Official NHSSC Flag Football Rules
Section One - Players
- Teams must consist of at least twelve players, with at
least four of each gender. There is no maximum number of
players a team may have on its roster.
- The maximum number of players on the field is eight, with
at least three of each gender.
- The minimum number of players on the field is five.
- Teams may play with reduced number of players with of each gender, provided that they instead play short by that same amount. For example, if the team only has two female players available, they may only play 7 players. Or, if they only have 1 female player, they must play no more than 6 total players. Teams must utilize at least 1 female player.
- Players may be substituted for each other at any time
between plays. Players entering the field of play must run in at least 5 yards to be eligible for that play, or must notify the other team that they are entering the field of play.
All players must be registered to play on that team. Unrostered substitutes are not permitted. Teams found to have played with an illegal player shall forfeit the game.
Section Two - Equipment
- The NHSSC shall provide all field equipment.
- Games shall be played on a field measuring 80 yards long
and 40 yards wide, or as close to those measurements as the
game field will allow, with cones marking each ten-yard
zones shall be ten yards wide.
- Teams will switch end zones during during halftime.
- Teams may bring their own footballs for practice, but all
games will be played using NHSSC footballs.
- No metal cleats are allowed. Players found to be wearing metal cleats will be immediately expelled from the game, and will be subject to a 1 game suspension.
- The NHSSC will provide each player with a belt and two
colored flags. Shirts must be tucked in and the belt must be worn on the outside of any clothing and the flags must be attached at the sides of the
- It is illegal for a player to block his or her flags, or
those of a teammate.
- All flags are subject to inspection by the referee after
Section Three - Game Times
- Each game will be divided into two 20-minute halves, with a
- Scheduled game times are forfeit times.
- Each team is allowed one one-minute time-outs per
- The referee will maintain the game clock, which except for
time-outs called and halftime shall run continuosly for the first 18 minutes of
- If the score at the 18-minute mark of the second half reflects a difference of less than 17 points, then within the last two minutes of the half the clock
shall be stopped for an incomplete pass, if a team scores, if the ball
carrier goes out of bounds, for a change of possession, for a penalty,
or for a called time-out. If either team is ahead by 17
points or more, the clock may only be stopped for a called time-out,
even in the last two minutes of the game.
Section Four - Start of Game
- The NHSSC official on site will flip a coin, to be called
in the air by one of the team captains present. The winning
captain will choose one of the following options:
- Choice of offense or defense
- Choice of end zone to start the game
- Possession will automatically go to the opposite team to
start the second half.
- Play will begin at the 10-yard line of the team which wins
- Teams that win the coin toss may also 'Defer' their decision to the 2nd half. In this case, the opposing team will then be given a choice of possession, or choice of end zone.
Section Five - Line of Scrimmage
- The referee will use a chip to mark the line of scrimmage
and spot the ball in the middle of the field.
- The offensive team must have a minimum of five players set
at the line of scrimmage at the snap. Players in motion are
not considered set.
- Once the center has placed his or her hands on the ball no
player may enter the neutral zone until the snap occurs.
- The referee will blow his whistle to signify the play may
- The defense may not cross the line of scrimmage until the
line judge has provided a count of ?one one-thousand, two
one-thousand, three one-thousand, four one-thousand, five
- The quarterback may not run for positive yards unless
rushed after the five-second count.
Section Six - Passing
- A forward pass is completed when the ball is caught by any
player of the passing team who has at least one foot in-bounds.
- An eligible receiver becomes ineligible if he leaves the
field during the play and remains ineligible until the ball is touched
by an eligible receiver or any defensive player. However, if
a eligible receiver is forced out-of-bounds he shall be considered
eligible as soon as he returns inbounds.
- If an ineligible receiver catches the ball the pass shall
be considered incomplete.
Section Seven - Downs
- The offensive team will have four downs to achieve a first
- A first down is achieved by completing two passes beyond
the line of scrimmage or by crossing the midpoint of the field.
- The offensive team will not be granted a second first down
until and unless the midpoint of the field is crossed.
- Once past the midpoint of the field, an offensive team will
have one additional first down and four downs to score a
touchdown. If no touchdown is scored, a turnover will be
Section Eight - Punts
- Punting is not permitted in NHSSC Flag Football.
Section Nine - Turnovers and Stoppage of Play
- 1. Possession will change
from one team to the other when:
- A team scores. Play will start again at the 10 yard line.
- Four downs are counted without obtaining a first down. Play will start again at the 10 yard line.
- A forward pass is intercepted.
- Play will stop when:
- One of the ball carrier's two flags is removed
by an opposing player.
- The ball carrier leaves the field of play.
- A team scores a touchdown or extra point.
- The ball touches the ground because of a fumble or
- Any part of the ball carrier's body other than
his feet, hand, or elbow, touch the ground.
- A referee inadvertently blows his whistle.
Section Ten - Gender Rule
- At least once for every three
downs, a person of each gender must be used as the quarterback,
ball-carrier, or receiver.
- When the offensive team is
required to utilize a member of a certain gender due to this
requirement, the referee will call 'Gender Play' before the ball is
placed. If the team has no players of the specified gender, they shall lose a down.
- Should a gender play be put in
motion with a player of the specified gender used as quarterback the
gender count will automatically be reset unless the quarterback is
sacked or the snap is fumbled.
- Should a gender play be put in
motion with a player of the specified gender intended as the receiver
the ball cannot be caught by a person of the opposite gender unless
initially deflected by the intended receiver.
