt

Automatic First Down Fouls

Fouls by the defense that result in an automatic first down include:
1.    Defensive pass interference (10 yards or spot foul, whichever is greater.)
2.    Roughing the passer
3.    Insecure flag belt

There are two types of plays in Co-Rec Flag Football:
1.    Closed Play- means that a male player may NOT throw a legal forward completed pass to any other male player.
2.    Open Play – means any player may complete a legal forward pass to any other player. During the offensive team’s possession there may not be more than two (2) consecutive legal forward pass completions from a male passer to a male receiver. If there are two consectuive legal forward pass completions from a male passer to a male receiver, the next legal play resulting in positive yards must involve a female as the passer or receiver. This rule does not apply to the PAT.
A play becomes closed after a legal and successful male thrower completes two consecutive passes to a male receiver. To open a play, the closed play must meet one or all of the following criteria:
1.    Female involvement (Passer or Receiver)
2.    Legal Forward Pass
3.    Hand-off to a female runner
4.    Resulting in net positive yards
There are no other restrictions concerning a male passer completing legal forward passes to a female receiver, or female to female, or female to male. Any foul, whether accepted or declined, shall have no effect on whether the next legal forward pass completion is “open” or “closed.”
Penalty: Illegal Forward Pass, 5 yards from the spot where the third consecutive male-to-male completed legal forward pass is released, and a loss of down.

Open-Open: After the two-minute warning of each half, every play is “open.” Males may advance the ball past the line of scrimmage. There are no restrictions on consecutive male-to-male completions. All scoring will remain the same.

No Run Zone: Players (male or female) may not run the ball past the line of scrimmage if the play starts at or inside the 3-yard line.

Scoring:
A. 6 points. → Male to Male scoring
B. 9 points. → Any play with a female involved in which the female throws, runs or catches a touchdown (after a change of possession, if and only if possession is exchanged between the two teams)

All point after touchdown tries are worth the same as general flag football rules.
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CODE: (PS = Previous Spot) (Spot = Spot of Foul)

Dead Ball Fouls – Loss of 5 Yards
1. Delay of Game (PS)
2. Encroachment (PS)
(2nd consecutive encroachment – loss of 10 yards)
3. False Start (PS)
4. Illegal Snap (PS)
5. Illegal Formation (PS)
6. Illegal Substitution (PS)

Live Ball Fouls – Loss of 5 Yards
1. Aiding Runner by Teammate
2. Failure to Wear Required Equipment (PS)
3. Illegal Forward Pass (+ Loss of Down, if by Team A) (Spot)
4. Illegal Backward Pass (+ Loss of Down) (Spot)
5. Illegal Motion (PS)
6. Illegal Procedure (PS)
7. Illegal Shift (PS)
8. Illegal Male Advancement (PS-CoRec)
9. Intentional Grounding (+ Loss of Down) (Spot)
10. Kickoff Out of Bounds Last Touched by K (PS)
11. Less Than Required Number of Players on the Scrimmage Line at the Snap (PS)