URO Flag Football Rules

Urban Rec Flag Football Rules


  1. Players are allowed to wear cleats provided they are rubber (no metal cleats allowed)
  2. Players must bring a light shirt and a dark shirt to wear and all shirts must be tucked in to flag belts.


  1. A complete starting lineup consists of 6 players including a minimum of 2 women and 1 man on the field of play. A team may play with an incomplete starting lineup of as few as 4 players provided there is at minimum 1 woman and 1 man on the field of play to start.  A team with 4 players and without the minimum 1 woman and 1 man required will be considered a forfeit and play for fun.  If a team has less than 4 players they will be subject to the Default Fine.kIf the opposing team is alright playing a game that counts versus their opponent who is lacking the minimum of 1 womana nd 1 man, they can decide to do so.  If this is the case, the team captains must agree prior to the game beginning that the game result will count and inform the Game Supervisor.
  2. Teams may avoid defaulting in regular season games by utilizing players from other teams that play in the league without penalty.  However, in the playoffs, this can only be done to avoid being subject to the default policy- the game will be considered a forfeit loss (but not a default) if a team utilizes players not on their roster to field a lineup.

Game Supervisor

  1. The Game Supervisor (GS) is NOT the referee. All games are self-officiated. Rather, the GS is responsible for timing the games, ensuring you have the necessary equipment to play, providing basic first aid and is a resource if you have any questions or concerns. They are however tasked with enabling a positive and safe atmosphere for the participants. At their discretion they may eject players for actions that are contrary to league policy, game rules or violate the code of conduct.
  2. In situations where the teams are unable to determine the appropriate call due to not seeing the play, complexity of the situation etc they can defer to the EC and if he or she also cannot determine a timely resolution, it will result in a replay of the down.


  1. games will consist of two 25-minute halves in length; each team will be allocated one 30-second timeout per half. With one minute left EC will call the games last 4 plays. Regardless if half is made there is only 4 plays
  2. 20-second clock – once the ball is placed, teams will have 20 seconds to huddle and snap the ball; if a team takes longer than 20 seconds, then a 5-yard penalty will be assessed. In order for the penalty to be assessed, the defensive team must have counted out the 20 seconds out loud so that the offense can hear.  No huddle is required. NFL rules apply, no movement (forward motion) before the ball is hiked.
  3. Playoffs only – Overtime is played with consecutive attempts at a score. To determine who gets first possession, team captains will rock-paper-scissors to decide. Offense starts 10 yards from the opposing goal line. They have only 2 downs to score. If they score, they can take the automatic points. The other team has a chance to match the score following the same format.  Teams continue until one team scores and the other does not match the score.

Ball Possession

  1. The team that wins rock-paper-scissors to begin the game will have the choice to start with the ball on their 5 yard line (or approximate location if not marked on the field of play), or defer possession until the start of the second half. The team with possession will have 4 downs to get the ball to midfield and from there another 4 downs to score a touchdown; if, after 4 downs the team has not reached midfield or the end zone, the opposing team will take over the ball from where it was last placed. However teams may elect to punt the ball away on 4th down if they don’t believe that they can reach midfield or the end zone.


  1. Scoring: Touchdowns are worth 7 points, teams then have option of going for a 2 point conversion from the 10-yard line and, if made, they get 8 points (if not made, they only get 6 points).
  2. Completed Pass: A player must have one foot inbounds and possession before going out of bounds.
  3. No moving picks/screens – a standing screen can be set, however the player must be have their feet set with their arms crossed in front of their body; a violation of this rule will result in the play being blown dead and a 10 yard penalty assessed from the point of the infraction.
  4. Snap: the ball may be snapped directly to the quarterback through the center’s legs or to the side of the center’s body. 
  5. QB Rushing: QB’s can run the ball past the line of scrimmage only if rushed by the defensive team (i.e. after the defense has counted 4 alligators/steamboats/etc AND crossed the line of scrimmage.  If the defense does not cross the line of scrimmage, the QB may not run with the ball.
  6. Handoffs: If the ball is handed off to a player other than the QB behind the line of scrimmage then all players are eligible to rush the line of scrimmage.
  7. Responsibility to Avoid Physical Contact: An offensive player must make every effort to avoid physical contact with the opposition.  An offensive player may not push off a player or charge through a defender to get “open” if a player does so, the play is over and penalty yardage (10 yards) is assessed from the line of scrimmage.
  8. Fumbles: When the offence fumbles the ball the play is dead and the ball is spotted at the fumble. Offence retains the ball.  This is for safety reasons.
  9. Player on ground: If the ball carrier falls to the ground; the defense only needs to touch the player for the player to be downed. They do not need to grab the flag once the player is down.
  10. Flags: Flags must be on the sides of players at all times; shirts must be tucked into the flag belt at all times. Players who do not adhere to this rule after being asked once will have a 10 yard penalty assessed to their team from the line of scrimmage
  11. Guarding the Flag Belt:  Players shall not flag guard or straight arm – If a player does so, the play will be blown dead and a 10 yd penalty will be assessed from the point of the infraction.


