FLAG FOOTBALL RULES
NIRSA Flag Football Rules
will be used with Tulane University modifications.
Participants are subject
to all of the policies and procedures in the Intramural Handbook.
Men’s, Fraternity, and
Women’s League games will consist of 2 teams, 7 players per team. Games may
start with 5 players.
Co-Rec games will consist
of 2 teams, 8 players per team. Co-rec teams must have 3 women on the field
at all times. Co-Rec games may start with 6 players, 3 men and 3 women.
All participants should
wear proper recreational attire. This includes t-shirts, gym shorts, wind
or sweat pants, and athletic closed toe shoes.
No pockets or belt loops
Shirts must be tucked in.
Shorts may not be the
same color as the flags.
A towel attached to a
player’s waist is illegal.
Jewelry or sun glasses
shall not be worn.
Headwear that contain,
hard, or stiff material, including billed hats and helmets, is prohibited.
Team jersey will be
provided. If a team has their own jersey they must all be the same color,
and have a minimum of a 5 inch number visible on the back of the jersey.
Any hard braces must be
covered and padded.
casts are prohibited from intramural play.
The final determination
regarding legal equipment will be made by the Intramural Supervisor present
at the game.
An official size football
will be used for all men’s games. A junior size football will be used for
Co-Rec and Women’s games.
Games will consist of two
20-minute halves with a 3-minute half time.
The clock will
run continuously with the exception of: injuries, referees’ time, the final 2
minutes of each period, time-outs.
The Back Judge
will announce the 2 minute warning. In the last 2 minutes of each period, the
clock shall stop with every:
Out of bounds
If a game is more than
half completed and is called due to weather conditions the game is
considered complete. The team that is currently winning will be awarded a
Each team is entitled
to two time-outs per half, per game.
The time-outs will be
1 minute long and may be taken at any time during the game.
Time-outs will not be
carried over from period to period.
Teams have 25 seconds
at the end of a time-out to put the ball into play. Penalty: Delay of
Game, 5 yards.
Time-outs in excess
of the allotted number will result in a 5 yard penalty Delay of Game.
Regular season games
will end in a tie.
Playoff games will
not end in a tie. The Texas Tie Breaker will be used.
Texas Tie breaker
A coin toss
will determine what team will have choice of offense or defense, or end zone
direction. The other team will have the remaining choice.
Both teams will
attempt to score in the same end zone.
Each team will
receive 4 plays and 1 time-out from the 20 yard line to score a touch down, and
one play to score a subsequent extra point(s).
If the score is
tied after the tie breaker, the process is repeated until there is a winner.
If a pass is
intercepted, the defense becomes the offense and begins their series of 4 plays.
If the interception is returned for a touchdown, the game is over.
assessed similar to the regular game. A team shall be given a new series of 4
plays when an automatic first down penalty is accepted. Dead ball penalties
after a touchdown are penalized on the extra point attempt. Live ball penalties
committed by either team after the defensive team gains possession during an
attempt or overtime shall be enforced at the succeeding spot. Dead ball
penalties following a successful attempt will be penalized from the succeeding
There is no limit to the number of substitutions a team may make.
substitute that desires to enter the game must report to the midfield
sideline to make their intentions known to the line judge. The line judge
will notify the head official. The substitute may not enter until they are
recognized by the official.
a player enters the field of play without notifying the official, a 5 yard
penalty will be called for illegal substitution.
Players entering and leaving the field may enter/exit their team side line
only. Penalty: Illegal Substations, 5 yards.
The field is 90
yards long. There are four 20 yard zones and two 5 yard end zones that mark the
field of play.
area will be 6 foot off of the sideline mark with a orange and white strip. A
team’s players that fails to stay within the team area will receive a penalty of
10 yards unsportsmanlike conduct.
The home team or higher
seed will chose one of the following options:
Receiving the ball or
Which goal to defend.
At the start of the
second half the visiting team or lower seed shall receive the ball or defend
whichever they did not do at the start of the game.
Teams switch ends at the
start of the second half.
The home team is
determined by whatever team is listed first on the schedule.
Kick-offs will happen
twice a game, at the beginning of the first and second halves.
Kicks that are out of
bounds will be placed at the 25 yard line.
The kicker will kick from
the 20 yard line.
All possessions resulting
from a touchdown or safety will start at the 15 yard line.
