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MISSOURI S&T INTRAMURALS. Flag Football Rules Clinic. WWW.CAMPUSREC.NEU.EDU. Preparation Being on time (15 minutes prior to 1 st scheduled game) Proper Dress/Equipment Whistle, Shorts or Sweat pants, Tucked in shirt, Forward Hat (if worn) Knowledge of Rules Pre-Game Conference

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Flag Football Rules Clinic

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Flag football rules clinic


Flag Football

Rules Clinic


Basics of officiating


Being on time (15 minutes prior to 1st scheduled game)

Proper Dress/Equipment

Whistle, Shorts or Sweat pants, Tucked in shirt, Forward Hat (if worn)

Knowledge of Rules

Pre-Game Conference

Determine the play style of teams

Safety/Risk Management

Check Fields

Check Equipment

Check Players

Stop game if needed

Eject Players if needed


Hustle and Be in Position

Proper coverage/Keep all players in sight



Preventative Officiating

Determine if players are playing the ball or other players

Pace determined by teams

Keep flow of game uninterrupted

Incidental contact

Basics of Officiating


Basics of officiating1



Work on 1-2 things to improve each game

Mentor others or ask questions to experienced officials

Praise in public, criticize privately

Get more game experience


Being the head official

Working more competitive games


Make the basic calls

Don’t look for insignificant or rare calls

Confidence/Use of Voice

Whistle and Crisp mechanics

Work on signals

Rapport with Players

Command Respect but be respectful

Communicate with captain

Warn players before ejecting

Don’t socialize with one group over another

Basics of Officiating


Field layout

Field Layout

  • The field is split into four zones:

    End zone to 20 YL, 20 YL to 40 YL,40 YL to 20 YL, 20 YL to End zone

Game length and time

Game Length and Time

  • The game consists of two 20-minute halves with a running clock, except for the last 2 minutes of the second half

  • In the last 2 minutes of second half, the clock will stop for:

    • Incomplete passes, out of bounds, penalties, change of possessions, scores, and first downs

  • The clock will always stop for Timeouts

  • The Mercy Rule is applied when a team leads by 19 points or more in the second half at the 2 minute warning




Touchdown = 6 pts

A Touchdown is scored when the nose of the ball crosses the Goal Line in the possession of the offense or a receiver catches the ball in the End Zone.

Six points will be awarded followed by the try-for-points.


Extra points

Extra Points

Extra Point Attempts:

  • 1 point (3 yard line)

  • 2 points (10 yard line)

  • 3 points (20 yard line)

Safety =

2 points

An intercepted try-for-point that is returned for a Touchdown is always worth 3 points.


Rules of the game

Rules of the Game

  • Each team may field 7 players at a time

    • A minimum of 5 players is required in order to start and finish a game


Incidental contact may occur because of the nature of the game, but our goal is to limit contact to an absolute minimum

Rules of the game1

Rules of the Game

  • Teams have 4 downs to advance the ball to the next zone line-to-gain or to score

  • Possessions start on X line or 14 yard line at the beginning of each half, and after scores

  • A team must elect whether or not to punt on 4th Down

    • Can only be changed by a timeout


Pre game duties equipment

Pre-Game Duties: Equipment

  • Jewelry is not allowed to be worn by any participant during an Intramural event

  • Jewelry cannot be taped or covered with a band-aid

    • Medical Alert bracelets or necklaces must be taped down

  • There are NO EXCEPTIONS!

