January 3rd, 2011
Many organizations have drawn up their own versions of flag football rules, including Rice University and the United States Flag Football Association. The rules listed below are as close to a “generally accepted” set of rules as can be managed. Of course, it’s also possible to start up a game in your own backyard without necessarily following any of the below rules, although safety precautions should still be observed.Players: Teams should begin with 7 players each, but a minimum of five is allowed; any less is an automatic forfeit.Linemen: “Eligible Linemen” are allowed to catch passes, while “Ineligible Linemen” are not. The latter rule follows that of the NFL. This distinction must be made before play begins.Game Length: 44 minutes total length (two halves of 22 minutes each). 3 minute half-time, with a 3-minute intermission in the case of overtime.Field Size: VariableNFL-sized or smallerEquipment: Flags (see below), a regular, intermediate, youth, or junior size footballIllegal/hazardous equipment: Any hard headgear, jewelry, pads/braces worn above the waist, pants/shorts with belts, belt loops, pockets, or untucked drawstrings, exposed metalFlags: A variety of flags are accepted. “Triple Threat” flag belts are removed entirely, while “Sonic Pop” models allow players to remove the flag itself. Shirts must be tucked in so as not to obscure the flag belt.Touching: Depends on whether a Contact or Non-Contact version is being played. Non-Contact: No blocking. Defensive players cannot obstruct the path of a runner, and offensive players cannot hand block defensive players to prevent grabbing the flag. Contact: The above rules are not observed. Blocking is allowed, but restricted to the chest area.Removing the Flag: A player must have possession of the ball in order to be deflagged. Flag belts are sometimes checked after scoring to ensure that the belt has not been illegally secured. If a flag belt is accidentally removed from a player and that player gains possession of the ball, they may be considered down if another player makes a legal tagusually a one hand touch in the area between the shoulders and knees.