8v8 Contact Rules – Men’s & Women’s

THE FOLLOWING 8V8 CONTACT FLAG FOOTBALL RULES FOR MEN AND WOMEN ARE FFWCT APPROVED.

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. 

General Description:

  • Eight offensive and eight defensive players are allowed on the field during live plays.
  • A minimum of six players must be fielded to start or continue a contest.
  • All players are eligible receivers.
  • Offensive teams have four downs to successfully advance to the next zone-line-to-gain and earn a new set of downs.
  • Zone lines-to-gain markers are located at the 20-, 40-, 40-, and 20-yard lines on a 100-yard field.
  • If an 80-yard field is used, line-to-gain markers are located on the 20-, 40-, and 20-yard lines.
  • Style of flags used will be announced by the tournament director prior to the event.
  • The ball will be spotted where the ball was at the time of the flag pull or the ball in possession left the field-of-play.
  • Game officials will revert to the current National Federation of State High School Association rules for any item not specifically covered in this rule book.

Game Clock:

  • Games are 40 minutes (two 20 minute halves).
  • Halftime is two minutes.
  • Each team will have two time outs per half.
  • Time outs will not roll over from the first half to second half.
  • The clock will run continuously during the first 18 minutes of each half unless a team timeout is used or play is stopped by an official (e.g. deal with an injury, challenge, referee conference, etc.)
  • A “stop-clock” or “pro-clock” will be in effect in the last two minutes of the first and second half, unless the point differential is greater than 17 points in the last two minutes of the second half.
  • The head official will give a verbal two-minute warning as close as possible to the actual two-minute mark but will not interrupt a live play.
  • The two-minute warning will stop the clock.
  • The time remaining on the clock will be announced after every play inside the final two minutes of the contest.
  • The clock will not run during point-after-touchdown attempts (PATs) in last two minutes of each half.

OFFENSE:

  • The offensive may not have more than four players in the backfield at the snap.
  • Only one offensive player may be in motion at the snap and that motion must be parallel to the line-of-scrimmage.
  • Players who go in motion do not count as “being on the line”.
  • The ball must be snapped from the ground in a fluid and continuous motion between the center’s legs.
  • There are no required distances between the center and other offensive players on the line.
  • No offensive player may start a play closer than five yards from the sideline

Blocking:

  • Contact blocking is allowed between the shoulders and waist only (a.k.a. “inside the frame”).
  • All blocking outside the notional or traditional ‘free blocking zone’ must INITIATE with open hands and not the elbows/shoulders (i.e. players cannot begin a block with their shoulders). The ‘free blocking zone’ is a rectangular area extending four yards on either side of where the ball is snapped and three yards on either side of scrimmage.
  • Blockers must be on their feet before, during and after contact is made with their opponents.
  • No contact of any kind is allowed above the shoulders of an opponent.
  • Illegal blocks include:
    1. Leading with the shoulder outside the ‘free blocking zone’
    2. Low/chop/cut blocks: An attempt by a player to block an opponent at the thigh level or lower.
    3. Crack-back block: A blind-side block on a player by an opponent who starts downfield and then cuts back toward the original spot of the ball to make contact.
    4. Blind-side block: Engaging an opponent who does not see the blocker approaching with anything other than fully extended arms and open palms.
    5. Clipping: A player hitting an opponent from behind.
    6. Tripping: A player using their leg or foot to stop an opponent’s forward motion.
    7. Hook or hug block: A player gaining advantage of an opponent by turning or detaining the opponent by illegally tackling or using arms around the body, waist, shoulders or arms.
    8. Rolling blocks: A player on the ground attempting to block or engage an opponent by moving or turning over and over on an axis.
    9. Dive blocks: A player leaving there feet to engage an opponent.
    10. Making contact with an opponent while swinging or flipping hands, arms or elbows.
    11. Slapping, punching, or swinging at an opponent with hands, arms or elbows.
    12. Grabbing or holding an opponent’s jersey while blocking.
    13. Interlocking of blocker’s fingers or hands.
    14. Laying on a downed defender
  • Swim moves (a player using a maneuver similar to a freestyle swimming stroke to get past an opponent) are legal. However, if the swim move results in contact to an opponent above the shoulder (neck, head, or face) it is illegal.
  • Downfield blocking for the ball carrier is allowed.
  • Blocking downfield while the ball is in the air is pass interference except if the pass is behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Two-on-one blocking is permitted as long as both blockers are engaging the opponent above the waist.
  • If a player turns to expose their back, it is not an illegal block as long as their opponent maintains contact with the player from the initial block.