  • NO POCKETS, belts, belt loops, or exposed drawstrings

Pre game duties equipment1

Pre-Game Duties: Equipment

  • No knots or hard billed hats

  • Arm holes must be less than 4’’

  • Matching colored jerseys, tucked in or cut 4 inches above the waist

  • A one-piece flag belt with three flags permanently attached is provided, it should be worn with a flag on each side and one in the center of the back

  • Pants or shorts must be a different color than the flags

  • Any and all dangerous equipment must be removed or properly covered prior to participation


Captains meeting

Captains Meeting

  • This is to be done every game at least 5 minutes prior to the start of the game


  • Set The Tone For The Entire Game

    • This is the first opportunity to let the teams know what kind of game to expect

    • Take control but don’t be pushy

    • Have fun but make sure you are taken seriously

Captains meeting1

Captains Meeting

  • Each crew member should introduce themselves and their position

  • Remind Captains that:

    • The clock only stops in the last 2 minutes of the second half (aside from timeouts)

    • Each team has two timeouts per half (1 in overtime)

    • They are the representative of the team that is allowed to talk to the officials about rule interpretations and questions

    • They are responsible for the conduct of their team

Answer any questions, wish both teams a good game, and administer the coin toss

Coin toss

Coin Toss

  • Toss of the Coin-Three minutes before the start of the game, the referee will conduct a captain's meeting in which he or she will designate which captain shall call the toss of the coin. 

  • The captain winning the toss will have a choice of options for the first half or shall defer his/her option to the second half:

    • to choose whether his or her team will start on offense or defense.

    • to choose the goal his or her team will defend

    • The captain, not having the first choice of options for a half, shall exercise the remaining option.

    • Please clarify with teams that if the other team defers they will have the option of having the ball at the beginning of the second half.

Pass run plays






3 person pass run coverage

3 person pass/run coverage

Goal line plays






3 person goal line coverage

3 person goal line coverage

Kick coverage plays






Pass run plays1







4 person pass run coverage

4 person pass/run coverage

Goal line plays1







4 person goal line coverage

4 person goal line coverage

Kick coverage plays1









  • Maintain the tempo of the game

    • 7 and 7 away from deepest back

  • Communicate with the rest of the officiating crew

  • Set the pucks and announce the down and line to gain

  • Blow the ready for play whistle and begin the play clock count

  • Count the offensive flag belts and give the proper signal to the Line Judge

  • Cover the Goal Line and End Line if needed

  • Keep your eyes on your area

    • Watch and follow the QB – even after the ball has been released


R position run pass plays



7 yards behind

7 yards outside


Line judge

Line Judge

  • Mark the new of line of scrimmage

  • Chop in the Referee to set the pucks

  • Count the offensive flag belts and give the proper signal to the Referee

  • Communicate with the Field Judge who is covering the Line to Gain

  • As the offense and defense line up, mark the offense line of scrimmage with your foot and raise the down on the same hand

  • Once everyone is in legal position, announce that the “Line is set!” and chop it in

  • Watch your area and move with the play accordingly


Lj position run pass plays









Field judge

Field Judge

  • Display the down

  • Initial position when starting possessions, 8-12 yards down field

    • Past 20 yd line on 1st & 2nd downs, come back to zone line on 3rd & 4th

  • Communicate to the Line Judge who is covering the zone line to gain or the goal line (‘My line’, ‘Your line’, ‘Split’, or ‘Bump’)

    • Explanation of terms

  • Count the defensive flag belts and give the proper signal to the Back Judge

  • Be prepared to move with the play and spot the end of the play at all times


Back judge

Back Judge

  • Display the down

  • Count the defensive flag belts and give the proper signal to the field judge

  • Watch your area and be in position for long runs or passes

    • Cover goal line or end line in goal line situations

      • Pick one line or the other

  • Do not get beat back by any players – your first step should always be backwards


The mobile box

The Mobile Box

Ready for play

Ready for Play

  • After the Referee has announced the down and line to gain, the ‘ready for play’ whistle will be blown

  • This is the signal that the ball is ready to be put into play

  • Meaning, the offense will have 25 seconds, counted silently by the referee, to snap the ball or be penalized for delay of game


Delay of game

Delay of Game

  • The following delay-of-game fouls carry a 5 yard penalty:

    • Violating the 25 second count

    • Snapping the ball before it is marked ready for play

    • Failure to properly wear legal or required player equipment when the ball is about to become live

Pre snap line is set

Pre-Snap: Line is Set

  • The offensive team must have at least 4 players on the line of scrimmage

    • Live Ball Penalty (Simult. w/ Snap)

  • All players must be within 15 yards of the ball before the snap (unless a defensive player is engaged against offensive player outside of hash marks)

  • Live ball penalty (Simultaneous w/ Snap)

  • Once the ball is set, no player may enter the neutral zone

If all those necessary rules are met than the Line Judge will determine that the “line is good” and the ball may be snapped legally

Pre snap motion

Pre-Snap: Motion

  • One offensive player may be in motion at the time of the snap, but not in motion toward the opponent's goal line.

