Official Flag Football Rules 


We know adult sports and adult beverages go together; however, alcoholic beverages are illegal at public parks. Please don't bring it to the field; Not only do you risk getting cited by the police, we risk losing access to fields.


  1. Team rosters shall include a minimum of 10 players, including at least 3 females.
  2. The maximum number of players on the field is 6, including at least 2 females.
  3. If a team does not have 6 players and at least 2 players of each gender, they may start with as few as 4 players (if all 4 players are guys, they will lose a down every third play).
  4. When a team has fewer than the required number of players of a specified gender available, players of one gender may not be substituted for members of another gender. For example, if a team has 7 total players available at game time, but only 1 are female, the team must play short with 5 players and so on.
  5. One team being short players for a full 6 on field does not obligate the opposing team to reduce their players on field.
  6. Players may be substituted for each other at any time between plays, provided the on-field gender requirement is met at all times.
  7. Late Registration: a team may add players to their roster through out the Absolute Deadline.
  8. All players must be registered with the League to play with the team. Unregistered substitutes are not permitted. Any team found to be playing with an unregistered player will receive a 21 point penalty and the unregistered player will be removed. The captain of the team will also be removed from the game on the first offense, the second offense will result in a two game suspension on the captain. If an illegal player is discovered after the game is over the team playing with the illegal player will be forced to take a forfeit and the victory will go to the opposing team regardless of the game score.
  9. Season Can Be Shortened Due to Continuous Inclement Weather


Behavior & Conduct On Or At The Fields/Courts/Sponsor Bars


  1. Referees are responsible for:
    1. Keeping time.
    2. Enforcing all rules and penalties.
    3. Announcing the 5-second count such that all players can hear.
    4. Keeping and recording game score.


  1. The football field shall measure approximately 60 yards long and 30 yards wide, or as close to those measurements as the game field will allow, with cones marking each 10-yard line on both sides of the field.
  2. End zones shall extend an additional ten yards past the goal line. The dimensions may vary depending on the size and dimensions of the field.


  1. The League shall provide the following equipment:
    1. Official Youth-Sized football
    2. Field markers every 10 yards
    3. Flag belts
  2. Players must wear their League-provided t-shirts of the appropriate color for their team.
  3. Players must tuck in their shirts during play; no article of clothing may cover any part of the flag belt.
  4. Steel cleats are prohibited.
  5. Players must wear the League provided flag belts and flags must remain at the sides and back of each player at all times.

Start of Game

  1. The referee will flip a coin, heads or tails to be called in the air by one of the team captains. The winning team will choose one of the following options (winner may not defer to the other team):
    1. Choice of offense or defense
    2. Choice of end zone to start the game
  2. Possession and offense shall be the reverse as indicated by the coin toss at the start of the 2nd half.
  3. Play will begin at the 5-yard line of the team with possession.

Game Clock

  1. Each game consists of two 20-minute halves, with a 2-minute halftime.
  2. Each team is allowed two one-minute time out per game. Unused timeouts in the first half will carry over into the second half.
  3. The game clock shall be a running clock, except in these cases:
    1. A team uses one of their 1-minute timeouts
    2. The difference in the score is 14 points or less and it is the last two minutes of the second half. In this case, the clock shall stop in the event of an incomplete pass, a team scores, if the ball carrier goes out of bounds, a change of possession, or a penalty. The clock shall be resumed upon the snap at the start of the next possession, or on the punt. The clock shall not be stopped in the first half except in the case of a timeout, regardless of the score.
  4. The 1 point conversation attempt shall be permitted after a touchdown regardless of the time on clock.
  5. There will be no overtimes in Regular Season Games.
  6. Season Can Be Shortened Due to Continuous Inclement Weather

Line of Scrimmage

  1. The referee shall use a chip/bag marking the line of scrimmage and place the ball in the middle of the field after the end of each play.
  2. The offensive team must have a minimum of 4 players set (3 players if fielding 5 players or less total) at the line of scrimmage at the snap. Players in motion are not considered set.
  3. Once the center has placed his or her hands on the ball no player may enter the neutral zone until the snap occurs.
  4. The referee shall blow his or her whistle to signify the play may begin.
  5. The defense may not cross the line of scrimmage until the line judge (second referee) has provided a count of “one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, four one-thousand, five one-thousand.”
  6. The quarterback may not run for positive yards unless rushed after the five-second count.  The Center may not go out for a pass or beyond the line of scrimmage until after the five-second count, but can be thrown to at which point they can run up field with the ball.


