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New Canaan Flag Football Rules--2017

I. Game

The home team wears the dark side of jersey, as the away team wears lighter side.

·        At the start of each game, captains from both teams meet at midfield for the coin toss.  The away team calls the toss.
·        The winner of the coin toss can choose to take the ball or choose which end zone to defend.
·        The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has three (3) plays to cross midfield. Once a team crosses midfield, it has three (3) plays to score a touchdown. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team takes over on its 5-yard line. If the offensive team fails to cross midfield, possession of the ball changes and the opposition starts its drive from its 5-yard line.
·        All possession changes, except interceptions, start on the offense’s 5-yard line.
·        Teams change sides after the first half. Possession changes to the loser of the coin toss.
·        Referee puts the ball into play each down.  On change of possession, Referee will put the ball into play when the defense is set
 
 
 II. Terminology

•       Boundary lines – the outer perimeter lines around the field including the sidelines, and the rear end zone lines.
•       Line Of Scrimmage (LOS) – an imaginary line running through point of football and across the width of the field.
•       Line-To-Gain – the line the offense must pass to get a first down or score.
•       Rush Line – an imaginary line running across the width of the field 7 yards (into the defensive side) from the Line of Scrimmage
•       Offense – the team with possession of the ball.
•       Defense – the team opposing the offense.
•       Passer – the offensive player that throws the ball and may or may not be the QB.
•       Rusher – the defensive player assigned to rush the Quarterback to prevent him/her from passing by pulling his/her flags or blocking the pass.
•       Downs (1-2-3) – the offensive squad has three attempts or “Downs” to advance the ball and cross the Line to Gain to get another set of downs or to score.
•       Live Ball – the period of time that the play is in action. Generally used in regards to penalties, Live Ball Penalties are considered part of the play and must be enforced before the down is considered complete.
•       Dead Ball – the period of time immediately before or after a play.
•       Whistle – the sound made by an official using a whistle that signifies the end of the play or a stop in the .action for timeout, half time or the end of the game.
•       Inadvertent whistle – an official’s whistle that is performed in error.
•       Charging – the movement of the ball carrier directly at a defensive player who has established position on .the field. This includes lowering the head, making contact with the defender with a shoulder, chest or forearm.
•       Flag Guarding – An act by ball carrier to prevent a defender from pulling ball carrier's flags by stiff arm, lowering elbow, or head and or by blocking access to the runner's flags with hand or arm.
•       Shovel Pass – a legal pass attempted behind the line of scrimmage by throwing the ball underhand or pushing it towards a receiver in a shot put type manner.
•       Lateral – a backwards or sideways toss of the ball by the ball carrier.
•       Unsportsmanlike Conduct – rude, confrontational or offensive behavior or language.
 
 

 III. Eligibility

·        A player’s age must fall within the specified grade of the current year.
         Age will be verified by a valid birth certificate.
·        All players parents must register thru New Canaan Flag Football to become eligible to play.

IV. Equipment

·        The League provides each player with flag belts and each team with one football.
·        Players must wear shoes. Cleats are allowed.  Metal cleats are prohibited.
·        Players may tape their forearms, hands and fingers. Players may wear gloves, elbow pads, and kneepads. Braces with exposed metal are not allowed.  Players with a hard cast will not be allowed to play.
·        Players must remove all watches, earrings and any other jewelry that the officials deem hazardous.
·        Official NFL FLAG jerseys must be worn during play.
·        Players’ jerseys must be tucked into the pants if they hang below the belt line.
·        Pants or shorts with belt loops or pockets must be taped.
·        All players must wear a mouth guard for practice and games
 

V. Field

·        The field size is 30 yards by 70 yards including two 10-yard end zones and a midfield line-to-gain. No-Run Zones precede each line-to-gain by 5 yards. or 25 by 70 yards when 4 games are playing at the same time.
·        No Run Zones are in place to prevent teams from conducting power run plays. While in the No Run Zones (a 5 yard imaginary zone before midfield and before the End zone), teams may not run the ball in any fashion. All plays, including those that begin with a handoff, must be pass plays.
·        Stepping on the boundary line is considered out of bounds.
·        Each offensive squad approaches only TWO No Run Zones in each drive (one zone 5 yards from midfield to gain the first down, one zone 5 yards from the goal line to score a TD).
 

