FLAG FOOTBALL LEAGUE RULES

THE GAME: Flag football is an 8 on 8 non-contact league (Co-Ed leagues must have 3 females on the field). All players must have ATXSA provided shirts as their uniforms and will wear the provided flags around their waist.  

START OF THE GAME:  The referee will have the two coaches play rock, paper, scissors. The winning coach will have the first choice of which half they want the ball or direction. The losing coach can then choose from whatever option is left over. Teams change directions and possession at half time.

GAME LENGTH:  Play will be divided into two 20-minute halves, with one two minute half-time. There will be a running clock maintained by the referee except for the last two minutes of the second half unless one team is ahead by 15 points or more, in which case time will continue to run with no stoppages aside from a trailing-team’s timeout.

LAST 2 MINUTES: If the game is within 14 points during the final two minutes of the second half, the clock is stopped for an incomplete pass, if a player goes out of bounds before having their flag pulled, if either team scores (clock starts when the opposing team snaps the ball, after the PAT attempt), for a change of possession, if a penalty must be marked off, or if a team calls time out. The clock does not stop on first downs or for a completed pass in bounds. If a team is down by 15 points but scores after the two-minute mark in the second half, the clock then stops.

UNIFORM RESTRICTIONS: All players must wear the new ATXSA league shirt or an ATXSA Championship shirt. 1 point will be given to the opposing team for each player not in uniform upon checking into the game (Exception: If player is on the official roster and shirt was ripped during the league and a replacement shirt hasn’t been purchased and delivered.  Teams are responsible for replacement of ripped or torn shirts within a week of a ripped or torn shirt). Players may not wear shorts with pockets, or jewelry of any kind. Please note that taping your pockets is not acceptable. Players may not alter the ATXSA provided flags. ATXSA will provide all field equipment, including footballs and flags.

TIME OUTS: Each team is allowed 1 (one-minute) time out in the first half and 2 time outs in the second half.  If not used the 1 time out in the first half does not carry over. About two minutes before each half ends the referee will inform each team of playing time remaining in that half. If a touchdown has occurred after time has expired, the extra point conversion will be allowed. A half cannot end on a defensive penalty.

No timeouts can be called by a leading team if they are ahead by 15 or more. Time will only be stopped during the first 38 minutes for called timeouts and serious injuries. If an injury occurs, that player must leave the game for one scrimmage down.

OVERTIME RULES (PLAYOFFS ONLY): In the Playoffs, rock/paper/scissors is played by the captains with the winning team deciding on first or second possession. Teams will attempt to score in the same end zone. Each team will then have four downs to score from the 20 yard line. If a team scores, they will have the opportunity to go for one or two. Interceptions will result in a turnover and may not be returned for any points. If a tie occurs after the first round, then teams will repeat using the same format. However, the team that defended first is now on offense first. If a third round is needed, then the teams must go for two. The game will be decided when one team scores more points in the round. No first downs will be awarded except in the case of a penalty.

CO-ED SPECIFIC RULES: To ensure coed participation, a penalty will ensue if the offensive team fails to use a female as an operative player within 3 consecutive downs. This does not reset after a first down but is every three plays during the possession.  The slate is clean when a team scores or turns the ball over.

Three Down Rule: An offense must use a female as the primary player within 3 consecutive downs. A primary player is one of the following:

  • The intended receiver in the eyes of the official
  • The primary runner (a gain is not required and the runner does not have to cross the line of scrimmage)
  • A quarterback who attempts a pass.  Please note that if a male quarterback is sacked or fumbles the snap on a forced gender play, the next play will be another forced gender play.

Examples of Acceptable Gender Plays Include:

  • A female player sets up as the quarterback and is sacked.
  • A female player sets up as the quarterback and attempts a forward pass (pass does not have to cross the line of scrimmage but must go forward).
  • A female player sets up as the quarterback and runs the ball across the line of scrimmage (this can only occur if rushed by a female rusher).
  • A female player receives a lateral or hand-off and runs the ball.
  • A female player receives a lateral or hand-off and attempts a pass.

Examples of Unacceptable Gender Plays Include:

  • A male quarterback intentionally throws the ball at a female player’s feet in the eyes of the official.
  • A female quarterback spikes the ball to stop the clock or to continue to the next play.
  • A female player sets up as the quarterback and hands the ball off to a male player.
  • A female player snaps the ball into play.

Defense Coverage for a Forced Gender Play (When the third play MUST go to a female player):

  • The head official will announce when it is a forced gender play before the play starts to make both sides aware of the situation.
  • The defensive team members must declare only one player to guard the quarterback.  This player must start 10 yards back on the line of scrimmage and only start the rush once the quarterback has received the snapped football.
  • All other male defensive players must individually line up against male offensive players and remain stationary with their arms down until the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage. Once the line has been crossed then they are make an attempt to deflag the offensive player.
  • If there are more defensive female players than offensive female players the defense may only outnumber the offensive female players by one person. (Example: 2 female defenders can guard one female offensive player creating a double team but teams cannot add more than one double team on the offensive female)
  • Exception: If the offense plays more than 3 females on the field for a forced gender play, a male player may cover the additional female player.
  • Exception: If the defense is down a female player, it may cover the offense’s female player with a male player on a forced gender play. The defense must designate to the referee which male player is going to cover the extra female player.

