Flag Football Rules for Kids

By Steve Johnson

Sports provide several advantages to youth players who indulge in them. Not only are they a great form of exercise, but they provide a pathway to learn about fair play and sportsmanship, as well as create new friends. One of the most popular sports is flag football, which has several rules—making it more “youth-friendly” than the rougher, more intense tackle football that older children play.

Time

Time makes up some of the key regulations in flag football. The four quarters are normally 10 minutes each, including a five-minute halftime. There also is a two-minute break after the first and third quarters.

Teams also have timeouts, including two, thirty-five second timeouts per half. The main difference between flag football and tackle is that the clock continues to run through plays and is only halted for scores, timeouts and at the end of quarters.

Teams and Field

Flag football teams are also smaller—featuring teams of eight on eight. The rosters allow 14 players total, but each player is required to play half of every game. A coin toss is used to determine the team that receives the ball first at the beginning of the game.

Fields are 60 yards long and 35 yards wide. With end zones, fields should make up a total of 80 yards.

Game Play

Just as in tackle football, plays can be passes, handoffs or punts (no field goal or extra point kicks). All players on offense are considered “eligible receivers.” After the center snaps the ball, the quarterback has only five seconds before the other team can rush him. Instead of tackling, players attempt to grab the flag of the player that is in possession of the ball.

All other rules within the game follow the general guidelines associated with football of all levels. This includes basic rules such as out of bounds, interceptions, and penalties—each of which are determined by referees. Scoring points is similar but not quite the same, including 6 points for a touchdown, 1 for an extra point running, 2 for passing, 2 for a safety, and 3 for a field goal. Teams must advance 10 yards for a first down and have four downs to do so.

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