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About Flag Football
Flag Football is the non-contact version of the sport – similar to Tag Rugby. For more information on the sport, take a look here.

To play Flag Football, all you need is a ball, some flag belts, cones and an area around 50m x 25m. The principles of the game are similar to the contact version of American Football, however, to make a tackle, you simply rip a velcro flag or ribbon from belt worn by the ball carrier – it is as easy as that!

Flag Football focuses on the fundamentals of the sport such as running, throwing and catching. It is played by both boys, girls and adults of both genders – normally five-a-side. Teams can be made up of both male and females.

BYAFA Flag Football is Non-Contact. Blocking and Tackling are not allowed.


General principle

5 on 5 flag football shall be played under Rules 1 to 11 with the following changes.

a. Where a rule is in conflict with Rules 1 to 11 or clearly does not apply, the 5 on 5 flag rule takes precedence.

b. There is no restriction on particular players wearing particular numbers.


The game

a. The game shall be played between two teams of no more and no less than 5 players each.

b. The number of players in a squad and the number of those permitted to be in uniform shall be determined by the organiser of the tournament into which the squad is entered.

Note: Teams may consist of a 12 players (5 on field, 7 substitutes)



The game shall be played under the supervision of two or more officials.


The field

The field shall be a rectangular area of length between 60 and 80 yards and between 20 and 30 yards in width. The goal line, the end line, half way line, the 12 yard line (no more than 2 yards long and in the centre of the field) and the 5 yard line (as a hashed line) are the only lines permitted on the field.



There shall be no goal posts


Line to gain

There shall be no line to gain indicators


The ball

The ball shall be that mandated by the governing body and the age group of the competing teams.


Players and playing equipment

There are no numbering restrictions.


Mandatory equipment

a. All players must wear mouth guards.

b. All players must wear two flags positioned one on each hip. The flags must be of a contrasting colour to the belt, shirt and pants. It is the responsibility of each player to make sure his/her flags are correctly positioned before the start of each down.

1. Repeated failure of a player to have his/her flags in the correct position is a violation and a team time out will be charged to that team. If all team timeouts for an half have been used then a 5 yard delay of game penalty will be administered.

c. Knee pads and hips pads may be warn if the tournament organiser deems the field conditions merit them.


Illegal equipment

a. Pants with pockets.

b. Any form of metal cleats or "blades".

c. Any form of head covering. (Exception: a band to tie hair back).



There shall be no kicking of the football.


Game clock

The game clock is any device under the direction of the appropriate official used to time the duration of the game.


30-second clock

The 30-second clock is any device under the direction of the appropriate Official used to time the 30 seconds between the ready-for-play signal and the ball's being put into play.


Start of each half

Each half shall start with a snap from the offensive team's 5-yard line..

a. Before the game, the referee shall toss a coin at midfield, in the presence of not more than two captains from each team, first designating the captain of the visiting team to call the coin toss.

b. The winner of the coin toss has first possession (there is no deferring). The loser chooses which end of the field to defend and shall have first possession in the second half.



Overtime will only be played in play-off games and will be governed by the principles of Rule 3-1-3.

NOTE: Overtime will be played 5 minutes each way. A coin toss will take place to determine first possession. Each overtime period shall be of 10 minutes duration and each team is entitled to one charged team timeout per extra period.

Playing time

a. The total playing time (excluding extra periods) shall be 40 minutes divided into two halves of 20 minutes each with a two minute intermission between halves.

NOTE:  In BYAFA regular season tournaments the game length is 20 minutes (two halves of 10 minutes each). For Championships the game length will be 40 minutes (two 20 minute halves)

b. The clock shall start on the first snap from the offensive team's 5 yard line.

c. The clock shall be stopped when each period ends. Other than for timeouts the clock shall not be stopped except during the last two minutes of each half when the clock shall be stopped during extra points, after incomplete passes, when a ball or ball carrier is out of bounds, after a change of possession or a first down completion. In each of these circumstances the clock will restart on the snap.



Each team is entitled to two charged team timeouts during each half.


