8-Man Adult Flag Football Rules

Revised 12/02/2016
Enforcements are highlighted in RED at the end of each rule explanation

You are playing in a recreational to very competitive FLAG football league (not a tackle league). Player safety and player conduct is the highest concern of the LVSL staff and its officials. It will not be taken lightly. You are playing in a situation that is difficult to officiate and difficult to devise rules for. As a player, you must realize this, and the one thing you can control is your sportsmanship and your team’s sportsmanship. You cannot, as a player, do something that is unsportsmanlike. This even includes legal activities; for example, a hard block with 7 seconds to go in a 30 point win to a player who is caught off guard is legal but unsportsmanlike and would be grounds for ejection. Any unsportsmanlike conduct on or off the field of play can be an ejection even if the referees do not catch the play (LVSL Staff, or videotape).

RULES: This is a flag football specific rule book giving exemptions to regular football rules. If a football rule is not in this rule book, then the league refers all rules to the National Federation High School rule book.

EJECTIONS AND SUSPENSIONS: The league will suspend based on best information obtained from referees and LVSL staff. An ejection is not a suspension. Ejections are made by field officials and suspensions are made by the league office. The league will penalize the instigator typically as harsh as or harsher than the retaliator. The league will simply do it's best to make the best judgment. All suspensions can be appealed. The league may suspend a player or team based off an accumulation of things the league deems as a pattern of misconduct. The league will use their best judgment in the suspension of players to maintain a safe and friendly environment. Any player that leaves the sideline during a fight will be ejected from the game. Any team leaving a team’s sideline will be ejected as a team and not individuals. Acts outside the field of play may also be deemed as acts that require suspensions at anytime throughout league play and anywhere on the park premises. (this includes the parking lot)

PLAYING FIELD: The playing field is a regulation size football field (53 1⁄2 x 100). First-down markers are positioned in set locations approximately every 20 yards (20, 40, 40, 20).

EQUIPMENT: Each team will be responsible to provide their own football for the game. The ball must be regulation size football, ex. NCAA or Pro Type Ball. Each team will be responsible to provide a triple-flag belt for each player on their team. This is 3 flags attached to a nylon belt that has a quick-release belt clip. All belts must have flags at least 12 inches in length or more. Players using flag belts shorter than 12 inches will be subject to a penalty or

ejection for unsportsmanlike conduct. All players (offense or defense) must start every play with their flag belt on or the player is subject to a delay-of-game penalty. In order to challenge a player’s flag length, you must provide the tool used to measure that length (i.e. 12” ruler). If you challenge a length of a flag and it turns out to be a correct length, you will lose a timeout, and be charged a delay-of-game penalty. You may not challenge the length of a flag in the last two minutes of the second half.

UNIFORMS: All teams must have like-colored, matching uniforms with every player having a unique number for themselves by the end of Week 2. If players are not in uniform by week 3, then that player will not be allowed to play. Shirts with drawn on numbers will not be accepted as a jersey. Cleats---only molded or rubber screw-in cleats or any flat-soled shoes are allowed. No metal or metal-tipped cleats allowed. You will be ejected from the game for wearing those types of cleats.

ROSTERS & WAIVERS: Every player is required to be placed on a roster by the team captain prior to the week 1 game. The week 3 rule is no longer in affect. Rosters now lock after week 1! You are only permitted to play on 1 team per season; NO exceptions. In order to switch teams, you have to have a mutual agreement between the previous team’s Captain and the new team’s Captain that you are switching teams. You may only have a total of 21 players on the roster. If a team is found to have more than 18 players participating in a game (20 in Summer/Winter Seasons), the team will be subject to forfeiture of that game. A single player must play in 3 regular season games to be eligible for the postseason.

LENGTH OF THE GAME: Playing time will be 40 minutes in duration divided into two 20-minute periods, with a 2-minute halftime intermission. There is a 25-second play clock that runs in between plays. You will get (three) 30-second timeouts each half. The referees on the field have the ability of calling an Official’s Time Out at their discretion. The clock will run continuously for the first half, and the clock will only stop at the 2- minute warning in the second half, unless stopped by a timeout prior. In the second half after the two-minute warning, the clock will stop for the following: Touchdown, Incomplete pass, PAT, Out of Bounds, Time-outs, and/or penalty administration under the 2-minute warning. In the event of overtime, each team will get (one) 30-second timeout. Timeouts do not carry over from regulation.