  • If multiple players are in motion, all must set before the ball is snapped. A single player may then go back into motion for the snap.


The snap

The Snap

  • The ball must be snapped off of the ground behind the line of scrimmage

  • The ball may be side-snapped; it does not have to go through the snapper’s legs

    • Feet must be behind the ball when snapped

      • Use preventative officiating by R & LJ

  • The player who receives the snap must be at least 2 yards behind the Line of Scrimmage

    • Live ball penalty (Simult. w/ Snap)




  • Only one legal forward pass is allowed per down.

    • An Illegal Pass occurs when:

      • The passers foot is over the line of scrimmage

      • There is more than one forward pass per down

  • Every player is an eligible receiver

  • Any player may hand, pass, or lateral the ball backwards at any time, any number of times

    • The ball may also be handed forward

  • Passing1


    • On an incomplete pass, there should be one whistle, and one signal

      • Dual coverage areas may have 2 whistles & signals

    • If there is a backwards pass, yell “Back” and give the backward pass signal

      • If in doubt…the pitch was back


    Balls away

    Balls Away

    If the passer is de-flagged before releasing the ball, he has been sacked by the

    Defense, and the Referee marks the spot until the line judge can cover the spot.

    If the passer releases the ball before the defender de-flags them the Referee should yell, “Ball’s Away!” This denotes that the pass attempt has gone forward and may be legally caught.



    • Once a player receives possession of the ball they become a runner:

      • Runners may not cover or guard their flags in any way

      • Runners cannot stiff arm

      • Runners cannot charge into or bowl over an opponent

      • Hurdling is not allowed

      • Spinning is legal

    Flag belt removal

    Flag Belt Removal

    • Players must have possession of the ball before they can legally be de-flagged by an opponent

    • When a runner loses their flag belt accidentally play will continue

    • The runner can be ‘downed’ by a one (1) hand touch between the shoulders and knees

    Punting the ball

    Punting the Ball

    • A punt is only legal when it has been declared.

      • usually on 4th down.

      • the offensive captain may request to punt on any down.

    • The offensive team must meet the minimum line players requirement.

    • Neither team may cross their scrimmage line until the ball is kicked.

    Punting the ball1

    Punting the Ball

    • If a Team R player blocks the kick and:

      • it strikes the ground, the ball is dead and belongs to R.

      • it is caught by Team K behind the offensive team’s scrimmage line, K may advance the ball.

      • it is caught by Team K beyond the offensive team’s scrimmage line, the ball is dead and belongs to K.

    Punting the ball2

    Punting the Ball

    • If an untouched punt strikes the ground it remains live until Team K downs the ball or Team R recovers and advances it.

    • Once a punt is touched, it is dead when it next strikes the ground and belongs to R.

    Punting the ball3

    Team K may not punt the ball to a teammate.

    Team K may not punt the ball beyond the offensive team’s scrimmage line.

    The penalty for both is illegal kick which is penalized 10 yards using “all-but-one.”

    If K interferes with R’s opportunity to catch the kick, R has 3 options:

    the result of the play;

    a 10 yard penalty from the previous spot and replay of the down; or

    an awarded catch at the spot of the foul (no distance penalty).

    Punting the Ball

    Fouls during punts

    Fouls During Punts

    • With the exception of kick-catch interference, penalties for all fouls by Team K during a punt are enforced from the previous spot.

    • Penalties for Team R fouls during punts are enforced from the previous spot unless the foul is governed by post-scrimmage kick enforcement rules.

