5v5 Youth 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.

5v5 Youth Flag Football Rules

AGE CUTOFF: January 1st of the Current Year. The World Championships in January is the only exception where January 1st of the previous year will be used as the final event of the previous calendar year. All players would have to be of the appropriate age for that division as of the age cutoff date in order to participate. All players are expected to produce their birth certificate or military ID at check-in for verifying the roster.

The Game

  • Game Time is FORFEIT TIME
  • Minimum 2 players to start a game.
  • A coin toss determines 1st possession. The team can elect to have offense, defense, defer or direction. Choice in the 2nd half will be awarded to the team that did not have the choice 1st half.
  • The offensive team takes possession of the ball at their 5-yard line and has four plays to cross mid-field. You may choose to “punt” on 4th down where you would forfeit the down and the opponent would start with the ball at their own 5 yard line. If you go for it on 4th down and do not get a first down or touchdown, the opponent would take over at the spot. Once a team crosses mid-field and achieves a first down they have three plays to score. If the offense does not score, the ball changes possession. All drives start from the 5-yard line with the exception of an interception.
  • No blocking is allowed. No contact is allowed.

The Field: The dimensions of the field are 60-64 yards long x 25 yards wide.  Each half will be 23-25 yards long with end zones being 7 yards.

Official Football:

  • 8U and below: Pee-wee or mini football, junior, and youth size ball allowed
  • 9U-13U: Junior and youth size ball allowed
  • 14U: Youth size ball (with option of using regulation high school sized ball)


  • Coaches are volunteers whose role it is to help young people learn to play and enjoy football. Parents are encouraged to support their youth and their coach at all times.
  • Coaches (1 Coach per Team) in the 8U and under divisions (only) are permitted on the field no close to assist players with their position alignment and mentoring on offense only (no coaches allowed on the field while on defense). At the snap, on-field coaches must be 5 yards behind the quarterback.
  • Coaches of all other age divisions may not come on to the field of play during a game unless a player is injured. Coaches who come on the field of play anytime during a game will be penalized. One sideline warning per game will be issued after which the following penalties will result:
      A) coach on the field during live action = unsportsmanlike conduct
      B) coach on the field during a dead ball = delay of game
  • Only three coaches per team are allowed on the sidelines. ONLY THE HEAD COACH CAN ADDRESS THE GAME OFFICIALS.


  • Players may NOT have pockets. Players may NOT have taped pockets. Players may NOT turn their shorts inside out.  Players may have shorts with pockets if they have been professionally sewn or if they have zippers and the zippers remained zipped up.
  • Teams also must have the same color shirts and have an alternative color (one dark color/one light color). They do not have to be official uniforms. If both teams are wearing the same color, there will be a coin toss, and the losing team will need to change into a different color.
  • Teams must wear NFL Youth, Youth Shruumz, or Sonic Flag-a-Tag flags (if custom flags are worn they must be of equal dimensions as Sonic flags). Flags will not be allowed that have been altered (cut, taped, etc.). Mushroom Flags are not allowed for youth. The flags cannot be the same color as a player’s shorts. Mouth guards are optional, but strongly encouraged.

Game Clock Format

  • Tournament clock is 25 minutes long. Two 12 minute halves and 1-minute halftime.
  • Each team has two 30 second timeouts PER GAME. If a time out is called after a TD the clock will not run until the change of possession and the offense snaps their ball.

First Half Clock

  • The clock will run continuously during the 12 minutes of the first half unless a team timeout is used or play is stopped by an official (e.g. deal with an injury, challenge, referee conference, game management purposes, etc.)
  • The head official will give a verbal two-minute warning (for rule specific changes inside 2 minutes)
  • The clock will run during point-after-touchdown attempts (PATs) in the first half unless the defense opts to use a team timeout.

Second Half Clock

  • In the second half the clock will run continuously for the first 11 minutes unless a team timeout or an official’s time out is used.
  • The one-minute warning will stop the clock in the second half.
  • The head official will give a verbal two-minute (for rule specific changes) and one-minute warning as close as possible to the actual marks but will not interrupt a live play.
  • At the one minute warning officials will use a ‘PRO/CLOCK’ mechanic for the remainder of the contest.
  • The time remaining on the clock will be announced after every play inside the final two minutes of the contest.