  1. A pass is completed when the ball is caught by any player of the passing team who has at least one foot in-bounds.
  2. An eligible receiver becomes ineligible if he leaves the field during the play and remains ineligible until the ball is touched by an eligible receiver or any defensive player. However, if an eligible receiver is forced out-of-bounds he shall be considered eligible as soon as he returns inbound.
  3. If an ineligible receiver catches the ball the pass shall be considered incomplete.


  1. The offensive team will have four downs to achieve a first down.
  2. A first down is achieved by crossing either that 20 yard lines or the 40 yard line (midpoint of the field).

Gender Rule

  1. Female players must participate in a play at least once every three downs as either the quarterback, ball carrier or receiver. The "gender count" shall be the number of successive downs made involving only a single gender.


  2. If the gender count is 2, i.e. if the offensive team has not played both genders during the first two downs, the referee shall announce a "gender play" and the gender affected, and the offensive team must play that gender in one or more of the following ways:
    1. As quarterback; passes the ball to a receiver beyond the line of scrimmage.
    2. As ball carrier; carries the ball across the line of scrimmage.
    3. As receiver; receives or is intended to receive a pass from beyond the line of scrimmage.
    If there are no players of the required gender available, the offensive team will lose a down.


  3. During an announced gender play, the use of a player of the required gender as quarterback, ball carrier or intended receiver shall reset the gender count to 0. An incomplete pass to a player of the specified gender intended to be caught, as judged by the referee, shall count toward the gender count.
  4. If a player of the required gender is not utilized as described in these rules during an announced gender play, any passes shall be considered incomplete, i.e. the offensive team will lose a down.



  1. The offensive team may punt on any down.
  2. All punts must be kicked and declared to the opposing team and to game officials.
  3. Fake punts are not permitted.
  4. Punts may not be blocked by the receiving team.  However, the punter has a 5 Second Count before the play is dead and the line of scrimmage for the opposing team is where the punter was standing.
  5. All members of the punting team must remain behind the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted.
  6. At least five players from the receiving team must be on the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted.
  7. The receiving team may either call for a fair catch or may catch and advance the ball.
  8. Ball is dead on contact with the ground.
  9. Ball that lands out of bounds will be spotted at the point of exit.
  10. Ball will be placed at the 5 yard line if it lands in or beyond or inside the end zone.

Turnovers and Stoppage of Play

  1. Possession will change from one team to the other when:
    1. A team scores. Play will start again at the 5 yard line.
    2. Four downs are counted without obtaining a first down. Play will start at the previous line of scrimmage.
    3. A forward pass is intercepted (play does not stop).
  2. On Change of Possessions, the official will set the ball and give 10 seconds for teams to substitute and get off the field.  If there is less than 1 minute, in either half, it will be untimed and not count towards the game clock.
  3. Play will stop when:
    1. When ball carrier's belt is removed by an opposing player or falls off. If the flag unintentionally falls off while running with no defensive player in position to pull the flag the play will continue. (Ref's discretion) 
    2. Receiver catches the ball while not having belt attached.
    3. The ball carrier leaves the field of play.
    4. A team scores a touchdown or extra point.
    5. The ball touches the ground because of a fumble or incomplete pass.
    6. Any part of the ball carrier's body, including hands, other than his or her feet touch the ground.
    7. A defensive player intercepts an extra point pass attempt.
    8. A referee inadvertently blows his whistle.


