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How to Play Flag Football


TL;DR

  • Essentially, we're all just here to have fun so play clean, show good sportsmanship and be friendly.
  • Referees are all-powerful. They can deduct or add downs, deduct or add points, and remove players. Stay on their good side...
  • No contact (incidental contact will certainly occur, but blatant contact will be penalized and belligerent contact may result in immediate banishment from all Sportsball leagues)
  • No intentional blocking or screening 
  • No diving over people
  • No flag guarding (swatting peoples hands away when they reach for your flag; or holding onto your flag while someone attempts to remove it)
  • Games are played as two 20 minute halves with a short water break for half-time (the clock does not stop during the halves)
  • Each team gets 3 one-minute time-outs
  • 7 players per team on the field with a minimum of 3 ladies
  • Cannot run four plays in a row that utilize only guys
  • Teams earn two bonus points when a girl scores a touchdown (if she runs it in)
  • Quarterback may not run with the ball (QB has 10 seconds to get rid of the ball or result in loss of down)
  • Defense may not rush the quarterback, but can press forward on a handoff
  • Cannot use the same person for quarterback for more than one half
  • No dirty tricks such as shouting at receivers in an attempt to startle them from making a catch
  • Can't strip the ball or recover a fumble, but you can intercept a pass or lateral

Field

Field dimensions will be approximately 50 yards long by 35 yards wide with 8 yard end-zones. Rather than using 10 yard first-down chains, the field will be split into halves so that first-downs are permanently fixed at the 25 yard line.


Players

Each team must have at least 8 players with at least 3 girls. There is a cap at 10 rostered players per team. Each team will have 7 players on the field with at least 3 girls. If a team is short a girl or two, they may play down a player for each girl. If they have no girls, they may play with 4 guys and take a penalty every fourth play (for neglecting gender plays). 


Referees

The referees are there to ensure the fun spirit of Sportsball is upheld. They are not trained professionals, they cannot see everything and they won't have the rule book memorized. Obnoxiously challenging the ref can earn either offense or defense a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. If a player demonstrates a habit of losing their temper with the referees, they may be removed from the game and possibly banned from all Sportsball leagues and events.

If a player is intentionally breaking the rules, notify the referee of their infractions and the ref will keep an out eye for it. Do not retaliate or take matters into your own hands or else you may be the one who ends up in trouble. 


Uniforms

Each player will be given a Sportsball jersey in their corresponding team color. Flags must be worn outside of the shirt so they are not obstructed. Shirts are recommended to be tucked in otherwise they will likely tear as people grab for your flag. The flag belts will include three flags and each flag must be situated so one is in the back and the others are at your side. Flags will be provided by Sportsball. Do not tie the flags otherwise they will rip off rather than break away. No metal cleats will be allowed. If you wear cleats, we suggest soccer style.


Sequence of Play

Games will be played as two 20 minute halves with a short break for half-time. Team captains will play rock-paper-scissors prior to the start of the game, and the winner will select which direction they will play in the first half; teams will switch directions for the second half. The loser of rock-paper-scissors will choose whether they will start with the ball in the first half or in the second half. Teams will start with the ball at their own 0 yard line. On the referee's cue, the game clock will begin and will only be stopped for time-outs. Each team will have three time-outs to use for the entire game. Timeouts will be 1 minute long each. 

Each team will have 30 seconds from the time the ball is marked down until the snap of the next play. Otherwise a delay of game penalty will be called.

When a touchdown is scored, a 1 point conversion is attempted from the 5 yard line.  After the conversion, the ball is placed at the other team's 0 yard line for the start of their drive.


Substitutions

Substitutions will occur between plays. There is no limit to how many times a player can come on or off the field or how many players a team can substitute between plays.


Formations

Everyone is an eligible receiver and must start on the line of scrimmage, except the quarterback. There are no 'back' positions aside from the quarterback; however, receivers may still run back towards the quarterback to accept a handoff or pitch. The quarterback must start behind the line of scrimmage and they cannot snap it to themselves; that is, a center must snap the ball to the quarterback at the start of each play. The ball must start on the ground, but the center can use whatever stance they prefer to snap the ball to the quarterback (they don't have to snap it between their legs).


First Downs

There will be 4 downs before a turnover just like regular football; however, first-down markers will be permanently fixed at the 25 yard line. For example, if it's 3rd down and the ball is on your own 4 yard line, you need 21 yards to get a first down. Say you complete that pass 20 yard gain; the play would now be 4th and 1 yard to go. You would now have 1 attempt to get at least 1 yard for a first down. 

A touchdown is a touchdown. it doesn't matter where you were on the field when you got one. 

If your team is beyond a first-down marker but is penalized until you are now behind it, your first down marker does not change. 

Balls are marked down based on where the ball carrier stood, not where the ball is. The ball carrier must have at least one foot in the endzone in order to secure a touchdown. 


Punting

If a team decides to punt, a person from the punting team will throw or kick the ball from their current field position. The punt must be announced by the kicking team and it cannot be faked (if a punt is declared, the receiving team must be given time to adjust formation and the ball must be punted). The receiving team can use whatever formation they feel is appropriate, but they cannot block or screen for their receiver. If the ball is not caught, it will be down wherever it first touched the ground. If the ball is booted out of bounds, it will be placed at the 25 yard line. If it goes out the back of the endzone, it will be placed at the 0 yard line.