    First touching

    First Touching

    • Team K may not be the first to touch a kick beyond the offensive team’s scrimmage line.

      • If they do, it is a violation for first touching. This spot should be marked with a bean bag.

    • Once Team K may legally touch a kick, they may recover it.

    • If first touching occurs, Team R may take possession of the ball at the spot of first touching unless Team R touches the ball and thereafter commits a foul or any penalty against either team is accepted.

    Marking the end of the play

    Marking the End of the Play

    • The end of the run is spotted where the BALL is when the runner is de-flagged

      • NOT where the players body is or where the flags are

    • Since there is no contact and no forced fumbles, a player may reach out with the ball to gain extra yardage

    • Mark the end of the run with the downfield foot and the same arm in the air, displaying the next down

    Extending a period

    Extending a Period

    • A period is extended if, during the last timed down:

      • there is an accepted penalty for a live-ball foul not penalized as a dead-ball foul and does not include loss of down

      • there are offsetting fouls

      • there is an inadvertent whistle

      • a touchdown is scored

        • the period is extended for the try, unless the touchdown is scored as time expired in the 2nd half and the point(s) would not affect the outcome of the game

        • the period is not extended further when the defense fouls during a successful try and the offended team accepts the result of the play with enforcement of the penalty from the succeeding spot

    • If any of the above scenarios occur during the untimed down, the period will be further extended

    Live ball

    Live Ball

    • “A Dead Ball, after it is declared ready for play, becomes a Live ball when it is legally snapped”

      • The ball becomes Live when it is snapped

    • When a runner has possession

      • A receiver becomes a runner once they catch the ball

    • A pass or fumble that has not yet touched the ground is a loose live ball

    Dead ball

    Dead Ball

    The ball becomes dead when:

    • The runner is de-flagged or tagged

    • The ball goes out of bounds

    • Points are scored

    • The ball hits the ground as a result of an incomplete pass, ‘fumble’, muffed ball, bad snap, lateral, backward pass, etc.

    • Any part of the runner other than their hands or feet touches the ground

      • The ball is considered a part of the hand


    An officials whistle will always signal that the ball is dead



    • There are no fumbles in Flag Football

    • The ball will be spotted where it contacts the ground

    • Failed backward passes that touch the ground are considered fumbles

    • A player may not intentionally fumble to gain yards


    Two minute mechanics

    Two Minute Mechanics

    • The clock will now be run according to stop time based on NCAA rules

    • Communication, signals, and mechanics are key to keeping the crew on the same page

    • Until the final 2 minutes of the second half, the clock will run stopping only for Time-Outs

    • The clock will stop for the Two Minute Warning

      • May be under 2 minutes when blown by R



    Two minute mechanics1

    Two Minute Mechanics

    The clock will stop for a:

    • Incomplete legal/illegal forward pass: starts on snap

    • Out-of-bounds: starts on snap

    • Safety: starts on snap

    • Team time-out: starts on snap

    • 1st Down: depends on previous play

    • Touchdown: starts on the snap (after PAT)

    • Penalty & Administration: depends on previous play (Exception: Delay of game: starts on snap)

    • Referee’s time-out: starts at discretion

    • Touchback: starts on snap

    • The clock will stop for a:

      • Team A awarded a new series: depends on previous play

      • Team B is awarded a new series: starts on snap

      • Either team is awarded a new series following a legal punt: starts on snap

      • Team attempting to conserve time illegally: starts on ready

      • Team attempting to consume time illegally: starts on snap

      • Inadvertent whistle: starts on ready

    Momentum rule

    Momentum Rule

    When a player gains possession between their own 5 yard line and the goal line and their momentum carries them into their end zone, if the ball then becomes dead, via fumble or de-flagging, the team with possession will receive the ball at the spot where possession was initially gained.

