SMYFFL NFL Flags Rules

                                    NFL Flag Basics

1. At the start of each game, captains from both teams shall meet at midfield for the coin toss to determine who shall start with the 
ball. The visiting team shall call the toss.
2. The winner of the coin toss gets the choice to either start the game on defense or receive the ball and take the first offensive 
possession. Teams may not choose to defer to second half choice.
3. The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has three (3) plays to cross midfield. .Once a team 
crosses midfield, it has three (3) plays to score a touchdown.
4. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team takes over on its 5-yard line.
5. If the offensive team fails to cross midfield, possession of the ball changes and the opposition starts its drive from its 5-yard line.
6. All possession changes, except interceptions, start on the offenses 5-yard line.
7. Teams change sides after the first half. Possession changes to whom ever started on defense to begin the game
8. The clock does not stop except under special circumstances under 2 minutes.

Note: There are no kickoffs, and no blocking is allowed.


1. The league provides each player with flag belts and each team with one football. Teams must use league provided footballs during all games. Teams can provide their own personal ball for use.
2. Players must wear shoes. Cleats are allowed, however cleats with exposed metal are not allowed and must be removed. Inspections must be made. 
3. Players may tape their forearms, hands and fingers. Players may wear gloves, elbow pads, and kneepads. Braces with exposed metals are not allowed.
4. Players must remove all watches, earrings and any other jewelry that the officials deem hazardous.
5. Official NFL FLAG jerseys must be worn during play.
6. Players jerseys must be tucked into the pants or shorts.
7. Pants or shorts with belt loops or pockets must be taped. Basketball shorts without pockets are recommended.
8. Shorts worn must be in contrast with flag colors (Blue/Red).

9. All players must wear a protective mouthpiece; there are no


1. A players age must fall within the specified age-range as of May 1st of the current year. Age will be verified by a valid birth certificate.

Players/Game Schedules

1.Teams must field a minimum of four players at all times.
2.Teams consist of 8-10 players five on the field, with up to five substitutes.
3. Home teams wear white jerseys, visiting teams wear dark jerseys.


  1. Games are played on a 50 minutes continuous clock. The clock WILL stop only on any TD or change of Possession under 2 minutes if the score is two Touchdowns or closer (14points).
    2. Halftime is between one (3) and five (5) minutes long.
    3. Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced.
    4. Each team has one 60-second and 30-second time out per half.
    5. Officials can stop the clock at their discretion.
    6. In the event of an injury the clock will stop and then restart when the injured player is removed from the field of play. If the clock is stopped due to an injured player, that player must sit out at least one play.
    7. If the score is tied at the end of 50 minutes, the GAME ENDS ON A TIE. Except in the playoffs.
    8. In tournament or playoff situations, an Overtime (OT) Period will be used to determine a winner. OT format is as follows:
    a Teams will play 1 Overtime period of 20 minutes, both team will have at least one possession on Offense .
    b. If teams are still tied after the initial 20 minutes of Overtime, each team will get one series of three downs starting from the opponent's team 7 yard line.
    c. First possession choice goes to the winner of regulation coin toss
    d. Each team gets a minimum of one possession
    e. All regulation period rules and penalties are in effect.
    f. There are no time-outs during 2nd OT period.
    g. Scoring teams can go for 1 or 2 point PAT


1. Touchdown: 6 points
2. PAT (Point After Touchdown) 1 point (5-yard line) or 2 points (10-yard line) .Note: PAT can be run or pass for 2 points.
3. Safety: 2 points
a. A Safety occurs when the ball carrier is declared down in his/her own end zone. They can be called down when their flags are pulled by a defensive player, their flag falls out, they step out of bounds or they hit the ground with their knee or arm. A Safety also occurs when there is an offensive penalty in the end zone.
4. A team that scores a touchdown must declare whether they wish to attempt a 1-pt. conversion (from the 5-yard line) or a 2-pt. conversion (from the 10-yard line). The PAT decision cannot be changed after a penalty.