There are no on-side
kicks. An on-sides kick will result in the ball being placed at the 25 yard
The kicked ball must
travel at least 20 yards before players from the kicking team can touch the
Players cannot run past
the ball before it is kicked. Penalty: False Start, 5 yards.
Downs/ Zone Line to Gain
Teams have 4 downs to
advance the ball to the next 20 yard zone to gain.
If a penalty
occurs during a play the zone to gain will be established after the
enforcement of the penalty. If the penalty is against the offensive team
the zone to gain will remain the same.
If a penalty moves
the ball beyond the zone to gain, or a penalty calls for a first down,
the next line will be the zone to gain.
will have no effect on the zone to gain and the number of the next down
will be whatever it would have
been had the foul
Failure to advance the
ball to the next zone to gain results in loss of possession.
A new series of 4 downs
will be awarded when the team advances the ball into the next zone line to
Live Ball, Dead Ball
A live ball becomes a
dead ball as defined in the rules or when an official sounds the whistle,
even inadvertently, or otherwise declares the ball dead.
Ball is declared dead:
When it goes out
All lose ground
balls are dead.
When any part of
the runner's person other than the hand or foot touches the ground.
When a touchdown,
touchback, safety, or successful try-for-point is made.
When a player of
the kicking team catches a punt or when a punt comes to rest on the
When a forward
pass strikes the ground or is caught simultaneously by opposing players.
Judgment call of the officials. If ripped from hands of a player Penalty
of 10 yards.
When a backward
pass or fumble by a player strikes the ground the ball is dead at the
spot where it hits the ground.
When a runner has
a flag legally removed by a defensive player. When a runner is legally
touched with one hand between the shoulders and knees, including the
hand and arm, in cases where the flag belt comes off without any obvious
When the passer is
de-flagged before releasing the ball.
Following a valid
or invalid fair catch signal.
A snap from center
that bounces once into the hands of the quarterback or punter continues
in play unless dropped or muffed. A ball that is snapped over the head
of the quarterback or punter becomes dead where s/he is standing at the
time of the snap.
A live ball,
forward pass, lateral backward pass or fumble, other than a kicked ball,
hits the ground.
A fumbled ball or pass that is caught before it hits the ground may be
advanced by either team and is a live ball.
The offense must snap
the ball within 25 seconds after the referee has put the ball in play
(sounds whistle and drops hand). Penalty: Delay of game, 5 yards.
If a team delays under
two minutes left in the game, the first infraction shall be a loss of down.
A second infraction will carry a loss of possession.
Touchdown: 6 points, 9 points Co-Rec if scored by a woman.
To be ruled a touchdown, the ball must be in possession of a player and
cross the goal line.
After scoring a touchdown, a player must immediately raise their arms and
let the official de-flag them. This is to ensure that the flags were not
illegally secured. Penalty: Player ejection, and a 10 yard penalty.
Extra Points: 1 point from the 3 yard line, 2 points from the 10 yard
line, 3 points from the 15 yard line.
Once the captain makes the decision for 1, 2, or 3 points, they may not
change their mind unless they use a time-out.
If the distance of the attempt is charged by a penalty, the attempt will
be for the point value of what was originally decided.
An intercepted pass on an extra point try by the defensive team may be
returned for 2 points.
Safety: 2 points
A runner carries the ball from the field of play to or across their own
goal line and it becomes dead there, in their team’s possession. Exceptions:
When a player intercepts a forward pass, or catches a scrimmage kick or free
kick between their 5 yard line and goal line, and their momentum carries them
into the end zone where the ball is declared dead. This is known as the momentum
rule and a touchback will be awarded.
Following a safety, the ball is put in play by the scoring team at their
own 15 yard line, unless moved by a penalty.
Touchback: 0 points.
A touchback occurs when a kick returner catches a kick in the end zone
and takes a knee.
The ball is out-of-bounds: behind a goal line except from an incomplete
forward pass; when the ball becomes dead in possession of a player on, above or
behind the player’s own goal line; or when the ball becomes dead not in
possession on, above, or behind the team’s own goal line and the attacking team
The team whose goal line is involved shall put the ball in play on the
inbounds line on the 15 yard line.
Mercy Rule: If a team is 17 points (Co-Rec 23 points) ahead at the 2
minute warning in the second half the game is over.
A punt may be declared
by the offensive team on any down. All players aside from the punter must be
on the line of scrimmage. Penalty: Illegal procedure, 5 yards.
Once a team has
declared they will punt, they may not change their decision unless there is
a penalty or a time-out is called.
