Flag Football Rules

*Everything in bold is new this season

We request that captains from both teams gather teammates to the field's center upon the CONCLUSION of the match to pray and give thanks and glory to our Lord for the game played. This is not required for all participants, but highly encouraged.


  • Game times are specified on the Red Rocks Flag Football League homepage. In the case of game time changes the league coordinators will notify the league via email.


  • The field will be 80-yards long with markers every 20-yards and 40-yards wide. The end zones will be 10-yards deep.

  • Each team may play with a maximum of 7 players. Teams may play with less than 7 players and there are no forfeits based on the number of players. All player combinations are acceptable within the range of 5 men maximum and 1 female minimum on the field at all times. You cannot play without a female.

  • In order to be an official game, at least 50% of the players on your team must be from your roster.

    • Example: If playing with 7 players, 4 must be from the original roster. If playing with 6 players, 3 must be from the original roster.

  • If a team loses a player due to injury or ejection, the opposing team does not sit a player.

  • Rosters are capped at 12 players per roster.


  • If at least one player from a team is not present at within 5 minutes after game time it will be ruled a forfeit.


  • There will be 2 or 3 paid officials, and 1 volunteer for the down marker.

  • The Captain is the only player on a team that can ask for clarity on a rule. He then can go to his team and explain to them.

  • In the event that a referee declares that it's necessary to explain a rule/ruling to both teams, he/she will stop the clock. Clock will start again on the official's signal.


  • The referee's have authority to rule promptly in any situations that are not covered in Red Rocks Flag Football league rules. All decisions are final.


  • No pads or braces are allowed above the waist. No casts are allowed.

  • No loose jewelry are allowed

  • Shorts must not have pockets. No exceptions such as taping or turning shorts inside out. Players who do not abide by this rule will not be allowed to play

  • Each player must wear shoes. Cleats that have metal, ceramic, or sharp points are illegal.

  • Official t-shirts and flags will be provided. Each flag belt will have 3 flags, 1 on each hip and 1 in the back. The placement of the flags will be strictly enforced. If the flags are not put on properly, there will be a flag (Equipment Violation: 5 yard penalty & replay down)

  • Shirts must be tucked into pants or shorts. The flags may not be covered up by the jersey. Flag may not be tied and must easily be removed when pulled. (Equipment Violation: 5 yard penalty & replay down)


  • There will be no kickoffs.

  • Play will begin with the offensive team starting at their 20 yard line

  • After scores, play will begin with the offensive team starting at their 20 yard line.


  • 6 points for a male touchdown

  • 8 points for a female touchdown

  • Female must be the operative player to receive the 8 points

    • Female player catches a thrown pass in the end zone and/or runs after receiving the pass into the end zone.

    • Female is quarterback and either runs or throws a pass for a touchdown.

    • Female is handed the ball behind the line of scrimmage and runs the ball into the end zone.

    • Female intercepts the ball and returns it for a touchdown.

  • After a touchdown, the team that scored may choose to go for 1 point from the 5-yard line, or 2-points from the 10-yard line.

  • On a point conversion, if intercepted by the defensive team they may return the football to their endzone for 2-points.

  • Safety = 2-points (offensive player's flag is removed or steps out of bounds in opponent's endzone). The team that scores a safety will get procession starting at their 20-yard line.


  • There is no maximum limit to the number of females that must be on the field.

  • Operative is defined as a player who:

    • Is the intended receiver in the eyes of the official.

    • Runs the ball as the primary runner.

    • Receives the snap as a quarterback and must attempt to be the person who initiates the ball crossing the line of scrimmage, unless she is sacked.

  • On a closed play, anyone can guard a female. There is no halo rule.

  • Penalty for running 4 consecutive plays without a female as an operative player will be the defenses choice:

    • 10-yard penalty from the line of scrimmage, down the same and play still closed.

    • Decline the penalty, take the result of the play, advance to the next down and open for 3 plays.

  • Operative Player is not defined as a player who:

    • Hands off the ball.

    • Snaps the ball in play.

    • Receives a hand-off only to give it back to a male before crossing the line of scrimmage.

