Outdoor Flag Football Rules

Last updated: March 26, 2024

•• Rules For All Sports: To be eligible for playoffs, participants must play in at least 3 regular season games for their team. The purpose of the League Rep(s) are not to referee the games. Team captains and their teams are expected to referee their own games accordingly and responsibly. League Rep(s) will step-in to make important calls and clarify rules at their own discretion. If issues arise, team captains are asked to speak with the League Rep(s). No players except for captains should approach the League Rep(s) with issues. ••


  1. Teams are advised to be at the fields 10 minutes before the game.
  2. Players are allowed to wear cleats provided they are rubber (no metal cleats allowed). Gloves are allowed. Flags will be provided by the league.
  3. Teams will comprised of 6 players on the field, with a minimum of 2 players of each gender at all times. At minimum, a team must field at least 4 players. If only 1 female player is present, the team must play with one less player; if NO female players are present, the team will automatically forfeit the game.
  4. Game Length: Games will consist of two 25-minute halves with a 5-minute break between halves. A ball cannot be snapped after time has expired. However, if a play is already taking place when time expires, the play can be finished and any points scored from the play will be granted. There are no timeouts permitted.
  5. Team captains and players are required to self-officiate and call their own fouls.
  6. Substitution: Substitutions may only occur after a possession turnover, or for the first down after a team advances past half. This applies to both offensive and defensive teams. The exception is when an injury has taken place on the field.
  7. Scoring: Touchdowns are worth 7 points; however, teams then have the option of going for an extra-point conversion from the 10-yard line and, if made, they get an 8th point from the touchdown; but if failed, they only get 6 points from the touchdown. No substitutions on either offence or defence are permitted immediately prior to the extra-point conversion
  8. Regular season games may end in a tie. For playoffs, overtime is played with consecutive attempts at a score. To determine who gets first possession, team captains will rock-paper-scissors to decide. Offence starts 10 yards from the opposing goal line. They have only 2 downs / attempts to score. If they score, they can attempt to go for an extra-point conversion, as per A7. The other team has a chance to match the score following the same format. Teams continue until one team scores and the other does not match the score.


  1. Ball Possession: Teams will rock-paper-scissors to begin the game, with the winner choosing to start with the ball on their own 5-yard line (or approximate location if not marked on the field of play), or defer possession until the start of the second half (there are no kickoffs in the game).
  2. Advancing the field: The team with possession will have 4 downs (or attempts) to get the ball past midfield, and from there another 4 downs to score a touchdown. If, after 4 downs the team has not reached midfield or the end zone, the opposing team will take over the ball from where it was last placed. However teams may elect to punt the ball away on 4th down if they don’t believe that they can reach midfield or the end zone on their final attempt. Refer to Section D for more on punts.
  3. 25-second clock: The offensive team has 25 seconds, as counted by the defensive team, to snap the ball from the moment the ball is placed at the centre of the field (width-wise). If the offensive team fails to snap the ball at the end of the 25-seconds, the offensive team will lose the down. The 25-second does NOT apply for first downs while substitutions are taking place. Ball shall be placed at the centre in a timely manner, and defensive players are to count at a timely pace (ie. “one steamboat, two steamboat”).
  4. Completed Pass: A player must have one foot inbounds and possession before going out of bounds. For a touchdown, both feet must be in the endzone for the score to count.
  5. Downed: Once the flag of the ball carrier is pulled, the play is dead and the ball is spotted where the flag was pulled.
  6. Moving picks or screens, including standing screens, are not allowed; a violation of this rule is considered an infraction.
  7. Quarterback Rushing: Quarterbacks can run the ball past the line of scrimmage only if rushed by the defensive team (ie. after the defence has counted 4 steamboats AND crossed the line of scrimmage). If the defence does not cross the line of scrimmage, the quarterback may not run with the ball, and doing so will result in an infraction.
  8. Snap: The ball may be snapped directly to the quarterback through the centre’s legs or to the side of the centre’s body. Quarterbacks can choose to self-snap. Ball is still alive if snap is dropped but the defence still has to count 4 steamboats before passing the line of scrimmage.
  9. Handoffs: If the ball is handed off to a player other than the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage, then all players on defence are eligible to rush the line of scrimmage immediately. In the case where a player is handed off the ball behind the line of scrimmage, this player can throw the ball past the line of scrimmage. However, it is still considered a handoff and defensive players are eligible to rush immediately. Fake handoffs are allowed and the defence cannot cross the line of scrimmage until counting to 4 steamboats. If the defence crosses the line of scrimmage during a fake handoff, it is considered an infraction. Up to 2 handoffs are permitted out of the 4 downs to get the ball past midfield, and up to 2 handoffs are permitted out of the 4 downs from midfield to the end zone. Laterals behind the line of scrimmage and short passes are not considered as handoffs.
  10. Avoid Physical Contact: An offensive player must make every effort to avoid physical contact with the opposition. An offensive player may not push off a player or charge through a defender to get open or block a defensive player to allow a teammate to get open. If a player does so, it is considered an infraction.
  11. Fumbles: When the offence fumbles the ball (except off a snap), the play is dead immediately and the ball is spotted at the point where the ball touches the ground. Offence retains the ball. This is for safety reasons.
  12. Player on ground: If the ball carrier falls or slips to the ground; the defence only needs to touch the player for the player to be downed. They do not need to grab the flag once the player is down.
  13. Flags: Flags must be on the sides (hips) of players at all times; and shirts must be tucked into the flag belt at all times. Three flags will be provided to each player, with 2 flags to be worn on one side (hip), and 1 flag on the opposite side (hip). On the side where 2 flags are worn, the flags should be best kept a 2-3 inches apart (ie. not immediately side by side, touching the other flag). 
  14. Guarding the Flag Belt: Players are not allowed to guard the flag or straight arm (ie. use their arms in any way to prevent a defensive player from reaching the flag). This is considered an infraction.
  15. No laterals, passing, or throwing of any kind is allowed after the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage. If done so, the play is stopped at the point of the toss.