The snap must be
received at least 5 yards back and the kick executed behind the scrimmage
line within a reasonable time.
Defensive team may not
line up on line of scrimmage. Team must be 10 yards back from the line of
scrimmage. Penalty: Illegal Procedure, 5 yards.
Offensive team cannot
move until the ball is kick. Exception of the snapper who can step to the
side to allow for a clean punt. Penalty: False start, 5 yards.
If the punt is muffed
by a player and strikes the ground, it is dead at the spot where it strikes
There are no quick
kicks. Penalty 10 yards.
When a player
makes a fair catch, the ball becomes dead where caught and belongs to
the receiving team.
A valid fair catch
signal is one hand clearly above the head waved from side to side. If a
receiver makes a valid fair catch signal and does not touch the ball,
they may not screen block. Penalty: Invalid fair catch, 5 yards.
The punt returner
is eligible to return punts or allow them to come to rest on the field
A punt that goes
out-of-bounds whether it has been touched or not, or an untouched ball
that comes to rest, will be marked at those respective spots.
Interference applies if the receiver’s path to the ball in flight has
been obstructed by the kicking team. Penalty: 10 yards.
The Scrimmage and Snap
The snap must be
between the snapper's legs, or flipped back by a player standing sideways
while keeping the point of the ball on the ground. The player receiving the
snap must be at least 2 yards behind the scrimmage line. There are no direct
snaps on the line of scrimmage. Penalty: Illegal procedure, 5 yards.
Direct snaps are
allowed if the snapper is 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
During the snap, the
offensive team must have at least 4 players (5 players Co-Rec) on their
scrimmage line and within one yard of the scrimmage line. Penalty: Illegal
procedure, 5 yards from the previous spot.
Three and four point
stances are legal, contact is illegal. Penalty: 10 yards.
No player of the
offensive team shall make a false start. A false start is any movement
simulating the start of play. Penalty: Dead ball foul, illegal procedure, 5
yards from the previous spot.
The scrimmage line for
the offensive team is the yard line and its vertical plane which passes
through the forward point of the ball. The scrimmage line for defensive team
is the yard line and its vertical plane which passes one yard from the point
of the ball nearest its own goal line. An offensive player is on their
scrimmage line when facing their opponent’s goal line with the line of their
shoulders approximately parallel and with their head breaking the plane of
the imaginary line drawn through the waistline of the snapper and parallel
to the scrimmage line.
the snapper has made their final adjustment of the ball, it is encroachment
for any player to break the plane of their scrimmage line, except the
snapper's right to be over the ball. Penalty: Encroachment, dead ball foul,
5 yards from the previous spot. 10 yards penalty or 2 or more consecutive
All offensive players
must be motionless for one second preceding the snap, except for a player
moving parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage. If a player starts in
motion from the scrimmage line, that player must be at least 5 yards behind
that line when the ball is snapped. The offensive team must still have 4
players (5 players Co-Rec) on the scrimmage line at the snap. Penalty:
Illegal motion, 5 yards from the previous spot.
An offensive player
that moves/shifts (other than going legally in motion) must stop for one
full second before the snap. Penalty: Illegal shift, 5 yards from the
All players must be
within 15 yards of the ball prior to it being snapped. Penalty: Illegal
formation, 5 yards from the previous spot.
The Neutral Zone is a
one yard dead zone between the offensive and defensive line of scrimmage.
Penalty: Encroachment, 5 yards.
Handling the Ball
Any player may hand
the ball backward at any time.
A forward hand-off is
illegal, beyond the line of scrimmage or after a kick. Penalty 5 yards and
loss of down.
Backward Pass: Is a
pass with its initial direction parallel with or toward the passer’s end
line. Treated the same as a backward pitch.
A backward pass or
fumble that touches the ground is dead at the spot.
A backward pass or
fumble that is intentionally thrown out-of-bounds to avoid being de-flagged,
tagged, or to conserve time is illegal. Penalty: 5 yards and loss of down.
The player receiving
the snap may advance the ball.
The snapper may not
receive a hand-off unless they have first turned 180 degrees to face their
own end zone. Penalty: Illegal hand-off 5 yards.
Forward pass may be
thrown only once per down. All players are eligible to touch or catch a
pass. A forward pass is illegal if:
The passer’s foot
is beyond the offensive line of scrimmage when the ball leaves their
Thrown after team
possession has changed during the down.
