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Flag Football Rules

From the creators of the fastest growing football brand in the USA.

At Phenom Flag Football, we bring the expertise and passion of former Division 1 Football and NFL players to revolutionize the youth football experience. Our founders, who grew up playing ball in their local rec football league, have witnessed both the highs and lows of youth football. With this in mind, we’ve crafted a platform that offers the best of the best, making us the ultimate choice for families seeking a top-tier football experience.
Phenom Flag Football
Phenom Flag Football

Equipment and Field

  • All players must be in a uniform.
  • Teams must use league-issued flags and belts for games. 
  • Pants or shorts with pockets or belt loops are not allowed. 
  • Flags cannot be the same color or near-color as pants or shorts.
  • Flags must be positioned on hips facing outward. 
  • Players are required to wear Rocksolid branded soft shell headgear. 
  • Any eyeglasses or casts worn by players must be made for sports and cannot contain metal.
  • Ball size: Pee-Wee / K2 size 5 (K-2nd), Junior size 6 (3rd-6th), Youth size 7 (7th+)
  • The field dimensions are 25 yards by 67 yards with two 7-yard end zones, a 53-yard field of play, and a midfield line-to-gain. 

  • No-run zones precede each end zone by 5 yards. 

  • While in the no-run zones teams cannot run the ball. All plays must be pass plays with a forward pass going beyond the line of scrimmage. Boundary line is considered out of bounds 

  • Each offensive team approaches only ONE no-run zone on each drive.

Game Format

  • Teams will play a 5 v 5 format consistent with flag tournament play. 
  • Rosters will consist of a minimum of eight (8) players and a maximum of ten (10) players. 
  • Teams can carry more than ten (10) players at their discretion. 
  • Players are not eligible to participate on more than one team in the same grade level. 
  • Player team / friend requests will be honored as long as there are no conflicts. If conflicts exist, the league director will work with the head coach(es) to resolve the conflict. Final decision is determined by the league director.
  •  Based on the number of players registered for each grade, the grade will be split into a competitive division and a recreational division. If there are less than eight (8) teams registered in a grade, then the grade will play as a single division.

  • Players in the competitive division will play in the 5 v 5 format and have their rosters honored as long as it carries a minimum of (8) players.

  • Players playing in the recreational division will play in a 6 v 6 format and have their teams created by the league. Team / friend requests will try to be honored. Teams will have a minimum of eight (8) players and a maximum of twelve (12) players. The purpose of this division is to allow new, inexperienced players to have the best opportunity to compete with players of similar abilities.
  • At the start of each game, captains from both teams meet at midfield for the coin toss to determine which team starts with the ball. The visiting team calls the coin toss. 
  • The winner of the coin toss has the choice of offense or defense. The loser of the coin toss has the choice of direction. Possession changes to start the second half to the team that started the game on defense. 
  • The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has four (4) plays to cross midfield. Once a team crosses midfield, it has four (4) plays to score a touchdown. 
  • On fourth down, the offensive team has the option to punt or go for the first down. 
  • On a punt, the defensive team will begin their possession at their own 5-yard line. 
  • If the offense fails to gain a first down on its fourth down attempt, the defensive team takes possession of the ball where the offensive drive ended. 
  • Offenses begin their drives at their own 5-yard line, except in the case of an interception or a turnover on downs. 
  • Teams change sides after the first half. Possession changes to the team that started the game on defense.
  • Games are played on a 40 minute continuous clock with two 20 minute halves.
  • The final 2 minutes of the second half will be played in a “pro clock” format, with clock stopping on an incomplete pass, out of bounds play, or penalty. Pro clock format only in effect in the second half when the score differential is 12 points or less. 
  • Clock stops for change of possession, after scoring play, timeouts and injuries. 
  • Halftime is 3 minutes in duration. 
  • Once the ball is spotted by the referee, the offensive team has 25 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will receive one warning before a delay of game penalty is enforced. 
  • Each team has two 1 minute timeouts per half. 
  • Officials can stop the clock at their discretion. 
  • If the score is tied at the end of 40 minutes, an overtime period will be used to determine a winner.
  • A coin flip will determine the team that chooses to be on offense or defense first. 

  • If a second round of overtime must be played, the team that lost the coin toss will get to choose offense or defense for the start of the second round of overtime. This process continues with teams alternating who gets to choose to be on offense or defense to start out during every round of overtime. 

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

  • Each team will take turns getting one (1) play from the defense’s 5-yard line for one point or the defense’s 10-yard line for two points. Whether to go for one or two points is up to the offensive team. Whether or not the team that begins on offense converts the team that started on defense gets a chance on offense to win or tie by converting a one- or two-point play of their own. 

