Welcome! This page is separated into two sections, the top being a full list of flag football game rules and the bottom being a list of our rule modifications. Before that, however, here are some things you should know about our group:
This Meetup costs $15 for every three months it remains active. We will never ask for a membership fee, but donations are certainly accepted.
The intent of this Meetup is to create a laid-back atmosphere where people can both get some exercise and enjoy each others' company. As such, we don't keep score or play to win. We give our opponents the benefit of the doubt and support them for their efforts. This should be something we all keep in mind.
We'll bring a first aid kit to each Meetup, but would also like to bring water and cups for everybody. If anyone wants to help with this as a charitable act, it would be greatly appreciated.
Feel free to contact me (Chris) or any of our Assistant Organizers if you have questions, comments, concerns or suggestions.
How to Play Flag Football
We create a playing field based on the number of people who play. A good sized game has five or six players on each team. There are two end zones, one at each end of the playing field. The object of the game is to run or catch the ball in the end zone.
We begin by putting on our flags. The flags are attached by Velcro to an adjustable belt. Instead of tackling opponents, players pull the flags from their opponents' waistbands, indicating a finished play. Each player wears a flag on both sides of their body.
We're still deciding which type of ball we're going to use. A junior football-sized Nerf-type foam football is easier to grip and catch, yet a junior sized regular football is closer to what a lot of people grew up playing with. We have both, so we're going to experiment with both. Feel free to request either.
After scoring touchdowns, teams throw the ball down the field to their opponents. They throw the ball from their end zone to the opposite end zone. Players from the team that receives the ball try to run with the ball as far as they can. Since they are running towards their opponents, they have to try to dodge them and avoid having their flags pulled. Once a flag is pulled, the ball is "down."
After the flag of the player running the return is pulled, that player's team gets four attempts to complete a first down or score a touchdown. A first down represents another four opportunities to score. We play that an automatic first down is awarded to a team that reaches the midfield mark.
Each team has a quarterback, runners and line players. At the beginning of the first down, all of the players of both teams line up facing each other on an invisible, horizontal line, called the "line of scrimmage." The line sits at the location where the offensive player's flag was pulled.
The quarterback's responsibility is to throw the ball to his or her teammates. The runners' responsibility is either to run the ball or to go out for a pass and catch the ball, and try to get it as far down the field as possible. The line players' responsibility is to be available for a short pass if the quarterback is rushed.
When both teams are ready to go and are lined up facing each other, the quarterback, while holding the ball, says "hike" and pulls the ball away from the line of scrimmage. At this point the runners go out for a pass. We play that either a line player can snap, or throw the ball to you, or you can hike it to yourself.
The defending team's players also align themselves into line player and runner positions. The runners guard their offensive counterparts. The line players stand at the line and, upon the hike, begin counting to "5-Mississippi." Upon 5-Mississippi, the line players can run towards the quarterback (called a "rush") to try to pull his or her flag. Should this happen, the quarterback would look for his or her own line players to try to make a quick pass (or "completion").
In contact football, line players from an offensive team can block opponents rushing the quarterback, but we don't play that way. We play without contact, so it's all about running and passing. If the defending team's line players rush the quarterback at the end of their count, the quarterback can either run towards the end zone or throw the ball to his or her teammates. He or she cannot, however, at any point throw the ball if he or she has crossed the the line of scrimmage.
Once the flag from a player on the offense has been pulled (and they are "down"), they begin with their second opportunity to score or get a first down. If they try to score or get a first down four times and cannot do so, the opposing team gains possession of the ball at the line of scrimmage heading the opposite direction. The only way to achieve a first down is by running or catching the ball beyond the midfield mark.
If the quarterback throws the ball to a teammate and he or she misses it, the play is over and second down begins from the line of scrimmage. If the ball is intercepted by an opponent, that player runs the opposite direction (towards where the ball was thrown from) and tries to score a touchdown or get as far as he or she can. First down for the intercepting player's team then begins heading the same direction as he or she just ran.
If the line players from the defending team rush and pull the flag from the quarterback, the line of scrimmage stays where it is. It can't move backwards; only forward, and only if the quarterback runs past it or a pass is completed beyond it. The quarterback can't run beyond the line of scrimmage until the defending line players finish their count to 5-Mississippi.
When touchdowns are scored, defending players run to the opposite end zone and get ready for the throw-off. We don't keep score, but if you want to do so in your head you can. If the ball is thrown and it goes too far it can either be requested to be re-thrown, or the receiving team can begin first down from 10 or 20 yards in. If the ball bounces out of bounds from a throw off or pass, the line of scrimmage sits where the ball or player went out.
We don't allow ball-stripping (knocking the ball out of the quarterback or runners' hands while they're holding it), flag-swatting (knocking people's hands away when they try to grab your flag), we don't make a big deal over whether someone was in or out of bounds, we don't play with physical aggression, jeering or name-calling. We play for fun and fun only.
Here's a video of some co-ed kids teams playing no-contact flag football. Note that they don't wear helmets.
We hope the summary above gives you a better idea of how the game is played. Since it's a lot of text, it's understandable how it could be overwhelming. We'll gladly go over the rules again at our Meetups.
If you have any questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to contact us.
We play no contact flag football. Though there will obviously be some unintentional game-play contact, we try to limit it as much as possible.
We do not play with blocking. I know a lot of people like to do it with players they're comfortable around, but to make this group as accommodating and welcoming as possible, please try to keep your blocking to a minimum.
We'll bring both a Nerf-type foam football and a junior-sized official football to our games. Depending on which type of crowd shows up, we'll play with either. Ordinarily, however, we'll play with the junior-sized official football.
We throw the ball off after TD's. If it lands out of bounds, the receiving team can ask to have it re-thrown, take it from where it left the field, or, in the case of it going too far, take it from 10-15 yards.
Midfield is the only automatic first down, although sometimes we play with two completions.
We play with three line players on each team if we're playing 7 x 7, two line players if we're 6 x 6, and one line player if we're 5 x 5. This is to prevent crowding in the receiving field.
Line players on the offense stay to get open for hand-offs, laterals and passes after the count. Line players on the defense can count to 5-Mississippi.
The QB cannot run before the count is up. The defense gets one blitz per down, at which point the QB can run.
We allow both snaps and self-hikes. Whatever your QB at the time feels comfortable with.
There's no ball-stripping, flag-swatting, stiff-arming or any of that stuff. We play casual and for fun. Please don't coach your team while you play. Suggestions are good, demands are not so good.
We are a friendly, non-aggressive group that plays casual, no-contact flag football. We play for FUN and fun only, meaning we don't keep score, we give our opponents the benefit of the doubt, and we support everyone for their efforts, regardless of skill level or performance.
We created this group out of the belief that there should be more all-inclusive, co-ed, free, year-round pickup sports available to people living in the Boston area.