COIN TOSS: At the coin toss in the center of the field, the visiting Team Captain will be given the privilege of calling the coin toss prior to flip. The winner of the toss will be given his choice of defense, offense, designating the end of the field at which the ball will be put in play, or may defer his choice to the second half. The loser will have his choice of the remaining options.

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(At the discretion of an LVSL Commissioner). The non-forfeited team will be required to pay their referee fees for that week and will be awarded a 7-0 victory. The team that forfeited must pay the ref fees of the forfeited game in order to return to play the next week. If a team forfeits twice in a season, they will be removed from the schedule with no refunds. If they wish to return the following season they will be required to pay the entire season’s referee fees up front.

MERCY RULE: There is no mercy rule” enforced. Everyone has paid to play and points do make a difference for postseason. However, there is an unsportsmanlike rule in effect, and it is considered by the league office that if you show no mercy when a team is way down, then you are being unsportsmanlike and could be rendered a 7-0 loss for the team ejection. You can beat a team by any amount of points with class! At any time if the game head referee feels the game is getting a bit too aggressive by either team in this situation, he may call the game at his discretion.


EIGHT MAN ELIGLBLE: All 8 players, including the linemen, are eligible to run down field and catch passes. Receivers can all line up on one side, there does not have to be a balanced wide-receiver set. There is no intentional grounding, because everyone is eligible.

BALL PLACEMENT: The team that is receiving the ball at the start of the game or after any touchdown will start the ball at the 30-yard line. Touchbacks also start at the 30- yard line. There are NO KICKOFFS to start play. Line of scrimmage will be where the ball is, when the flag is pulled and henceforth the buckle breaks. After each play the White-Hat Referee will place a marker to spot the new line of scrimmage. The ball can remain in the team’s hands at huddle.

LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: Offensive team must have at least four (4) players on the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap. If the offense fails to have four players on the line at the start of the play, an illegal formation penalty will be called; Lose 5 yards and repeat the down.

MOTION: Only ONE PLAYER can be in motion at the snap of the ball and must be running parallel to the line of scrimmage. Please note that more than one player can initially shift, however all players must be set for one second before the player goes in motion. All eight players are eligible so the linemen may go in motion.

CHARGING: All ball carriers must make an attempt to avoid contact with the defense. An offensive player may not lower their shoulder, or attempt to bullthrough a defensive player. A ball carrier may spin, jump or juke, but must realize that while spinning or juking he is in a "State of Non-Control" and should contact occur as a result of his uncontrolled momentum, the defensive player may not be penalized. Two players to one spot at same time will not result in a penalty. The ball carrier may jump over a player on the ground. Players can jump forward to advance the ball so long as the player does not create contact with the opponent. (10 yard penalty from the spot. The down counts)

If your team fails to show up within 5 minutes of your game

time, the game may be declared as a forfeit

JUMPING: Jumping to advance the ball is allowed. To jump and advance the ball legally the ball carrier must be able to land in control on his own feet. If a ball carrier jumps and falls and or initiates contact into the defense by jumping, it will be considered a flag-guarding penalty. (10 yards and loss of down) There is no diving. An offensive player cannot jump through the offensive line of scrimmage on a goal-line play.

OPEN-HAND BLOCKING - During a legal block, contact can be made with OPEN HANDS ONLY. Open hands can be thrust forward initially to contact an opponent inside their body frame. Hands cannot be thrust forward above the shoulders to contact an opponent on the neck, face, or head. As the play develops, a blocker is permitted to work for and maintain position on an opponent as long as they do not push from behind or clip. Open-hand blocking is allowed on all portions of the field and is not restricted to the line of scrimmage. Two-on-one blocking is allowed. A player may not initiate their block with anything other then an open-hand block, i.e. dipping their shoulder to block is not permitted. If a player is found to have initiated contact with anything other than an open- hand block, they are subject to an unsportsmanlike penalty and suspension by the league. Suspensions may be enforced if seen by league officials even if the game officials didn’t call a penalty. (15 yards, possible ejections after 1 infraction, certain ejection after 2nd infraction) Once contact has been at no time may a blocker close his fist or grab an opponent’s jersey even if it is inside the shoulders.