  • Example: Team A starts on offense and chooses to go for one point from the 5-yard line and is successful. Team B is then on offense and can choose to either go for one point from the 5-yard line to tie and force a second round of overtime or to go for two points from the 10-yard line for the win. 

  • If the second team on offense in an overtime round fails to beat or match the team that went first, the team that went first wins. 

  • The third round of overtime, if needed, will determine the winning team by the longest play from scrimmage. Each team will get one play from midfield. 

  • The final points earned by the winning team in the final overtime will be added onto the winning team’s total score. The losing team will not receive any additional points. Example: End of regulation time, score is 14-14. Team A scores one point and Team B score two points. Team B wins with a final score of 16-14. Points are only added to total score from final round of overtime. 

  • All regulation period rules and penalties are in effect. 

  •  There are no timeouts. 

Score Keeping

  • Touchdown: 6 points 
  • PAT (point after touchdown) 1 point (5-yard line) or 2 points (10-yard line) 
  • Note: 1 point PAT is pass only; 2 point PAT can be run or pass 
  • A team that scores a touchdown must declare whether it wishes to attempt a 1-point conversion (from the 5-yard line) or a 2-point conversion (from the 10-yard line). Any change, once a decision is made to try for the extra point, requires a charged timeout. A decision cannot be changed after a penalty. Interceptions on conversions cannot be returned. 
  • Safety: 2 points
    • A safety occurs when the ball carrier is declared down in his own end zone. Runners can be called down when their flags are pulled by a defensive player, a flag falls out, they step out of bounds, their knee or arm touches the ground, a fumble occurs in the end zone or if a snapped ball lands in or beyond the end zone. 
  • If a team is winning by 24 points or more, that team must pass the ball on offense until the opposing team can narrow the scoring margin to less than 24 points or until the game is over. 
  • If a player scores two touchdowns and his team is up by 12 points or more, the player can no longer advance the ball on offense until the other team narrows the scoring margin to less than 12 points or until the game is over. The player can play the quarterback position, but is ineligible to touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage until the scoring difference is less than 12 points. 

Coaches on Field

  • For the Kindergarten through 2nd grade divisions, one (1) offensive coach and one (1) defensive coach is allowed on the field to direct players before the snap of the ball. Coaches must be 10 yards off the line of scrimmage and are not allowed to direct players during live ball situations. Once the ball is snapped the coach on the field can not talk or direct the players in any way. Violation of this rule results in an Unsportsmanlike penalty. One warning will be given.
  • For 3rd & 4th grade divisions, only one (1) offensive coach is allowed on the field.

Live Ball / Dead Ball

  • The ball is live at the snap of the ball and remains live until the official whistles the ball dead. 
  • The official will indicate the neutral zone and line of scrimmage. 
  • It is an automatic dead ball foul if any player on defense or offense enters the neutral zone. The official may give both teams a “courtesy” neutral zone reminder to allow players to move back behind the line of scrimmage. 
  • A player who gains possession in the air is considered inbounds as long as one foot comes down in the field of play. 
  • The defense may not mimic the offensive team signals to confuse offensive players while the quarterback is calling out signals to start the play. This will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 
  • Substitutions may be made on any dead ball. 
  • Any official can whistle the play dead. A play is live until an official blows his/her whistle. 
  • Play is ruled “dead” when:
    •  The ball hits the ground. If the ball hits the ground as a result of a bad snap and the quarterback does not field the ball cleanly, the ball is spotted where the ball hit the ground. 
    • The ball carrier’s flag is pulled.

    • The ball carrier steps out of bounds.

    • A touchdown, PAT or safety is scored.

    • The ball carrier’s knee or arm hits the ground.

    • The ball carrier’s flag falls out (referee discretion).

    • The receiver catches the ball while in possession of one or no flag(s). 

    • The 7 second pass clock expires.

    • Inadvertent whistle. In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the offense can either take the ball where the whistle was blown and consume the down or the offense can elect to replay the down from the original line of scrimmage. 

NOTE: There are no fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball carrier’s feet were at the time of the fumble.

  • Officials should all agree upon any controversial call in order to give each team the full benefit of each call. 

Running

  • The ball is spotted where the runner’s hips are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball is located when the flag is pulled. 

  • The quarterback cannot directly run with the ball. The quarterback is the offensive player who receives the snap from center. 

  • Only handoffs or pitches behind the line of scrimmage are permitted. Handoffs may be in front, behind or to the side of the offensive player, but must be behind the line of scrimmage. The offense may use multiple handoffs. 

  • The center is not allowed to receive a handoff. The center is only eligible to receive the ball as a forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage. 

  • The ball cannot be handed off or lateraled once the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. 

  • No-run Zones are located 5 yards before each end zone and are designed to avoid short-yardage power-running situations. Teams are not allowed to run in these zones when the subsequent line is the line to gain. Each offensive team approaches only ONE no-run zone in each drive. 

