5 on 5 Contact Flag Football Rules


Every style of flag football that we offer first utilizes our common-to-all rules as a baseline for each format. These rules are meant to standardize the game in areas where each style should be synchronized to be easier for players and officials alike to understand the basics of the game from one format to another.

Read these rules first, as they apply to every style we offer, then also make sure and check out the style-specific rules below that are unique to this format.

Format: 5 Man Contact. Rules have been modified by league directors to fit the playing style of the FFWCT.

The Field: The dimensions of the field are 60 yds. x 25.  Each half will be 23 yards with end zones being 7 yards.

Official Football:

  • Men: shall use the regulation size ball.
  • Women: shall use regulation, intermediate, or junior.


  • Length:
    • Flags must be at least 16 inches from bottom of the clip and 1 7/8 inches wide. Flag length will be measured from the official Flag-a-Tag pop flags.
    • Altered or tampered flags in anyway could result in an ejection or forfeit. No shortening, cutting, etc. Youth size flags may not be worn in adult leagues / tournaments.

***Director will make final ruling if challenged.  If the director determines that the flag was tampered or altered, he / she will determine if the player is ejected from the game.  There will also be a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and loss or down (offense) or automatic first down (defense).

  • Types:
    • Any pop flag to include Flag-a-Tags standard pop flag and mushroom poppers are allowed. If you have a question regarding the type of flag you have, please see the director at the field for additional clarification.

Duration of Games: Tournament clock is 25 minutes long. Two 12-minute halves and a 1-minute halftime.  Last Minute of the Second Half will enforce Regulation Timing Rules (NFL Clock). 2 Timeouts per game (30 seconds).  If a time out is called after a TD the clock will not run until the change of possession and the offense snaps the ball. Clock does not stop in the 1st half unless a timeout is used or a referee stoppage.

Game Clock:  Each time the ball is spotted the offensive team has 25 seconds to snap the ball. (Officials will warn the offense when there are 10 seconds left to snap the ball). Teams must wait until the referees are set or a referee acknowledges they are prepared to start the play. The clock will not stop unless a team calls a time out, a referee stoppage or an injured player with the exception of the last minute of regulation explained below.  The referees will warn the team 1 minute before the half is about to expire, but the clock will not stop.

Mercy Rule: No Mercy Rule during pool play games.  If a team is up by 17 points or more during tournament play at the 1-minute warning in the second half the game will be called.

Tournament Seeding for Brackets: Overall record, then head to head record, then Point Differential, then points for, then points against, then coin flip.

Roster Limit: Each team is allowed 15 designated roster spots. Rosters must be turned in prior to your teams first game.

Start of Games: Game time is forfeit time. Your team is required to be properly equipped and, on the field, ready to play when the referee blows the whistle to start the game. Start of games occurs with the lower seeded team calling the coin-toss prior to the flip to decide who gets possession of the ball first.  The winner of the coin-toss will have the option to defer or take the ball at their own 5-yard line.  Direction will automatically switch in the 2nd half.

The offensive team takes possession of the ball at their 5-yard line and has three plays to cross mid-field (first down). Once a team crosses mid-field, they have three plays to score. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession. All drives start from the 5-yard line except interceptions which will be spotted where the player is deflagged.  Penalties that result in a first down will give the offense 3 more plays to achieve mid-field (first down) or if the penalty puts the LOS past mid-field, then 3 plays to score.

Coaches and Players: Coaches and players must stay out of the restricted areas.  The restricted areas are inside the 5-yard line on both ends of the field.  You must also stay 2 yards from the sideline for the safety of the players on the field and the officials who may be running the sidelines to be in position to make a call.  Any coach/ player that comes out on the field from the sideline to argue a call or a play, will be assessed a timeout PERIOD!  If the team is out of timeouts, the player or coach will be assessed and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Minimum 3 players to start a game

CONTACT IS ALLOWED:  Open hand contact allowed between shoulder and waist

Scoring:  Extra points are worth 1 from the 5 or 2 from the 12.  Extra points can be returned and the team returning if they score, will be awarded 2 points regardless of what the extra point attempt was for. If there is ANY penalty on the ensuing return (live ball) by the original offensive team that is not canceled out by offsetting penalties, tha team returning the interception will be awarded an extra point try for 2 points from the 12.  Offsetting penalties during the extra point interception will result in change of possession and no further extra point attempts by either team. If the returning team commits any penalty, the extra point will be no good and change of possession will occur.

Rushing the QB:  Players may rush from anywhere as long as any part of their body is not across the LOS.

Running:  All offensive players may run the ball at any time, except in the no-run zones which are located 5 yards before mid-field and 5 yards before the goal line only in the direction that the offense is going.  No run zones are enforced when the LOS is established with in the designated areas.  You can not throw a backward pass (lateral) or a forward pass that is caught behind the LOS and run the ball.  These are still considered run plays.  There is NO scenario where the original LOS is inside the NO RUN ZONE where a player can run the ball.

