Flag Football Rules & Regulations

Please ensure that you read and understand the Houston Sports & Social Club General Rules.

General Flag Football Rules




There is no maximum number of players allowed on a flag football team roster; however players must be registered with Houston Sports & Social Club and must sign the Houston Sports & Social Club waiver to be able to participate. Please refer to the Houston Sports & Social Club General Rules for rules regarding roster adjustments and additional detail regarding waivers.




Please refer to the General Rules for details regarding player eligibility.




Houston Sports & Social Club expects all participants to play with the highest level of sportsmanship. Rude or demeaning behavior to umpires, the opposing team, and/or your own team members will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Unsportsmanlike behavior may result in that player being ejected from the game. An ejection may result in further suspension from participation in current and/or future Houston Sports & Social Club sports. An ejected player is required to leave the premises immediately. Refusal to leave the premises may result in a team forfeit and/or suspension.


Any disputes or complaints regarding the umpire’s handling of a game or ejection can be addressed with the league after the day of play in which the incident took place. On the day of the incident, the umpire’s decision will be considered final and disputes will not be addressed by the league.




Houston Sports & Social Club will provide flags but will NOT provide balls.

Players must provide their own football. The football must be any official NCAA or NFL size ball.

Games will have a 5-minute grace period (with the exception of the first game of the night, which will have a 10-minute grace period). Once the grace period has expired, If a team does not have the minimum number of players to play an official game (minimum of 6 players with no more than 4 men), the game will be ruled a forfeit. If however, the opposing team wishes to allow the team to play with less than the minimum amount of required players, the game may be played as an official game. The opposing team’s captain must notify the league official that they want to play an official game despite the other team’s inability to field the minimum number of players for a legal game. The game will be assumed as a forfeit unless there is a specific request by the team captain to this effect. A forfeit will be scored 21-0.


Forfeit fines may be issued if a team does not provide a forfeit notification prior to the deadline, and does not have the minimum number of players to play an officiated exhibition game (minimum of 4 players). If a team e-mails info@HoustonSSC.com by 2pm on the day of your game (for weekday leagues) or 10am the day of your game (for weekend leagues), stating that they will not be able to field a team, no fine will be assessed. This will allow notifications to reach the opposing team’s members and will allow the opposing coach to inform his team of the impending forfeit. If the forfeiting team does have the minimum number of players required to play an exhibition and your team chooses to not play the exhibition, no forfeit fine will be assessed.


If you believe a forfeit fine is owed to your team, your team captain must complete the forfeit fine request form by no later than 7 days after the forfeit (e.g. if you are forfeited on in a Thursday league, you have until Wednesday of the following week to submit your forfeit fine request). If the forfeit fine request form is not completed within 7 days, no forfeit fine will be assessed. The forfeit fine request form is located at: https://www.HoustonSSC.com/page/forfeit


After review, if it is determined that your team is owed a forfeit fine, a forfeit fine will be assessed ($50 per game for regular leagues and $25 per game for doubleheader leagues) and added to your captain's account as league credit that can be used toward a future season. For free agent teams, the fine will be divided by the number of players on the roster and added to each player's account. The league credit will expire 6 months from the day of issuance.


Note: No forfeit fines will be assessed in tournaments or playoffs.





Houston Sports & Social Club promotes responsible drinking; however some fields do not allow alcoholic beverages. If this is the case, Houston Sports & Social Club staff members will be monitoring to ensure that no visible alcohol is present. If a fine is assessed against Houston Sports & Social Club for a player’s negligence in following the rules of the field, that player will be responsible to reimburse Houston Sports & Social Club for any fines or additional costs associated with the violation. Additional action may be taken at the discretion of the league.




Players will not be allowed to play if they are wearing shorts or pants with pockets. All attire worn must not have pockets. Taping pockets, turning shorts or pants inside out, or turning pockets inside out is not acceptable. Players who have pockets of any kind will be asked to change or leave the field of play.