Run Plays:

  • The quarterback — the player initially receiving the snap — may run to advance the ball at any time.
  • The offense may use multiple backward hand-offs or laterals.
  • To execute a center sneak, the ball must completely leave the center’s hands on the snap and they must take at least one step backwards off the line-of-scrimmage before receiving direct hand-off from the quarterback before advancing the ball.

Pass Plays:

Teams can make an unlimited number of backward passes and then throw a forward pass provided the player throwing the ball is behind the line of scrimmage.

DEFENSE:

Rushing:

  • Defensive lineman may not line up directly in front of an offensive lineman (i.e. head-to-head). They must “shade” (face toward each other but shoulder-to-shoulder) to one side or the other of their opponent for safety reasons..
  • The center is considered a defenseless player while their head is down in the snapping position and cannot be contacted until they assume a blocking position or has fired out into their pattern.

Roughing the Passer, Kicker, Holder, Center: 

  • Defensive players must make a concerted effort to avoid charging into an unprotected player.
  • To assist defensive players to avoid unnecessary contact with the passer the covering official will endeavor, but is not required, to announce “balls away” when the ball has left the passer’s hand.
  • In general, defensive players may not “crash” the passer’s throwing arm, shoulder or body even if the ball is touched first. This rules applies to holders and kickers as well.
  • An insignificant “brush-by” may be allowed by the referee but is not guaranteed.
  • Making contact with the quarterback while blocking a pass or attempting to block a pass may result in a roughing the passer penalty.
  • Whether or not a ball is tipped in the air by the defense has no bearing on the play as it applies to fouls (roughing, personal fouls, etc.).
  • The defense can knock a pass down, but the ball must have left the passer’s hand. Otherwise this is Stripping.
  • A roughing penalty will not be enforced if a passer initiates contact with a defensive player while in the throwing motion; for example, during the passer’s follow through makes contact with an opponent’s hand, arm, or shoulder. In this instance the energy of the contact is the action of the passer and not the defender. This is a judgment call. 
  • It may be a personal foul if the passer’s follow through hand or arm makes contact with an opponent’s head, neck or face. This is a judgement call.

Pass Coverage:

  • Contacting receivers within the initial five yards from scrimmage is allowed as long as the ball is not in the air.
  • Contact within the initial five yards must be continuous (i.e. no “re-loading”) and applied “inside the frame” of the body.
  • A defender may turn an opponent “off their route” as long as the defender’s hands are “inside the frame”.
  • Pass interference normally occurs above the waist; entangled feet are not considered pass interference.
  • Incidental contact is not considered pass interference.
  • A player may “find” their opponent by reaching out and placing a hand on them as long as touching does not delay, impede, twist, or turn their opponent. This is not considered pass interference. 
  • Contact away from the direction of the pass is not considered pass interference but may be considered illegal contact.
  • Examples of pass interference include:
    1. Shoving or pushing off to create separation.
    2. Playing through the back.
    3. Hook and turn: grabbing the torso and turning an opponent before the pass arrives.
    4. Defender is looking at the receiver and makes significant contact materially impeding the receiver.
    5. Arm bars, hooking, restricting, grabbing wrists, or turning a receiver.
    6. Blocking downfield before the ball has been touched, commonly seen through “pick plays”.
    7. Cutting off the path of a receiver by being in front of them and slowing down or being beside them and “riding” them off there path to the ball.
  • Whether a pass is catchable or uncatchable has no bearing on pass interference. The benefit of the doubt is given to the receiver.
  • 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.
  • The remedy for defensive pass interference is 15-yard and an automatic first down or half the distance to the goal and a first down, even if it occured in the end zone.
  • 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 20-yard line.

