How to Play Flag Football

Establishing Rules, Field and Positions

    Find a large, grassy area to play on.

    Divide players evenly into two teams and hand out the appropriate colored football flags and flag belts to each team.

    Have each team decide who will act as its quarterback, runners and line players.

    Set your playing field's boundaries with plastic cones. Your boundaries should establish a rectangular playing area with two end zones, one on each end of the field (measured lengthwise). Anything outside the playing area is out of bounds.

    Decide how the winning team will be chosen, by limiting either playing time or points scored.

    Flip a coin to decide which team will begin playing offense.

Playing the Game

    Place the ball in the middle of the field.

    Line up each team on either side of the ball parallel to the end zones, facing each other, after an allotted time for deciding offensive and defensive strategies. Each team's line players should be closest to the ball, with the offense nearer to it and the defense farther away.

    The offensive player in the center of the line (called the "center") passes the ball to the quarterback between his or her legs.

    While offensive line players block the defensive line, the quarterback hands off or passes the ball to a runner, who runs with the ball toward the opposite end zone while defensive players try to pull his or her flags. Other offensive players try to block the defensive players from pulling the ball carrier's flags.

    If one or both of the ball carrier's flags are pulled, the defensive player who pulled the flag drops it on the ground, and the play ends.

    Place the ball where the flag was dropped, and repeat steps 8 through 11.

    Set the ball down where it was last in play if the ball carrier drops the ball or runs out of bounds, and repeat steps 8 through 11.

    Change possession of the ball if three more flag pulls, drops or out-of-bounds runs occur (for a total of four) before the offensive team gets the ball to the end zone. Switch possession where the ball was last in play or where the flag was dropped. The defense becomes the offense and the offense becomes the defense. The new offense gets four attempts to move the ball toward the opposite end zone.

    Switch possession after a point is scored. The scoring team becomes the defense and the defending team becomes the offense, and play begins again by setting the ball in the middle of the field and lining up the teams as before.

    Continue play in this fashion until the point limit or time limit is reached.


  • The size of the playing area will vary with available space, but each end zone should cover about 1/12 of the total playing field.
  • Larger, slower-moving players should play on the line, while smaller, quicker players should serve as runners. The quarterback should be a player with a good throwing arm.
  • The ball cannot be passed forward (toward the target end zone) from past the line of scrimmage (the line ' parallel to the end zone - from which the ball was snapped to the quarterback during the current play). A ball carrier may pass backward to another offensive runner, however, once he or she has passed the line of scrimmage.
  • The number of downs is flexible according to field size. Play fewer downs for smaller fields and more downs for larger fields.

Things Needed

  • Flag Football Belts
  • Flag Football Flags
  • Football Cleats
  • Footballs
  • Plastic Cones

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