Flag Football Rules
CYO FLAG FOOTBALL RULES AND REGULATIONS
The following rules shall govern the CYO Flag Football program.
1. All boys entering Kindergarten through Fifth Grade and eligible for CYO participation may
participate in grade school league. All students entering 9th - 12th grade will be eligible for
high school league.
2. Leagues will be formed by CYO Office based upon teams registered for play. Leagues may
be formed by single grade or by combining grades in both grade school and high school.
Only children in at least 4th grade may play “up” on 5th grade team. To be determined prior
3. Games shall be played on fields deemed appropriate and scheduled by CYO. Standard field
size shall be 50 yards in length by 30 yards in width, with some fields varying based on age
and existing dimensions. End zones shall be at least 8 yards in length on either side. The
following additional rules apply to the field of play:
A. The area marked 5 yards out from each end zone shall be considered the “No Running
Zone” and no running plays shall be executed by either team within this zone.
B. There shall be two lines marked at 18 yards out from each end zone (or adjusted for
scale of field) that shall be considered “First Down” lines. See rules for completing
4. Uniform and Equipment - The official uniform for teams shall be provided by the team’s
sponsoring parish or by the CYO Office for high school leagues. It shall consist of shorts/
pants and a t-shirt or jersey top; flag football uniforms must meet all other CYO uniform
guidelines regarding design and modesty. Shirts must be tucked in to shorts/pants at all
times during competition.
A. Flags shall be provided by league for all contests. Players must wear flags as
instructed, with belt properly fastened and flags clearly visible over child’s uniform.
B. Shoes are required for participation. Cleats are allowed and must meet standard CYO
requirements (see CYO Football rules section).
C. Players must remove all jewelry, including watches, earrings, or anything else deemed
hazardous by CYO Officials or Administration. Soft braces are allowed provided child
has been cleared to participate with brace by physician. Sleeves and tights must be
white, black, beige or the predominant color of the player’s uniform. Headbands,
armbands and wristbands may also be worn provided the are white, black, beige or the
predominant color of the player’s uniform; if multiple player’s on the same team are
wearing a accessories they must all be the same color. Tape is allowed on arm, fingers
or ankles. Players may wear gloves and/or (soft) knee or elbow pads.
D. Mouth guards are required for each player participating. These must be appropriate
size and fit. Mouth guards must be plain; colors are allowed but there may be no logo,
image or writing visible on the mouthguard at any time.
5. An adult supervisor shall be appointed by CYO and be present at each facility during
games. The supervisor shall be the sole representative of the CYO Office and shall have
final say in all decisions or disagreements before, during or after competition.
6. The head coach and a player from each team shall meet at midfield prior to each game for the
coin toss. The team listed on the schedule as “visiting team” shall call the toss prior to coin
flip. Team winning the toss will receive the ball first with opposing team receiving ball first after
halftime. Officials may address any special facility rules or appropriate game notifications at
7. Each team shall have seven (7) players on the field of play at one time. Teams may begin play
with no less than six (6) players. Game time is considered forfeit time in all contests.
8. The game shall be played using the following rules and guidelines:
A. Teams shall start each possession at their offense’s own 5 yard line, with the exception
being that following interceptions teams shall take over at the spot where the player
was ruled down.
B. Play will begin with the “center” snapping the ball to the “quarterback”. The offensive
team must have at least one player on the line of scrimmage at the snap on each play,
with up to four players allowed on the line of scrimmage. The center must snap the ball
through his legs and the ball must completely leave his hands.
C. Teams on offense shall have three downs to reach a first down marker or score a
touchdown. First down markers shall be placed at approximately 18 yards out from
each end zone, so that a team beginning on its own 5 yard line may get two first downs
before scoring a touchdown. When a team reaches or passes the first down marker
their downs shall “reset” and they shall have three more downs to reach the other first
down marker or the end zone.
D. There shall be no punting or kicking in the game. Teams not reaching a first down
marker in three attempts shall turn the ball over to the other team, who shall begin
possession from their own 5 yard line.
E. The ball is considered a live ball when snapped and remains so until the ballcarrier’s
flag has been pulled or the ball hits the ground and the official whistles the ball dead. A
player who catches the ball in the air is considered in-bounds if one foot touches in the
field of play prior to the remainder of his body landing.
F. There are no fumbles in the game. All “fumbles” shall be considered a dead-ball where
the ball hit the ground and the offensive team shall retain possession. A fumble does
not result in a turnover to the other team.
G. Any ballcarrier who’s flags fall off during the play, even accidental without a defensive
play on the flags, shall be considered down at that spot. See Rule 10, Part L regarding
H. Each touchdown is worth six points. The team shall then have one attempt from the 5
yard line to reach the end zone worth another two points. The “No Running Zone” is
not in affect during the two point conversion attempt and teams may pass or run.
Regardless of the play’s success, the opposing team shall start with ball at it’s own
offensive 5 yard line following the two point conversion. An interception off a two point
conversion may not be returned and the play will be considered dead upon the
defensive player taking possession.
• A touchdown, two-point conversion, and safety shall be the only scoring plays in
the game. A safety is called when an offensive player is called down in his own
I. All players on the field shall be considered eligible to throw, run or catch the ball on
J. Substitutions may be allowed on any dead ball.
K. Blocking or screening of any kind is not allowed. An offensive player may not impede a
defensive player’s path to the ball carrier, including when the defensive player is
rushing the passer from a legal rushing position (see Rule 6, Part L). Once the
ballcarrier crosses the line of scrimmage or receives a pass, all other offensive players
should cease moving to avoid penalty.
