How to Play Flag Football

Flag football is similar to American football in that they both are a non-physical approach to the game of football. Instead of tackling your opponents, you pull a flag that's attached to the other player's belt. Flag football rules can be extensive if you play in a competitive league, but even if you're just playing with a bunch of friends, learning how to play flag football with the correct set of rules can provide for hours of fun and exercise.


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    Form a team. Gather several players together to play flag football if you aren't already on a flag football team. Divide the group into two teams, each of which should have an equal number of players.
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    Mark the playing field with goal lines set up at opposite ends of the field. Players should be aware of the sidelines. The recommended size of the field is 30 yards (27.4 m) by 70 yards (64.0 m) with the end zones taking up an additional 10 yards (9.1 m). However, you may choose to play on a smaller area, such as a soccer field.
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    Outfit all the players with a flag football belt. One flag should be on each side of the hip. Most players tend to wear non-metal cleats, but you could wear other athletic shoes.
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    Flip a coin to determine which team should start with the ball. Each team should have a captain, and the captain of one team should call the coin flip. The winning team of the flip should get the ball first while the losing team must defend first.
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    Place the football at the offensive team's 5-yard line to start the play. This is unlike contact football, where the game begins with a kickoff. If your playing field isn't marked with yard lines, place the ball a few steps in front of the goal.
    • Each team has 3 plays to cross the midfield. If the team is successful, it has 3 more tries to score a touchdown. If the team cannot cross midfield, the opposing team takes possession of the football on its own 5-yard line. All possession changes, except for interceptions, start on the team's own 5-yard line.
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    Start the timer. Most games are 40 minutes long, with the clock only stopping for timeouts. Teams are allowed 1 timeout per half that lasts 1 minute. Each team has 30 seconds to snap the ball, otherwise it will be issued a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty.
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    Score the flag football game. Scoring flag football is similar to regular football. Touchdowns receive 6 points, points after touchdowns (PATs) where the ball is placed at the 5-yard line after the touchdown receive 1 point, and the PATs where the ball is placed at the 12-yard line are worth 2 points. A safety is worth 2 points as well. Games can end in a tie.
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    Attempt to pull the other team's flag when your team is on defense. As a rule, receivers cannot jump or dive to avoid a flag pull. The play is marked dead once the player with the football has his or her flag pulled.


  • Keep in mind that the rules for flag football are typically the same, but some specific rules may vary. You should make sure that everyone is playing by the same rules before beginning the game.
  • Teams change sides of the field after the first half is over. The team that lost the coin toss receives possession of the ball. .
  • Legal flag pulling can only be done when the opponent has possession and control of the football. You cannot tackle the players at any time, nor can you try to strip or pull the football from the ball carrier's possession at any time. Additionally, players on offense cannot cover or obscure their flags at any time.


  • Don't blame anyone if you get punched or attacked accidentally while trying to pull the flag.

Things You'll Need

  • Flag football belt
  • Non-metal cleats
  • Football
  • Timer
  • Cones

Article Info

Categories: Football