  1. Avoid Physical Contact: It is the defensive player’s ultimate responsibility to make every effort to avoid physical contact, and defensive players must make a clean play on the ball or to grab the flag only.
  2. Flags can only be grabbed with one hand. Defensive players are not allowed to impede the offensive player with their other hand, or to reach across or around the offensive player’s body to grab the flag (ie. trhe defensive player should grab the flag that is closest to them). 
  3. Pass Interference: Physical contact prior to an offensive player catching or attempting to catch the ball will result in a pass interference penalty. Refer to E1. Unless the defender can make a clean play on the ball, their focus should be a clean play to grab the flag.
  4. Rushing the quarterback: The defence may send one player to rush the quarterback after 4 steamboats. The player rushing must count out loud the 4 steamboats prior to advancing on the rush.
  5. Safeties: If an offensive player with the ball has their flag taken in their own end zone, a safety will be issued with the opposing team receiving the ball 5 yards from their own side of half. (This is 5 yards before centreline, not the endzone). The team will still have the usual 4 downs to pass half, as well as 4 additional downs if they do pass half. No additional points will be awarded for a safety.
  6. If the defensive team intercepts a pass from the offensive team, the defensive team immediately becomes the offensive team and can run with the ball. Play is stopped when the ball carrier’s flag is ripped off. The team that intercepts the ball are given 4 downs to reach the centre line or endzone from where the play is stopped.
  7. Players are not allowed to grab clothing or body parts, physically restrain, or impede a player from advancing forward. This is considered an infraction.
  8. Fumbles: As noted in B11, the play is dead on a fumble at the point the ball hits the ground, to prevent injuries. Defensive players are not allowed to punch or strip the football from the ball carrier or attempt to force a fumble in any way.
  9. Only female players are allowed to grab the flags of other female players. Male players may not move in a way to block or cutoff a female player’s running path.


  1. There are no field goals in PentaSport.
  2. On fourth down, the offence may punt. No fake punts, and no defensive rushing on punts. 
  3. The kicker must punt the ball within 4 steamboats of receiving the snap. Failure to punt the ball within the allotted time will result in a loss of down, and the opposing team will take-over at the spot of the punt.
  4. Returning the punt: The team receiving the punt may advance the field immediately if the punted ball is cleanly caught. If the ball hits the ground, play is considered dead at the spot the ball contacted the ground.
    • If the ball lands in the endzone or out of bounds in the endzone, the receiving team’s possession begins at the 5 yard line
    • If the ball goes out on the sidelines, the receiving team obtains possession at the centre-point parallel to where the ball exited the field of play.   
  5. Offensive players may not pass the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted.


  1. Penalty Overview
    • Offensive Infraction 
      • Results in an automatic stoppage of play, and the loss of current down. Any advancement of the ball is nullified. 
    • Defensive Infractions if committed on an offensive player WITHOUT the ball
      • Play can continue for the offence to attempt to advance the ball. If the ball is advanced, the penalty is nullified. If no advancement is made or if a pass was intercepted, the play will not count and the down is replayed.
    • Defensive Infractions if committed on an offensive player WITH the ball (including pass interference)
      • Offensive team is allowed to replay the down from the spot of the infraction.
  2. Infractions, if not already listed previously
    • Flag guarding, or wearing the flag in an illegal manner
    • Offensive or Defensive Pass Interference (any physical contact initiated on a player attempting to catch a thrown ball)
    • Holding, Blocking, or Tripping Opponent 
    • Illegal de-flagging (holding onto any part of the offensive player, including clothing and hair, in order to de-flag)
    • Offsides (advancing past the line of scrimmage before the snap)
    • Delay of game (Refer to B3)
    • Illegal Pass (passing the ball after crossing the line of scrimmage)
    • Illegal Defensive Rush (Passing the line of scrimmage to rush the QB before 4 steamboats are counted outloud)
    • Moving picks or screens, including standing screens


  1. Any controversial play where the teams are unable to determine the appropriate call due to not seeing the play, complexity of the situation, or disagreement — notify the League Rep and it will result in a replay of the down. Once it has been determined that a replay is in order, the 25-second clock will start once the ball is placed and the game will proceed without further discussion.
  2. Flag must be showing at all times with shirts tucked in to the belt. The defence should notify the other team’s captain if they see a violation. 
  3. If the flag falls off the ball handler, the play is dead where the flag lands. If the flag falls off a non-ball handler, and they later catch / intercept the ball, the play will stop where they made the interception.