L. The quarterback may not run directly with the ball from the snap. He may handoff or
lateral/pitch the ball to another player, as well as scramble behind the line of
scrimmage, but cannot run directly. A player who takes a handoff or lateral behind the
line of scrimmage may throw the ball. No handoffs or laterals are allowed once the
ballcarrier passes the line of scrimmage.
M. A defensive player may rush the passer provided he begins the play at least 7 yards
from the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball. Any player beginning the
play within 7 yards is not eligible to rush the passer. Once the quarterback has
completed a handoff or lateral/pitch, all defensive players are eligible to cross the line
• A player crossing the line of scrimmage may attempt to block a pass by jumping
but may not come into contact with the passer at any time (results in Roughing
the Passer penalty). A ball batted down will be considered a dead ball at that spot
and remain with the offensive team provided it is not fourth down, regardless of
whether it is a forward pass or pitch/lateral.
N. Flag Guarding is considered an attempt by the ballcarrier to impede the defensive
players’ attempt to pull his flag. A ballcarrier may not impede the defensive players’
attempt to pull his flag at any time through use of hands, uniform or any other method
of “guarding” the flags. The ballcarrier may jump or dive to avoid a flag pull. However,
the offensive player may spin and/or move laterally from left to right to avoid the flag
pull, provided that they do not guard the flag in any other way. An offensive player may
also leave his feet if it is clearly an attempt to avoid a collision without receiving a
penalty, though he will be declared down at that spot.
O. Only one player is allowed “in-motion” at a time and all motion must be lateral to the
line of scrimmage and not moving toward the line of scrimmage.
P. Defenders may not tackle or hold the ballcarrier in anyway while trying to grab a flag.
9. Clock - Games are played with a 44-minute running clock and shall be split into two 22-minute
halves. Halftime is 6-minutes. The official game clock shall be kept by the official(s). The clock
shall only stop for timeouts, though the official(s) may stop the clock at any time at their
discretion, including for injuries.
A. Each team shall have one 1-minute timeout per half, for a total of two timeouts per
game. Timeouts do not carry over to the second half if not used in the first half.
B. If the game ends in a tie, no overtime period shall be played except during end of
season playoffs at the 5th and 6th grade levels.
C. Each team shall have 30 seconds from the end of the previous play to run a new play.
Time shall be kept by the official and failure to run play shall result in “delay of game”
10. At the end of the regular season for 5th and 6th grade and high school leagues, all teams in the
league may participate in a playoff tournament to be held on the final weekend of the season.
This tournament shall be organized by the CYO Office.
11. When a team is winning by 35 points or more in the second half, the trailing team is provided
one more opportunity to score in order to continue regulation play. If the team does not
succeed in scoring, the game is considered over at that point and scoring stopped at that time.
However, if more than 10 minutes remains in regulation time at the point in which the game is
stopped, the trailing team may have up to two consecutive offensive possessions as time
allows in order to attempt to score. Each possession will last until the team scores, fails to
reach a first down, or turns over the ball. Points are not counted toward the final score. The
game shall end regardless when full time has been reached.
12. Penalties and Yardage. Officials shall be the only individuals who may call penalties during the
game. Their ruling is considered final and may not be argued or reviewed. Coaches arguing
penalties may be given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
A. False Start results in a loss of five yards from the line of scrimmage.
B. Defensive Offside shall be called when any defensive player crosses the line of
scrimmage at any time prior to the snap of the ball. The play shall be whistled dead at
the time of the penalty and the penalty shall be five yards forward from the line of
C. Offensive Pass Interference results in a loss of five yards from the line of scrimmage
and a loss of down.
D. Defensive Pass Interference results in the ball being placed at the spot of the foul and
an automatic first down being given to the offensive team.
E. Illegal Motion is called when more than one person is moving prior to the snap on the
offensive side of the ball. Results in a loss of five yards.
F. Illegal Blocking shall be called on any offensive player impeding a defensive player’s
attempt at the ballcarrier, either while rushing or pursuing a player beyond the line of
scrimmage. The result shall be a loss of five yards and loss of down.
G. Flag guarding shall result in a loss of five yards from the spot of the foul and a loss of
H. Unsportsmanlike Conduct shall be called in the event of any unnecessary roughness
or inappropriate behavior on behalf of players, coaches or fans. Any penalty called on
coaches or fans shall be assessed to the team they represent. The penalty shall be a
loss of ten yards from the spot of the foul and a loss of down. Two unsportsmanlike
conduct penalties on any individual will result in ejection from the contest and an
automatic suspension from the next game (see General Rules of Competition).
I. An Illegal Rush shall be called on any player who rushes from a starting point within 7
yards of the line of scrimmage. The penalty moves the offensive team five yards
forward from the line of scrimmage and results in an automatic first down.
J. Holding shall be called on any defensive player who holds an offensive player. The
penalty shall be five yards from the end of the play and an automatic first down.
K. Roughing the Passer shall be called if contact is made with the quarterback in any way
by the defensive player other than in pulling the quarterback’s flag while he has the
ball. The penalty shall be ten yards from the end of the play and an automatic first
L. An Illegal Flag Pull shall be called on any defensive player who pulls a players flags
before he receives the ball either through a pass or running play. Only the ballcarrier
may have his flags pulled during a play. An illegal flag pull results in a 10 yard penalty
and automatic first down for the offensive team.
• In the event the defensive player did not make a play on the flags of an offensive
player yet the flags fall off, an official may deem an illegal flag pull “inadvertent"
at his discretion and may choose not to assess a penalty. Any receiver or
ballcarrier whose flags fall off “inadvertently” will be considered down at that
spot. A receiver may catch the ball after his flags have fallen off but will be
considered down immediately following the catch.