Players must remove all jewelry and accessories including but not limited to watches, hats, sunglasses, rings, earrings, chains, and necklaces prior to game play. Earring studs and prescription glasses are acceptable.




The winning team will be awarded 2 points.

In the event of a tie, both teams will be awarded 1 point.

The losing team will not be awarded any points.




The maximum numbers of players on the field is 8 players with a maximum of 5 men. The minimum number of players to play a legal game is 6 total with no more than 5 men.




Best 2 out of 3 rock, paper, scissors decides which team has the first choice of which half they want the ball OR which direction. The losing team gets the second choice. Teams switch directions and starting possession after half time.


Play will be divided into a 20 minute first half and an 18 minute second half with a 7 play period after the 18 minutes has expired. Halftime will be three minutes long. If the team trailing is down by 17 points or more at the 18 minute mark of the second half, the game will be considered final and the 7 play period will not be played. Extra points will not count against the 7 play period. The clock will run continuously for the entire game except for called timeouts, serious injuries, and the 7 play period at the end of the game. If an injury occurs, that player must leave the game for one scrimmage down.


Each team is allowed three (30 second) timeouts per game which can be used at any time during the game. If a touchdown is made after time has expired, the extra point conversion will be allowed. If there is a defensive penalty at the end of a half, the offensive team will be allowed one untimed down.


The offense has 25 seconds to put the ball in play after the marker is placed. Once a play is completed the offensive team is given 10 seconds to place the markers at the line of scrimmage. After 10 seconds, the 25 second play clock will begin whether the markers have been placed or not. No player shall put the ball in play prior to the markers being accurately placed at the line of scrimmage. On a change of possession, the referee will wait 10 seconds before starting the 25 second clock.


Regular games can end in a tie. Overtime only applies in the playoffs and format is detailed in section III-B.




Ball starts on the 15 yard line. All offensive players (except motion player) must be set for one full second before ball is snapped. The man in motion cannot be moving forward at the time of the snap. The line of scrimmage after a play is always determined by the location of the hips when the flags are pulled, not the position of the ball.


No offensive player may enter the field of play once any of the following have occurred.


(1) The offense has broken an established huddle

(2) The center has picked up the ball at the line of scrimmage

(3) The quarterback has made his first cadence.




If a team fails to earn a first down in four plays, possession will go to the opposing team. The offensive team may elect to punt on fourth down. First down markers are at every 15 yard increment. On a change of possession, the line to gain is the closest 15 yard line marker, not 15 yards from the spot of the ball.




The offensive team must declare punts to the referee who will ensure that the opposing team has enough time to put players back to receive the punt. If a team wishes to change their decision after declaring a punt, they must use a timeout before being allowed to proceed.

No fake punts or block attempts are allowed. The kicking team must stay on the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted. Five players from the receiving team must be on the line of scrimmage and stay there even during the return. The receiving player may fair catch the ball or advance it. If the ball hits the ground after touching any part of the receiver’s body, it becomes a dead ball. The ball can be played off a bounce. If the ball travels into the end zone without being touched, a touch back is called and ball placed at the 15 yard line.




No blocking is allowed at any time. This includes downfield blocking during an offensive play and returned punts. No contact is allowed by any defensive player guarding a receiver. Offensive players may run behind the player with the ball to receive a lateral, but may not run in front or parallel to.

All players must try to avoid contact with other players on the football field and are responsible to maintain control of their bodies at all times. If a defensive player has established position, the offensive player cannot run them over or initiate contact with them in any way. Defensive players cannot push, tackle, trip, hold, or otherwise initiate contact on the offensive player in any way. This rule will be strictly enforced for the safety of all players.




A forward pass is completed when caught by any player of the passing team who has at least one foot in-bounds. If opposing teams catch the pass in-bounds simultaneously, the ball belongs to the offensive team at the spot of the catch. If a player steps out-of-bounds and comes back in-bounds to be the first person to touch the ball, it will be ruled an incomplete pass regardless of whether possession is established. However, if a player steps out of bounds, they will be eligible to catch a deflected ball. Teams can lateral up to 2 times behind the line of scrimmage and still make a forward pass.