    • A player is not penalized when their momentum carries them into their own end zone; it will not be a safety

    • In IM Football this is common on interceptions of long passes

    Penalties and enforcement

    Penalties and Enforcement

    Enforce all penalties in the order they occurred

    Types of Penalties:

    • Dead Ball

      (Blow Whistle, Throw Flag straight up in air,

      Stop the Play)

    • Live Ball

      (Throw Flag at spot of foul, NO WHISTLE, Play continues)

    • Simultaneous with the Snap

      (Throw Flag straight up in air, NO WHISTLE, Play continues)

  • A team always has the choice whether to Accept or Decline the yardage of a penalty


    5 yard penalties

    5 Yard Penalties

    • False Start or Encroachment (Dead Ball)

    • Illegal Snap (Dead Ball)

    • Delay of Game (Dead Ball)

    • Offensive Illegal Motion or Illegal Shift

    • Player Receiving the snap within 2 yards of the Scrimmage Line

    • Intentional Grounding (Loss of Down)

    • Illegal Forward Pass (Loss of Down)

    10 yard penalties

    10 Yard Penalties

    • Illegal Contact

    • Flag Guarding

    • Illegal Player Equipment

    • Personal Fouls

    • Roughing the Passer ( Automatic 1st)

    • Offensive Pass Interference (Loss of Down)

    • Defensive Pass Interference (Automatic 1st)

    • Unsportsmanlike Conduct

    Dead ball fouls

    False Start

    Illegal Snap


    Delay of Game

    Leaving the field on the wrong side

    Unsportsmanlike conduct

    Dead Ball Fouls

    • Whistle is blown immediately and the

    • flag is thrown up in the air

    • Enforced from the Succeeding Spot (the spot where the ball will be snapped from next)

    • Usually called by the Referee or the

    • Line Judge

    Penalties live ball fouls

    Penalties: Live Ball Fouls

    • Can happen during both running plays and loose ball plays

    • Whistle IS NOT BLOWN on any live ball foul!

    • Throw your penalty flag at the spot of the foul and keep following the play

    • Do not assume that there will be only one live ball foul, do not stop watching

    Let your mind digest what your eyes have seen

    Let Your Mind Digest What Your Eyes Have Seen

    “Decisions must be

    instantaneous and a

    ruling announced with

    minimal delay.

    Ensure improved

    instinctive reactions

    to play situations by

    reviewing all possible

    combinations of

    circumstances before

    each game.




    Penalty enforcement

    Penalty Enforcement

    • The Basic Spot of enforcement is determined by the type of play when the foul is committed

      • Running plays  End of the Run

      • Loose Ball plays  Preceding Spot (original LOS)

      • Dead Ball fouls  Succeeding Spot

        (the spot where the ball will be snapped from next)

      • Simultaneous to the Snap fouls  Succeeding Spot

      • Unsportsmanlike Conduct  Succeeding Spot

    Penalties and enforcement1

    Penalties and Enforcement

    • If two live ball penalties occur on one team, the other team must choose which penalty to accept

    • If live ball penalties occur on each team (does not matter how many) and are accepted, penalties will offset and the down will be replayed

    • If a live ball penalty occurs followed by a dead ball penalty, both penalties will be enforced

    Penalties and enforcement2

    Penalties and Enforcement

    • The line-to-gain will always be established after the ready for play whistle has been blown

    • Dead Ball penalties that occur after the whistle will not affect the down or line to gain

    • Penalties on the Defense on scoring plays will be assessed on the subsequent try for point or down, if accepted

    All but one principle

    All But One Principle

    Any foul committed by the offense behind the basic spot of enforcement is administered from the spot of the foul.


    Flag guarding

    Flag Guarding

    “Runners shall not flag guard by using their hands, arms, or the ball to deny the opportunity for an opponent to pull or remove the flag belt”

    Examples include:

    • Placing or swinging the hand or arm over the belt

    • Placing the ball in possession over the flag belt

    • Lowering the shoulders in such a manner which places the arm over the belt

      Penalty: 10 yards from the spot of the foul


    Flag guarding1

    Flag Guarding ?

