Flag Football Rules


Game time is forfeit time.


  • Players must be current Dartmouth students, faculty or staff.
  • Seven players constitute a full team; must have 7 players for a legal game.
  • In the Co-Rec. division there must be 3 women on the field at all times.
  • After each game, officials will assign a sportsmanship rating to each team. Ratings are 0-3 with three (3) being given for exemplary conduct. The ratings will be averaged over the course of the regular season games and playoffs. Teams must have an average score of 2.0 to be playoff eligible and remain eligible during playoffs. Teams dropping below 2.0 in the playoffs will be eliminated from the tournament.


  • Players must wear close-toed, athletic type shoes at all times. Rubber cleats can be worn; no metal cleats
  • All jewelry must be removed. Hard billed baseball caps are prohibited.
  • Any equipment that, in the official's judgment, would be injurious to the participants, would aid the individual who is wearing it, or is not within the spirit of the rules is illegal.

The Field

  • The field of play is 50yds in length with 5yd end zones.

Player Substitutions

  • Substitution is unlimited.
  • Substitutions on a dead ball only.

The Game

  • The winner of the pre-game toss shall have the first choice of options.
    • Offense/defense
    • Which goal to defend
    • To defer their choice until the second half.
  • Playing time and intermissions: Games shall consist of two 15 minute halves with a 5-minute half-time. Each team has one time-out per half. Time-outs can be carried over to the second half.
  • At the start of each half, following a safety, a touchback, and after each touchdown the game will begin with a scrimmage play from the offensive team's own 5 yard line unless moved by penalty.
  • The offensive team has 25 seconds to put the ball in play after referee signals "ready for play."
  • Penalty:- 5 yards, replay the down

Overtime (Playoffs Only)

  • Play will begin on the 10-yard line and teams will have 4 downs each.
  • A coin toss will take place, the team winning the toss has 3 options: Offense, Defense, or Direction. The opposing team then has the remaining choice. Note: All overtime periods are played toward the same goal line.
  • The object is to score a touchdown and subsequent extra point. After team
  • A scores, team B then has 4 plays within which to score. If no team has scored after their respective plays the process is repeated. If the game has not been decide after the second overtime, teams must attempt a 2 point conversion after scoring a touchdown for the remaining overtime periods.
  • When 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.
  • Penalties are assessed similar to the regular game. A team shall be given a new series of
  • Four downs 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 team B 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 spot, the team B 10-yard line, if accepted.


  • Flags must be worn within a 3-inch zone of the hip. Do not wrap flags around belt.
  • There must be three flags present, with one on each hip.
  • Removal of flag belt: When the flag belt is clearly taken from the ball carrier the down shall end and the ball is declared dead. A player who removes the flag belt from the ball carrier should immediately hold the flag belt above his head to assist the official in locating the spot where the capture occurred. A player may dive to remove a flag belt as long as no contact is made with the opposing team.
  • The position of the ball when a player is de-flagged determines the spot of the next line of scrimmage.
  • A defensive player may not hold, push, or knock down the ball carrier in an attempt to remove the flag, nor shall an offensive player hold, block, or run through a defensive player trying to remove the flag belt.
  • Scrimmage line: The scrimmage line for team A is line marker A and its vertical plane, which passes through the center point of the marker. The scrimmage line for team B is line marker B and its vertical plane, which passes through the center point of the marker.
  • Flags are immediately returned to opponents.
  • A defensive player may not remove an offensive player's flag when the offensive player does not have the ball. Similarly, the defensive player may not remove the quarterback's flag after the ball has been thrown.
  •  Penalty: Illegal flag belt removal, 10 yards.
  • A defensive player may not remove an offensive receiver's belt prior to the receiver touching the ball. Penalty: Defensive pass interference, 10 yard and automatic first down.
  • A player may not fasten his flags to his uniform or belt other than prescribed in the rules.
  • Penalty: -10 yards, loss of down. If it occurs after an interception ball will be placed at the spot of the turnover.

Ball in Play, Dead Ball, Out-Of-Bounds

  • The ball is declared dead when the ball touches the ground:
  • The sideline and end lines are considered out of bounds. Only one foot needs to touch in bounds in order for a pass to be complete.
  • Once an offensive player steps out of bounds, that player is no longer eligible to touch the ball.
  • Penalty: -5 yards and replay the down.


  • Each team will receive 4 downs to attempt to move the ball to the next 20-yard line.


