Flag Football Rules



1. Time: Play will be divided into two 20-minute halves, with one time out allotted per half. There will be a running clock maintained by the referee except for the last two minutes of the second half.  There will be a stoppage of the clock for the two minute warning.


2. Timeouts: Each team is allowed two (one-minute) time outs per game and they can be used at any time (i.e., both in the first half, one in each, two in the second half, etc.). Approximately two minutes before each half ends the referee will inform each team of playing time remaining in that half. If a touchdown has occurred after time has expired, the extra point conversion will be allowed. If an accepted penalty by the defense has occurred, the offensive team may choose to extend the period by one down.


3. Final Two Minutes of the Second Half: The clock is stopped for an incomplete pass, if a player goes out of bounds before having their flag pulled, if either team scores (clock starts when the opposing team snaps the ball, after the PAT attempt), for a change of possession, if a penalty must be marked off (clock will resume as soon as the ball is placed and referee indicates the ball is in play), or if a team calls time out. The clock does not stop on first downs or for a completed pass in bounds.


4a. Ready for Play: After the immediate completion of a play, the referee will place the ball at the line of scrimmage. The offense has 25 seconds to put the ball in play after it is declared ready by the head judge (ie, when ball is placed). No player shall put the ball in play until declared ready-for-play.


4b. On a change of possession, the offense must allow the defense to get set for a full 15 seconds AFTER the football has been placed (ball is put into play) before the offense can snap the ball.


4c. A ball that is “spiked” to stop the clock on a forced gender play will lead to the next play still in “forced gender” mode, regardless of who the QB is during the spike.


5. Overtime (Playoffs Only): In the Playoffs, rock/paper/scissors is played by the captains with the winning team deciding on first or second possession. Teams will attempt to score in the same end zone. Each team will then have four downs to score from 20. If a team scores, they will have the opportunity to go for one or two on the PAT. A female must be used once within the first three plays or on the 1st and 4th downs when applicable. Interceptions will result in a turnover and may not be returned for any points. If a tie occurs after the first round, then teams will repeat using the same format. However, the team that defended first is now on offense first. If a third round is needed, then the teams must go for two on the PAT. The game will be decided when one team scores more points in the round. No first downs will be awarded except in the case of a penalty.



The maximum numbers of players on the field is 8 (standard: 5 men, 3 women); minimum number of players is 6 (minimum of 2 females). If there are only 2 females, then 5 men may play. However, there cannot be more than 5 men on the field under any circumstance. There are no limits to the number of females allowed on the field at one time.



Ball starts on the 10 yard line. No offensive players may be within 5 yards of the sidelines when the ball is snapped. All offensive players (except motion player) must be set for one full second before ball is snapped. The man in motion must be continuing in a parallel motion or backward motion to the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap. All remaining players must be on the line or behind their backfield line with a minimum number of 5 players on the line of scrimmage. After a play, the line of scrimmage is determined by the location of the ball when the flags are pulled. If flags fall off a player before the flags are pulled, it becomes one-hand touch. For example, if a player is holding the ball out in front of them and the ball crosses the end zone, but the player’s flags and waist have not yet crossed when pulled, it is still a touchdown.



First downs are obtained by crossing two markers or 20 yards (if starting on a yard marker).  If a team fails to earn a first down in four plays, possession will go to the opposing team. The offensive team may elect to punt on fourth down.



The offensive team must declare punts on fourth down to the referee with enough advance warning for the defense to put players back in receiving formation.  Once the offensive team declares with the official whether to punt, but then changes their decision, they must use a timeout before being allowed to proceed.


No fake punts are allowed and all punts must be kicked. The kicking team must stay on the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted. Five players from the receiving team must be on the line of scrimmage and stay there even during the return. The receiving team may fair catch the ball or advance it. If the ball hits the ground after touching any part of the receiver’s body, it becomes a dead ball. The ball can be played off a bounce. If the ball travels into the end zone without being touched, a touch back is called and ball placed at the 10 yard line. No blocking is allowed on punts.



No “blocking” is allowed in Cities and Sports football. This includes downfield “blocking” during an offensive play and returned punt. No contact is allowed at the line or downfield by any defensive player guarding a receiver (hand checking or bump and run). All players must try to avoid contact with any player on the football field. Offensive players may run behind the player with the ball to receive a lateral, but may not run in front or parallel to (illegal block/screen).