Delay of game

PENALTY -- Clock is stopped (restarted on the snap). 5 yard penalty (and a loss of down if delay caused by offense).


Putting the ball in play

The ball shall be put in play within 30 seconds of it being declared ready for play, unless, during that interval, play is suspended. If play is suspended the 30 second count will start again.



The team in possession shall have four downs to progress to the half way line. If successful that team shall have a further four downs to score.


Backwards passes and hand offs

a. Any player may hand the ball forward provided the hand off is completed behind the neutral zone.

b. A runner may hand off or pass the ball backward at any time provided the hand off or pass is completed behind the neutral zone, except to throw the ball intentionally out of bounds to conserve time. PENALTY -- 5 yards from the previous spot.


Numbering and formations

There are no restrictions on the formation or numbering of players. PENALTY -- Illegal Motion 5 yards AND loss of down.


Forward passes

Team A may make one forward pass during each scrimmage down before team possession changes, provided the pass is thrown from a point in or behind the neutral zone. The Quarterback has 7 seconds to pass the ball. If the Quarterback hands the ball off the 7 second count restarts. PENALTY -- Loss of down from previous spot for exceeding the 7 seconds. PENALTY -- 5 yards AND loss of down for an illegal forward pass.


Eligibility to touch a forward pass

All players are eligible to catch a forward pass (Exception: The Passer is not eligible to touch a forward pass until it is touched by another player).



The point value of scoring plays shall be:

Touchdown                                                                       6 Points

Safety (points awarded to opponents)                              2 Points

Successful Try Touchdown (from 5 yard line)                 1 Point

Successful Try Touchdown (from 12 yard line)               2 Points


NOTE: The try will be from the 5 yard line unless the captain or coach of the scoring team informs the referee that it will be from the 12 yard line. This option must be chosen before the ready for play.


Personal fouls

a. There are no exceptions to the clipping rule.

b. Any defensive player is permitted to rush (blitz) the Quarterback, provided (s)he is lined up 7 yards or more from the line of scrimmage at the snap.

c. There shall be no blocking, this includes "shadow blocking". Shadow blocking is defined as:

1. an offensive player deliberately running behind or in front of a team mate so as to prevent the defense from making a tackle.

2. an offensive player deliberately positioning him/herself in such a position as to prevent the defense from tackling the runner.


Restrictions on players

a. No offensive player may receive a hand-off and run with the ball if the previous spot is 5 yards or less from Team B's goal line. This also applies when the ball is repositioned as the result of an accepted penalty regardless of whether the succeeding spot is within or outside the 5 yard line. PENALTY -- Loss of down at the previous spot.

b. The player in position to receive a hand to hand snap is prohibited from crossing the neutral zone with the ball until it has been in the possession of another player. PENALTY -- Loss of down at the previous spot.

c. No player may jump, dive or hurdle in order to either avoid or make a tackle PENALTY -- 5 yards from the previous spot.



There are no 15 yard Penalties. All penalties are 5 yards.


Penalty administration

Any penalty may be declined, except for a false start penalty, but a disqualified player must leave the game.


Enforcement spots

The enforcement spot for all live ball fouls is the previous spot.


1. When an interception occurs, a live ball foul after the interception is administered from the spot of the interception.

2. Defensive pass interference is a spot foul. PENALTY -- No yardage but a new set of downs is awarded. If the foul occurs in the end zone, a touchdown will be awarded.



a. If an official witnesses any acts of illegal tactics or blocking, "cheap shots" or any unsportsmanlike act by a player or coach, the game will be stopped and the player or coach concerned faces possible disqualification from the game. Foul play will not be tolerated.

b. Any person disqualified from a game will be banned from participating in the remainder of the tournament and a fine (as laid down in the current BYAFA rules) will be imposed.

c. Trash talking (any talking which is deemed offensive to officials, opposing players, teams or spectators) is illegal. Officials have the right to determine "offensive language". If trash talking occurs, the referee will issue one warning. If the trash talking continues the player or players will be disqualified from the game.