  • Examples of operative and non-operative plays:

    • pass deflected by a male and caught by a female is not a female play.

    • A pass deflected by a female and caught by a male is a female play.

    • A pass thrown by a male, received by a male and pitched to a female is not a female play.

    • If a female pitches the ball to a male behind the line of scrimmage, this will not result in a female play.

    • A forward pass thrown to a female or thrown by a female that falls incomplete and is deemed catchable by the official will result in a female play


  • If a team takes a lead of 35 points or more at any time in the game, the Mercy Rule is invoked, the game can be decided by the captains if game should continue.


  • The game consists of two 20 minute halves.

  • Halftime will be 4 minutes (unless needing to be shortened due to running behind schedule)

  • The clock is continuous except for timeouts. If the score is separated by 10 points or less, the clock will stop for incompletions, out of bounds, point conversions, timeouts, and penalties during the last 2 minutes of the second half (Note: during this period, spiking the ball will not be considered intentional grounding).


  • Each team is permitted two one-minute timeouts per half. Timeouts do not carry over between halves or into overtime.


  • Players may substitute freely between downs.


  • Each team will have an opportunity to score. The ball will be placed on the opponent's 20-yard line. The team will have 4 downs to attempt to score. If a touchdown is scored, the team MUST go for a 2-point conversion from the 10-yard line.

  • Examples: If both teams score a touchdown or touchdown and 2-point conversion the game results in a tie. If neither team scores, the game results in a tie. If one team out scores the other team then that team wins the game (Exception: During playoffs, this format continues until a winner can be declared).

  • There is no game clock.

  • The winner of a coin toss (or rock-paper-scissors) will have the option of first or second possession.


  • Each team must have a player designated as a center to snap the ball to the quarterback either between the legs or to the side. When the ball is being snapped it must initially be touching the ground and either parallel or in-front of the lead foot. The center may not screen block the opposing team rusher. Once the ball is snapped the center may immediately go out for a pass

  • The player receiving the snap must be at least 2 yards behind the scrimmage line. No team may have more than 3 players (including the QB) in the backfield at the start of a play. **Penalty: Illegal Procedure (5 yards from the previous spot) **

  • No player on offensive team shall make a false start. A false start is any movement simulating the start of the play. **Penalty: Illegal Procedure (5 yards from the previous spot) **

  • Encroachment - After the snapper has touched the ball, it is encroachment for any player to break the plane of his/her scrimmage line. **Penalty: Encroachment (5 yards from the previous spot) **

  • All offensive players must be motionless for one second preceding the snap, except for a player moving parallel to or away from the scrimmage line. **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 previous spot)

  • The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball as long as he does not pass the line of scrimmage.

  • If a team causes a delay penalty with less than 2 minutes left in the game, the first infraction shall be loss of down and stoppage of the clock. A second delay of game infraction will result in a loss of possession and stoppage of the clock with the change of possession.

  • If the defense commits a dead ball foul under 2 minutes left in the game, the first infraction shall be a 5 yard penalty and stoppage of the clock. If the defense commits a second dead ball foul under 2 minutes, the clock will stop and the offense shall have a choice of:

    • Ball at their opponent's 3 yard line; repeat down.

    • Yardage from the penalty; repeat down.


  • The offense must snap the ball within 25 seconds after the ball has been deemed ready for play. **Penalty: Delay of Game (5 yards) **

  • Offensive players are responsible for retrieving the ball after each play. Failure to do so will result in **Penalty: Delay of Game (5 yards) **


  • A forward pass strikes the ground.

  • A player carrying the ball, drops the ball, whether by contact or not by contact. The ball is considered down at the point at which the ball carrier lost possession of the ball.

  • A runner has a flag belt removed by a defensive player.

  • A runner is touched with ONE hand once the flag belt is no longer attached.

  • A passer's flag is pulled before releasing the ball.

  • A runner dives or leaps forward to advance the ball. The ball will be declared dead immediately, and the ball will be spotted where the runner left his/her feet.

  • Any time a referee blows the whistle. Once the whistle is blown, the play is over and the ball is dead.