1. Open/Gender Play:
Teams must use a female as an operative player within three consecutive downs. An open play will be called by the referee if a gender play is not required on the current play. For an open play, the ball may be advanced by either a male or female player (ex. 2nd down / goal / open). If a female was not used within two downs, then the forced gender rule is put into effect. This means that a female must be an operative player used in the next play.


2. Forced Gender Play:
A female can be used on any play, however when the offense has not used a female as an operative player within the last two plays, the next play must be a forced gender play. The operative player here is a female who is seen as the intended receiver in the eyes of the official, or acts as the quarterback (even if positive yards are not gained). If the female is the quarterback, then the play may continue without regard to special defensive coverage. Once a female is used in any play then the gender count is reset.


A thrown ball cannot be intercepted by a male on a forced gender play unless a female is the QB or if the ball is first tipped / touched by a female receiver. In the scenario that a male must guard a female on a forced gender play, the covering male must give the female 3 yards of cushion and allow an attempt at a reception. 


If a male QB is sacked or fumbles the snap on a forced gender play, the next play must be gender. If a female QB is sacked or fumbles the snap on a forced gender play, gender will be satisfied and the next play will be deemed “open.”

The gender count is reset once a TD is made. The gender rule is not in effect during extra point conversions or punts.


A ball that is “spiked” to stop the clock on a forced gender play will lead to the next play still in “forced gender” mode, regardless of who the QB is during the spike.




1. Complete/Incomplete Pass:
A forward pass is completed when caught by any player of the passing team who has at least one foot in-bounds. If opposing teams catch the pass in-bounds simultaneously, the ball belongs to the offensive team at the spot of the catch. If a player steps out-of-bounds and comes back in-bounds to be the first person to touch the ball, it will be ruled an incomplete pass regardless of whether possession is established. However, if a player steps out of bounds, they will be eligible to catch a deflected ball.


2. QB Run from Scrimmage: If the offensive line-of-scrimmage is past midfield, then the QB cannot run for positive yards unless rushed (ie, defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage) after the 5 second count. The QB may run the ball at any time regardless of the rush count if the line of scrimmage is before midfield.  The QB cannot run for positive yards within the last ten yards of the field, even if rushed. 

If the play is a forced gender play, however, a male QB may not run for positive yards in any scenario (illegal gender offense).


3. Turnovers: A change of possession can only occur due to downs, a punt, or an interception on a forward pass. A fumble is not a turnover (the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble). A lateral is not a forward pass and can be advanced if intercepted.




1. Touchdowns are six points.


2. Extra points are two points for a 10-yard conversion and one point for a five yard conversion. An intercepted extra point try may not be returned for points.  Also, if a penalty is assessed on an extra point attempt, neither the offense or defense can change the value of their extra point attempt.  If a female is involved in an extra point attempt, there will be 1 additional point awarded.

4. Safeties are two points. The scoring team will now go on offense with the ball placed at their own 10 yard line.






a. Defensive off-sides (from the line)–A player is off sides when any part of his body or his person is beyond the line of scrimmage before the snap of the ball or before the five second count is over. The offensive team has the option to accept or decline the five-yard penalty.


a. Delay of game (from the line/dead ball)–The offensive team must put the ball into play 25 seconds after referee has placed the ball.
b. Illegal participation (from the line)– Each team may not have more than 8 players on the field at one time or more than 5 men on the field. Penalty will be assessed after discovery.
c. Illegal cadence (from the line/dead ball)– If the player calling the cadence does not receive the snap, the play will not stand and the down will be repeated. If the snap is not called verbally, the ball must still be snapped to the offensive player who is lined up as QB. On a forced gender play, the offense must clearly designate which gender will be receiving the snap (QB must raise their hand).
d. Offensive off-sides (from the line/dead ball)– When any part of the offensive player’s body or his person is beyond the scrimmage line before the ball is snapped.
e. Offense not stationary for one full second (from the line/dead ball)–After a shift or huddle all offensive players must assume a set position and come to an absolute stop (except one man in motion).
f. Offensive player illegally in motion at snap (from the line/dead ball)– No player is permitted to be moving forward toward his opponent’s goal line until the snap.
g. Illegal forward pass (from the spot of the pass)– The offensive team may make one forward pass from behind the line during each play from scrimmage provided the ball does not cross the line and return behind line before the pass. The defense can either accept or decline the penalty.
h. QB illegal forward pass (from the line/loss of down)– If the QB crosses the line of scrimmage and then throws a forward pass, the defense can either decline the penalty or it will be assessed from the line of scrimmage and loss of down (i.e. if it was first down during the penalty, now it is second down).
i. Illegal Diving / Jumping (spot of foul)– No player may leave his or her feet in order to gain positive yards. The penalty is assessed here (spot of foul).
j. Offensive Pass Interference (from the line/repeat down)



