November 22, 2022

5 Basic Flag Football Rules Every Coach Must Know


Whether you’re the coach, a parent or player, it’s absolutely essential to know flag football rules before playing the game. To give you a headstart, we break down the five most important ones.

No contact allowed


To keep the game safe and inclusive, there’s absolutely no contact allowed in flag football, including tackling, diving, blocking, and screening. As a result, teams play on smaller fields with fewer players since you’re essentially removing the linemen. This creates a fast-paced and engaging game where plays are quick and one after the other. In other words, coaches—get your playbooks ready. 

Forward passes


In flag football, all passes are forward and received beyond the line of scrimmage. You won’t find any lateral or backward plays, and the quarterback is not allowed to run with the ball after the snap. But here’s the fun part—every player can become an eligible receiver, even the quarterback after they’ve handed off the ball or the center after a snap. This makes for some very creative and fun offensive plays

Flag pulling


When you think of defense in football, you might picture a player running with the ball and stiff-arming their opponents, while defensive players try to bring them down. But in flag football, all of that physical contact is replaced by a flag belt and two flags that hang along the sides of each player. Now to end a play, defensive players are tasked with learning how to successfully track and break down against their opponent to pull off one (or both) of their flags. Without the fear of getting hit, you’ll be surprised to see how freely these kids can play. 

New penalties


All offensive flag football penalties result in a loss of down and yardage, and all defensive flag football penalties result in an automatic first down (some are associated with yardage). But there are a few penalties to note in flag football—the first being flag guarding. This occurs when the ball carrier attempts to block their flags from being pulled. This can look like swatting at defensive players or even trying to cover their flag with their arm. It’s natural for players to want to protect their flag (and it can be a hard habit to break), so it’s one of the more common penalties. Another one you might see is illegal running by the quarterback (they aren’t allowed to run with the ball) and illegal rushing. 

Girls can play


When it comes to flag football, girls get a chance to play, too, with leagues available for both girls and boys, as well as co-ed teams. In fact, there are several initiatives in the works to provide more opportunities for female players in the sport, including this Nike and NFL partnership to create more high school leagues, and this NFL and NAIA partnership to create college opportunities.