The QB cannot run for positive yards until after the 5 second count. If the play is a forced gender play, a male QB may not run for positive yards in any scenario.

There is no limit to the number of players that can rush the QB after the five count has been established, however if a female is QB, only females are allowed to rush. Males are not allowed to rush a female QB.  




A change of possession can only occur due to downs, a punt, or an interception on a forward pass. A ball that is fumbled and hits the ground is dead at the spot of the fumble and is not a turnover. A lateral can be advanced by a defender if intercepted. If the lateral touches the ground it will be considered a fumble and a dead ball.




Touchdowns are six points.

Extra points are one point for a 3-yard conversion and two points for a 10-yard conversion. An intercepted extra point try MAY be returned for 2 points (regardless of whether the offense was attempting a one-point or two-point conversion). If a penalty is assessed on an extra point attempt causing the extra point to be replayed, the value of the extra point attempt does not change.

If a female to female pass results in a touchdown, the offense will receive seven points (instead of six). Teams will still then have the option for a one or two point conversion. Female to female conversion completions will NOT count for additional points.

Safeties are two points. The scoring team will now go on offense with the ball placed at their own 15 yard line.





Teams must use a female as an operative player within 3 consecutive downs. A female is considered an operative player if she:

  1. Runs the ball past the line of scrimmage
  2. Is the intended receiver of a pass. This is a subjective determination by the official.
  3. Acts as the quarterback (even if positive yards are not gained)

     Examples / Scenarios:

Satisfies the operative female rule:

     - A forward pass is thrown across the line of scrimmage to a female

     - A female QB throws a forward pass across the line of scrimmage to an offensive player

     - A forward pass is thrown across the line of scrimmage intended for a female and is unintentionally deflected by a female and caught by         a male

     - A female runs the ball across the line of scrimmage

Does NOT satisfy the operative female rule:

     - A female is handed the ball but does not cross the line of scrimmage.

     - A female snaps the ball into play.

     - A male QB intentionally throws the ball into the ground at the feet of a woman without a reasonable expectation of a completion. (at referee's discretion)

     - A female QB throws a pass that does not cross the line of scrimmage while in the air (even if the receiver catches the ball behind the line and proceeds to move across the line of scrimmage).

     - A female QB takes the snap but hands it off to a male player.

     - A pass is deflected by a male and caught by a female




If there are 2 consecutive plays where a female is not used as an operative, the referee will announce that a forced gender play is required on the current play. If a female plays QB, the forced gender rule is satisfied with the exception of a handoff to a male. There is no forced gender rule during extra point conversions or punts.



All defenders must play man-to-man coverage, i.e. no zone or double teaming is allowed on a forced gender play. Males cannot defend females, nor can they deflect or intercept a pass on a forced gender play. Males may be in a position to pull the female’s flag after a reception, or intercept a deflected/dropped pass provided they maintain a 3-yard halo zone between themselves and the receiving female until such time that the female has touched the pass. An interception by a male after a female deflection will be a change of possession and can be returned, provided that the 3-yard halo was maintained prior to the female touching the ball. Males cannot initiate contact with a female in any way while attempting to pull their flag or intercept a deflected/dropped ball. Females are free to intercept or defend passes to females on closed plays. The only exceptions to these rules are the following:

- Offense plays more than 3 females

If the offense chooses to field more than 3 females, males may cover the additional females without the 3-yard halo and can deflect or intercept the pass, however interceptions will be treated as an incomplete pass and not a change of possession, unless the ball is first touched by a female and deflected. Males cannot initiate contact with a female in any way while attempting to make a play on a ball, pull their flag, or intercept a deflected pass.

- Defense plays more than 3 females

If the offense fields at least 3 females and the defense chooses to field more females than the offense, the additional female(s) on defense must still cover and line up on a male at the line of scrimmage. The extra defending female(s) may not be used to double team or play in a defensive zone against the other females.