Charging: The offensive player must avoid the defender if they are set.

Crackback and Blindside Blocking: Crackback Blocking and Blindside blocking is NOT allowed. Crack-back block is a blind-side block on a player by an opponent who starts downfield and then cuts back toward her own goal line to make contact.  A blind-side block is engaging an opponent other than the runner who does not see the blocker approaching.

Spot of the Ball:  The spot of the ball will be where the ball is when the player is deflagged.  To avoid a safety, the ball must be COMPLETELY out of the end zone when the player is deflagged.

Blocking Down Field: Blocking downfield is only allowed once the ball is completed downfield.  Players may block downfield for all running plays or when the pass is behind the LOS except when the LOS is established inside the no run zone.  Offensive players blocking downfield before the ball is thrown downfield will be assessed a pass interference penalty (5 yards from the LOS).

Inadvertent Whistle: At the time of the inadvertent whistle, the team with the possession of the ball, has the option of replaying the down or the result of the play.  If the inadvertent whistle happens while the ball is in the air, the play is dead and the down will be replayed from the original LOS. If a penalty marker is thrown prior to the inadvertent whistle, an accepted penalty will be administered as in any other play situation. When the foul is accepted, the inadvertent whistle is disregarded.

Center Snaps: Must be between the legs. The center can snap it to anyone on the field as long as that player is not lined up on the LOS.

Fumbles: Dead at the spot.  Muffs or Kickoff and Punts are dead at the spot of the muff.  If a player pitches the ball or is running and the ball pops out legally (not punched out), the ball is live and can be caught by the defensive team and advanced. Result will be change of possession.

Jamming of the Receiver: Defensive players can Jam the receiver at the line and up to 5 yards downfield. However, you cannot hold, trip or grab the receiver.

Center: The Center is protected when he snaps the ball.  The Center cannot be touched until he/she picks up their head and takes one step towards his/her pattern or assumes a blocking position.

Intentional Grounding: This is defined in flag as the QB throwing the ball away to avoid a sack. Intentional Grounding can occur ANYWHERE behind the LOS. The QB can spike the ball within 1 minute of the 2nd half to stop the clock, but he/she must catch the snap and throw it to the ground immediately. Intentional Grounding is a spot foul and loss of down.

All Offensive Penalties Behind the LOS: Will be assessed from the LOS except Flag Guarding which will be assessed from the spot of the foul or 10 yards from the LOS whichever is deemed to be considered the greater loss of yardage.  Flag guarding or holding in the endzone will result in safety.

Motion: Only one player can be in motion at the snap of the ball.  Players can move around, but must be set for at least 1 second before the snap.

Passing:  There is no 5 second count to pass the ball if not rushed.

Line of Scrimmage (LOS):  Only the center needs to be lined up on the LOS

Interceptions:  Interceptions may be returned.

Last man rule:  There is no last man rule, however, if a player(s) or coach(s) leaves the sideline and disrupts the play or the offensive player from scoring, the offensive team may be awarded a touchdown.

If the last defensive player physically contains the ball carrier (e.g., bear hugs, aggressively holds, pushes the ball carrier out-of-bounds, tackles, attempts to tackle, etc.) without making a clear, legal attempt to pull the ball carrier’s flag, the offensive team will be awarded at least one line-zone-to-gain distance from the spot of foul and an automatic first down.

Officials have the discretion to award a touchdown if the foul occurred inside the final line-zone-to-gain and they reasonably believe the foul is the only thing that prevented the ball carrier from scoring.

Receiving:  All players are eligible to receive a pass, including the original quarterback, only if the ball has been pitched back or handed off (backwards) behind the line of scrimmage. Players must have at least one foot in bounds when making a catch. Players that run out of bounds during a play cannot be the first player to touch the ball when attempting to make a catch unless the player is forced out of bounds, he/she then must first re-establish his position in bounds before he can touch the ball.  Players must have at least 1 foot inbounds when catching the ball in order for it to ruled a completion.

Play is ruled dead when:  The offensive player’s flag is pulled. Ball carrier steps out of bounds, touchdown is scored, the ball carriers’ knee touches the ground, an incomplete pass and/or anytime the ball hits the ground. If a player loses a flag unintentionally, the defense only has to touch the ball carrier with one hand, not pull the flag.

No Flags on to start the play: This is not a penalty, but a violation that will require the player to be leave the field or find his / her flag before beginning the next play.  If a player does not have his or her flag on before the snap, the play will continue and the result of the play will be the result of the play.  However, a player cannot play more than two plays without his or flag on to start the play.  If this occurs, illegal participation will be called and the offense / defense will be assessed a 5-yard penalty and replay the down.