The penalty for running 3 consecutive plays without a female as an Operative Player will be 5 yards and loss of down, and the female must still be the operative player on the next play. 

If a male is the QB on a play which could either be to a male or female and the QB is sacked, the ball is spotted where he was sacked and the play stands as a male play, no matter who was the intended receiver. If a team was forced to use a female as the operative player in a forced gender play and the male QB is sacked the play stands as a female play and the offensive team does not have to use a female on the next play. If a male is the QB on a forced gender play, is rushed and attempts to run, the next play will still be a forced gender play.

LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: The ball starts on the 20 yard line. Only one offensive player, in motion, can be moving as the ball is snapped. The man in motion can move laterally or backwards at the snap. At least 5 players must be on the line of scrimmage. After a play, the line of scrimmage is determined by the location of the ball when the flags are pulled. If flags fall off a receiver before the flags are pulled, the ball is dead where the receiver catches the pass. If anything falls off a player (ie: hat, playsheet, gloves, etc), it is marked as if the player's flag has been pulled.

DOWNS: First downs are obtained by crossing midfield, and your opponent’s 20 yard line. If a team fails to earn a first down in four plays, possession will go to the opposing team. The offensive team may elect to punt on fourth down. The offensive team must declare punts on fourth down to the referee with enough advance warning for the defense to put players back in receiving formation. Once the offensive team declares with the official whether to punt, but then changes their decision, they must use a timeout before being allowed to proceed. No fake punts are allowed and all punts must be kicked. The kicking team must stay on the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted. Five players from the receiving team must be on the line of scrimmage. The receiving team may fair catch the ball or advance it. If the ball hits the ground after touching any part of the receivers body, it becomes a dead ball. If the ball travels into the end zone without being touched, a touch back is called and ball placed at the 20 yard line. The defense may not block a punt. 

BLOCKING: “Blocking” with hands is not allowed. This includes downfield “blocking” during an offensive play and returned punt. NO CONTACT is allowed at the line or downfield by any defensive player guarding a receiver. Players may block with their hands behind their back at the line of scrimmage, but may not do so 5 yards passed the line. Once a defender gets past a blocker, the blocker becomes an eligible receiver. 

RUSHING: In the Men's League all defensive players must play a yard off the line of scrimmage and can rush once the ball is hiked to the quarterback. In the Co-Ed league the defense must declare only one player to guard/rush the quarterback. This player must start 10 yards back on the line of scrimmage and only start the rush once the quarterback has received the snapped football or if the quarterback hands off the ball to another player once the ball has been snapped. If the defense crosses the line of scrimmage before either of those two situations occur, an offsides penalty will be assessed In the Co-Ed league when there is a female quarterback all rushes must only come from the female players. 

PASSING: A forward pass is completed when caught by any player of the passing team who has at least one foot in-bounds. If opposing teams catch the pass in-bounds simultaneously, the tie goes to the offense. If a player steps out-of-bounds and comes back in-bounds to be the first person to touch the ball, it will be ruled an incomplete pass. However, if a player steps out of bounds, they will be eligible to catch a deflected ball.

After the immediate completion of a play, the referee will place a marker at the line of scrimmage. The offense has 25 seconds to put the ball in play after it is declared ready by the head judge (ie, when the marker is placed). No player shall put the ball in play until declared ready-for-play.

The QB cannot run for positive yards unless rushed (ie, defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage). 

A change of possession can only occur due to downs, a punt, or an interception. A fumble where the ball hits the ground cannot result in a turnover (the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble). A lateral caught by the defense will result in a turnover.

On a change of possession, the offense must allow the defense to get set for 15 seconds after the marker has been placed before the offense can snap the ball.

SCORING: Touchdowns are six points. In co-ed play, a touchdown scored by a female (either as the passer, receiver, or scoring runner is scored as 8 points)

Extra points are two points for a passing play and one point for a running play. An intercepted extra point try may be returned for 2 points.

Safeties are 2 points. The scoring team will now go on offense with the ball placed at their own 20 yard line.

