There are many variations of flag football rules. The number of players can vary from 4-on-4 to 8-on-8 or even more. The level of contact allowed will also vary from no contact or blocking to full blocking with low contact. Typically flag football rules for kids have more rules concerning safe-conduct of the players, while adult flag football leagues may allow a little more leeway in this area.
The game is very similar to tackle football (or American Football) with the exception that instead of tackling, players must detach a flag from the runner’s flag belt. Again due to varying rules each flag football league may have different requirements for flag football equipment belts. Most commonly the belt has either 2 flags or 3 flags.
Field of Play
Since there is no official governing body for flag football, there is no official field size either. Typically the field will be smaller than a regulation tackle football field due to there being fewer players. Additionally kids flag football fields will be arranged in several different sizes based on age and generally smaller then what adults would use.
Playing the Game
One team will be on Offense and the other team will be on Defense. The offensive team has 4 plays in which to achieve a first down or score a touchdown. Again there is no standardized method for determining when a first down is achieved – it will vary according to specific league rules. One example is that a first down is granted if the ball is advanced to the middle marker of the playing field. Other leagues may implement rules that allow multiple first downs to be achieved.
If the Offense cannot get a first down or score then their turn is over and the teams will switch from offense to defense and vica-versa.
When the offense scores by moving the ball into the end zone it is awarded 6 points for a touch down. Immediately following the scoring play the offense is given one additional play to attempt to score 1 or 2 extra points (called a conversion). Certain rules such as the starting location on the field or whether the play is a pass or run will govern the amount of points awarded if the conversion attempt is successful.
Infractions of the rules will result in the responsible team incurring a penalty, usually in the form of lost yardage or loss of down. Below are some common penalties:
Offside – A defensive player is beyond the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped.
False start – An offensive player moves beyond the line of scrimmage prior to the ball being snapped.
Holding – Impeding the movement of another player by grasping or pulling at body part or piece of clothing.
Flag Guarding – When an offensive player impedes a defensive player’s attempt to remove a flag from the ball carrier’s flag belt. This includes pushing, swatting, or blocking the area around the flag using any body part; e.g. hands, shoulders, elbows etc…
Delay of game – The offense has a limited amount of time between plays to huddle, line up and start the next play. Taking too long will result in a delay of game penalty.
Pass interference – Occurs when a defensive player makes contact with any offensive player who is attempting the catch a pass.
Want to know more about the rules for flag football? Try the Wikipedia: Flag Football Page