 The Kicking Game:

Kick Offs:

  • The kicking team will kick from their 40-yard line unless moved by penalty.
  • Teams have one minute from the end of PAT attempts to execute kick offs.
  • All players of the kicking team must start with one foot on the kicking line with the exception of the kicker (i.e. there is no ‘run up’ allowed).
  • The receiving team’s restraining line will be 10-yards from the kicking team’s restraining line.
  • Four players on the receiving team must start the play within five yards of the receiving team’s restraining line.
  • A kick that breaks the goal line is still live and may be carried out (returned) by the receiving team.
  • If a kickoff goes out of bounds untouched beyond the receiving team’s restraining line, but before the 35-yard line, the ball is put in play at the point where the ball left the field of play plus a 5-yard penalty tacked on.
  • If the ball goes out of bounds untouched between the 35-yard line and the goal line the ball is put in play at the 35-yard line.
  • Touchbacks will be spotted at the 20-yard line.

Field Goals / PAT Kicks:

  • Field goals may be attempted at any time. Snaps for field goals must be executed between ‘the hashes’.
  • A 1” or 2” kicking block may be used by the kicking team.
  • The offense must have at least four players on the line at the snap.
  • Defensive players are not allowed to be in three or four point stances.
  • Defensive players cannot rush the Center/Guard gap (A Gap) if the Center/Guard’s feet are touching at the snap, unless they vacate the area on their own.
  • This gap will stay ineligible regardless if the offensive player’s feet are touching immediately after the snap.
  • The guard can move and block as long as he does not vacate his area (i.e. blocking down).
  • If the guard vacates (ex: pulls left or right), then players may rush the gap.
  • Offensive lineman cannot be forced to vacate their position.
  • Defensive players may legally rush through eligible offensive line gaps and outside the offensive line.
  • Fake field goals are allowed.
  • The holder can have one knee on the ground and get up and run or pass the ball during a fake field goal.
  • This is the only play that a runner with the ball can have a knee on the ground and play still be live.
  • The snap must be caught in one continuous motion and placed on the ground for the field goal attempt.
  • If the ball is snapped and hits the ground, the play is dead and the field goal attempt will be no good.
  • The Center/Guard (A Gap) protection vanishes upon a fake field goal attempt (i.e. the holder rises up to run or pass) and the Defense is free to rush the A Gap.
  • A holder may not legally pass or flick the ball forward or backward without rising up from their knee. (illegal pass).
  • All roughing penalties during field goal attempts will result in an automatic first down and yardage if accepted
  • Whether or not a ball is tipped or blocked by the defense has no bearing on the play as it applies to fouls (roughing, personal fouls, etc.). Avoid the kicker, center, and holder!

Missed or Blocked Field Goals:

  •  A missed or blocked field goal remains live until it hits the ground, goes out-of-bounds or otherwise becomes dead by rule.
  • A missed or blocked field goal is returnable by the defense to include returning it from the end zone.
  • The kicking team may recover but may never advance a missed or blocked field goal that has crossed the line-of-scrimmage that was not batted or deflected.
  • The kicking team may recover and advance a missed or blocked field goal that has crossed the line-of-scrimmage but was batted or deflected behind the kicking team’s line-of-scrimmage.
  • A missed or blocked field goal attempt on first, second, or third down that is caught by the kicking team behind the line-of-scrimmage will be counted as a scrimmage play and the kicking team shall receive the next succeeding down.
  • The ball becomes dead when it strikes any part of the goal post cross bar or uprights.
  • After a missed or blocked field goal and when the ball becomes dead the new offensive captain has two options to put the ball back in play:
           the previous line-of-scrimmage.
          b.  the 20-yard line.