FOOTBALL PENALTIES

LOSS OF FIVE YARDS PENALTIES:

  • A player is off sides when any part of his body or his person is beyond the line of scrimmage before the snap of the ball. 
  • A team may not have more than 8 players on the field at one time (co-ed leagues must have at least 3 females).
  • The offensive team must put the ball into play 25 seconds after referee has placed the marker.
  • If the player calling the cadence does not receive the snap, the play will not stand and the down will not be repeated. If the snap is not called verbally, the ball must still be snapped to the offensive player who is lined up as QB.
  • Offensive players must assume a set position and come to an absolute stop (except one man in motion). The player in motion may only move laterally or backwards.
  • The offensive team may make one forward pass from behind the line during each play from scrimmage.
  • The QB cannot crosses the line of scrimmage and then throw a forward pass.
  • No player may leave his or her feet in order to gain positive yards.   Penalty is enforced from the spot of the foul.
  • Offensive Interference is not allowed.
  • Flag guarding, stiff arms, picking intentional contact are not permitted.
  • Blocking (from the spot)– No player may use his hands to block opponent. Offensive players may not run down field past 5 yards from the line of scrimmage in front of or parallel to the ball carrier, whether you intended to block or not. They may run behind to receive a lateral.
  • A defender may not use their hands or arms to hang onto or encircle a receiver. The defender cannot extend their arms to cut off or hook a receiver causing contact that impedes and restricts the receiver as the play develops, nor may he maintain contact with the receiver. This includes holding on to an opponent’s shirt or shorts while attempting to pull the flag. 
  • Moving penalties can be accepted or declined by the defense. If declined, the play stands as ruled. If accepted, the the penalty is yardage and the down is re-played.

LOSS OF 10 YARD PENALTIES:

  • Tying, modifying or in any way changing the intended use of flags to make it more difficult for the defense to pull.
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct, abusive or insulting language, or gesture to another player or referee, and taunting are not permissible under any circumstances. The player may be disqualified for above actions if judged by the referee to be flagrant and will be suspended for next week’s game. If that player(s) is caught playing next week, the team will forfeit that game. In a severe case of unsportsmanlike conduct, the player will be suspended from playing any ATX Sports & Adventures event for a year or more. 
  • Defensive Pass interference is not permitted . Prohibited conduct shall be when a player physically restricts or impedes the opponent in a manner that is visually evident and materially affects the opponent’s opportunity to gain position or retain his position to catch the ball. If a player has gained position, they shall not be considered to have impeded or restricted his opponent in a prohibited manner if all of his actions are in an effort to go to and catch the ball.

MINIMUM NUMBER OF PLAYERS:

In order for an official game with league referees there must be at least 5 players on the field.  In the Co-Ed League there must be at least one female player within the 5 players.  Any teams short of this number may look to utilize our substitution rules listed below but if the team is still without at least 5 players 10 minutes after the scheduled game time it will be an official forfeit and the forfeit policy will take effect.

SUBSTITUTIONS:

If teams are short players they may pick up players from other teams within the league.  They are allowed to pick up enough players for a 7 person roster.  However, any players after 7 must be approved by the opposing team.  If a team member arrives late a substitute player must drop off to stay at the 7 person roster size unless approved by the opposing team.

FORFEIT POLICY:

Everyone signs up to play and if you aren’t out there it’s not fun for anyone.  If your team forfeits a game during the season, the following rules apply: 

First Offense: Loss of game and warning of potential inability to make playoffs with next forfeit. Score marked: 21-0

Second Offense: Loss of game and ability to make the playoffs. Score marked: 21-0

Third Offense: Removal from the league.

If you know in advance that your team is going to forfeit a game, we encourage you contact us immediately so we can inform your opponent.

Teams have until ten minutes past the designated start time to field a full squad (or the league minimum of players required according to rules). If at that time a team is unable to field a legal team, they forfeit the game. The teams may utilize the playing field during their allotted time to play an unofficial game. The official score will be marked as a loss with the respective forfeit score of 21-0. 

CONCLUSION:

We enforce a “Zero Tolerance Policy” in regards to behavior of players, captains, and fans. Taunting, trash talking, or abusive language will not be tolerated.  Referees and league staff will have the right to reprimand or eject players, managers, or fans depending on the severity of the situation. Abusive behavior toward the referee will not be tolerated. An ejection carries a two game suspension (including the current game). In extreme cases, the player will be asked to leave the premises without refund. The severity of the punishment will be based on the discretion of the referee and league staff. Only captains of respective teams are allowed to approach the referee with questions or concerns in a respective manner. Teams charging the field of play to question or complain a call will be subject to automatic forfeit for that game.

Alcohol and smoking is not allowed on playing fields.

Any rules not covered or protests will be handled by the Referee.

There will be no refunds allowed for rain delays or cancellations.  If the league is postponed due to weather, we will reschedule to a later date.  There will be no refunds if you are not able to furnish a team on the makeup date.

Flag Football is played in the rain if at all possible unless the Referee or Facility Representative decide it is necessary to postpone due to dangerous field conditions or lightning.  If lightning occurs, all attempts will be made to resume play 30 minutes after the last lightning flash is viewed and the umpire deems it safe to resume play. The games will resume as scheduled if at all possible, or shortened if necessary.

All decisions of the referee are final. The referee shall also have the final authority to make adjustments to match schedules, match duration, and other aspects of the league as may become necessary during the course of the league.

FIGHTING WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.  ANY INSTANCES OF FIGHTING MAY RESULT IN A TEAM FORFEIT OF THE LEAGUE WITHOUT REFUND AND POSSIBLE EXPULSIONS FROM FUTURE LEAGUES.