A passer catches
their untouched forward pass. A passer can catch their own pass if
another player has touched it after it has been thrown.
Penalty: Illegal forward
pass, 5 yards from the spot of the pass, loss of down.
The pass begins when
the ball is released from the passer’s hand. The ball is dead if the passer
is de-flagged before the ball is released.
The initial direction
of a pass determines whether a pass is forward or backward.
The passer can not
cross the line of scrimmage and then cross back to throw the ball. Penalty:
Illegal forward pass, 5 yards, loss of down.
A pass may be touched
by any number of players prior to begin caught.
All players are
eligible to catch a pass.
If a pass is caught
simultaneously by opposing players, the ball becomes dead, and is considered
a complete pass and belongs to the offensive team.
A receiver must have
one foot inbound for a pass to be ruled complete. If the foot lands
simultaneously with the foot that lands out-of-bounds the pass is
passer: The passer will be protected at all times. The only legal contact
that can be made is around the waist area, where the defender would be
attempting to de-flag the passer. The ball is considered an extension of
the passer. The ball may not be hit while in the possession of the passer.
Penalty: Roughing the passer, automatic first down, 10 yards.
Pass and Runner Co-Rec Rule Only
The term “closed”
means a male player may not throw a legal forward pass completion to any
other male player. The term “open” means any player can complete a legal
forward pass to any other player. The head official will announce if a play
is open or closed
During the offensive
team’s possession, there may not be 2 consecutive legal forward pass
completions from a male passer to a male receiver.
If a male passer
completes a legal forward pass to a male receiver, the next legal forward
pass completion must involve either a female passer or female receiver for
positive yards. The spot where the ball becomes dead by rule must be beyond
the offensive scrimmage line. There is no foul for a female receiver being
de-flagged behind the offensive scrimmage line. The next legal forward pass
completion remains “closed.”
Any foul, whether
accepted or declined, shall have no effect on whether the next forward pass
completion is “open” or “closed.”
Forward Pass, 5 yards from the spot where the second consecutive male to
male completed legal forward pass is released, and a loss of down.
A male runner or
receiver cannot advance the ball through the offensive scrimmage line.
Penalty: Illegal Procedure, 5 yards from the previous spot.
Once the ball is
beyond the offensive scrimmage line, there are no restrictions regarding who
can run with the football anywhere on the field either before or after
During a down in which a legal forward pass crosses the scrimmage line,
contact which interferes with an eligible receiver who is beyond the scrimmage
line is pass interference. Penalty: 10 yards from the previous spot and
automatic first down.
Defensive pass interference that is considered to be intentional or
unsportsmanlike. Penalty: 10 yards for Unsportsmanlike Conduct, possible
ejection, and 10 yards and first down for interference.
Offensive pass interference that is considered to be intentional or
unsportsmanlike. Penalty: 10 yards for Unsportsmanlike Conduct, possible
ejection, loss of possession and 10 yards and first down for
prohibited. A player may not use their hands, arms or body to block or ward
off an opponent. Penalty: Personal foul, 10 yards.
Offensive players may
protect the runner by screening. The offensive screen block shall take place
without contact and the screener may maintain a position (moving or
stationary) between the defensive player and the runner. The screen blocker
shall have their hands and arms at their sides or behind their back. Any use
of the arms, elbows, or legs to initiate contact during an offensive
player's screen block is illegal. A blocker may use a hand or arm to break a
fall or retain balance. Players must remain on their feet before, during,
and after screen blocking. The blocker must have their shoulders square with
their feet. No part of the screener's body, except the feet, may be in
contact with the ground. Penalty: Illegal contact, 10 yards.
The Neutral Zone is a
one yard dead zone between the offensive and defensive line of scrimmage.
Penalty: Encroachment, 5 yards.
interference is illegal. Penalty: Illegal Interlocked interference, 10
Defensive players must
go around the offensive player's screen block. Defenders may not use their
hands or arms to gain an advantage in going around the offensive blocker.
Penalty: Personal foul, 10 yards.
The runner may not
straighten arm or lower the shoulder into an opponent. Penalty: Personal
foul, 10 yards.
between the blocker/rusher will be called against the player determined to
have initiated the contact. Penalty: Personal foul, 10 yards. Repeated
illegal contact will not be tolerated and will result in ejection.