a. Flag guarding/hiding – intentionally or unintentionally obstructing the flag with your arm or the ball while the defender is in a position to pull it.  This also includes using your shirt or any other clothing items to hide the flags or not wearing them properly (hip, hip, tail). 
b. Stiff-arm, running into opponent (spot of foul)– The ball carrier may not use a “stiff-arm” (extended arm) to ward off any opponent attempting to touch, may not charge into a defensive player.
c. Blocking (from the spot)– No player may use his hands to block opponent. Offensive players may not run down field in front of or parallel to the ball carrier, whether you intended to block or not. They may run behind to receive a lateral.
d. Intentional foul/penalty (from the line/gender will be reset/automatic first down) — If a player intentionally commits a penalty or foul of any kind in order to gain an advantage for his team, may be ejected.


a. Illegal contact/holding (from the line)– Defender may not use their hands or arms to hang onto or encircle a receiver. The defender cannot extend their arms to cut off or hook a receiver causing contact that impedes and restricts the receiver as the play develops, nor may he maintain contact with the receiver. This includes holding on to an opponent’s uniform or apparel while attempting to pull the flag. Illegal stripping of a receiver who has established possession also falls under illegal contact.
b. Illegal Gender Defense (from the line)– The offense has three options: 1) Take the ten yard penalty and repeat the gender play & down. 2) Take the penalty without yardage and the next play will be open (repeat down). 3) Decline the penalty.


a. Offensive Picking (from the line/ if this occurs in a forced gender situation, then gender will be replayed)– The offensive team may not initiate a pick/block while in motion. Action by a player who with/without contact delays or prevents an opponent from reaching a desired position.
b. Offensive Pass Interference (from the line)
c. Illegal Gender Offense (from the line)–  defense has two options: 1) Take the 10-yard penalty and repeat the down (next play will still be gender) OR 2) the defense may decline the penalty.
d. Intentional Grounding on Forced Gender Play (from the line)– if the male QB on a forced gender play is deemed to have thrown a purposefully uncatchable ball at the feet of a female player in order to attempt to satisfy a gender play, the offense will be penalized (illegal gender offense).




a. Unsportsmanlike conduct (from the line/ If penalty is on the defense, automatic first down/ If penalty is on the offense, 15 yds. from the line/ If penalty is after a TD, yardage added to extra point conversion)– Abusive/insulting language or gesture to another player or referee, as well as taunting opponents or similar theatrics before or after the touchdown. The player may be disqualified for above actions if judged by the referee to be flagrant and will be suspended for next week’s game. If that player(s) is caught playing next week, the team will forfeit that game. In a severe case of unsportsmanlike conduct, the player will be suspended from playing any Cities and Sports sport for a year or more. Disqualified players’ names must be given to the Cities and Sports staff or referee. Unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated at Cities and Sports.
b. Defensive Pass interference – Defense- 15 yard penalty or spot of the foul if less then 15 yard attempted. Prohibited conduct shall be when a player physically restricts or impedes the opponent in a manner that is visually evident and materially affects the opponent’s opportunity to gain position or retain his position to catch the ball. If a player has gained position, he shall not be considered to have impeded or restricted his opponent in a prohibited manner if all of his actions are a bona fide effort to go to and catch the ball.



Any rules not mentioned follow those of NIRSA (National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association)



1. Head to Head (3 or more clubs: best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs.)
2. Strength of Schedule
3. Record vs. Common Opponents
4. Points against
5. Point differential