  • The quarterback may not run unless the ball has been thrown back, handed or pitched to him or her in the backfield in all divisions.
  • Teams may handoff unlimited times in the backfield. Divisions 13U and younger may not lateral or pitch at any time on the field. Divisions 14U and older may also execute unlimited laterals in the backfield and downfield. The player who receives the pitch or handoff may throw the ball as long as he or she is not fully beyond the line of scrimmage.
  • Handoffs are allowed in front or behind.
  • A forward pass DOES NOT have to cross the LOS to be a legal play.
  • If the ball is placed on the “Back” of ANY player, the player MUST run the ball (no give and go to the QB on the back)
  • No run zones are located 5 yards before mid-field and 5-yards before the end zone for all divisions 8U and older. You may not run the ball in the no run zone (5-yards before the first down and end zone), only forward passes are allowed.
  • Ball is spotted where the ball is at the time of the flag pull. The ball must break the plane of the midfield or goal line to be considered a first down or touchdown.
  • Players may NOT block down field in any form.


  • The quarterback has 7 seconds to pass the ball if there is no rush. If the ball is not thrown, then the play is dead. After the ball is ruled dead it is returned to the line of scrimmage.
  • Once the ball is handed off or pitched backwards the 7 second count stops. If the defensive team rushes, then there is no 7 second count.
  • There is no arm in motion, if the ball is in hand when the quarterback’s flag is pulled then it will be ruled a sack.
  • Interceptions may be returned.
  • The rusher may not have any contact with the QB (no hitting the QB arm or knocking the ball out of the QB hand).
  • If ANY part of the players body is behind the LOS it is a legal pass


  • All players are eligible to receive a pass, including the quarterback, if the ball has been pitched or handed off in the backfield.
  • Players must have at least one foot in bounds when making catch.
  • Players that run out of bounds during a play cannot be the first player to touch a ball when attempting to make a catch (this is a penalty Illegal touching). If the player is pushed out of bounds by a defender, then comes back into the play, he or she is still eligible to touch the ball first.

Play is Ruled Dead When

  • The offensive player’s flag is pulled.
  • Ball carrier steps out of bounds.
  • A touchdown is scored.
  • Any part of the body that is not hands or feet touches the ground. –
  • Incomplete pass.
  • Ball hits the ground.

*****If a player loses a flag unintentionally or starts a play with 1 flag on and receives the ball, the defense only has to touch the ball carrier, not pull the flag.


Rushing the Quarterback

  • Players that rush the quarterback must be a minimum of 7 yards from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped.
  • Rushing is ONLY allowed for 8U divisions and up and is NOT allowed for youth ages 7U and below.
  • The 7 yards will be measured off by a referee.
  • Players that are not 7 yards from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped may not enter into the backfield until there is a change of possession.
  • The rusher is allowed a direct lane to the quarterback as long as he or she rushes from either side of the center or outside the bunch formation. The offense must avoid interfering with the rusher if he or she has established a lane.

Pass Coverage:

  • Contacting receivers is not allowed
  • Pass interference normally occurs above the waist; entangled feet are not considered pass interference.
  • Incidental contact is not considered pass interference.
  • A player may use their arms or hands to intentionally obstruct the receiver’s view (face guarding) of the ball without turning their own head to play the ball as long as noteworthy contact is not made with the receiver.
  • If defensive pass interference occurs in the end zone the ball will be placed on the one-yard line, automatic first down.
  • Interceptions may be returned.
  • Interceptions in the end zone that are not returned to the field of play will result in a touchback and the ball will be spotted on the 5-yard line.
  • Contact away from the direction of the pass is not considered pass interference but may be considered illegal contact.
  • Whether a pass is catchable or uncatchable has no bearing on pass interference. The benefit of the doubt is given to the receiver.
  • Examples of pass interference include:
    • Shoving or pushing off to create separation.
    • Playing through the back.
    • Hook and turn: grabbing the torso and turning an opponent before the pass arrives.
    • Arm bars, hooking, restricting, grabbing wrists, or turning a receiver.      Blocking downfield before the ball has been touched, commonly seen through “pick plays”.