Runners shall not flag guard by using their hands, arms, or the ball to
deny the opportunity for opponents to pull or remove the flag belt. Flag
Swinging the hand or arm over the flag belt to prevent an opponent from
Placing the ball in possession over the flag belt to prevent an opponent
Lowering the shoulders in such a manner that places the arm over the
flag belt to prevent an opponent from de-flagging.
Penalty: Flag Guarding, 10
The runner shall be prohibited from contacting an opponent with extended
hand or arm. This includes the use of a stiff arm extended to ward off an
opponent attempting to de-flag/tag. Penalty: Stiff Arm, 10 yards.
The runner shall not grasp a teammate or be grasped, pulled or pushed by
a teammate. Penalty; Helping the runner, 5 yards.
The runner shall not lower their head or shoulders to avoid being
Spinning while running is considered part of running and is allowed
provided the runner maintains contact with the ground.
Hurdling/diving in an attempt to gain yardage by a ball carrier is
illegal and will constitute a personal foul. Hurdling is an attempt by a player
to jump with one or both feet or knees foremost over an opponent who is
contacting the ground with no part of their body, except one or both feet.
Penalty: Hurdling/diving 10 yards.
Obstruction of Runner. The defensive player shall not hold, grasp, or
obstruct the forward progress of a runner when in the act of removing the flag
belt or making a legal tag. Penalty: Holding 10 yards.
Charging. A runner shall not charge into an opponent in his/her path nor
attempt to run between two opponents, unless the space is such as to provide a
reasonable chance for him/her to go through without contact. Penalty: Personal
Foul, 10 yards.
The ball becomes dead if any part of the runner other than their hands or
feet touches the ground.
Pushing the runner out-of-bounds is an illegal act. Penalty: Personal
Foul, 10 yards.
of the flag by a player is allowed only under special circumstances similar
to tackling in football. Players must have possession of the ball before
they can be legally de-flagged.
When a runner loses
his/her flag belt either accidentally or inadvertently (not removed by
grasping or pulling), play continues. The de-flagging reverts to a one hand
tag of the runner between the shoulders and the knees.
In circumstances where
a flag belt is removed illegally, play should continue with the option of
the penalty or the play. Penalty: Personal foul, 10 yards.
or removing a flag belt from an offensive player without the ball by a
defensive player is prohibited. Penalty: Personal foul, 10 yards.
Tampering with the
flag belt in any way to gain an advantage including tying, using foreign
materials, or other such acts are illegal. Penalty: Player ejection,
unsportsmanlike conducts, 10 yards from the previous spot and loss of down.
Defensive Contact: In an attempt to remove the
flag belt from a runner, defensive players may contact the body and
shoulders of an opponent with their hands, but not their face, nor any part
of their neck or head. A defensive player may not hold, push, or knock the
runner down in an attempt to remove the flag belt.
No player shall commit
a personal foul. Any act prohibited here or any other act of unnecessary
roughness is a personal foul. No player shall:
strip, steal, or attempt to steal the ball from a player in possession.
Trip an opponent.
opponent who is on the ground.
Throw the runner
to the ground.
Hurdle any other
opponent either before or after the ball is declared dead.
Make any contact
with an opponent which is deemed unnecessary, of any nature, including
using fist, locked hands, elbows, or any part of the forearm or hand, as
well as the legs, knees, and/or feet.
or run into a defensive player.
Clip an opponent.
himself/herself on the shoulders or body of a teammate or opponent to
gain an advantage.
Tackle the runner
by grasping or encircling with the hand(s) or arm(s) and taking the
opponent toward the ground as in tackle football.
Use of abusive or
insulting language, swearing
objections to an official's call
striking an official- immediate player ejection and life suspension.
pulling the flag of a player not in possession of the ball.
Spiking the ball.
The passer is allowed to spike the ball in the last 2 minutes of the
half only by turning around from the line of scrimmage and spiking the
ball straight down. The clock stops and the ball is spotted where it
struck the ground.
Destruction or abuse of Reily Center
Foul, 10 yards, if flagrant, the offender shall be disqualified/ejected.
conduct: Any participant receiving 2 Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties
during a game shall be ejected from the game immediately and must leave the
playing facilities. Any player receiving 3 Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties
for the season will be disqualified for the remainder of the season.
Any player ejected
from the game must leave the playing area and is not permitted to watch the
reminder of the game.
conduct penalties on one team in one game shall end (forfeit) the game
All 10 yard penalties
inside the 10 yard line are half the distance to the goal.
All 5 yards penalties
inside the 5 yard line are half the distance to the goal.
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