VI. Rosters

·        Home teams wear dark jerseys, visiting teams wear light jerseys.
·        Teams must field a minimum of six (7) players to start the game, and may use 6 if one player goes down.
 
 

VII. Timing and Overtime

·        Games are played on a 40 minute continuous clock except during the last 2 minutes of the second half.
·        The Referee will stop the clock for the 2 minute warning (2nd half only)
·        During the final two minutes, the clock will stop after each score and will not start again until the ball is put in play by the offense (clock will not run during extra points).  The clock will also stop if a player with the ball steps out of bounds or a pass falls incomplete.  In these cases, the clock will restart as soon as the ball is placed on the field by the Referee.  The clock will not stop for penalties . 
·        Mercy Rule:  If one team leads another by more than 16 points, the clock will not stop for the 2 minute warning or any other dead ball.
·        Halftime is three minutes long or Referees choice if game is running long or more time is needed.
·        Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced.
·        Each team has one 30 time out the first half. And two 30 second time outs the second half.
·        Officials can stop the clock at their discretion.
·        In the event of an injury the clock will stop and then restart when the injured player is removed from the field of play.  The injured player must sit out for at least one play.
·        If the score is tied at the end of 40 minutes, the game goes into overtime.
·        
 

VIII. Scoring

o    Touchdown: 6 points (player with ball must have 1 foot and the ball over the goal line)
o    PAT (Point-After Touchdown) 1 point (5-yard line) or 2 points (12-yard line) Note: 1 point PAT is pass only, 2 point PAT can be run or pass.
o    Safety: 2 points (A Safety occurs when the ball carrier is declared down in his own end zone)
o    Interceptions on PAT’s can be returned for one point or two.
 

 

IX. Coaches

o    Coaches are typically volunteer parents or family members helping the players learn and enjoy the game.
o    Parents are encouraged to support the coach at all time.
o    Coaches are expected to adhere to NFL FLAG philosophies, coaching guidelines and codes of conduct.
o    Only 3 coaches per team are allowed on the sidelines.
 
      Second and Third Grade Coaches are allowed on the field, only one coach per team.
o    Coaches much remain on the sidelines during play (except during time outs) and cannot roam past the No Run Zone cone on their side of the field
 

X. Live Ball/Dead Ball

o    The ball is live at the snap of the ball and remains live until the official whistles the ball dead.
o    The official will indicate the neutral zone and line of scrimmage. It is an automatic dead ball foul if any player on defense or offense enters the neutral zone. In regards to the neutral zone, the official may give both teams a “courtesy” neutral zone notification to allow their players to move back beyond the line.
o    A player who gains possession in the air is considered in bounds as long as one foot comes down in the field of play.
o    The defense may not mimic the offensive team signals, by trying to confuse the offensive players, while the quarterback is calling out signals to start the play.
o    Substitutions may be made on any dead ball.
o    Any official can whistle the play dead.
o    Play is ruled “dead” when:
o    The ball hits the ground.
o    The ball carrier’s flag is pulled.
o    The ball carrier steps out of bounds.
o    A touchdown, PAT or safety is scored.
o    The ball carrier’s knee or arm hits the ground.
o    The ball carrier’s flag falls out.
o    The receiver catches the ball while in possession of one flag.
o    The 7 second pass clock expires.
o    An inadvertent whistle is performed (at the spot where the ball was whistled dead).
o    In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the offense has two options:
o    Take the ball where the whistle blew.
o    Replay the down from the original line of scrimmage.
o    Note: There are no live fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball hits the ground.
o    A team is allowed to use a time out to question an official’s rule interpretation. If the rule is interpreted incorrectly, the time out will not be charged and the proper ruling will be enforced. Officials should all agree upon any controversial call in order to give each team the full benefit of each call. If the ruling is correct the team will be charged a time out.
 