Touchdown · 6 points
Point After Touchdown (PAT) · 1 point from the 5-yard line (no-run zone in effect)

· 2 points from the 12-yard line, run, pass (outside of no-run zone)

· Interceptions returned on PAT’s are worth 2 points

Safety · 2 points

Point After Touchdown (PAT):

  • Following a touchdown, once the scoring team has informed an official of which point conversion choice they want to attempt the decision cannot be changed unless the scoring team uses a team timeout.
  • If a penalty occurs during an extra point attempt, the penalty will be assessed but the extra point value remains the same.
  • Decisions cannot be changed after a penalty. For example, if the offense attempts a 1-point PAT and is penalized five yards for a false start, they cannot change their mind and go for a 2-point PAT. They will still be attempting a 1-point try even if they call a timeout.
  • Defensive unsportsmanlike conduct, personal fouls, or roughing penalties during a successful touchdown attempt will be assessed at half the distance to the goal during the PAT attempt (e.g., 2-point PAT attempts will be spotted at the 6-yard line, 1-point PAT attempts will be spotted at the 2.5-yard line). All other defensive penalties may be declined by the offense and the score will stand.
  • Dead ball fouls committed by the offense that do not carry a loss-of-down penalty (false start) may result in penalty yardage assessed and the down replayed.
  • Fouls by the offense during a successful PAT attempt that carry a loss-of-down penalty (flag guarding, illegal advancement, illegal forward pass, etc.) will result in the PAT being no good.
  • Fouls committed by the offense in unsuccessful PAT attempts will be declined by the defense and the PAT will be “no good” and will not be replayed.
  • Fouls by the defense during an unsuccessful PAT attempt will result in a retry after the options are administered.
  • If the PAT-attempting team throws an interception and then commits a flagrant foul after the interception during the attempted return (physically contains the ball carrier; bear hugs, aggressively holds, tackles, etc. without making a clear, legal attempt to pull the ball carrier’s flag, the ball carrier will be awarded two points.

Overtime Extra Point Shoot-Out

  • A coin flip determines first possession, 1 timeout per OT period
  • Teams will go in reverse order if more then 1 OT is required
  • Teams can elect to go for 1 or 2 points
  • Winner will be determined once the value of the extra point exceeds the other teams attempt.


PENALTY CHANGES for inside 2 minutes of BOTH halves.

  • Defensive pass interference is a spot foul and will result in an automatic 1st down.
  • Intentional delay of game by the offense or defense, any team member, or fan will result in a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty
    • automatic 1st down (if committed by the defense)
    • LOD (if committed by the offense) and the clock will stop.

Penalty Charts:

Yardage Where is the Penalty Assessed? Result
Flag Guarding 5 Spot of foul Loss of Down
Illegal Advancement 5 Spot of foul Loss of down
Illegal Forward Pass 5 Previous spot Loss of down
Offensive Pass Interference 5 Previous spot Loss of Down
Defensive Pass Interference 15 Previous spot

**Spot foul under 2 min of 1st/2nd half

Automatic 1st Down


Yardage Where is the Penalty Assessed? Result
Personal Foul/Unnecessary Roughness 15 End of the play or previous spot whichever penalizes the offender more By the Offense: Loss of Down

By the Defense: Automatic 1st Down

Unsportsmanlike Conduct 15 End of the play or previous spot whichever penalizes the offender more By the Offense: Loss of Down

By the Defense: Automatic 1st Down

Roughing the Passer

  • Incidental
  • Intentional


515 Previous spot By the Defense: Automatic 1st Down


Yardage Where is the Penalty Assessed? Result
Delay of Game 5 Previous spot Replay down

** LOD, if 2 min or less

False Start 5 Previous spot Replay down

**LOD, if 2 min or less

Offside / Encroachment 5 Previous spot Automatic 1st down
Cool Down Period 0 No foul Player must sit out 5 plays


Yardage Where is the Penalty Assessed? Result
Illegal Substitution or Illegal Participation 5 Previous spot Replay down – dead ball
Illegal Shift or Illegal Motion 5 Previous spot Loss of down
Stripping or Attempted Stripping 5 Spot of the foul Automatic 1st down
Illegal Contact 5 Previous spot or spot of the foul By the Offense: Loss of Down

By the Defense: Automatic 1st Down

Early Flag Pull 5 Previous spot Automatic 1st Down
Illegal Touching 5 Previous spot Loss of down


Yardage Where is the Penalty Assessed? Result
Illegal Blocking 5 Spot foul or from previous spot if behind LOS Loss of down
Holding 5 Spot of the foul Automatic 1st down
Impeding the rusher 5 Previous spot Loss of down
Charging 5 Spot of the foul Loss of down
Last Man Rule 15 or


Spot of the foul Automatic 1st down

TD if inside the 5 yard line


BEACH Rule Modifications

For beach flag football, the size of the field is shrunk down to a 30 yard playing field, with 7 yard endzones and 25 yards wide. All teams will start with the ball on the 5 yard line with 25 yards and 4 downs to score as opposed to the 3 downs traditional to grass-style 5v5. All other rules remain the same.