Flag Rules

2018 Cape Cod/Barnstable Youth Flag Football Rules

General Rules:

  • 6 on 6 no contact flag football played on a 59 x 20 yard field (Please note: 6-8 division play 5 on 5)
  • Coin toss determines:
    • First possession
    • Goal to defend
    • Or defer to 2nd
  • The away team calls all coin flips
  • The offensive team takes possession at their 5-yard line. The offensive team then has (3) downs to either advance the football to mid-field or score a touchdown.  If the offense reaches mid-field it receives 3 more downs to score.  If the offense fails to reach mid-field or score, the football changes possession to the opposite team and it starts its own drive from their own 5-yard line.
  • All possession changes, except interceptions, start at the offense’s 5-yard line.

Players/Game Schedules:

  • All teams will advance to the playoffs.

Game Clock/OT:

  • Each game is 40 minutes in length with two 20-minute halves.
  • There will be a 5 minute intermission.
  • After halftime, the team who started on defense will start on offense.
  • There will be a change of possession and direction at halftime.
  • The game clock will not stop at any time during play except for a team timeout or at the referee’s discretion or a delay of game penalty.
  • Each team will receive three (3) 30 second timeouts per game.
  • Once the referee has spotted the football for play, the offensive team has 30 seconds to snap the football. The referee will announce when 10 seconds remain before calling a delay of game penalty.  Please note:  The K-2 division will be allowed 45 seconds.
  • The offensive team may not snap the football until the referee has set the football for play.


  • Touchdown = 6 points
  • Extra Points:
    • 1 point = 5-yard line
    • 2 points = 12-yard line
    • 2 points = defense returns interception on extra point try for touchdown
  • Safety = 2 points


  • The Quarterback (or player who receives direct snap) cannot run except:
  • When the football is handed off, lateraled, etc. to the QB by an offensive player other than on the direct snap.
  • All handoffs must be behind the line of scrimmage and behind the offensive player handing off.
  • Offensive teams may pitch, lateral, throw back. However, once the ball hits the ground the play is dead.
  • “No Run Zones” are located 5-yards from the mid-field line and end zones. Once the ball has been spotted in these areas, no running plays are allowed.  (Please note:  Does not apply to K-2 division)
  • The football is spotted where the ball carrier’s front foot is when their flag is pulled off the belt.
  • Spinning away from a defensive player is allowed. This action must be deemed to be “under control” by the referee and the player’s arms may not swing wildly away from his/her body.
  • Offensive players may not guard their flags in any way by shielding, holding, moving, etc.
  • Offensive players may not block in any way. The only acceptable scenario is a, “non-moving screen.”  A “non-moving screen” must meet the following criteria to be legal:
    • The player(s) feet must be stationary
    • The player(s) hands must be at their side or touching their own body.
    • The player(s) may not move until the ball-carrier has past them by 2 yards.
  • A “non-moving screen” may only be implemented to screen for an offensive ball carrier.


  • All offensive players are eligible to receive passes.
  • Players must have at least one-foot inbounds when making a catch.
  • Players who run out of bounds are not eligible to make a reception.
  • An offensive player can be in motion when the football is snapped provided they do not cross the line of scrimmage.
  • QB’s must pass the football within 7 seconds after the snap. If the football is not thrown within 7 seconds, the play is ruled dead.  There is no penalty.
  • If the football is handed off, lateraled, etc. the 7-second rule is no longer in effect.
  • Intentional grounding is not a penalty.
  • Interceptions may be returned by the defense. Interceptions downed in the end zone will result in the football being placed at the 5-yard line.
  • The intercepting team may not implement a “non-moving screen” during an interception return.

Rushing the Quarterback:

  • Any defensive player(s) that rush the QB must start 7 yards off the line of scrimmage when the football is snapped. Any number of players may rush the QB or none at all.  Players not rushing the QB may defend at the line of scrimmage.  Please note:  All defensive players must stay 7 yards off the line of scrimmage in the K-3 and 6-8 divisions until the football is snapped (The K-2 division is 5 yards)
  • Once the football has been handed off to an offensive player, by the QB, the 7-yard rush rule is no longer in effect.
  • Defensive players defending the line of scrimmage may not follow offensive players behind the line of scrimmage. Defensive players who are not 7 yards off the line of scrimmage may only cross the line once the ball has been handed off or lateraled by the QB.
  • The referee will designate the 7-yard (or 5) mark before the ball is set each play.
  • There is no tackling, blocking, pushing or contact of any kind allowed.
  • Defenders are not allowed to “bump” receivers at any time.
  • Defensive players may not charge thru an offensive player in a “non-moving screen,” they must go around.
  • Defensive players may not attempt to strip the ball from the ball carrier.
  • Defensive players may not dive from behind to pull the flag. Doing so will results in a 10 yard penalty (from the spot of the foul) and a first down for the offense. In the event that the player crosses the goal line, a touchdown will be granted.

Dead Balls:

  • The football can be snapped between the legs or off to the side, to start play.
  • Substitutions may only be made during dead ball situations.
  • Dead ball results include:
    • Ball carrier’s flag is pulled
    • Ball carrier steps out of bounds
    • Touchdown is scored
    • Ball carrier falls on the ground or if their knee OR  the ball touches the ground.
    • Incomplete pass
    • A timeout is called
    • 7-second QB pass rule violation
    • Any player who starts the play without a flag belt and touches the football
    • Any time the ball is fumbled the play is dead where the football hits the ground


  • All players must wear their official NFL Flag Jersey, official flag belt, shorts or pants and a protective mouthpiece must be worn on every play! No exceptions!
  • Players may wear wristbands and gloves.
  • Players may not wear head gear (including sunglasses), any type of padding or metal cleats.
  • Seeing eye glasses may be word but only with a tightened head strap.
  • All players shirts must be tucked in at all times and their flag belt worn properly with no obstructions to the flags.


  • Defensive:
    • Off sides/Illegal Rush        5 yards + Repeat down
    • Pass Interference – Spot of penalty + 1st down
    • Holding – 10 yards from spot + 1st down
    • Illegal Contact – 10 yards from spot + 1st down
    • Illegal Flag Pull – 10 yards from spot + 1st down
    • Illegal Attire – 10 yards from spot + 1st down
    • Roughing QB – 10 yards from spot + 1st down
    • Delay of Game – 10 yards + 1st down + clock stops
  • Offensive:
    • Off sides/Illegal Motion – 5 yards + Repeat down
    • Pass Interference – Loss of Down
    • Illegal Forward Pass – 5 yards + loss of down
    • Flag Guarding – 10 yards + loss of down
    • Illegal Attire – 10 yards + loss of down
    • Impeding Rusher – 10 yards + loss of down
    • Illegal Screen – 10 yards + loss of down
    • Delay of Game – 10 yards + loss of down

Cape Cod Youth Flag Football, Cape Cod Youth Sports,LLC, the organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and players assume no responsibility for injury to the child playing.  All rights and claims are waived by the undersigned parent or guardian.

The undersigned parent or guardian gives approval for the participation of their child in all activities of Cape Cod/Barnstable Flag Football during the current season and assumes all the risks and hazards incidental to the conduct of the activities and transportation to and from the activities.

Disclaimer: If your child registers for the league, the tuition fee to play on a team is non-refundable.