 

XI. Running

o    The ball is spotted where the runner’s feet are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball carrier has the ball.
o    If one foot precedes the other, the forward foot marks the spot.
o    The quarterback cannot directly run with the ball.
  1. Center sneak play is no longer allowed. The QB is not allowed to handoff to the center on the 1st handoff of the play.

o    Only direct handoffs behind the line of scrimmage are permitted. Offense may use multiple handoffs.
o    Absolutely NO laterals or pitches of any kind.
o    “No-Run Zones,” located 5 yards before each end zone and 5 yards on either side of midfield, are designed to avoid short-yardage, power-running situations. Teams are not allowed to run in these zones IF the subsequent line is LIVE. (Reminder: Each offensive squad approaches only TWO No Run Zones in each drive - one 5 yards from midfield to gain the first down, one 5 yards from the goal line to score a TD 5 yards).
o    Any player who takes a handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage.
o    Once the ball has been handed off in front or behind the quarterback, all defensive players are eligible to rush.
o    Runners may not leave their feet to advance the ball. Diving, jumping or leaping is considered flag guarding. (No leaping over players)
o    Spinning is allowed, but players cannot leave their feet to avoid a flag pull.
o    Runners may leave their feet if there is a clear indication that he/she has done so to avoid collision with another player.
o    No blocking or “screening” is allowed at any time.
o    Offensive players must stop their motion once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage. No running with the ball carrier.
o    Flag Obstruction – All jerseys MUST be tucked in before play begins. The flags must be on the player’s hips and free from obstruction.
o    Deliberately obstructed flags will be considered flag guarding.

XII. Passing

o    All passes must be from behind the line of scrimmage, thrown forward and received beyond the line of scrimmage.
o    Shovel passes are allowed, but must be received beyond the line of scrimmage.
o    The quarterback has a seven-second “pass clock.” If a pass is not thrown within the seven seconds, play is dead, the down is consumed and the ball is returned to the line of scrimmage. Once the ball is handed off, the 7-second rule no longer is in effect.
o    If the QB is standing in the end zone at the end of the 7-second clock, the ball is returned to the line of scrimmage (LOS).
 

XIII. Receiving

o    All players are eligible to receive passes (including the quarterback if the ball has been handed off behind the line).
o    Only one player is allowed in motion at a time. All motion must be parallel to the line of scrimmage and no motion is permitted towards the line of scrimmage.
o    A player must have at least one foot inbounds when making a reception.
o    In the case of simultaneous possession by both an offensive and defensive player, offense wins
o    Interceptions change the possession of the ball at the point of interception. Interceptions are the only changes of possession that do not start on the 5-yard line.
o    Interceptions are returnable, but not on conversions after touchdowns.
 

XIV. Rushing the Passer

o    All players who rush the passer must be a minimum of seven yards from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped.
o    Any number of players can rush the quarterback. Players not rushing the quarterback may defend from anywhere, including on the line of scrimmage.
o    Once the ball is handed off, the seven-yard rule no longer is in effect and all defenders may rush immediately
o    A special marker, or the referee, will designate a Rush Line seven yards from the line of scrimmage.
o    Defensive players should verify they are in the correct position with the official on every play.
o    A legal rush is:
--Any rush from a point 7 yards from the defensive line of scrimmage.
--A rush from anywhere on the field AFTER the ball has been handed off by the quarterback.
--If a rusher leaves the rush line early, they may return to the rush line, reset and then legally rush the quarterback.
--If a rusher leaves the rush line early and the ball is handed off before they cross the LOS, they may legally rush the quarterback.
o    A penalty may be called if:
--The rusher leaves the rush line before the snap and crosses the LOS before a handoff or pass
--Any defensive player, not lined up at the rush line, crosses the LOS before the ball is passed or handed off
--Any defensive player crosses the LOS before the ball is snapped (Offside)
o    Teams are not required to rush the quarterback; seven second clock remains in effect.
o    Teams are not required to identify their rusher before the play.
o    If rusher leaves the 7-yard line before the snap, he may immediately drop back to act as a defender with no offside penalty enforced.
o    Players rushing the Quarterback may attempt to block a pass. However, NO contact can be made with the quarterback in any way.
o    Offense cannot impede the rusher in any way. The rusher has a CLEAR PATH to the QB and any interference that would impede his/her path to the QB will be considered screening. The defense may attempt to block a pass provided they do not strike the passer.
o     A Sack occurs if the QB’s flags are pulled behind the line of scrimmage. The ball is placed where the QB’s feet are when the flag is pulled.
o    A Safety is awarded if the sack takes place in the offensive team’s end zone.
 

XV. Flag Pulling

o    A legal flag pull takes place when the ball carrier is in full possession of the ball.
o    Defenders can dive to pull flags, but cannot tackle, hold or run through ball carrier when pulling flags.
o    It is illegal to attempt to strip or pull the ball or pull from the ball carrier’s possession at any time.
o    If a player’s flag inadvertently falls off during the play, the player is down immediately upon possession of the ball and the play ends.
o    A defensive player may not intentionally pull the flags off of a player who is not in possession of the ball.
o    Flag guarding is an attempt by the ball carrier to obstruct the defender’s access to the flags by stiff arming, dropping of head, hand, arm or shoulder, or intentionally covering flags with the football or jersey.
 

