What is Flag Football?

Flag Football is a non-contact version of American Football.

The game is played on a pitch with two 25×25 yard halves, plus two 10 yard end-zones.

On the field, there are two teams of five players. The team with the ball are on “offence”, the team without the ball are the “defence”. The offence are trying to get the ball into their opponents end-zone for a score. The defence are trying to stop their opponents scoring.

While there are five players per team on the park, there may be more players on the sideline ready to substitute in. Subs can be made at any point during the game while the ball is not in play.

Teams take it in turns starting with the ball five yards from their own end-zone. They have four chances (downs) to get the ball over half way, by running or passing the ball. Once the ball has crossed half way, the team then has four downs to get the ball into the end-zone for a six point score. The other team try to stop them by pulling a flag from the belt of the person with the ball. If the flag is pulled, the play stops and resumes from that spot.

There is no blocking, no tackling people to the ground, no contact. Or at least that is the theory. There are ten people running around in a limited area, watching a ball in the air. In addition, while the ball is in the air, any player on the field has the right to try and catch it. They cannot however “go through” another player to get to the ball. Accidental bumps can happen. It is up to referees to decide on whether contact should be penalised.

On the offensive team there are three basic positions.

The Centre starts with the ball on the ground on the line of scrimmage. His job is to get the ball to the quarterback, on a pre-arranged signal. Once the ball is ready and the centre has his hand on the ball it cannot be moved other than in a single movement to the Quarterback.

When the quarterback gets the ball, he may already have decided if the play will be a run, where the ball is given to a team-mate behind the line of scrimmage, or a pass where the ball can be thrown forward to another player (one forward pass per play). Note, the quarterback cannot run the ball himself.

The other three players on offence are receivers (or runners). If it is a pass play, the quarterback will already have told the receivers where to be on the field and will attempt to pass the ball to them there. Having given the ball to the quarterback, in Flag, the centre then also becomes a valid receiver.

On the defensive team, positions are slightly more fluid, but there are three basic positions.

The blitzer is someone who starts seven yards from the line of scrimmage. Their job is to try to tackle the quarterback before he has delivered the ball to any other players.

Cornerbacks tend to be looking for passes to players not far beyond the line of scrimmage, or for run plays.

Safeties tend to be looking for receivers further down the field looking for long passes. If there are short passes, safeties will get back to help the Corners as quickly as possible.