FORWARD PASSES: The offensive team is only allowed one forward pass behind the line of scrimmage. Once the ball is advanced beyond the line of scrimmage the ball is no longer eligible to be passed forward, regardless if the ball is brought back behind the line of scrimmage.

ILLEGAL FORWARD PASSES: A pass that is thrown when any part of the body touches the ground past or on the line of scrimmage. (10 yards and loss of down)

FUMBLES: A fumble forward will be spotted where the ball carrier lost possession. If the ball is deemed purposefully “fumbled” forward, the penalty will be an Illegal Forward Pass. A fumble backwards will be spotted where the ball lands.

A fumble cannot be used to advance the ball. If a ball carrier loses possession of the ball forward, he cannot be the first person to repossess the ball. If ANY other player on the field comes to possess the ball during the “live ball”, they CAN keep the play going as a “live play.” If the player who initially loses possession, is the first person to regain possession, it will be a 5-yard penalty and loss of down (First Touching) from the spot of the repossession.

FLAG GUARDING: Flag guarding is defined as any attempt by the ball carrier to shield his flags from being pulled. This includes (but is not limited to) swinging free hand, pushing an opponent’s hand away, stiff arming, holding flags with free hand, lowering or dipping their shoulder, and using the ball to shield the flag. Flag guarding. (10-yard penalty from the point of infraction and loss of down)

ILLEGAL PARTICIPATION: A player must start every play with a flag belt on regardless of offense or defense. If a play starts without a flag the play will be blown dead. (5 yards replay the down) If a play is finished and the illegal participation is noticed then there is no penalty.

DECEPTION PLAYS: The ball must be lined up at least 9 yards from the sideline prior to any play. Anytime a player or team tries to hide the ball from the opposite team or referees will result in an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for 15yards. (15 yards replay the down)

DELAY OF GAME: If the offensive team does not snap the ball before the 25-second play clock expires, they will be charged a delay-of-game penalty of 5 yards. If the ball is snapped without the offensive player wearing flags, a delay of game penalty will be charged to the offensive team. If any team stops the flow of the game for a faulted reason, (example would be a defensive player asking an official to check the length of an opposing team’s flag, and the flag is of correct length) a delay of game penalty will be called. (5 yards replay the down)

DEAD BALL: In the event a ball carrier inadvertently loses their flag belt during play the defender will need to tag him with a ONE-handed touch. There are no fumbles. When the ball carrier loses control of the ball and it touches the ground, the play is ruled dead and the ball is spotted at the point it touched the ground as long as the spot is at or behind the ball carriers forward progress. “Crowd Rule” no longer applies, attempts on flag belts are judgment calls by the game officials. Therefore, if an official doesn’t think an attempt was made on a flag and the flag falls off, it is the responsibility of the defensive team to ONE-HAND touch the offensive player. So, if you feel you made an attempt on the flag and the belt falls off but you do not hear the whistle you, then must touch the offensive player. A player who is overly aggressive in their one-hand touch may be subject to an unsportsmanlike penalty and may be subject to suspension by the league.

PUNTING: The offensive team is allowed to punt the ball to better their field position. The punt is a protected kick meaning that there is no rush. The referee will ask the offense to declare a punt. The offense may not change their mind on the declared punt unless they use a timeout. No direct snap is allowed (to a non-kicking player). The punter must be at least five (5) yards behind the line of scrimmage when receiving the snap. After receiving the snap, the punter must kick the ball immediately and in one continuous motion. Both offense and defense are required to have 4 players on the line of scrimmage prior to the snap of the ball. Once snapped the defense may leave the line of scrimmage. The ball may not hit the ground before it reaches the punter, should the ball at any time go behind the punter or be snapped short of the punter it will be ruled dead at the spot the ball hits the ground. Punting team must give a 2-yard halo around a player attempting to catch the ball. If the ball hits the ground after the receiving team touches it, the ball is dead. A ball does not have to be caught to be advanced. It can be picked up off the ground from a punt. The offensive team has 10 seconds to declare whether they will punt or run a “live-ball” play after the referee blows the whistle to set the ball. From that 10-second limit, the offense will have a remainder of 15 seconds to complete their play (i.e. the whole play still falls within the 25-second play clock).

