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7 Man Contact Flag Football Rules

Rules composed using AFFL & FFWCT National Rules*
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FLINT Recreation - Heat Wave 7 Man Contact Rules



  • The playing field will be 100 yards long, with a width of 40 yards.

  • The four intersections of goal lines and sidelines must be marked at inside corners of the end zone and the goal line by pylons and/or cones.

  • All score tables, benches and tent as well other hazardous items must be 15 yards or further back from the boundaries of the field.

  • Teams shall have a designated team area at opposing sidelines. Team captain and/or manager are the only individuals allowed to leave designated team area during an on the field dispute. Any player(s) that violate and/or interferes with officiating not assigned to the roles above maybe dismissed from field. ANY PHYSICAL ALTERCATIONS WILL RESULT IN AN IMMEDIATE DISMISAL FROM THE FIELD BY ALL PARTICIPATING PARTIES. 

Gametime & Rosters:

  • Teams should arrive 20 min before the start of a game to warm up and need 6 players to begin play. If a game is not started at game time due to insufficient players, the result of the game is an automatic forfeit.

  • Team Roster maximum is 18 players. Only registered players and coaches are allowed on a Team’s designated area.

  • Teams are not required to have designated jersey but must bring two-sets of the of solid color attire. One-set for home field possession which shall be the darkest hue of a team’s colors and the other set a light hue of the a team’s color.

Game Duration:

  • Each game will be 32 minutes in duration, consisting of two, 16-minute halves.

  • The game will be played under running time. The game clock will stop only for Team, Injury and Referee Time Outs. The game clock will be stopped after a score or penalty 1-minute under the 1st half and will resume on the start of the next play. Running time will be suspended in the last 2 minutes of the Second Half and last 2 minutes of the second half will be played under controlled time.

  • 2-Min Warning: The game clock will not stop for a 2-minute warning in the 1st half but will stop for a 2-minute warning in the 2nd half in which the game will transition to controlled time. Penalty - If a penalty is declined in the las 2-minutes of the second half, the game clock will restart on the Ready for Play whistle.​


  • Each team must provide an official size leather or composite covered football, which is properly inflated. Balls shall be inspected at Throw-off.​


  • After the player retains possession of the ball, the ball must cross the goal-line to score a touchdown. A player landing in the end zone must place one foot in order for the result of the play to be a touchdown.

  • Touchdowns will earn 6 points if scored from 50 yards or less; 7 points from beyond 50 yards. If the defense intercepts the ball and returns it to the opposing end zone during a conversion, they will be awarded 2 points.

  • Conversions attempted from: 5-yard Line = 1 point; 10-yard Line = 2 points; 20-yard Line = 3 points;

  • Defensive TD: Interceptions may be returned for a score. The length of the return begins from where the ball is Intercepted and not the original LOS.

  • Safety: Will earn 2 points for the Defense if they pull an Offensive Player’s flag in his own End Zone while the Offensive Player has possession of the ball or if a Quarterback commits Intentional grounding in the end zone. Flag guarding in the end zone also results in a safety.

  • If the defense commits a penalty during a failed 2pt or 3pt conversion the result of the play will be a repeat of down, a 5-yard penalty, and the offense point value will remain the same. If the defense commits a penalty on a 1pt conversion the result of the play will be called a successful conversion.

  • Tackling or Intentional Holding a Free Runner during a conversion results in an automatically successful attempt for the converting team. If this occurs on a Defensive return, the Defense is awarded 2pt.

Game Start

  • Prior to the start time of the game, each team will send one player to the 15-yard Line for a longest throw contest where the player who throws the ball to the farthest yard line wins. The team that wins can choose if they would like to have “Throw-Off’s” for the remainder of the game or if the ball will start at the 20yd line at the beginning of every scoring drive and after the half. The team that win’s the Throw-Off will also choose whether to receive the ball or to defend.

  • The team that loses the contest chooses which goal line they would like to defend on the initial possession. The 2nd half Throw-Off or possession will be in the opposite direction as the 1st half initial possession.


  • The ball is to be thrown from the team’s 15-yard line and the game clock will resume.