- Defense plays 2 females, offense plays 3 females or more

If a defensive team is down a female player (only 2 females on the field), a male may cover an opposing team’s female on a forced gender play. However, the male must maintain a 3-yard halo from the female and cannot bat or intercept the ball unless first touched by the female.

If the offense chooses to field more than 3 females in this scenario, all males forced to play man to man on a female may cover the additional females without the 3-yard halo and can deflect or intercept the pass, however interceptions will be treated as an incomplete pass and not a change of possession. Males cannot initiate contact with a female in any way while attempting to make a play on a ball or pull their flag.

- Offense plays 2 females, defense plays 3 females or more

If the offensive team is down a female player on a forced gender play (only two females), the defense is permitted to use the third female defender to double team or play a zone. If the defense plays more than 3 females, the female double teaming or playing zone must identify themselves and the additional female(s) must line up and cover a male, i.e. no more than 3 females may be used to cover the 2 offensive females.




It must be clear before the offense is set who the operative QB is on the forced gender play (i.e. cannot be ambiguous or left to guess whether a male or female is the QB for that play).


When a female is QB on a forced gender play:

  • The defense may play any defensive scheme and interceptions by any player will be considered a change of possession and can be returned.
  • Males are not allowed to rush a female QB. Rushers must be females.
  • If the female QB is sacked or fumbles the snap for a loss of 5 or more yards, or the ball is deflected behind the line of scrimmage on a forced gender play, the count will reset and the next play will be an open gender play.
  • When a male is QB on a forced gender play:
  • If a rusher is a male, they must make every effort to avoid deflecting or batting a pass or a penalty will be assessed for illegal defense on a forced gender play. Females rushing a male QB are allowed to bat or deflect a pass.




Playoff seedings will be determined by the best overall records. In the event that 2 teams are tied with the same record, head-to-head matchups will determine higher seeding whenever possible. When head-to-head matchups cannot clearly determine a higher seed, or when 3or more teams are tied, tiebreakers will be determined in the following order::

  1. Head-to-head matchups (for 2-way ties when possible, described above
  2. Highest team point differentials for the season
  3. Lowest team total points allowed for the season
  4. Coin Flip
  1. OVERTIME (Playoffs Only):
  3. Best 2 out of 3 rock, paper, scissors decides which team has the choice of first or second possession. Teams will attempt to score in the same end zone. Each team will then have four downs to score from mid-field. If a team scores, they will have the opportunity to go for one or two on the PAT. The forced gender rules do apply in overtime. Interceptions will result in a turnover and may be returned for points. If the intercepted does not score from the turnover, the ball is placed at mid-field and their offense has a chance to score.  
  5. If a second round is needed, each team will begin their drive at mid-field. If a team scores in the second round, the team must go for two on the PAT. If neither team scores, the winner will be determined by most yardage gained. For the purposes of yardage, an interception will result in 0 yards being awarded to that team (or negative if the team had lost yards prior to throwing the interception). No first downs will be awarded except in the case of a penalty.

Football Penalties


-  Blitz count violation – Defensive players must wait until the 5 second blitz count is established prior to crossing the line of scrimmage to rush. The QB must wait until the 5 second blitz count is established prior to running past the line of scrimmage


-  Defensive offsides – A player is considered offsides when any part of his or her body is beyond the line of scrimmage before the snap of the ball or before the five second count is over.

-  Stripping – Defensive players are not allowed to attempt to strip the ball from an offensive player that has full possession of the ball. Possession is determined at the discretion of the official.

-  Defensive Forced Gender Penalty - The offense has three options:

1) Take the 5-yard penalty and repeat the forced gender play.

2) Take the penalty without yardage and repeat the down as an open gender play

3) Decline the penalty.


-  Delay of game –The offensive team must put the ball into play 25 seconds after referee has placed the line of scrimmage marker.