FAKE PUNT: There are two ways to perform a fake punt. The first is to pooch punt to an offensive player that must receive the pooch punt behind the line of scrimmage, and then the ball can be advanced only by running it through the line of scrimmage. The second way is to pooch punt the ball backwards behind the punter and the receiving offensive player can elect to run or pass through the line of scrimmage. A pooch punt may not be received by the punter. The play becomes “live” as soon as a punter kicks the ball. This means the defense can rush the punter AFTER the ball is kicked.

GETTING UP RULE: If a ball carrier goes to the ground with flags still on and no defender is in the vicinity, the ball carrier may get up and continue the play. If the ball carrier is on the ground the defender only has to touch the carrier with one hand to end the play. For example, if the offensive receiver dives for a pass and catches it while alone they may get up and continue the play. Or a rusher slips and falls while no one is around they may get up and continue the play. If a defender or group of defenders is close to the player on the ground the play will be blown dead for safety of the player. If the ball touches the ground at anytime the play is also dead.

SHOTGUN RULE: The QB must take a snap from the shotgun position and NOT under center. Shotgun is at least two yards behind the center. This rule is in effect throughout the entire playing field.


TACKLING: A legal tackle is defined as pulling OFF the ball carrier's flag belt, without impeding his forward movement. Incidental contact does not constitute a penalty against the offense or defense. Tackling a ball carrier is illegal, as is aggressively shoving or pushing the ball carrier to the ground or out of bounds. If a player is attempting to pull a flag per judgment of the field officials) they will not be called for aggressive body contact. It is a judgment call by the officials so use your good judgment. (Unsportsmanlike conduct. 15yrd penalty.)

KNOCKING BALL: A defensive player may not at anytime attempt to knock the ball out of the ball carriers hand. A ball carrier is defined as in possession of the ball. If a ball is in the air it is not in possession. If a receiver catches the ball by rule they are not in possession until a football move is made. So again the ball cannot be knocked out of the ball carriers hand until the player is in possession of the ball. If a defender is attempting to pull the flag and makes contact with the ball incidentally it is not considered a penalty. (illegal use of hands, 5 yards and automatic first down)

RUSHING THE QUARTERBACK: Full rush and blitzing is allowed on every down except for punts. The open-hand blocking rule is in effect for a defensive rusher. Any head-down or elbows-first rushing is illegal. Any swim move” or under hooking is also illegal. A good rule of thumb for a rusher is to never bring their arms above his own shoulders. The defense may not make contact with the center until the center raises his head. The center must make a reasonable attempt to defend himself once the ball is snapped and may not bait an illegal touch by the defense.

BUMP & RUN: The defender is allowed unlimited bumps within the first 5 yards of a receiver running a route. You may not ride an offensive player off the line.


TOUCHDOWNS= 6 points
FIELD GOALS= 3 points
= 1 point (from the 5-yard line) or= 2 points (from the 10-yard line)-You may run, or pass for an extra-point attempt. If you attempt to pass for the extra point and your pass is intercepted, the ball may be returned for a 2-point conversion. The defending team will be awarded 2 points for a returned extra point regardless of whether the offense tries for a 1-point or 2-point play.

SAFETY= 2 points. After a safety there is NO punt! The new drive will start on the 30 yard line.

FIELD GOALS / PAT KICK: On field goals, the defense CAN rush the “A” gaps (gaps surrounding the center). The standard rushing rules apply. If there is contact on the center BEFORE the center has a chance to bring his head up and defend himself, the defense will be penalized for Illegal Contact.

