League Rules

Flag Football (5-on-5)

The Field

  • There might be a variety of fields being used so each field may be slightly different depending on the space available. The standard field is 35 paces wide x 50 paces long with end zones that are 10 paces deep. Often, we will be playing across a football or soccer field so we line up the back cones on the sidelines pace off the field from there.

General Rules

  • Average Joe Sports Club uses the CFL rules as a template for our Flag Football rules. We recommend using a CFL ball and using CFL rules as a guideline

The Equipment

  • Each team will be given a set of 10 belts with 2 flags each and a football. Teams may use any ball they want as long as it is a CFL/NFL/NCAA/CIS ball made of either leather or composite. Teams will also be given a set of cones and will be responsible for setting up their half of the field. All equipment needs to be returned at the end of the season.
  • To keep a level playing field for all teams, the connection of flag to belt is with Velcro.
  • Please avoid wearing clothing the same colour as your flags.

The Spirit of Play

  • This is a recreational league. It is not for hyper-competitive/aggressive players. It is self-officiated so it is dependent on the players to make it fun. Please go for the flags and don’t tackle someone and the grab their flag.

Making Calls

  • Please respect all calls that are made. Once a call is made, it stands. The player with the best view of the play should make the call (and it has to be someone on the field making the call....the bench can’t call anything).

Contesting Calls

  • If a call is made (whether catch/no catch, in bounds/out of bounds, or foul calls), and the opposing team disagrees with the call so strongly, they can ”contest” the call. The result is the down is replayed from the original line of scrimmage as if the play did not happen. PLEASE DO NOT USE THE CONTEST CALL AS A PART OF STRATEGY. It is meant as a check/balance. It comes from Ultimate Frisbee. It should only be used where a player genuinely believes the call was wrong. If a team abuses this rule, then their opponents will contest all of their calls and the game will spiral down. Please report any consistent flagrant abuse of this rule to the league.

Play

  • Who starts will be determined by paper/rock/scissors by the captains (the winning team has the choice of making the choice in the first half or deferring to the second half). Captains can either decide to choose which end to take or whether to start with the ball.
  • The team starting with the ball starts on its own goal line (There is no kicking game).
  • The team has 4 downs to score a touchdown. There are no extra points so the score is just counting by 1’s.
  • Teams play with 5 players per side. If a team is ever short, the two teams should come to an agreement as to how to proceed (e.g. one team plays short, both teams play 4-on-4, etc). Once an agreement is made, the game counts.
  • The offensive team must have a centre to snap the ball to the QB.
  • The QB cannot cross the line of scrimmage (but can scramble around behind the line of scrimmage).
  • The defensive team must supply a rusher. He needs to be with 2 yards of the line of scrimmage (i.e. can’t drop back into coverage), and at least 1 yard to either the right or left of the centre (declaring his side before the centre sets the ball).
  • The rusher must count the steamboats loudly and at a deliberate pace. At the end of 5th steamboat, the rusher may cross the line of scrimmage to sack the QB (the 5 steamboats should take a minimum of 5 seconds).
  • There are no handoffs but teams can throw short hitches or slants, etc.
  • There are no laterals after the QB throws the ball.
  • When a defender grabs the flag, the play is dead at the spot of the flag.
  • If a player inadvertently loses a flag before a play is made (e.g. hits it out while running a route, etc), they can continue to play but if a player makes an attempt on the side where the flag should be, the defender should call the play dead and the line of scrimmage for the next play will start there as if the flag has been grabbed.
  • If a player blocks a defender from getting a flag with their hand, then the play is dead at that spot. Offensive players should call this themselves, but defenders can also can also call it.
  • If a team fails to score a touchdown on four downs, possession is turned over to the other team at the same spot as the last down ended (e.g. at the spot of the flag being grabbed in the case of a reception or the line of scrimmage of the 4th down in the case of an incomplete pass). The only exception is if the ball is within 10 yards of the original offensive team’s goal line, the ball is started at the 10 yard line (so that the new offensive team has to advance the ball 10 yards to score).
  • For Spring and Summer seasons (90 min games): Each half should be 45 minutes and it is up to teams to keep track of time. If the game is started late, then halves should be shortened so each half is equal in length. Games are 90 mins total.
  • For Fall and Winter seasons (60 min games): Each half should be 30 minutes and it is up to teams to keep track of time. If the game is started late, then halves should be shortened so each half is equal in length. Games are 60 mins total.
  • If Team A gets the flag from Team B's player (with the ball) in Team B's endzone (a "safety"), Team A gets the ball at Team B's 10 yard line (with a new set of downs).

Fouls (updated 2024)

  • If the offense calls a defensive foul (such as defensive pass interference - tripping, pushing, pulling the receiver, defender not playing the ball, route blocking) the ball will be moved to the spot of the foul (as if the pass was completed) and the offense moves onto the next down.
  • 4th Down Exception - on 4th down, if a defensive foul is called, the ball will be moved to the spot of the foul AND the down will be replayed.
  • Defensive fouls occurring in the endzone would be moved to the spot of the 1-yard line
  • If the defense calls an offensive foul (such as offensive pass interference - shoving or pushing off a defender, blocking defenders, setting picks) the play is called as an incompletion, resulting in a loss of down.
  • While incidental contact may occur, players on both teams have a duty to do their best to avoid contact. Any purposeful or reckless contact should be called a foul.
  • Once a catch has been made, all receivers not making the catch must stop as soon as they can and remain in place. They can not continue to move and create any interference for the receiver with the ball. They may stay in place and the ball handler may use them as a stationary pick (as in basketball). Like in basketball, if the stationary receiver moves to create contact, a foul should be called.
  • If a foul is contested, then it is a replay of down from the original line of scrimmage. (As noted, please use the contested call sparingly.)

Playoffs

  • There are no ties in playoff games. In the event of a tie at the end of regulation time, teams will enter into a “shootout” style of overtime, which should be handled as follows: Teams will take the ball to half. Captains will do a Rock, Paper, Scissors, to see who takes possession first. The first possession team will have 4 downs to score from half. The second possession team will then also have 4 downs to score from half, going in the same direction. This will continue until one team scores and the other does not.


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