Protected Punt:

  • On any down, the offense may request protection for a protected punt.
  • Both teams must maintain at least 4 players on the line until the ball is kicked.
  • The offense cannot cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.
  • Lineman on the defensive line may raise their arms, and or jump to distract, or try to block the kick but may not cross the line of scrimmage. Defenders may not move laterally along the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.
  • The punter must receive the snap at least 5 yards behind the center and immediately punt the ball.
  • If the punter drops the snap and the ball hits the ground, the ball is dead at the spot.
  • The penalty for not punting the ball immediately shall be a 5-yard, illegal procedure.
  • If a protected punt has been announced and a timeout is called, the team must re-declare their intention for a protected punt.
  • If a protected punt has been announced and then the kicking team runs an offensive play, the penalty shall be an immediate dead ball foul for unsportsmanlike conduct (15 yards and a loss of down).
  • All touchbacks will be placed at the 20-yard line.

Fair Catch Kick:

  • After any fair catch, the receiving team may request a fair catch scrimmage kick for three points.
  • The team captain can choose any player to attempt the scrimmage free kick.
  • The free kick must be executed from anywhere between the hash marks regardless of where the fair catch was called.
  • The player executing the free kick may use a drop kick, a kicking block, or have a teammate place and hold the ball. Punting style or kicking tee may not be used.
  • On all free kicks the defense must be a minimum of 10-yards away from the kicking line and may not rush.
  • Unsuccessful free kicks cannot be returned.
  • No snap is required for a Fair Catch Kick.
  • Change of possession of unsuccessful free kicks will be at the spot of the unsuccessful free kick.

Onside Play Option:

  • This option is only available to the team behind in score during the final two minutes of the second half and only immediately after the trailing team has scored a touchdown or field goal.
  • This is an untimed down.
  • This option is not available after the trailing team has scored a safety.
  • This option is never available to the team ahead in points.
  • After the trailing team has scored, the team captain of the trailing team must inform the referee they intend to attempt an onside play.
  • The ball is placed at the offensive team’s 20-yard line, going out.
  • This play is treated exactly like a fourth down play including the assessment of penalties with one exception. If a foul occurs that includes an automatic first down (ex: roughing the passer) the offense will not receive a new set of downs. They will receive the 15-yard peanlty and replay the down, i.e. fourth and five from the 35-yard line, line to gains is the 40-yard line.  
  • The offense must advance the ball to the 40-yard line or beyond, after all live ball penalties have been accessed in order to retain the ball.
  • Dead ball penalties will not be considered in determining if the line-to-gain was achieved.
  • If the offense retains the ball the next zone-line-to-gain will be determined.
  • If the offense does not retain the ball the defense will take possession of the ball where it became dead (end of the run or previous line of scrimmage) and the next zone-line-to-gain will be established.
  • Interceptions returned to the end zone by the defense during an onside play are worth six points and a PAT attempt.
  • There is no limit to the amount of onside plays a team may use as long as the provisions of lines 1, 2 and 3 of this section are still valid.

Mercy Rule / Forfeits: 

  • There is no mercy rule during double-elimination format tournaments.
  • During tournament or league play the mercy rule will be automatically invoked if the score differential reaches 17 or more points during the final two minutes of the second half or 34 or more points at any time in the second half.
  • Forfeits that occur prior to game will be recorded as 17-0. Forfeits that occur during the game will be recorded as 17-0 or the actual score of the game at the time of the forfeit, whichever is the larger differential.

Overtime:

1) There is no overtime during double-elimination format tournaments.
2) For the first overtime period the ball will start at the 20-yard line, going in. The offense will have a complete series in their attempt to score.  Then the opposing team with have a complete series in their attempt to score.
3) During a second and any additional overtime periods the ball will start at the 10-yard line, going in.  The offense will have one play to score followed by the opposing team having one play and so forth until a winner is determined.
4) See the General Rules for additional overtime information.  