  1. Responsibility to Avoid Physical Contact- It is the defensive player’s ultimate responsibility to make every effort to avoid physical contact: defensive players must make a clean play on the ball or the flag only.  Physical contact prior to a play on the ball will result in an Illegal Contact Penalty - the play is over and penalty yardage (10 yards) is assessed from the line of scrimmage. Physical contact made in an attempt to make a play on the ball will result in a Defensive Pass Interference penalty. Therefore, unless the defender can make a clean play on the ball their focus should be a clean play on the flag.
  2. Rushing the QB:  The defense may send one player to rush the quarterback after 4 Alligators (or steamboats or other suitable word). The player rushing must count OUT LOUD the 4 Alligators prior to advancing on the rush.
  3. Downed: Once the flag of the ball carrier is pulled the play is dead and the ball is spotted where the flag was pulled.
  4. Safeties: If an offensive player is tackled in their own end zone, a safety will be issued with the opposing team receiving the ball 5 yards from their own side of half. They will have the usual 4 downs to gain the half, as well as 4 additional downs if they do gain the half. No additional points will be awarded for a safety.

Kickoffs, Punts and Fumbles

  1. NO KICKOFFS: Ball taken at the 5-yard line (or approximate location if not marked on the field of play). Rock-paper-scissors winner decides if they want possession to start game or defer to second half.  Loser decides which side of the field they would like to start the game (teams switch at half-time).
  2. Punts: On fourth down, the offense may punt. NO FAKE PUNTS, NO RUSH ON PUNTS.  Ball is dead where it goes out of bounds (touchback to the 5 yard line if it lands in the end zone). The ball will considered DEAD on the spot if the punted ball hits the ground before it touches any other player in bounds. The kicker must punt the ball within 4 Alligators (or steamboats etc.) of receiving the snap. The kicker may not wait longer in order for his players to get down the field for better coverage. Failure to punt the ball within the allotted time will result in a loss of down, and the opposing team will take-over at the spot of the punt.
  3. Fumble:  The Play is DEAD on a fumble at the point it hits the ground, to prevent injuries.


  1. Penalty Overview- 10-yard penalties for all violations- repeat down (opposing team can accept or reject penalty).  Unless specifically mentioned above that the play is dead, penalty yardage is imposed after play is complete. 
  2. All penalties will be “walked off” 10 yards. Penalty yardage cannot result in a score or a 1st down at the half (half the distance to the goal/1st down at half will be applied in those cases).
  • Illegal Contact: Both offensive & defensive players must make every reasonable effort to avoid physical contact with the opposition.  When in doubt, set your feet and cross your arms in front of you.
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Flag guarding
  • Offensive Pass Interference
  • Defensive Pass Interference (10 yards or ball marked at point of infraction if ball was deemed catchable)
  • Offensive Holding/Blocking
  • Illegal de-flagging- holding offensive player in order to de-flag
  • Tripping opponent
  • Offensive Offsides
  • Defensive Offsides
  • Delay of game (see 20 sec. huddle clock under TIMING)
  • Illegal Forward Pass- throw the ball after crossing the line of scrimmage
  • Illegal Rush - rushing before official counts off necessary "alligators" The appropriate pace of the alligators is one per second.


  1. Any controversial play, where the teams are unable to determine the appropriate call due to not seeing the play, complexity of the situation etc they can defer to the EC and if they also cannot make a fair judgement call it will result in a replay of the down. Once it has been determined that a replay is in order, the 20s clock will start and the game will proceed without further discussion.
  2. Football size: The game ball shall be an adult-sized football that is provided by Urban Rec.  An alternate ball may be used provided that 1) it is adult-sized, and 2) both teams agree to use the alternate ball.  If one team does not agree to use the alternate ball, then the Urban Rec-supplied ball shall be used.  No child or youth-sized footballs are permitted.
  3. UNSPORTSMANLIKE PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED – Urban Rec leagues are recreational by design and sportsmanship is paramount. This is further articulated in the Urban Rec code of conduct that was signed by all players upon registering to play in any Urban Rec league.
  4. If the GS witnesses any acts of flagrant contact tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking, or any unsportsmanlike act, the game can be stopped and the player can be removed from the game
  5. Trash talking is illegal. (Trash talk is talk that may be offensive to the coordinator, opposing players, teams, or spectators.) The coordinator has the right to determine what is offensive language. If trash talking occurs, the GS will give one warning. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the game.
  6. If the GS inadvertently blows the whistle, the play is dead at the spot. 
  7. Substitutions on dead balls only.
  8. Flag must be showing at all times- shirts tucked in (defense- notify GS if they see a violation). GS may call ball dead at location if an infraction impacted the play.
  9. If the flag falls off the ball handler- the play is dead where the flag lands. If the flag falls off a non-ball handler, and they later catch the ball- a one hand touch below the shoulders rule will apply.
  10. Playoffs- to be eligible for playoffs, participants should play in at least 2 regular season games for their team. No ringers allowed!
  11. Tiebreaker- If two or more teams are tied in the standings at season’s end, the first tie-breaker will be the team with more wins.  The second tie-breaker will be the team with the higher UR fun point average.  The 3rd tie-breaker will be head-to-head record against the other team(s) involved in the tie. If necessary, the 4th tiebreaker will be goal differential (goals for minus goals against) for the entire season.
  12. The most important rule of all... play with good sportsmanship and HAVE FUN!!!