  • Offense must have a minimum of 4 players on the line scrimmage.
  • Dead ball penalty - 5 yards, replay the down
  • The ball may be snapped between the legs or to the side of the snapper. The ball must be snapped backwards.
  • The player who receives the snap must be at least 2 yards behind the offensive scrimmage line.
  • All players are eligible for a forward pass. The passer may pass from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage.
  • The quarterback must hand off or pass unless the defense has crossed the line of scrimmage. Once the defense has crossed the line of scrimmage from a blitz or after counting "five Mississippi's" the quarterback can rush with the ball. (updated 10/28/15)
  • The passer shall not intentionally ground the ball in order to avoid a sack.
  • Penalty: -5 yards and loss of down.
  • Play after a safety. After a safety is scored, the team that is awarded 2 points will automatically gain possession at their own 5-yard line. (No kick will take place)
  • Roughing the passer. Defensive players must make a definite effort to avoid charging into a passer after it is clear that the ball has been thrown and may not make contact with the throwing arm.
  • Penalty: 10 yards and automatic first down, tack on the end of the play (if positive yardshave been gained), if not, 10 yards from the original spot and automatic first down.
  • Guarding the flag belt. Ball carriers shall not guard their flags by blocking, with arms, hands or ball, the opportunity for an opponent to pull or remove the flag belt.
  • Penalty: - 10 yards from the spot of the foul.
  • The defensive player shall not (intentionally or accidentally) hold, grasp, or obstruct forward progress of a ball carrier when in the act of removing the flag belt.
  • Penalty: 10 yards, tacked on the end of the play.
  • If a player attempting a diving flag removal trips the ball carrier.
  • Penalty is 10 yards from the spot of the foul.


  • There is no contact in blocking.
  • All players on the line of scrimmage must be in a two-point stance.
  • The Offensive Screen Blocking: The offensive screen blocking shall take place without contact. The screen blocker shall have his/her hands and arms at their side or behind his/her back. Any use of the hands, arms, elbows, legs, or body to initiate contact during an offensive player's screen block is illegal. A blocker may use his/her hand or arm to break a fall or to retain their balance. A player must be on his/her feet before, during, and after screen blocking.
  • Penalty: - 10 yards, defense may accept the play
  • Blocking and interlocked interference: Teammates of a runner or passer may interfere for him/her by screen blocking, but shall not use interlocked interference by grasping or encircling one another in any manner. Penalty: -10 yards, replay the down.
  • Offensive Charge: A runner shall not charge into or initiate contact with an opponent in his/her path. Penalty: -10 yards, from the spot of the foul.

Defensive Rush

  • There is no contact in defensive rush.
  • Defense may rush the QB as desired after counting to "Five Mississippi".  Defensive players must go around the offensive player's screen block. Once per a set of downs, the defender may "blitz" the quarterback and rush without counting to "Five Mississippi"; however the defender must yell "blitz" when they rush in.
  • The arms and hands may not be used to grab or push the opponent aside. The application of this rule depends entirely on the judgment of the official. A rusher may use his/her arms or hands to break a fall or retain his/her balance. Penalty: 10 yards tacked on at the end of the play. Or replay the down.


  • A team may lateral the ball as long as the ball does not go forward. An illegal lateral
  • Penalty: -5 yard and loss of down.


  • Intentional grounding in the end zone is safety.
  • A fumble from the line of scrimmage in the end zone is a safety.
  • The team scoring the safety will receive 2 points and will obtain possession of the ball on their own 5 yard-line


  • If a punt is to be made, the team punting must announce it before the down starts. After the announcement, the punt must actually be made, and neither team may move until after the ball has been punted. Defensive and offensive teams must have 4 players on the line of scrimmage until the punt is made. After receiving the ball the punter must put the ball in play within 5 seconds. Quick kicks are illegal.
  • Penalty: -10 yards Delay of game.
  • First touching - If any K player touches a punt after it crosses K's scrimmage line (first ball spotter-orange) and before it is touched there by any R player, it is referred to as "first touching." NOTE: The ball is dead when the ball strikes the ground.
  • Punt goes out of bounds becomes dead and belongs to the receiving team at that spot.

Kick Catch Interference

  • While any punt is in flight beyond K's scrimmage line, K shall not touch the ball or R nor obstruct R's path to the ball. This prohibition does not apply if the act is after the kick has been touched by R. K may catch, touch, muff or bat a punt in flight beyond K's scrimmage line if no player is in position to catch the ball.
  • Penalty: Kick Catch Interference, 10 yards, R may choose a 10-yard penalty from the previous spot with K retaining the football and down replayed, or they may accept an awarded catch from the spot of the foul.
  • There will be no fair catch recognized - Players will ignore any signals given by the kickers or receivers. The ball remains live. There is no foul.
  • Interception in the end zone is a touchback and the ball is placed on the 5-yard line.


  • Touchdown – 6 points
  • Extra point:
  • Run or pass from 5 yard line 1pt
  • Run or pass from 10 yard line 2pts (updated 10/28/15)
  • If an extra point attempt is intercepted and returned to the defensive team's end zone the defense is awarded the appropriate points.
  • Safety – 2 points