FAKE FIELD GOALS / PAT KICK: The situation is a live-kick play. The holder does NOT have to have his knee up or down prior to the snap to indicate if it is a fake or an actual attempt. The player receiving the snap must have both knees OFF the ground AT THE POINT OF TOUCHING THE BALL to attempt a fake field goal. If the holder has his knee down upon possessing the football, the ball MUST be kicked at that point, because if he comes up, then the play is dead. The ball CAN be directly snapped to any player who has his knees up upon RECEIVING the football for a live play. The only “give away” is if the holder has his knee down upon RECEIVING the snap, the ball must be kicked. Again, standard rushing rules apply for all field goals.

ONSIDE PAT=2 points (Attempted from the 30-yard line) - Since there are no kickoffs, you can attempt what is considered an onside kick.Any team can attempt an Onside PAT if they are down by any number of points. This means attempting a 2-point conversion from the 30-yard line via running or passing. If the conversion is good, the team that attempted the Onside PAT is awarded 2 points for the conversion and will receive the ball at their the 50-yard line. If you fail to score the conversion your opponent will also start their new drive at the 50 yard line. You can only attempt the Onside PAT if you are trailing in points.

OVERTIME: There will be a coin flip with the visitor calling the toss. The winner will be able to choose offense or defense first. If the captain, who wins the coin toss, chooses offense first, they will have a choice of going for a 1-point attempt from the 5-yard line or 2-point attempt from the 10-yard line. NO KICKING IN OVERTIME! The captain who loses the coin toss will have the same option when they are on offense. If there is a tie after both teams have been on offense, then they will continue the format in the alternating order (Team who was offense in 1st overtime will be starting on defense in the 2nd overtime) until there is a winner. Each team gets 1 (one) timeout. Timeouts do not carry over from regulation.

POSTSEASON OVERTIME: Each team gets a series from the 20 yard line. Field Goals are allowed. After Td’s then extra points are attempted.


ENCROACHMENT/OFFSIDE/FALSE START: A false movement of the football by the center shall constitute a false start. This is a dead-ball foul, and the play shall be immediately whistled dead before play begins (5 yards automatically marked off against the team). A lineman will be considered offside when he/she breaks the neutral zone prior to the snap, even if there is no contact made with the opponent. If a player on either side lines up offside, the official will point toward that player's team side. It is the player's responsibility to look at the referee. If that player does not get back onside before the ball is snapped, he will be considered as having been offside at the moment of the snap. (5- yard penalty)

ROUGHING THE PASSER This is when the defender makes contact with the quarterback in a manner that is aggressive or that is not deemed an attempt to go after the flag belt. This includes when a defender tries to deflect the pass and makes contact with the quarterback’s arm or hand. There may be NO contact with the QB above the stomach and below the knees. It is a 15-yard penalty from the line of scrimmage and an automatic first down (Personal Foul). If the pass is completed, then the penalty will be assessed from the end of the play. If a defender is only attempting for the flags with no hands up and no excessive contact, there can be no penalty. There is a two-yard halo around the quarterback in which if a defender has one or more hands up and there is contact made in any way, then the defender will be called for roughing the passer. Hint: Once near the quarterback only go for his flags. (Personal Foul, 15 yards and an automatic first down)

HOLDING: This occurs when a player grabs the clothing or personage of another player from the opposing team. This includes when the defender is attempting to pull a flag and misses and grabs the ball carriers shorts or shirt. It is a 10-yard penalty from the spot of the foul for offensive holding. An offensive player may not have a close fist while blocking. An offensive player may not grab a defensive player’s jersey inside the shoulders. It is a 5-yard penalty and automatic 1st down at the end of the play for defensive holding. If the ball carrier is held by the last defender inside the opposing 20- yard line, then the ball carrier will be awarded a touchdown. ( 5 yards added to the end of the play and an automatic 1st down)

LAST MAN: The last man rule applies to any defensive infraction that would hinder an eminent Touchdown. This includes holding, pushing out of bounds, intentionally knocking the ball out of offenses hand and any other penalty that interferes with an obvious TD. This penalty is only in affect inside the 20 yard line. (TOUCHDOWN)

PASS INTERFERENCE: After the pass is in the air, neither pass receiver nor defender may touch the other until one of them touches the ball, or else offensive or defensive pass interference may be called. Screening a receiver's eyes by a defender without playing the football is pass interference and shall be penalized as such.