1. Coaches are volunteer parents or family members helping the players learn and enjoy the game.
Parents are encouraged to support the coach at all time.
2. Coaches are expected to adhere to all NFL FLAG and SMYFFL philosophies, coaching guidelines and codes of conduct throughout the entire season including post season playoffs.
3. Only two coaches per team are allowed. (Mites 4U, Pony 6U and Mustang 8U Division one coach could coach on the field on offense and defense)

Live Ball/Dead Ball

1. The ball is live at the snap of the ball and remains live until the official whistles the ball dead.
2. The official will indicate the neutral zone and line of scrimmage. It is an automatic dead ball foul if any player on defense or offense enters the neutral zone. In regards to the neutral zone, the official may give both teams a courtesy neutral zone notification to allow their players to move back beyond the line.
3. A player who gains possession in the air is considered in bounds as long as one foot comes down in the field of play
4. The ball must be snapped between the legs, not off to one side, to start play.
5. The defense may not mimic the offensive team signals, by trying to confuse the offensive players, while the quarterback is calling out signals to start the play.
6. Substitutions may be made on any dead ball.
7. Any official can whistle the play dead.
8. Play is ruled dead when:
a. The ball hits the ground. (except Mites & Pony Snap, only QB can get the ball)
b. The ball carriers flag is pulled.
c. The ball carrier steps out of bounds.
d. A touchdown, PAT or safety is scored.
e. The ball carriers knee or arm hits the ground.
f. The ball carriers flag falls out.
g. The receiver catches the ball while in possession of one flag.
h. The 7 second pass clock expires.(except Mites & Pony only on the no run zone)
i. An inadvertent whistle occurs (at the spot where the ball was whistled dead).
9. In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the offense has two options:
a. Take the ball where the whistle blown made the play dead.
b. Replay the down from the original line of scrimmage.

Note: There are no fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball hits the ground.


1. The ball is spotted where the runners feet are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball carrier has the ball.If one foot precedes the other, the forward foot marks the spot.
a. For 1st Downs and Goal Lines, the ball , feet AND entire Flag Belt must cross the line.
2. The quarterback cannot directly run with the ball. - (Mites & Pony Division Exempt).
3. Only direct handoffs behind the line of scrimmage are permitted. Offense may use multiple handoffs.
5. No-Run Zones, located 5 yards before each end zone and 5 yards on either side of midfield, are designed to avoid short-yardage, power-running situations. Teams are not allowed to run in these zones IF the subsequent line is LIVE. (Reminder: Each 
offensive squad approaches only TWO No Run Zones in each drive - one 5 yards from midfield to gain the first down, one 5 yards from the goal line to score a TD 5 yards). (Mites Division Exempt).
6. The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage.
7. Once the ball has been handed off in front or behind the quarterback, all defensive players are eligible to rush.
8. Diving, leaping or jumping forward is considered flag guarding.
9. Spinning is allowed.
10. No blocking or screening is allowed at any time.
11. Offensive players must stop their motion once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage. No running with the ball carrier.
12. Flag Obstruction All jerseys MUST be tucked in before play begins. The flags must be on the players hips and free from obstruction. Deliberately obstructed flags will be considered flag guarding.


  1. All players are eligible to receive passes (including the quarterback if the ball has been handed off or one lateral/pitch behind the line).
  2. Only one player is allowed in motion at a time. All motion must be parallel to the line of scrimmage and no motion is permitted towards the line of scrimmage.
  3. A player must have at least one foot inbounds when making a reception.
  4. In the case of simultaneous possession by both an offensive and defensive player, possession is awarded to the offense.
  5. Interceptions are returnable


1. All passes must be from behind the line of scrimmage, thrown forward or Forward from the QB.(except for the one lateral pass per half)
2. Shovel passes are allowed must be thrown in front of the QB.
3. The quarterback has a seven-second pass clock. Mite Division Exempt, Pony division will need to pass ball on the no rune zone). If a pass is not thrown within the seven seconds, play is dead, the down is consumed and the ball is returned to the line of scrimmage. Once the ball is handed off, the 7-second rule no longer is in effect.
a. If the QB is standing in the end zone at the end of the 7-second clock, it will count as a sack (safety ) defense awarded 2 points. - 
4. Interceptions are returnable.