  • Before the Throw-Off, the receiving team can line up in any formation as long as none of their players are across Midfield before the ball is thrown. The Throwing Team is not permitted to run up as the ball is thrown and must keep one foot on the 15-yard Line until the ball is released. The Throw-Off will occur at the beginning of the 1st and 2nd Half and after any Touchdown or Safety if elected at the beginning of the game. Unless there is an onside attempt.

  • The receiving team may advance any Throw-Off, either by catching the ball in the air or picking it up from the ground. If the ball is caught by the Receiving Team and the Receiving Player elects to place a knee on the ground in the Receiving Team’s End Zone or the ball bounces from the End Zone beyond any Sideline or the End Line, the Receiving Team will start with a First Down at its own 20-yard line, and must cross the 40-yard line before receiving a new set of downs. This remains even after a penalty that results in an automatic First Down or Free Down.

  • If the Receiving Team muffs the ball on a fly or bounce, the ball will be spotted where it first made contact with the Receiving team. If the Receiving team, drops the ball in the End Zone, the result of the play will be a Touchback.

  • Onside Play: An onside play will be treated as a fourth-down play with Midfield as the line to gain for the offensive team and would start at the Throwing Team’s 20-yard line. If the game clock is stopped under one minute, it will begin at the start of this play.


  • Teams are allowed 2 time-outs per half, 4 timeouts for the game. Time-out will not be carried over between half’s. Teams are not allowed to call timeouts 2 play calls in a row. Team time-out shall be 1 minute unless the referee chooses to extend. Referee time-out shall be 1 or 3 minutes; Change of possession - 1 minute; Between half’s - 3 minutes. The game clock will stop at the beginning of all referee time-outs and resume when the referee restarts the play clock.

  • The Play Clock: Will start when the referee sounds the Ready for Play whistle and the offense will have 25 seconds to start a new play. Failure to start a new play in the allotted time will result in a penalty for delay of game, resulting in a 5-yard penalty and loss of down.

Formations & Game Play:

  • Number of players: Each team will consist of a roster of 18 Players, with a maximum of 7 Players on the field during any play.

  • On the Line: The Offense must have a minimum of 3 Eligible Receivers on the line of scrimmage, who must line up at least 3 feet apart from each other and the center.

  • Near the Center: The offense is allowed, a maximum of 3 players to line up either side of the Center at the Line of Scrimmage.

  • Player in the Backfield: An offensive back must be 2 or more yards off the line of scrimmage.

  • QB Advance: The Quarterback is not allowed to advance past the Line of Scrimmage without another offensive player having possession first unless the defense crosses the LOS. The Quarterback cannot catch a forward pass unless it is completed beyond the LOS.

  • Eligible Receivers: All Offensive Players are eligible receivers except the Center.

  • Defense: There is no required formation for the defense. Defense is allowed to rush the LOS. There will be no blitzes. Rushers head over center must rush 3 yard from the LOS. IF the defense decides to rush the QB can advance past LOS. 

  • Laterals: On Scrimmage Plays unlimited lateral per team per play is allowed. Forward passes are permitted after Handoffs and Laterals as long as the ball and the passer completely has not crossed the LOS. Laterals can be intercepted and returned.


  • Teams are only allowed to punt on fourth-down if they are in their own territory and have not passed midfield (the 40-yard line) on its current possession. The team that is punting must announce their intentions to the referee before the Ready for Play whistle and must give the defense at least 5 seconds to set up its formation.

  • A Punt play does not start with a snap but will be the same as Throw-off from the LOS. A Punt is thrown in the air and will have the same treatment under the rules as a Throw-Off, with Throwing Team lining up at the Line of Scrimmage and the Receiving Team lining up at 15 yards from the Line of Scrimmage.


  • A catch or interception is ruled complete as soon as a Player has control of the ball and one foot touch completely inbounds. If another part of a Player’s body hits the ground before his feet, not including hands, then the initial contact with the ground from that body part must be completely inbounds.

  • If a Player loses possession of the ball, with or without the influence of the opposing team, when the ball hits the ground, the runner is considered to have had their flag pulled and the play is dead. The ball will be spotted either: where the runner loses control of the ball, if fumbled forward OR the spot where the ball hits the ground if the ball is fumbled backward.

  • Simultaneous Possession of a Forward Pass will be ruled to be a catch for the Offense regardless of the order of whose feet touch the ground first. The catch must be in-bounds otherwise the pass will be ruled incomplete.