  •   All offensive pass interference calls which are accepted by the defensive captain shall be marked off 10 yards from L.O.S. (Previous spot of the ball), and loss of down.

  •   A ball must catchable to receive a pass interference penalty! NEW

  •   All defensive pass interference calls which are accepted by the offensive captain will be 10 yards and an automatic first down. This penalty is not a spot foul. (10

    yards from the original line of scrimmage and an automatic first down)

    DIVING: At no time may a ball carrier dive forward to advance the ball to avoid a flag pull. Diving will be at the sole discretion of the Referee. A 10-yard penalty will be applied with a loss of down--same as flag guarding. (10 yards and a loss of down)

    INADVERTENT WHISTLE: If the official whistles the play dead prematurely, the offense has the option to take the result of the play where the ball is when the IW occurred or to replay the down as if there was no play at all (unless possession changes prior to the whistle) in which case the ball will be spotted where the ball was at the time of the whistle.

    PROTEST PROCEDURES: Any protests for misinterpretation or application of playing rules must be settled on the spot before the next play. This is called a Rules Challenge”. The captain must have a copy of the rules in order to validate his protest. Otherwise, "Delay of Game" will be called. If coach is wrong in the protest there will be a loss of a time-out, if no time-outs remain a 5-yard penalty will be assessed. Remember only the captain, may confer with the officials. Judgment calls are not “Rules Challenge” eligible. League Commissioners may assist in the “rules challenge”.


  •   No player will commit a personal foul during a period or an intermission. Whenever, in the judgment of any game official, and LVSL League official, the following acts are deliberate or flagrant, the players involved will be ejected from the game and possibly suspended.

  •   Contact with an opponent who is on the ground, throwing the runner to the ground, pushing out of bounds.

  •   Unnecessary roughness of any nature

  •   Begging for a call will be considered unsportsmanlike conduct and penalized as


  •   The ball carrier deliberately driving or running into a defensive player

  •   The defensive player deliberately driving or running into the ball carrier-

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  •   Touching the center before he has begun his pass pattern or stood up to block

  •   Abusive or insulting language

  •   Any acts of unfair play Managers, Coaches, or others on the field of play at any time.

  •   The punter delaying the kick

  •   Attempting to substitute a suspended player and forfeiture of the game

  •   Intentionally pulling or removing the flags from a player without the ball

  •   Roughing the kicker, passer, or center

  •   Using locked hands, elbows, or any part of the forearm or hand, blocking in manner inconsistent with the rules.

  •   Tackling the ball carrier as in tackle football.

  •   A player found to have played a down with flag belts not of regulation size.

  •   Penalty for above infractions: 15 yards and an automatic first down if the defense is called for an above infraction. If flagrant, the offender may be ejected and suspended.

  •   Players CAN celebrate after a score (including group celebrations) as long as there is no taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct towards the opposite team AND NO PLAYERS FROM THE SIDELINES enter the field of play to celebrate with the on-field participants.

    EJECTIONS & SUSPENSIONS: These offenses can get you suspended from the league (suspension time may vary).

  •   Fighting

  •   Any other flagrant, deliberate, or violent act

  •   The threatening or violent act toward a referee or LVSL Official

  •   Threatening of any individual with threat of a gun

  •   Kicking the opposite team’s ball out of the field of play

  •   Any act that any LVSL official deems not in the best interest of the league

  •   Players leaving the sideline to the field of play other than during the intermission at halftime

  •   Interfering with a player or any play while the ball is live

    FOULS BY BOTH TEAMS: If offsetting fouls occur during the live play of a down, that down will be repeated. Exception: if each team fouls during a down in which there is a change of possession, the team last gaining possession may retain the ball, provided its foul was not prior to the final change of possession, and it declined the penalty of its opponents foul. When a live-ball foul is followed by a dead-ball foul by the opponent, the penalties are administered separately and in the order of occurrence.

TEAM PLACEMENT: Any team winning the championship must be moved up to the next league (of higher skill) for at least 1 season. LVSL staff can place teams in accordance with competition. Ex. If your team does not win the championship, but loses 2 games during the regular season or goes to 2 to 3 straight championships, then you will be moved up a league. 

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