  • A player carrying the ball touches the ground with any part of the body other than the feet and/or hands.

  • Exception: A ball is not dead upon a defensive interception. The return play remains live until the ball carrier is considered down.


  • A player must have ONE foot inbounds during a reception for the catch to be considered inbounds.


  • A team has four downs to attempt to score or earn a first down.

  • First down lines are clearly marked at the 20-yard lines and 40-yard line. First downs are achieved when the ball crosses those lines.

  • Spot of the ball is where the hips are when the flag is pulled, not the ball. (For example: in the end zone, if a receiver stretches and the ball breaks the plane but his/her flag was pulled before the hips cross the goal line, spot of the ball is where the flag was pulled and it us not considered a touchdown.

  • Quarterback cannot run unless he/she is rushed.

  • Each team, with the exception of the quarterback, is allowed unlimited running plays.

  • A female must be the intended target, rush, or pass the ball ONCE per four downs. (Lateral passes back to the QB do NOT count) A first down does not reset the female play. After a female play, you then can run 3 more plays before having to throw to a female. If you do not there will be a penalty. **Penalty: 10-yard penalty from the line of scrimmage, down the same and play still closed.

  • On 4th down, the team has the option to punt the ball. If the line of scrimmage is greater than your own 20-yard line the punt results in the ball being placed on the receiving team's 20 yard line (Just like the start of a normal drive) If you are inside your own 20 yard line the punt will be 40 yards from the line of scrimmage. For example: If you are punting on from your own 15 yard line, the receiving team will start the drive at their 25 yard line.


  • Screen blocking IS NOT allowed DOWNFIELD. All offensive players in front of the play, downfield from the ball carrier, must stop running once ball is caught. Offensive players behind, trailing, the ball carrier can run behind the ball carrier. **Penalty: Illegal Contact (10 yards, from the previous spot) **

  • There will be NO screen blocking allowed under these circumstances:

    • The center may not screen block the opposing team's rusher Penalty: 5 yards, from previous spot, loss of down)**

  • Picking will be called when a receiver comes off the line of scrimmage and impedes the path of the defensive player to allow another offensive player to shake that defender. If a catch is made after a pick, it will be ruled no catch. **Penalty: Illegal Play (10 yards fro line of scrimmage) **


  • Quarterback has a 7-second rush count counted by the official out loud. After 4 seconds, rusher may rush. At 7 seconds, if the quarterback is rushed and has not thrown or ran, it is an automatic sack. Spot of the ball will be at the original line of scrimmage. If the quarterback is sacked by the rusher, spot of the ball is where the flag was pulled.

  • Quarterback cannot run unless he/she is rushed.

  • There is no limit on the number of players that can rush the quarterback.

  • If the defense chooses not to rush, the quarterback will have a 7 second rush count counted out loud by the official to throw the ball (he/she cannot run), otherwise it is an automatic sack.

  • Defense, including the rusher, may line-up at the line of scrimmage but cannot bump or hold the receivers.

  • No defensive player may line-up over the center. ** Penalty: Encroachment (5 yards, replay down) **

  • Defensive team has 2 blitzes per half of play and can be used at any time. Unused blitzes do not carry over. If defense blitzes more than 2 times in a half that is a penalty ** Penalty: Illegal Play (5 yards, replay down) **

  • A blitz occurs when a defensive player rushes the quarterback without waiting for the 4 second call.


  • The ball carrier shall NOT guard their flags by blocking with arms, hands, or use of a stiff-arm, thereby denying an opponent the opportunity to pull or remove the flag belt. **Penalty: Illegal Contact (10 yards, spot of foul) **

  • Defensive players may NOT grasp and hold on to the jersey and/or the shorts of the ball carrier in an attempt to stop or slow the ball carrier down.-**Penalty: Defensive Holding (10 yards, from spot of foul) **


  • If a ball carrier's flags fall off without being pulled by an opponent, the play is still live and continues until an opponent tags the carrier with one hand.


  • A fumble is not a live ball. The ball is considered dead where the ball carrier lost possession of the ball.

