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Uniform and Equipment

  1. Players are highly encouraged to wear a protective mouthpiece while on the field-of-play.

  2. For safety reasons, players must wear pants or shorts that do not have pockets, belt loops, or exposed draw strings. Hoodies must be tucked inside the jersey while on the field.

  3. Soft-shelled helmets designed for flag football players (e.g., the EliteTek brand), may be worn.

  4. Some type of team jersey is required; the minimal standard is similar-colored shirts.

  5. Players must ensure their jerseys are long enough to remain tucked in during the entire play and that belts are attached over the jerseys (jerseys should never cover the flag belt).

  6. Flags must be on the player's hips and free from obstruction. Deliberately obstructed flags will be considered flag guarding.

  7. Flags must be evenly distributed on the belt. Suction cups must face down and away from the body. Belts must be snug around the waist to avoid rotating.

  8. If a player chooses to wear a hand towel, or any other object, on her waist it will be treated as part of the flag belt.

  9. Players are responsible for wearing flags that are different colors from pants and shorts.

  10. Jewelry must be removed before play.

  11. Baseball-styled caps must be removed or turned around backward.

  12. Players may tape forearms, hands and fingers. Players may wear soft gloves, elbow pads, shin guards and knee pads. Unyielding items such as braces, casts, or anything with exposed metal are not allowed.

The Field

  1. A regulation-length high school field will be used. Field size may be altered if facility limitations require it.

  2. First downs are achieved by crossing marked zone-lines-to-gain. These markers are located at the 20-, 40-, 40-, and 20-yard lines on a 100-yard field.

  3. If an 80-yard field is used due to facility limitations, line-to-gain markers are located on the 20-, 40-, and 20-yard lines.

  4. Teams will have four downs to successfully advance to the next zone-line-to-gain and gain a first down.

  5. For ease of play and player recognition of upcoming line-zones-to-gain we recommend leagues use four differently colored low-profile flexible plastic disks (the types often used during sports practices) along the sidelines at each line-zone-to-gain. Therefore, the referee can announce the down and distance in relation to the colored disks, for example, first down, green cone or third down, red cone. This is especially helpful on fields without clearly marked standard yardage lines.

  6. We recommend that end zones be marked with either cushion-type pylons or soft collapsible plastic ones. Avoid using rigid pylons for safety reasons.

  7. The hash-mark system used in high school football will be used.

  8. On fields that do not have established hash marks, it is up to the referee to determine which reference points will be used to simulate hash marks before the game.

  9. Team boxes are designated two yards off each sideline and between the 20-yard line markers. Players and coaches are required to stay within the designated team boxes.

Game Clock, Timeouts and Clock Mechanics

  1. Game time is forfeit time. To avoid a forfeit, teams must have at least six players to begin the game.

  2. A game has two 20-minute halves.

  3. The clock will run continuously during the first half unless a team timeout is used or play is stopped by an official (e.g. deal with an injury, challenge, etc.)

  4. In the event of an injury, the clock will stop then restart when the injured player is removed from the field-of-play.

  5. In both halves 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. This warning itself will not stop the clock.

  6. In the final two minutes of the first half the clock will run continuously unless a team time out is used or play is stopped by an official -- normally to assess penalty yardage, get officials back in place, deal with an injury or change of possession, etc. -- and then clock will start on the ready.

  7. The offense has a 25-second play clock to snap the ball before a delay of game penalty is assessed. Teams will receive one courtesy warning before a delay of game penalty is enforced.

  8. Each team has two team timeouts per half. Timeouts do not roll over from the first half.

  9. Timeouts are 30 seconds. After 30 seconds the official will audibly place the offense on a 25-second play clock.

  10. The clock will run during point-after-touchdown attempts (PATs) in the first half unless the defense opts to use a valid team timeout.

  11. Team captains are encouraged to yell “clock?” or “clock check?” in lieu of “time?” to avoid confusion when requesting a team timeout.

  12. Officials may stop the clock as needed.

  13. Halftime is three minutes.

Second Half Clock

  1. In the second half the clock will run continuously until the two-minute warning unless a team timeout or an official’s timeout is used.

  2. Officials will use stop-clock procedures from the two-minute warning of the second half until the end of the game if the score differential is smaller than 19 points (see Mercy Rule).

  3. Second half stop-clock procedures require the clock to stop for plays that end out of bounds, incomplete passes, scores, PATs, penalties, injuries, changes of possession and timeouts etc., per traditional football protocol.

  4. First downs will momentarily stop the clock while an official resets the ball marker, etc., but will start on the ready.

  5. The game may not end on a defensive penalty unless the offense declines it.

  6. Penalties by the offense that include a loss of down with time expired in either half (i.e., there is no time on the clock) will not extend the half.

Coin Toss

  1. Team captains are required to bring their game ball(s) to the coin toss for inspection.

  2. Game officials will confirm with team captains during the coin toss that the teams are in correct and legal uniforms.

  3. Before the coin toss the presiding official will ask if both team captains agree to kick to start the halves and after each score.

  4. If either team captain chooses not to kick there will be no kicking to begin the halves and after scores.

  5. During tournament play “Home” or “Away” will be determined using either a strength of play record (“seeding”) or randomly (“draft-style”).

  6. First possession is either decided using the traditional game of "rock, paper, and scissors" or a two-sided coin at the head official’s discretion.

  7. The head official will then ask a captain of the official’s choice to choose “heads” or “tails”. The official will ask the opposing team to repeat and confirm the choice before flipping the coin. The head official will then confirm the call.

  8. The captain winning the toss shall choose one of the following options:

    1. Begin on offense

    2. Begin on defense

    3. Designate which goal her team will defend

    4. Defer her choice to the second half

  9. The loser of the coin toss shall make a choice of the remaining options.

  10. Before the start of the second half, the choice of options shall be reversed.

  11. If a team captain does not attend the coin toss, the opposing team will win the toss.

  12. In order to keep to schedule, the game clock shall start one minute after the coin toss formalities have concluded, regardless if the teams have taken the field or not.


Beginning the Game

  1. At the coin toss the presiding official will ask the team captains if they would like to begin play by spotting the ball at the offense’s 35-yard line (i.e., first down and five yards to achieve a new set of downs at the 40-yard line) or by kicking the ball to put it in play.

  2. If play begins with spotting the ball, both teams will receive a spot for the duration of the game.

  3. If play begins with kicking the ball, both teams will kick for the duration of the game and the kick will be administered in accordance with the National Federation of State High School Association rules: i.e., kicking at 40-yard line, receiving at 50-yard line, etc.


Lightning Protocol

  1. Education and prevention are the keys to lightning safety.

  2. Practice and competitions should be suspended immediately as soon as lightning is seen or thunder is heard.

  3. All athletes and spectators should seek safe shelter during severe weather (but not under trees).

  4. Play should not resume for at least 30 minutes after the last sight of lightning or thunderclap.