*** If a player starts the play without their flag and that player catches the ball, that player will be down at the spot of where the player caught the ball.
*** If a players flag falls off during the play and the receiver catches the ball, they MUST be touched with one hand after the catch to be considered down.

No Diving: No intentional diving forward is allowed.  However, players may jump, spin and leave their feet to advance the ball as long as they are not creating contact with the defense.

Handoff, Pitch or Throwback:  Teams may handoff, pitch, or throw back the football in the backfield. The player who receives the pitch or handoff (backwards) may throw the ball as long as he is not beyond the line of scrimmage. Unlimited pitching (backwards) behind or beyond the LOS is allowed.

Forward Pass: A forward pass does not have to cross the line of scrimmage to be a legal play. Only one forward pass per down.  A forward pass caught behind the LOS is considered a run play.

Sportsmanship / Roughing: Trash talking will not be tolerated. The official has the right to determine language that is offensive. (Trash talking is language that may be considered offensive to the official, opposing team, or spectators). The official may eject players from the game for trash talking. If the official witnesses any act of tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, or any other sportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped and the player will be ejected from the game.

Penalties: Teams can accept any penalty and not the yardage.  Example:  3rd down and 3 yards to go for a first down (mid-field).  The defensive team jumps offside, the offensive team can accept the penalty and decline the yards. Result of the play will be 1st down and mid-field.

Overtime:  A coin flip determines first possession. 1st Overtime – Each team will receive the ball at mid-field and have 3 plays to score unless there is a penalty that dictates additional downs. Each additional overtime the ball will be placed at the 12-yard line with 3 plays to score.  This will continue until there is a winner.  Each team will have 1 timeout per overtime.  After the first overtime, the team that has the ball last, will have the ball to start the next overtime and continue switching this way until there is a winner.  There is no Overtime in pool play games. If a team scores, they must attempt the extra point unless that score is the game winner.  Interceptions can be returned for touchdown or on an extra point attempt.

Championship Game Overtime Rules (Sudden Death): Overtime will start with a coin-toss. The home team will announce heads or tails prior to the flip of the coin. Full game clock will be used (two 12-minute halves). Teams will start on their own 5-yard line unless an interception is thrown. The spot will then be where the player is deflagged during the interception. Each team will receive at least one possession. If the score is tied after each team has received a possession, then the next team that scores wins. Interceptions can be returned.


  • Players may not have pockets and may not tape pockets in any way. Only professionally sewn or zippers are fine.
  • It is recommended that all players must wear a protective mouthpiece.
  • Only Sonic Flags are allowed and may not be altered in any way. Flags that are cut due to local league policies are prohibited.
  • Same color shirts are mandatory – you do not need numbers or matching logos, you only need the same color shirt.
  • Referees reserve the right to negate touchdowns or remove players from the game if they are not following our uniform rules.

Defensive Penalties

Off-Sides/Encroachment (dead ball):  If a defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage, the play is automatically whistled dead and is assessed as an encroachment penalty (5 yards) and replay the down. 2nd offense during the same play is a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down.

Holding: 5 yards from the spot of the foul and automatic 1st down.  *Note the officials will determine incidental contact which may result from normal run of play.

Roughing the Passer:  Roughing the passer is a 10-yard penalty automatic first down.  This includes a defensive a player hitting the ball while the ball is in the QB’s hands or the QB hitting the defensive player during his or her follow through “NATURAL” motion.  A defensive player can knock the ball down, but the ball must leave the QB’s hand.

Pass Interference:  10 yards or Spot foul whichever is greater and automatic first down. Face guarding is NOT considered Pass Interference as long as no contact is made.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct:  15 yards or half the distance from the goal line (depending on spot) and automatic first down. (2 will result in an ejection from the game)

Unnecessary Roughness:  15 yards or half the distance from the goal line. (1st offense could result in an ejection from the game)

***All defensive penalties not defined above are five yards from the line of scrimmage and replay the down.

***All penalties can be accepted or denied by the defense.

Offensive Penalties

Flag Guarding and Holding:  5 yards from the spot of the foul (not from the LOS) and loss of down.  If the player achieves the first down after the mark off, then offensive will start with 1st and goal.  *for flag guarding behind the LOS, see above rule.

False Start (dead ball): 5 yards, replay the down.

Illegal Motion (live ball):  5 yards, replay the down.

Delay of Game:  5 yards and loss of down.

Pass interference: 5 yards from the LOS and loss of down (illegal pick, pushing off defender).

Stiff Arming:  Considered flag guarding.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct:  15 yards or half the distance from the goal line (depending on spot) and automatic first down. (2 will result in an ejection from the game)

Unnecessary Roughness:  15 yards or half the distance from the goal line. (1st offense could result in an ejection from the game)

***All offensive penalties not defined above are five yards from the line of scrimmage and replay the down.

***All penalties can be accepted or denied by the offense.