  • A backwards pass that is not caught, is not a live ball. The ball is considered dead where the ball first touches the ground.

  • Any attempt to strip the ball from the runner will result in a penalty. **Penalty: Illegal Strip (10 yards, from the spot of the foul) **


  • Any player may hand the ball to another player on their team behind the line of scrimmage.

  • Laterals are allowed on any area of the field.

  • If the ball is handed off and that person's flags get pulled it counts as a run play, even if they were attempting to throw the ball.


  • All players are eligible to touch or catch a pass. Only one forward pass per down.

  • The passer's foot is beyond the scrimmage line when the ball leaves his/her hand. ** Penalty: Illegal Forward Pass (5 yards, replay down) **

  • If intentionally grounded to save loss of yardage. ** Penalty: Intentional Grounding (5 yards, and loss of down) **

  • If a passer catches his/her untouched forward or backward pass. ** Penalty: Illegal Forward Pass (5 yards, loss of down) **

  • Second forward pass in that down -**Penalty: Illegal Forward Pass (5 yards, loss of down) **


  • After a legal forward pass, Offensive Pass Interference is not allowed. Offensive Pass Interference is contact by the offensive player with the defender at any time before the ball is caught (intercepted). **Penalty: Offensive Pass Interference (10 yards, from the previous spot, loss of down) **

  • After a legal forward pass, Defensive Pass Interference is not allowed. Defensive Pass Interference occurs when the defender contacts the offensive player before the ball is caught. **Penalty: Defensive Pass Interference (Automatic first down, at the spot of the penalty) **Face guarding is allowed as long as contact is not made with the receiver.

  • If opposing players catch a pass simultaneously, the ball becomes dead, is considered a completed pass, and belongs to the offensive team.

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT ** Penalty: Unsportsmanlike Conduct (15 yards) **  

  • Referees may disqualify any participant (players and/or substitutes) for any personal foul they deem to be a flagrant offense.

  • Referees are only to be talked to by Captains of the football teams.

    • Excessive contact: If the official feels the intent was to harm the opposing player they will be ejected

    • Unintentional Excessive contact: Player will remain in the game but still receive a 15 yard penalty

    • Any players that RAISE their voice to the referee

    • Spiking, kicking, or throwing the ball unnecessarily

    • Illegal Contact: Using a fist, foot, knee, or leg to contact an opponent with excessive intent

    • Tackling the ball carrier (automatic player disqualification)

    • Unnecessary Roughness

    • Roughing the Passer (when the defender contacts the passer's arm during the throw)

    • Tampering with the flag belt in any way to gain an advantage including tying, using foreign materials, or other such acts.

    • Foul language including: threatening, swearing, taunting, yelling, etc.; foul language directed at another participate or referee with result in automatic player disqualification

    • One or more unsportsmanlike penalties OR fighting may result in removal from the series, game ejection, or suspension for the remainder of the season per the discretion of the referees and/or Red Rocks Sport Ministry.


An official can make the judgement that a player needs to be set down for a cool off period. This will be if a player has committed a personal foul, multiple personal fouls, or is taunting or arguing with the other team or officials. If the actions continue they will be ejected. Officials can also make a judgement of ejecting a player without a cool off period if they feel necessary. 


All Rules and regulations are derived from the 2004-2005 NIRSA Flag and Touch Football Rules Book. Modifications have been made to suit the Red Rocks Flag Football League. For any questions or clarifications, please contact Curt Morris at  curt@redrockschurch.com.


5 Yard Penalties

Too Many Players, Illegal Procedure, Encroachment, Illegal Motion, Illegal Shift, Delay of Game, Illegal Timeout, Illegal Run, Illegal Play, Illegal Procedure, Illegal Forward Pass, Intentional Grounding, 

10 Yard Penalties

Illegal Forward Pass, Offensive Pass Interference, Illegal Contact, Defensive Holding, Illegal Strip, Picking

15 Yard Penalties

Unsportsmanlike Conduct
(See rules section for list) Let Red Rocks Staff know of any personal foul deemed to be a flagrant offense.

Defensive Pass Interference

Spot Foul & automatic 1st down