-  Illegal participation/substitution – Each team may not have more than 8 players on the field at one time or more than 5 men on the field, and cannot violate the substitution rules defined in Section K.

-  Illegal Snap – The ball must still be snapped to the offensive player who is lined up as QB. On a forced gender play, the offense must clearly designate which gender will be receiving the snap (QB must raise their hand). 

-  Offensive off-sides – When any part of the offensive player’s body or his person is beyond the scrimmage line before the ball is snapped.

-  False Start - After a shift or huddle all offensive players must assume a set position and come to an absolute stop for 1 full second (except one man in motion).

-  Illegal Forward Motion – No player is permitted to be moving forward toward his opponent’s goal line until the snap.

-  Illegal Forward pass– A forward pass is made after the offense has progressed the ball past the line of scrimmage. (Loss of Downs)

-  Illegal Diving or Jumping– No player may leave his or her feet in order to gain positive yards. (at referee's discretion)


-   Player Out of Control/Illegal Contact –All players must remain in control at all times and cannot initiate contact on another player under any circumstance. This rule will be strictly enforced to maintain the safety of our players.


-  Defensive Tackling/Holding/Belt Grabbing – Defenders cannot tackle, push, hold, or grab the belt of an offensive player. If a violation occurs as the last line of defense, i.e. a breakaway where the offensive player would have scored barring the violation, the ball will be placed on the defensive team’s 1 yard line.


-   Flag guarding – Intentionally or unintentionally obstructing the flag with your arm or the ball while the defender is in a position to pull it. (Loss of Downs)

-  Offensive Picking – An intentional action by an offensive player that delays or prevents an opponent from reaching their desired position. (at referee's discretion)

-  Offensive Pass Interference – A receiving player uses physical contact against a defending player to gain an advantage while a pass is in the air. (Loss of Downs)

-  Offensive Forced Gender Rule Penalty– The defense has 2 options:

1) Accept the penalty – Offense will be penalized 10 yards and the down will be replayed as a forced gender play.

2) Decline the penalty and the following play will be an open gender play.

-  Intentional Grounding on Forced Gender Play – If the male QB on a forced gender play is deemed to have thrown a purposefully uncatchable ball at the feet of a female player in order to attempt to satisfy a gender play, the offense will be penalized. (Loss of Downs)

-  Illegal Blocking – Blocking is not allowed under any circumstances. Offensive players may not run down field in front of or parallel to the ball carrier, whether intending to block or not. They may run behind to receive a lateral. (Loss of Downs)


-  Intentional foul - A player intentionally commits a penalty or foul of any kind in order to gain an advantage for his team. The player may be ejected.

-  Equipment Modification Foul - Modifying equipment to make it more difficult for the defense to tackle you by pulling your flag. If it is determined, at the discretion of the official, that the modifications were made intentionally, the player will be ejected from the game.

-  Unsportsmanlike conduct - Abusive or insulting language or gestures to another player or referee are prohibited and, as well as taunting opponents or similar theatrics before or after the touchdown. The player may be disqualified for above actions if judged by the referee to be flagrant and may be suspended for next week’s game. If that player(s) is caught playing next week, the team will forfeit that game. Fighting is not tolerated and in most cases will result in a suspension for the entire season. In a severe case of unsportsmanlike conduct, a player may be suspended from playing any Houston Sports & Social Club sports for a given period of time. Disqualified players’ names must be given to the Houston Sports & Social Club staff or referee. If the player refuses to give their name, the captain must give the player's name. Unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated in any form and players will not receive a refund for missed games due to a suspension/expulsion for an unsportsmanlike conduct violation.


-  Defensive Pass Interference – A defending player uses physical contact against a receiving player to gain an advantage while a pass is in the air. (Ball will be marked at the spot of the foul and an automatic first down will be awarded)

-  Faceguarding - A defending player intentionally raises their hands to obstruct the offensive player's view of the ball without turning around to locate the ball.