  • Players who fall to the ground - regardless of whether it was due to incidental contact from other players may get up and continue to run. However, if on the ground, a player in possession of the ball is considered down when contacted by a defender with any part of the defender’s body.

  • Loss of Down: The offense on fourth-down results in a change of possession at the previous LOS.

  • Offsetting Fouls - If penalties are called on both Teams during any play without a Lateral or Forward Pass being intercepted, the result is a replay of the Down. If an intercepted and there is no penalty on the intercepting team until after gaining the ball, the interception will count, and the ball will be spotted with a First Down at the spot of the interception.

  • Free Down - Any penalty committed by the defense which would normally result in an automatic first down that occurs after the offense has gained a first down on the play will result in a free down awarded to the offense. Penalties during a free down if committed by the defense will be a replay of the free down, if committed by the offense loss of free down and play 2 of the series begins.

Inadvertent whistle:

  • An inadvertent whistle by an Official, the offense has the option of replaying the down or keeping the progress made on the play at the point when the whistle was sounded.

Forward progress:

  • Will be measured by the position of a Player’s front flag when either flag is pulled.

Defensive Contact:

  • Defensive players can initiate contact with open hands from the waist to the shoulders of an Offensive Player within 5 yards of the LOS but may not grab or hold.

Defensive Penalty:

  • Games cannot end on a defensive penalty. In the event of a defensive penalty on a play where time runs out, the Offense will be awarded one more play, with the Play Clock in motion, but the game clock not in use.


  • Charging takes place when an offensive player running with the ball makes significant physical contact with a Defensive Player who had established a stationary position on the field, the result will be the same as charging and at the referees discretion call a man down for 3 plays.

Defensive Holding:

  • If a defensive player holds onto a part of the body or uniform of a ball carrier where the offensive player’s progress is impeded in a meaningful way. The result will be an automatic first down at the spot of the foul. If a Free Runner has possession of the football with no defenders in front of him and appears likely to have scored in the absence of the tackle or intentional defensive hold the ruling on the field will be a touchdown.

Defensive Pass Interference:

  • If a defensive pass interference is called the offensive will receive an automatic first down and the ball will be placed at the spot of the foul. If a defensive pass interference is called in the end-zone the result of the play will be ruled a touchdown.

  • A Forced Out by a defensive player has the same remedy as DPI unless it occurs in the End Zone, in which case, the offense will be awarded a Touchdown. If the Pass appears uncatchable, no Penalty will be called.

Delay of Game:

  • Delay of game occurs if the offense does not start a new play before the play clock expires the result will be a loss of downs.

  • Throw-Off out of bounds – The ball will be spotted at midfield unless the ball does not cross midfield, in which case, the ball is spotted where it went out of bounds.


  • Defensive players may dive to pull flags or attempt to catch the ball, but the offense may not dive for the purpose of establishing forward progress. A diving player will be penalized for 3 plays.

Stiff Arming:

  • Open hand stiff arming is permissible.

Early Pull:

  • If a defensive player removes an offensive player’s flag before that player possesses the ball, the referee should say “Early Pull” and play continues. The defense will still need to pull a flag to end the play.

False Start:

  • If any member of the Offensive Team crosses the LOS before the ball is snapped, it is a Dead Ball and the Offense is penalized with Loss of Down. This also applies to onside Throw-Off.


  • Throwing teams crossing the LOS before a Throw-Off or Punt. On a Throw-Off or Punt, the receiving team will have the option of keeping the result of the play or getting the ball on the 40-yard line on a Throw-Off and getting the ball at the previous spot for a Punt.

  • If any member of the Defensive Team crosses the LOS before the ball is snapped, the play continues and the offensive Team may accept the result of the play or replay the down. If the result of the play is accepted, the defense will lose one of its Blitzes. If the down is replayed, the defensive team will not lose one of its blitzes.


Flag Guarding:

  • The result for flag-guarding is a spot foul and Loss of the next down. Flag-guarding is deemed to have occurred when an offensive player in possession of the ball creates contact with a defensive player using his hands, arms, elbows or the ball to prevent a defensive player from pulling his flag.

  • Flag-guarding that occurs after an Interception or on a return will result in the ball being spotted where the infraction took place. Flag-guarding on fourth down will result in a spot foul, a turnover on downs and the following possession will begin with a Free Down.