    Screen block illegal contact

    Screen Block & Illegal Contact

    • This is a NON-CONTACT sport, and while there may be incidental contact due to the nature of the sport itself, it is to be avoided as much as possible

    • Time and Space are both factors that are considered in determining who is responsible for the contact

    • No player may use their hands or arms to gain an advantage on another player

    Screen blocking

    Screen Blocking

    A blocker must

    have their arms

    behind them or

    at their side

    and may not

    initiate contact

    with the runner.

    The blocker is entitled to their space as well; the runner cannot go through them, they must go around the blocking player.



    • Once the line is set, no player may:

      • Break the scrimmage line plane

      • Encroach the neutral zone,

      • Touch the ball (other than the snapper),

      • Touch any opposing players

    • This a Dead Ball Foul

    • 5 Yard Penalty


    False start

    False Start

    • No Offensive player shall simulate the start of a play. This includes ‘jumping the snap’ or encroaching the neutral zone prior to the snap

    • This is a Dead Ball Foul

    • 5 Yard Penalty


    Illegal snap

    Illegal Snap

    • The snap must be one continuous motion off of the ground

    • Snapper may not snap to themselves

    • This is a Dead Ball Foul

    • Player receiving the snap must be 2 yards off the Line of Scrimmage

      • Live Ball (Simult. w/ Snap)

    • 5 Yard Penalty


    Pass interference

    Pass Interference

    There are two types of Pass Interference:

    • Offensive

      • 10 yards from previous spot + Loss of Down

    • Defensive

      • 10 yards from previous spot + Automatic First Down

    Interference – Anything other than a “bona fide attempt to reach, catch, or bat a pass”

    This includes hindering an opponents vision or “face blocking”

    Unsportsmanlike conduct

    Unsportsmanlike Conduct

    Examples include:

    • Dissent

    • Taunting

    • Spiking or Kicking the ball

    • Illegal Equipment

    • Swearing

    • Deception or Unfair Acts

    • Certain Personal Fouls


    Unsportsmanlike Conduct is penalized by a loss of 10 yards

    Player ejection

    Player Ejection

    • 2 UC penalties on one player in a game = DQ

    • 3 UC penalties on a team in a game = Forfeiture

    • Flagrant Unsportsmanlike Penalties, such as unnecessary roughness and fighting, will result in instant player disqualification


    Special penalty enforcements

    Special Penalty Enforcements

    • Automatic First downs Penalties: Defensive Pass Interference, Roughing the Passer

    • Loss of Down Penalties: Illegal Forward Pass, Illegally Secured Flag Belt, Offensive Pass Interference, Intentional Grounding

    • Roughing the Passer = Succeeding Spot

    • Half the Distance - A penalty can never move the ball more than half the distance to any Goal Line, this usually occurs when within either 20YL

    Reporting a foul

    Reporting a Foul

    Once the play is over:

    • Blow your whistle with two short, loud blasts to get the referee’s attention so they don’t move the cones

    • Make sure the end of the run is being marked by another official (the final official should also guard the penalty flag on the field so that it is not moved)

    • Quickly tell the referee the foul, the team, and the spot where it happened

    Referee penalty enforcement

    Referee Penalty Enforcement

    The Referee will . . .

    • Confer with the official that threw the flag

    • Give a preliminary signal (pantomime) of what the foul was and what team committed it

    • Inform the offended captain of the foul and their options

    • Mark off the penalty yardage and move the pucks

    • Announce the penalty (both verbally and with the mechanic)

    • Announce the down and the new line to gain


    If in doubt rules

    “If In Doubt Rules”

    6. If in doubt, the player is on the scrimmage line.

    7. If in doubt, the passer

    is behind the Team A

    scrimmage line.

    8. If in doubt, it is not a foul.

    9. If in doubt, it is a


    10. If in doubt, it is a catch.

    1. If in doubt, the pass is


    2. If in doubt, the ball is


    3. If in doubt, the player

    receiving the snap is two

    yards back.

    4. If in doubt, the pass is


    5. If in doubt, the snap close

    to the ground remains live.

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