  • Any player who receives a handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage. 

  • Once the ball leaves the hands of the quarterback, all defensive players are eligible to rush. 

  • Runners may not leave their feet to advance the ball. Diving, leaping or jumping to avoid a flag pull is considered flag guarding. 

  • Spinning is allowed, but players cannot dive forward to avoid a flag pull. 

  • Runners may leave their feet if there is a clear indication it was done to avoid collision with another player.

  • No blocking with hands is allowed at any time. 

  • Screening beyond the line of scrimmage is not allowed. Screening is only allowed behind the line of scrimmage. 

Passing

  • Offensive players cannot screen defensive players beyond the line of scrimmage. 

  • All forward passes must be from behind the line of scrimmage, and only one allowed per play. 

  • The quarterback may throw the ball away to avoid a sack. Pass must go beyond the line of scrimmage. 

  • Shovel passes are allowed. 

  • The quarterback has a 7-second “pass clock.” If a pass is not thrown within the seven seconds, the play is dead, the down is consumed and the ball is returned to the line of scrimmage. Once the ball is handed off, the 7- second rule is no longer in effect. 

  • If the QB is standing in his own end zone at the end of the 7-second clock, the ball is returned to the line of scrimmage. 

Receiving

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

  • Only one player is allowed in motion at the line of scrimmage and no motion is permitted toward the line of scrimmage. 

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

  • In the case of simultaneous possession by both an offensive and defensive player, possession is awarded to the offense. 

  • Interceptions change the possession of the ball at the point of interception. Interceptions and turnovers on downs are the only changes of possession that do not start on the 5-yard line. 

  • Interceptions are returnable, but not on conversions after touchdowns. 

Rushing the Passer

  • All players who rush the passer must be a minimum of seven (7) yards from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. Any number of players can rush the quarterback. Players not rushing the quarterback can defend on the line of scrimmage. 

  • Once the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands, the 7-yard rule is no longer in effect and all defenders may go behind the line of scrimmage. 

  • Referee will designate the rush line seven yards from the line of scrimmage before each play. Defensive players should verify they are in the correct position with the official on every play. Teams are not required to rush the quarterback with the 7-second clock in effect. 

  • Teams are not required to identify their rusher(s) before the play. 

  • Players rushing the quarterback may attempt to block a pass; however, NO contact can be made with the quarterback in any way. Blocking the pass or attempting to block the pass and then making contact with the passer will result in a roughing the passer penalty. 

  • The offense can screen rusher by positioning the body between rusher and quarterback. The offense cannot initiate contact and must have a position established to legally impede the rusher. It is the responsibility of each player to avoid contact. Any contact will be penalized and will result in an impeding the rusher penalty or an illegal rush penalty. If the offensive player does not move after the snap, then it is the rusher’s responsibility to go around the offensive player and to avoid contact. 

  • A sack occurs if the quarterback’s flag is pulled behind the line of scrimmage. The ball is spotted where the quarterback’s hips are when the flag is pulled. 

  • A safety is awarded if the sack takes place in the offensive team’s end zone. 

Flag pulling

  • A legal flag pull takes place when the ball carrier is in full possession of the ball. 

  • Defenders can dive to pull flags but cannot tackle, hold or run through the ball-carrier when pulling flags. 

  • It is illegal to attempt to strip or pull the ball from the ball carrier’s possession at any time. 

  • If a player’s flag inadvertently falls off during the play before gaining possession of the ball, the player is down immediately once he/she gains possession. 

  • If a ball carrier’s flag falls off during the play while he/she has possession of the ball, then the ball carrier is down once touched with one hand anywhere by a defender. 

  • A defensive player may not intentionally pull the flags off of a player who is not in possession of the ball. 

  • Flag guarding is an attempt by the ball carrier to obstruct the defender’s access to the flags by stiff arming, dropping the head, hand, arm or shoulder or intentionally covering the flag with the jersey. 

Formations

  • Offenses must have a minimum of one player on the line of scrimmage (the center) and up to four (4) players on the line of scrimmage. The quarterback must be off the line of scrimmage. 

  • One player at a time may go in motion behind and parallel to the line of scrimmage. 

  • No motion is allowed toward the line of scrimmage. 

  • Movement by a player who is set or a player who runs toward the line of scrimmage while in motion is considered a “false start”. 

  • The center must snap the ball with a rapid and continuous motion between his legs to a player in the backfield, and the ball must completely leave his hands for a legal exchange. “To-the-side” handoffs are not allowed.

Penalties

Penalties will be assessed half the distance to the goal yardage when the penalty yardage is more than half the distance to the goal. Unsportsmanlike Conduct is penalized as +15 yards and automatic first down. A 2nd Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty by any person is an ejection.

Defensive Penalties

Offensive Penalties

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