Illegal Lateral

  • A lateral that goes forward ends that play. An Illegal Lateral that travels forward will be spotted where the ball was released.

Illegal Forward Pass

  • Any forward pass thrown where the entire body of the passer has been beyond the line of scrimmage within the down. The result is a loss of down at the previous spot.

Illegal Motion:

  • Illegal Motion is any motion by an offensive player behind the LOS that moves toward their line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped, or more than 1 Player is in legal motion. This results in a dead ball foul and play is stopped.

Illegal QB run:

  • An Illegal QB run takes place if the QB runs across the LOS before any defensive players cross the LOS the result is loss of down and any yardage gained.

Ineligible Receiver Downfield:

  • No offensive player may run out of bounds without the ball and then touch the ball on the current play. In addition, this foul is also called when a Center is the first player to touch the ball after the Quarterback. If an offensive player commits this foul and then catches a ball, the pass will be ruled incomplete.

Interfering a Throw-Off or Punt:

  • Throwing teams must give the receiving player a half-yard buffer zone to catch any Throw-Off or Punt. The result for Interfering with a Throw-Off or Punt is that the offensive team takes possession at the spot of the foul or where the return ends, whichever is further, and will receive a Free Down.

Intentional Grounding

  • Intentional grounding occurs when a Quarterback’s forward pass is not thrown in the area of a receiver at play. This will result will be loss of down and the ball will be spotted at the spot of the foul. If this foul occurs in an end-zone, the play will result in a safety.

Missing Flags:

  • A Missing Flag violation occurs when a player begins a play without either of their two flags attached or it becomes unattached before possession of the ball but not from an Early Pull. The result or a Missing Flag is the player missing a flag is deemed to be down as soon as the player is touched by an opposing player.


  • An Offensive player who rolls on the ground for the purpose of preventing his flag from being pulled will be deemed to be down at the spot where he first started to roll. Dipping, jumping, spinning, not into a defender, are permitted moves for offensive players.

Roughing the Passer:

  • Roughing the passer occurs when a defensive player makes contact, intentionally or not, with the throwing arm or shoulder of any offensive player attempting a forward pass. The will result in an automatic first down from where the play ended and a free down will be awarded if the offense gained a first down on the play.



  • Tackling is defined as the intentional act of a defensive player disrupting an offensive player’s progress through physical contact initiated by the defensive player, such that he loses balance and/or falls to the ground.

  • At the conclusion of the play, the offense will receive the yardage gained and a First Down. If the play ends with a loss, the ball will be spotted at the previous spot with a first down.

  • If a Tackle occurs on a Throw-Off or Punt, the receiving team will begin its Possession with a Free Down. Tackling a free runner will result in a touchdown also know as the Last Man Rule.

Ineligible Player on the Field:

  • If the offense starts a play with more than 7 players on the field, the play is dead and the offense loses the down. If the Defense starts a play with more than 7 players on the field, the play continues as a free play, with the offense having the option to take the result of the play or replay the down.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: 

Unsportsmanlike Conduct is when any of the following occurs:

  • A player/coach disrespects an official either physically or verbally

  • Taunting of players from the opposing team

  • Fighting/Punching

  • Illegal contact above the shoulders

  • Pretending or acting as if a penalty has occurred in an attempt to influence a Referee’s decision-making

  • Intentionally blitzing when all team blitzes have been used

Un-tucked Ball Carrier:

  • Prior to a snap, whenever the referee observes any player with his shirt covering any part of his flags or his flags to be unaligned and not at his hips, the referee will warn the player. If the player does not comply before start of the next play, the referee will yell the offending player’s name or number along with “Onehand touch” which indicates that player can be deemed down once a defensive player touches them.

Referees & Staff

  • All officials have been trained and will abide by the rules subject to the tournament as listed above.

  • Up to 4 officials will work each game: two officials and two timekeepers. Generally, the referee should defer to the judgment of the official who had the best view of the play in question. The timekeeper will be responsible for operating the Game, Play and go clocks. All officials will wear uniforms provided by the foundation.

  • Instant replay review of disputed calls is permitted if available. The commissioner will be responsible for reviewing each play and will let the referee know if a play needs to be changed. Teams cannot request a play to be reviewed. All plays are reviewable including penalties.

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