The first rule of flag football is pretty straight forward: there’s no contact allowed. That includes tackling, diving, blocking, and screening. Instead, players wear flags that hang along their sides by a belt. To “tackle” the person in possession of the ball, the opposing team needs to pull one or both of their flags off.
While flag football rules are designed to keep players safe, you’ll find that they also create an engaging, fast-paced version of football without the physical contact.
Here’s a list of basic flag football rules:
All passes must be forward and received beyond the line of scrimmage
Only direct handoffs are permitted—there are no laterals or pitches anywhere on the field
The quarterback has seven-second pass clock to get rid of the ball
The quarterback can’t run with the ball unless it was handed off first
Offensive players must steer clear of the rusher and may not get in his/her way
Any defensive player lined up seven yards off the line of scrimmage is eligible to rush
If the ball is handed off, any defender may rush
Interceptions are returnable (even on extra point attempts)
The ball is dead when it hits the ground, the offensive player’s flag is pulled from their belt, the ball-carrier steps out of bounds, or the ball-carrier’s body—outside of their hands or feet—touches the ground
All offensive flag football penalties result in a loss of down and yardage except for false start
All defensive flag football penalties result in an automatic first down and some are associated with yardage
For a complete list of flag football rules, download the NFL FLAG Football Rule Book.
NFL FLAG football is a non-contact sport. There’s no tackling, diving, blocking, screening or fumbles.