Rushing the Quarterback

1. All players who rush the passer must be a minimum of seven yards from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. (Mites 3 yards & Pony Division 5 yards from the line of Scrimmage) Any number of players can rush the quarterback. Players not rushing the quarterback may defend on the line of scrimmage as 
long as there is a one yard buffer from the line of scrimmage.
2. Once the ball is handed off, the seven-yard rule no longer is in effect and all defenders may go behind the line of scrimmage.
3. A special marker, or the referee, will designate a Rush Line seven, five or three yards from the line of scrimmage. Defensive players should verify they are in the correct position with the official on every play.
a. A legal rush is:
i. All Defensive rushes that start behind the designated 7yd marker and are within 2 football lengths from the marker itself.
ii. A rush from anywhere on the field AFTER the ball has been handed off by the quarterback.
iii. .If a rusher leaves the rush line early, they may return to the rush line, reset and then legally rush the quarterback.
iv. If a rusher leaves the rush line early and the ball is handed off before they cross the line of scrimmage,they may legally rush the quarterback.
b. A penalty may be called if:
i. The rusher leaves the rush line before the snap and crosses the line of scrimmage before a
handoff or pass Illegal Rush (5 yards and first down).
ii.. Any defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped Offsides (5 yards and first down).
iii. Any defensive player, not lined up at the designated 7yd rush marker crosses the line of scrimmage before the ball is passed or handed Illegal Rush (5 yards and first down).
c. Special circumstances:
i. Teams are not required to rush the quarterback, seven second clock in effect.
ii. Teams are not required to identify their rusher before the play, however if they do send a rusher,the rusher must begin there rush from the 7yd rushing marker.
iii. If rusher leaves the 7-yard line before the snap, he/she may immediately drop back to act as a defender with no offside penalty enforced.
4. Players rushing the Quarterback may attempt to block a pass. However, NO contact can be made with the quarterback or passer in any way. The defense may attempt to block a pass provided they do not strike the passer.
6. Blocking the pass and then striking the passer will result in a 10-yard penalty and automatic 1st down.
7. A Sack occurs if the QBs flags are pulled behind the line of scrimmage. The ball is placed where the QBs feet are when the flag is pulled.
a. A Safety is awarded if the sack takes place in the offensive teams end zone.

Flag Pulling

1. A legal flag pull takes place when the ball carrier is in full possession of the ball.
2. Defenders can dive to pull flags, but cannot tackle, hold or run through ball carrier when pulling flags.
3. It is illegal to attempt to strip or pull the ball or pull from the ball carriers possession or Quarterbacks Hand at any time.
4. If a players flag inadvertently falls off during the play, the player is down immediately upon possession of the ball and the play ends.
5. A defensive player may not intentionally pull the flags off of a player who is not in possession of the ball.
6. Flag guarding is an attempt by the ball carrier to obstruct the defenders access to the flags by stiff arming, dropping of head, hand, arm or shoulder, or intentionally covering flags with the football or jersey.


1. An offensive team must have a minimum of one player on the line of scrimmage (the Center) and up to four players on the line of scrimmage.The quarterback must be off the line of scrimmage.
a.Only one player is allowed in motion at a time 1-yard beyond and parallel to the line of scrimmage.
b. One motion is allowed towards the line of scrimmage.
2. Offensive players must come to a complete stop for one second before the ball is snapped unless he/she is the one player in motion.
3. Movement by a player who is set or a player who runs toward the line of scrimmage while in motion is considered a false start.
4. The center must snap the ball with a rapid and continuous motion between his/her legs to a player in the backfield, and the ball must completely leave his/her hands. The person who takes the initial snap from the center is considered the Quarterback 
regardless of position on the field.

                       Unsportsmanlike Conduct

1. If the field monitor or referee witnesses any acts of intentional tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking, or any unsportsmanlike act,the game will be stopped and the player will be ejected from the game. The decision is made at the referees discretion. No appeals! FOUL PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
2. Offensive or confrontational language is illegal. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. If offensive or confrontational language occurs, the referee will give one warning. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the 
3. Players may not physically or verbally abuse any opponent or official.
4. Ball carriers MUST make an effort to avoid defenders with an established position.
5. Defenders are not allowed to run through the ball carrier when pulling flags.
6. Fans must also adhere to good sportsmanship:
a. Yell to cheer on your players, not to harass officials or other teams.
b. Keep comments clean and profanity free.
c. Compliment ALL players, not just one child or team.
7. Fans are required to keep fields safe and kids friendly:
a. Keep younger kids and equipment such as coolers, chairs and tents away from the sidelines.