- A pass thrown in a gender play scenario will reset the gender
count, regardless of whether it is complete or incomplete, as long as
in the judgment of the NHSSC official on the field the pass thrown was
intended to be caught.
- If a receiver not of the
specified gender catches a pass in a gender play the ball shall be
- Passes thrown in gender play
scenarios may only be deflected or intercepted by someone
of the same gender as the intended receiver.
Section Eleven - Penalties
- All penalties may be declined by the opposing team should
the penalty be to their detriment.
- All penalties will be imposed at the line of
scrimmage, EXCEPT for flag guarding. Should the full imposition of the penalty carry
the line into an end zone, the ball will be spotted at the one-yard
line. Portsmouth Only: Pass interference will be on the only exception, not flag guarding.
- Penalties on a gender play on the defense will result in the following play NOT being a gender play. Penalties on a gender play on the offense will result in the following play being being another gender play.
- The following shall incur a ten-yard penalty:
- Any player:
- Running into an opponent, including using a stiff-arm
- Reckless play. Players must make every effort
to avoid contact.
- Blocking. Players may not use their hands,
elbows, or any other part of their body to block opponents.
- Flag guarding. Players may not intentionally
block access to any flag, including those worn by teammates. Flag guarding also carries a loss of down.
- Intentional foul.
- Unsportsmanlike conduct
- Holding. Defenders may not touch the receiver
prior to catching the ball.
guarding. Players may not use their hands to block the sight
of the receiver.
interference. Given that no player shall be obligated to give
up a position once gained, a defender shall not deliberately obstruct
an intended receiver from obtaining a position to catch the ball.
- Defense, deflection, or interception by someone of the incorrect
gender in a forced gender play. Exception: this penalty does not apply when the defensive team does not have a player of the specified gender, and is playing with 5 players. Portsmout Only: Defense is not a penalty.
- Offensive pass
interference. No player shall obstruct another player from
obtaining a position from which to go to and catch the ball, given that
neither shall any player be obligated to give up such a position once
- The following shall incur
a five-yard penalty:
- Off sides. A
defensive player is off sides when any part of his body crosses the
line of scrimmage before the five-second count is called.
- Encroachment. A defensive player may not
enter the neutral
zone prior to the snap.
- Delay of
game. The offensive team has 30 seconds from the
referee?s whistle to snap the ball.
participation. Teams may not have more than eight players on
the field at a given time nor less than five, and must abide by the
proportional gender requirements.
cadence. The player calling the cadence must receive the snap.
- Off sides.
An offensive player is off sides when any part of his body is beyond
the line of scrimmage prior to the snap.
- False start.
At least five players must be set at the line of scrimmage for a
minimum of one full second prior to the snap.
motion. No player is permitted to move forward toward the
goal line until the snap.
- Not using the
correct gender in a gender play. Also penalized a down.
- Illegal forward
pass. The ball may be passed forward only once and only from
behind the line of scrimmage. A forward pass must cross the line of scrimmage.
grounding. A passer may not throw the ball without a
realistic chance of completion, with the exception that a passer may
ground the ball to stop the clock with less than two minutes to play in
the game. Also penalized a down.
Section Twelve - Scoring
- Touchdowns are scored as
six points (The ball carrier must have both flags cross into the endzone)
- A ten-yard conversion is
scored as two
- A five-yard conversion is
- A "safety" is
scored as two
points. A safety will be called and two points awarded for the
opposing team when, due to a given team's actions, the ball is placed
within that team's end zone. The following are examples of proper
- The ball carrier retreats into his
own end zone and
- The offensive team commits a foul and the penalty
pulls the line
of scrimmage into that team's end zone.
- A player grounds the ball in his own end zone.
- A player snaps the ball out of his own end zone.
- A player fumbles the ball out of bounds in his own
- The following are explicitly not safety scenarios:
- A defensive player intercepts the ball in the
zone and is then
flagged. This results in a touchback to the 20-yard line.
- A defensive player intercepts the ball and his
him into the end zone and he is then flagged. This results in the
ball being spotted at the point of the interception.
- An offensive player passes from behind his goal
line and an
opponent bats down the ball in the end zone. This is an incomplete
- Wins will count as two
points in the
standings, and ties will count as one.
- There will be no overtimes
- Teams highest in the
standings will be
entitled to participate in the playoff round for the NHSSC Championship
Cup. The NHSSC reserves the right to decide how many teams
are invited into the playoffs, any means of breaking a tie in the
standings, and the playoff schedule.
Section Thirteen - Referees
- The NHSSC shall provide at least one
official for each game. The judgment of this official shall
be final and binding.
- The NHSSC official shall be
- Keeping time
- Enforcing all rules and
- The second official on the field shall:
- Count 5 second rush in a manner audible by all players on the field.
- Record each point,
win, and loss
- Call any penalties he or she sees.
- Any player who engages in
unsportsmanlike conduct, including arguing with NHSSC staff or the
opposing team or engaging in gratuitous profanity, shall be warned once
and then, if the behavior persists, be ejected. Any player
who is ejected from two games over the course of the season shall be
ejected from the league. The NHSSC official on site may, at
his or her discretion, recommend further disciplinary action up to and
including a permanent ban from all NHSSC activities. Any
player who engages in any sort of violence, including fighting, shall
be banned permanently from the NHSSC.
Section Fourteen - Forfeits
- Teams that arrive at forfeit time with fewer than six people, or fewer than 1 of either gender, shall forfeit the game, and the opposing team shall take the win.
- If both teams arrive at forfeit time with fewer than six
people, or fewer than one of either gender, both shall forfeit the
game, and both shall receive zero points in the league standings for