XVI. Formations

o    An offensive team must have a minimum of one player on the line of scrimmage (the Center) and up to five players on the line of scrimmage.
o    The quarterback must be off the line of scrimmage.
o    One player at a time may go in motion 1-yard beyond and parallel to the line of scrimmage.
o    No motion is allowed towards the line of scrimmage.
o    Offensive players must come to a complete stop before the ball is snapped unless he is the player in motion.
o    Movement by a player who is set or a player who runs toward the line of scrimmage while in motion is considered a false start.
o    The center must snap the ball with a rapid and continuous motion between his legs to a player in the backfield, and the ball must completely leave his hands.

XVII. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

o    If the Field Director or referee witnesses any acts of intentional tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking, or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped and the player will be ejected from the game. The decision is made at the referee’s discretion. No appeals! FOUL PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
o    Offensive or confrontational language is illegal. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. If offensive or confrontational language occurs, the referee will give one warning. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the game.
o    Coaches or Players may not physically or verbally abuse any opponent or official.
o    Ball carriers MUST make an effort to avoid defenders with an established position.
o    Defenders are not allowed to run through the ball carrier when pulling flags.
o    Fans must also adhere to good sportsmanship:
o    Yell to cheer on your players, not to harass officials or other teams.
o    Keep comments clean and profanity free.
o    Compliment ALL players, not just one child or team.
o    Fans are required to keep fields safe and kids friendly
o    Keep younger kids and equipment such as coolers, chairs and tents away from the sidelines.
 

XVIII. Penalties

o    The referee will call all penalties.
o    Referees determine incidental contact that may result from normal play.
o    Spot Fouls will be assessed from the spot of the foul; all others will be assessed from the line of scrimmage.
o    Only the team captain or head coach may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretations. Players cannot question judgment calls.
o    Games cannot end on a defensive penalty unless the offense declines it.
o    Penalties are assessed Live Ball then Dead Ball. Live Ball penalties must be assessed before play is considered completed.
o    Penalties will be assessed half the distance to the goal when the penalty yardage is more than half the distance to the goal.
o    All defensive penalties provide an automatic 1st down to the offense
o    All offensive penalties lead to a loss of down by the offense
 
 
Spot Fouls
• Screening, Blocking or Running with the ball carrier................................................................. …..5 yards & loss of down
• Illegal contact (Holding, blocking, etc.).............................................................................................5 yards & first down
• Flag guarding............................................................................................................................................loss of down
• Defensive Pass Interference...........................................................................................................................first down
• Stripping the ball...........................................................................................................................10 yards & first down
• Charging...................................................................................................................................10 yards & loss of down
• Offensive Unnecessary Roughness..............................................................................................10 yards & loss of down
• Unnecessary Roughness................................................................................................................10 yards & first down
 
 
Defense
• Offside.......................................................................................................5 yards from the LOS & automatic first down
• More than 6 players on field ………………………………………………………………………….…….….5 yards from the LOS & first down
• Illegal rush (Starting rush from inside 7-yard marker)...................................................5 yards from the LOS & first down
• Illegal flag pull (Before receiver has ball)....................................................................10 yards from the LOS & first down
• Roughing the passer ................................................................................................10 yards from the LOS & first down
• Taunting .................................................................................................................10 yards from the LOS & first down
 
 
Offense
• Illegal motion (More than one person moving, false start, etc.).................................5 yards from the LOS
• *Illegal forward pass (Pass received behind LOS or throwing a pass beyond LOS)……...5 yards from the LOS & loss of down see below
• Illegal pick play………………………………………………………………………………………..………….5 yards from the LOS & loss of down
• Delay of game........................................................................................................5 yards from the LOS & loss of down
• Offside...................................................................................................................5 yards from the LOS & loss of down
• More than 6 players on field ………………………………………………………………………….…….….5 yards from the LOS & first down
• Offensive pass interference…………………………………………………………………................10 yards from the LOS & loss of down
• Taunting .............................................................................................................10 yards from the LOS & loss of down
 
*Passing beyond the line of scrimmage a player must have whole body beyond, not just his or her's front foot.