Scoring:

Touchdown

·         6 points with the chance to go for a 1-, or 2- point after touchdown attempt (PAT).

Point After Touchdown (PAT)

·         1 point from the 3-yard line, run, pass or kick

·         2 points from the 10-yard line, run, pass or kick

All PAT attempts successfully returned by the defense are worth two points.

Field Goal / Fair Catch Kick

·         3 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 PAT but it will be from the 8-yard line.
  • 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 or on the kickoff. 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, offside, etc.) may result in penalty yardage assessed and the down replayed.
  • Fouls by the offense during a 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” and the attempt will not be repeated.
  • 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 simultaneous to the snap (illegal shift, illegal motion, illegal formation, etc.), if accepted, will result in penalty yardage assessed and the down replayed.
  • Fouls by the defense during an unsuccessful PAT attempt will result in a retry after the options are administered. The offense may opt to accept or decline penalty yardage before the retry.
  • Fouls committed by the defense during a successful PAT will result in the option for the offense to enforce the yardage on the kickoff or replay the PAT attempt for more points.
  • Interceptions or returned blocked kicks that have not become dead by rule on any PAT attempt can be returned by the defense for two points.
  • Defensive unsportsmanlike conduct and personal fouls on successful PAT attempts will be enforced on the following kickoff.

After a Safety:

  • The kicking team (team giving up the safety) must free kick (punt, kick from a kicking block using a teammate to hold the ball on the block, or kick using a team mate to hold the ball on the ground) from its own 20-yard line. Kicking from a kicking tee is not allowed.
  • Snapping the ball is not required on a safety free kick.
  • Defensive players may not be closer than 10 yards from the kicker at the kick and may not rush.

Penalty Charts:

 

Yardage

Where is the Penalty Assessed?

Loss of Down?

Flag Guarding

10

Spot of foul

Yes

Illegal Advancement

5

Spot of foul

Yes

Illegal Forward Pass

5

Previous spot or spot of the foul, whichever penalizes the offensive side more

Yes

Intentional Grounding

5

Previous spot or spot of the foul, whichever penalizes the offensive side more

Yes

Offensive Pass Interference

15

Previous spot

Yes

Defensive Pass Interference

15

Previous spot

Automatic 1st Down

 

Personal Foul/Illegal Personal Contact (including contact above the shoulders: head, neck, face)

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 / Failure to comply with a game official

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: Passer/Kicker/Holder/Center also includes Unnecessary Roughness                    

15

End of the play or previous spot whichever penalizes the offender more

By the Defense: Automatic 1st Down

 

False Start

5

Previous spot

No

Snap Infraction

5

Previous spot

No

Delay of Game

5

Previous

No

Offside / Encroachment

5

Previous spot

No

Bench Foul                          

5/10/15 

Succeeding spot (live ball foul treated as a dead ball foul)

No

Cool Down Period

0

Player sent off field for 5 plays

No

     

Illegal Substitution or Illegal Participation

5

Previous spot

No

Equipment Violation (improper flag size)

5

Previous spot

No

Illegal Formation

5

Previous spot

No

Illegal Shift or Illegal Motion

5

Previous spot

No

Stripping or Attempted Stripping

5

End of the run or spot of the foul whichever penalizes the offender more

No

Illegal Contact

5

Previous spot

No

Early Flag Pull

5

End of the Run or Previous spot

No

Illegal Touching

5

Previous

Yes

Illegal Block

10

End of the run or spot of the foul whichever penalizes the offender more

Yes

Holding

10

End of the run or spot of the foul whichever penalizes the offender more

No

Charging

10

End of the run or spot of the foul whichever penalizes the offender more

No (warning issued, on second penalty, ejection or disqualification)