  1. All penalties may be declined by the opposing team should the penalty be to their detriment.
  2. All penalties will be imposed at the line of scrimmage. Should the full imposition of the penalty carry the line into an end zone, the ball will be spotted at the one-yard line.
  3. The following shall incur a ten-yard penalty:
    1. Any player:
      1. Running into an opponent, including using a “stiff-arm.”, without having made a reasonable effort to avoid contact.
      2. Reckless play. Players must make every effort to avoid contact.
      3. Blocking. Players may not use their hands, elbows, or any other part of their body to block opponents.
      4. Flag guarding. Players may not intentionally block access to their belt, including those worn by teammates.
      5. Stripping the ball from the ball carrier.
      6. Intentionally removing an opponent's belt who has not yet taken possession of the ball (enacted spotted at location of catch, and an automatic first down).
      7. Intentional foul.
      8. Unsportsmanlike conduct/Personal Foul.
      9. (If a player accrues 2 personal fouls in a single game, they are ejected).  If a player is ejected they also miss the next scheduled game.
    2. Defense:
      1. Holding. Defenders may not touch the receiver prior to catching the ball.
      2. Face guarding. Players may not use their hands to block the sight of the receiver.
      3. Pass interference. Given that no player shall be obligated to give up a position once gained, a defender shall not deliberately obstruct an intended receiver from obtaining a position to catch the ball. This is a spot foul unless in the endzone ball will be placed on the 5 yard line.
    3. Offense:
      1. Offensive pass interference. No player shall obstruct another player from obtaining a position from which to go to and catch the ball, given that neither shall any player be obligated to give up such a position once gained.
  4. The following shall incur a five-yard penalty:
    1. Defense:
      1. Off Sides. A defensive player is off sides when any part of his body crosses the line of scrimmage before the five-second count is called.
      2. Encroachment. A defensive player may not enter the neutral zone prior to the snap.
    2. Offense:
      1. Delay of game. The offensive team has 25 seconds from the referee's whistle to snap the ball. Delay of game penalties will result in stoppage of the clock. If a player/quarter back runs back more than 15 yards to attempt to run out the clock the play will be dead at that spot, and the next play will start. Ultimately resulting in a loss of 15 yards and a down.
      2. Illegal participation. Teams may not have more than 6 players on the field, including at least 2 of each gender, or in accordance to the on-field rules per the "Team" section of these rules.
      3. Illegal cadence. The player calling the cadence must receive the snap.
      4. False start. At least 4 players (or 3, if only 5 players or less are on the field) must be set at the line of scrimmage for a minimum of one full second prior to the snap.  Play is blown dead when False Start occurs.
      5. Illegal motion. No player is permitted to move forward toward the goal line until the snap.
      6. Illegal forward pass. The ball may be passed forward only once and only from behind the line of scrimmage. A forward pass must cross the line of scrimmage. Lateral passes are permitted at any time.
      7. Intentional grounding. A passer may not throw the ball without a realistic chance of completion, with the exception that a passer may ground the ball to stop the clock with less than two minutes to play in the game. Also penalized a a loss of down.


  1. A player shall score when and only when the ball has clearly and definitively crossed the plain of the goal line. The ball crossing the goal line will count for a score if the ball has clearly crossed the goal line. (Ref's discretion)
  2. A touchdown shall count for 8 points when scored by a female player offensively or defensively, or by a male player who catches a pass in the end zone from a female quarterback.
  3. Any player that advances the ball from outside of the 10 yard line and runs out of bounds anywhere inside the 10 yard line intentionally will have first and goal from the 10 yard line, regardless of where they run out. For example if a player runs out at the 1 yard line, the ball will be moved back to the 10 yard line. (See ref for further explanation)
  4. A touchdown scored during a play involving a lateral pass beyond the line of scrimmage shall count for 6 points, regardless of the gender of the individual who scored.
  5. All other touchdowns shall count for 6 points.
  6. A ten-yard conversion shall count for 1 point.
  7. A twenty-yard conversion shall count for 2 points.
  8. A "safety" counts for 2 points. And the team awarded the safety will have the ball on the 20 yard line and given 4 downs to score.
  9. Each game won shall count as 2 points in the League standings. A tie shall count as 1 point. Losses and forfeits shall count as 0 points.

Mercy Rule

  1. A game shall be immediately called whenever a team achieves a 40-point or more advantage with less than 10 minutes in the game. Or a margin of 50 points at any point in the game.


  1. Teams must be ready to play and meet game start requirements at the posted game time. Any team not ready to play at this time shall forfeit, and the opposing team shall take a default win.
  2. If neither team is ready to play, both teams shall forfeit.
  3. Any team found to be playing with a player not registered with the League or team shall endure a 10 point penalty.

Playoff Tie Breaker

  1. Ties are not permitted in playoff games. If a regulation game ends in a tie, it shall be broken using the following method: The winner of a coin flip will have the option of starting on offense or defense. The ball will be put into play at the 20-yard line. Each team will have 4 downs to advance the ball past the goal line. The team can decide to go for a 1 or a 2 point conversion. Girl touchdowns will be in effect. Teams will continue this process until one of the teams ends with more points. If a ball is intercepted and run in for a touchdown the scoring team will be the winner. If the ball is intercepted and not ran into for a touchdown the intercepting team will start their possession at the 20 yard line and have 4 downs to score any points to win.

Cancellation Policy

  1. Email And Facebook is primarily used to inform participants of canceled games due to inclement weather and field conditions.  These cancellation decisions typically don't occur before 3pm the day of the game. Participants should always assume their game is being played as scheduled unless they hear otherwise.
  2. Knoxville Sports & Social Club will make all efforts to reschedule up 2 weeks of games per season due to weather related cancellations.  Any cancellations after that, may not be made up due to time and scheduling constraints.
  3. Any game that must be cancelled due to inclement weather after the first half of the game has been played the score will be final at that point. As long as one half of the game has been played, the game will not be made up and the score will be recorded at the time of the weather cancellation.


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