1. The referee will call all penalties.
2. Referees determine incidental contact.
3. All penalties will be assessed from the line of scrimmage, except as noted (spot fouls).
4. Only the team captain or head coach may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretations. Players cannot question judgment calls.
5. Two forms of penalties are assessed: live ball and dead ball. Live ball penalties must be assessed before the play is considered completed.
6. Penalties will be assessed half the distance to the goal line if the distance to the goal line is less than the penalty yardage.

ii. 5 Yard Penalties
Illegal Equipment
Illegal motion (more than one person moving, false start, etc.)
Offensive pass interference (illegal pick play, pushing off/away defender)
Screening, Blocking or Running with the ball carrier
Delay of game
Defense Illegal flag pull (before receiver has ball)
Defense Illegal rushing (starting rush from inside 7-yard marker)

iii. 10 Yard Penalties
Roughing the passer
Defense Illegal contact (holding, blocking, etc.)
Flag Guarding

iiii. 15 Yard Penalties
Any Unsportsmanlike conduct:
Offensive Charging

Players may NOT throw pulled flags to the ground. They must hand them either to the player it belongs to or the official.

If penalty occurs while scoring a touchdown, the offense will receive a 10 yard penalty from the yard line of PAT attempt after 
touchdown (one warning to the player and team before ejection).

Spot Fouls
Flag guarding - 10 yards & loss of down
Defensive Pass Interference - Automatic first down from spot of penalty
Stripping - 10 yards and first down
Unnecessary Roughness -15 yards & loss of down
Defensive Illegal contact - 10 yards and automatic 1st down
Offensive Charging - 15 yards & loss of down

Offside -5 yards from the LOS & automatic first down
Interference - Spot foul and automatic first down
Illegal flag pull (Before receiver has ball) - 5 yards LOS and automatic first down
Illegal rushing (Starting rush from inside 7-yard marker) - 5 yards LOS and automatic first down
Roughing the passer -10 yards LOS and first down
Illegal contact (holding, blocking) - Spot foul,10 yards and automatic first down
Unnecessary Roughness - Spot foul, 15 yards and first down
Stripping - Spot foul, 10 yards and first down

Illegal motion (More than one person moving, false start, etc.) Play Dead Immediately - 5 yards LOS and loss of down
Offensive pass interference (Illegal pick play, pushing off/away defender) - 5 yards LOS and loss of down
Flag guarding - Spot foul, 10 yards & loss of down
Screening, Blocking or Running with the ball carrier - 5 yards LOS and loss of down
Charging - Spot foul, 15 yards & loss of down In Addition: That player be given a warning and will sit out the rest of that series. Repeat infraction will result in ejection from game.
Delay of game - 5 yards LOS and loss of down

Referees determine incidental contact that may result from normal run of play.

Halftime and the Final play of the game cannot end on a defensive penalty, unless the offense declines it.
SMYFFL Additional Rules:

Defensive plays in which a player is clearly NOT going for the flag to make a play will result in warning & 15 yard penalty. If the same Defensive player repeats the infraction sometime during the course of the game, he will be ejected from the remainder of the game. The defensive rusher/s may attempt to block the pass but it is a penalty to make contact with the quarterback�s body or arm.

Coaches are responsible for their Parents actions on the sidelines. If a referee at any time feels a parents conduct is detrimental to the game, a warning will be given to the coach. If it still persists, a 10 yd penalty and automatic 1st down will result if on defense. 
If on offense,10 yds and loss of down. A third infraction will result in that parent being asked to leave the field or the game will be forfeited. This includes but is not limited too: Yelling at the referees, opposing players, coaches or sidelines.

The Field

1. The field size is 30 yards by 65 yards with
two 7-yard end zones and a midfield line-to-gain.
No-Running Zones precede each line-to-gain by 5 yards.
2. No Run Zones are in place to prevent teams from
conducting power run plays. While in the No Run Zones, teams may not run the
ball in any fashion. All plays, including those that begin
with a handoff, must be pass plays.
3. Stepping on the boundary line is considered out of bounds.
4. Each offensive squad approaches only TWO No Run Zones
in each drive (one zone 5 yards from midfield to gain the
first down, one zone 5 yards from the goal line to score a TD).