Turnovers

Just like regular football, the ball will be turned over to the other team after 4 failed attempts to secure a first down. When a ball is fumbled, it is marked down wherever the ball carrier stood; that is, there is no fumble recovery. Interceptions are fair game, but the ball cannot be stripped from the ball carrier.


Gender Play

A team may not run 4 plays in a row, regardless of downs, without utilizing a lady. A gender play includes having a girl play QB (but not if it's a handoff or pitch), be the receiver or intended receiver, or be the runner in a handoff. Any play that involves giving a girl the ball only to have her give it immediately back does not count as a gender play. If a team has run two plays in a row that did not include a gender play, they will have a forced gender play. If a girl is not utilized on a forced gender play, the play will not count and the team will lose a down.


Quarterback Play

There are no penalties for false starts or offsides; the ball will just be reset and the play will try again. Cadences should be something to the effect of "ready... GO!". Not "Down, set, hut... hut... hut hut!" (you can call audibles if you like). The quarterback cannot cross the line of scrimmage without having handed off the ball. The quarterback may hand the ball off to someone else behind the line of scrimmage and that person could cross (or throw). In other words, there are no QB sneaks. The defense also cannot cross the line of scrimmage unless the ball has been handed off (no rushing the QB). The quarterback will have 10 seconds to get rid of the ball before a QB delay penalty is called. A single person cannot play the quarterback position for more than one half. This isn't because we believe in sharing. It's because good QBs are very different from the rest of us, and they will absolutely dominate any team they play against. Fortunately for the rest of us, good QBs are rare, so if you're matched up against a team with a good QB, at least you'll have one half to try and slow them down. 


Ball Carrier Play

There is no blatant blocking or screening allowed in Sportsball Flag Football. Obviously, people will be an obstacle, but if someone is actively preventing a defender from reaching the ball carrier, they will be penalized. Ball carriers must rely on their speed and agility to evade defenders. Ball carriers may lateral the ball (backwards not forwards). Ball carriers may not stiff arm a defender, attempt to run through a defender, or vault a defender. If a ball carrier is discovered to have tied their flag belt, it will result in an automatic turnover.

A receiver must have at least one foot in the field in order to count as a catch. Same is true for touchdowns.


Defensive Play

Defenders cannot check offensive players or grab them in an attempt to slow them down. Defenders cannot shout at intended receivers in an attempt to make them drop the catch or charge intended receivers as if they are going to hit them. Defenders cannot strip the ball from the ball carrier. There is no rushing the quarterback or crossing the line of scrimmage unless the ball has been handed off. The main objective of a defender is to cover their receiver and make clean tackles.


Tackling

A 'tackle' is more of a de-flagging. You cannot wrap up the ball carrier or grab their clothes to slow them down (clothes will inevitably be grabbed but blatantly grabbing clothes will result in a penalty).  A proper tackle is simply grabbing the flag belt so that it breaks away from the ball carrier. Ball carriers can spin and juke as they please but cannot slap away hands or hold onto their flag belts. If a ball carrier's flag belt falls off on its own accord, play will continue as two-hand touch.


Scoring

Touchdowns are worth 6 points. Conversions are worth 1 point. There are no uprights to kick through. If a girl scores a touchdown, the team earns 2 bonus points. The ball will then be placed on the 5 yard line for an attempt for a 1 point conversion. If a girl scores the conversion point, the team will earn a bonus point. For example, if a guy scores a touchdown and the following conversion, the team will earn 7 points. If a girl scores a touchdown and a guy scores a conversion, the team will earn 9 points. If a girl scores a touchdown and the following conversion, the team will earn 10 points. For a girl to earn the bonus points, she must be the one that crosses the endzone and be the instrumental player in the scoring attempt. In other words, you don't get bonus points for having a guy take it all the way down field only to have him lateral the ball unchallenged to a girl just before crossing the endzone line.

Referees have the ability to award 'Style Points' for anything they subjectively deem worthy of a style point. Each Style Point is worth 1 point. Great ways to earn style points include sweet touchdown dances, upstanding sportsmanship, etc. Great ways to not earn style points  and possibly lose points or downs include shouting at the ref, being a soar loser, being a poor winner, etc.

Safeties are worth 2 points.


Penalties


Play Blown Dead Loss of Down Spot of Foul 10 Yeard Penalty Turnover 1st Down Possible Ejection
Offensive Penalty
Forward Lateral x x
Delay of Game x
QB Sneak x x
Blocking x x
Neglect of Gender Play x x
Flag Guarding x x
Diving Over a Player x x
Offensive Pass Interference x x
Tied Flag Belt x
Unsportsmanlike Conduct x
Offensive Contact x x x x
Defensive Penalties
Rushing x
Shouting at or Charging Receiver x
Checking Reciever Off the Line x x
Stripping the Ball x x x
Wrap-up or Grabbing x x
Pass Interference x x
Unsportsmanslike Conduct x x
Blatant Contact x x x


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