UR Flag Football Rules

Urban Rec Flag Football Rules


  1. Have fun and play with good sportsmanship!  We expect all of our Urban Rec participants to have a “Fun First” attitude about this unique sporting opportunity.  There is an emphasis on the players knowing the rules and managing their own actions on the court.  Sportsmanship, fun and being social are number one at Urban Rec and we hope to see that exhibited by all of our participants!
  2. To be eligible to play in the league all participants must have signed an online waiver with Urban Rec. Players that do not sign an online waiver will not be issued membership keytags and are not permitted to participate. Team captains that do not fill out the online team roster will have their team removed from the schedule until they do so and all players have signed the waiver. Team captains are responsible for ensuring that all participants for their team are eligible to participate.
  3. Playoffs Eligibility – all players must have played a minimum of 2 games over the regular season to be eligible to play in the playoffs. A team using an ineligible player will automatically forfeit the playoff game if the game has begun and that player has played in the game at that point. If a player shows up that is not on the team roster, they will not be allowed to play regardless if they played or subbed during the regular season. All players must be on the roster and indicate they have read the online waiver even if they are subs.
  4. The on-site staff may do a random ID check for players at any time at their discretion to ensure they are eligible to participate.  If a team is found to be using an ineligible player, then that player’s team will forfeit the game if it has already begun.  If the ID check is done prior to the game starting then that player is simply not permitted to participate until they have indicated they have read the online waiver (they can do this via their smartphone). 
  5. Prior to your game, please double-check the online league schedule for your game times.  If your team is late and not ready to go when the whistle blows to start the match, then you will lose playing time.  A match will consist of two 25-minute halves. 
  6. Teams have a 10-minute grace period from their scheduled start time as tracked by the on-site staff to field the minimum starting lineup (for flag football, a full starting lineup consists of 6 players including at least 2 of each gender on the floor, but a team may play with only 4 players if that is all they have provided they have at least 1 of each gender on the feild).  If a team does not have enough players to field the minimum starting lineup (including the minimum of each gender) by the end of this 10-minute grace period, then that team defaults the game and is subject to the associated default fee used to reimburse their opponent.  In this situation, the teams are encouraged to mix up players and play for fun during their time slot.  Any team defaulting more than 2 games in a season may be asked to leave the league, with no refund.
  7. Teams may avoid defaulting in regular season games by utilizing players from other teams (other than your opponents) that play in the league without penalty.  However, in the playoffs, this can only be done to avoid being subject to the default policy- the game will be considered an automatic loss (but not a default) if a team utilizes players not on their roster to field a lineup.
  8. All players should bring a dark shirt and a light shirt to all games. No grey.  By default, the visiting team will be required to change their shirts if both teams show up wearing a similar colour.
  9. Players are allowed to wear cleats provided they are rubber (no metal cleats allowed)


  1. The on-site staff is NOT the referee. All games are self-officiated. Rather, the on-site staff is responsible for timing the games, ensuring you have the necessary equipment to play, providing basic first aid and is a resource if you have any questions or concerns. They are however tasked with enabling a positive and safe atmosphere for the participants. At their discretion they may eject players for actions that are contrary to league policy, game rules or violate the code of conduct.
  2. In situations where the teams are unable to determine the appropriate call due to not seeing the play, complexity of the situation etc they can defer to the on-site staff and if he or she also cannot determine a timely resolution, it will result in a replay of the down.


  1. Games will consist of two 25-minute halves in length; each team will be allocated one 30-second time out per half. The on-site staff member will give a 5minute warning for each half, and after 3minutes will call out ‘Last 3 Plays) and the game will go through 3 more plays and the half will be over.
  2. 20-second clock – once the ball is placed, teams will have 20 seconds to huddle and snap the ball; if a team takes longer than 20 seconds, then a 5-yard penalty will be assessed. In order for the penalty to be assessed, the defensive team must have counted out the 20 seconds out loud so that the offense can hear.  No huddle is required. NFL rules apply, no movement (forward motion) before the ball is hiked.
  3. Playoffs only – Overtime is played with consecutive attempts at a score. To determine who gets first possession, team captains will rock-paper-scissors to decide. Offense starts 10 yards from the opposing goal line. They have only 2 downs to score. If they score, they get 7 points. The other team has a chance to match the score following the same format.  Teams continue until one team scores and the other does not match the score.

Ball Possession

  1. The team that wins rock-paper-scissors to begin the game will have the choice to start with the ball on their 5-yard line (or approximate location if not marked on the field of play), or defer possession until the start of the second half. The team with possession will have 4 downs to get the ball to midfield and from there another 4 downs to score a touchdown; if, after 4 downs the team has not reached midfield or the end zone, the opposing team will take over the ball from where it was last placed. However, teams may elect to punt the ball away on 4th down if they don’t believe that they can reach midfield or the end zone.


  1. Scoring: An offensive touchdown is awarded hen the ball carrier advances to the endzone (the player must have at least one food in the endzone before being flagged). Touchdowns are worth 1 point.
  2. Completed Pass: A player must have one foot inbounds and possession before going out of bounds (the boundary line will be the outside edge of the cones set-up).
  3. No moving picks/screens – a standing screen can be set, however the player must have their feet set with their arms crossed in front of their body; a violation of this rule will result in the play being blown dead and a 10 yard penalty assessed from the point of the infraction.
  4. Snap: the ball may be snapped directly to the quarterback through the center’s legs or to the side of the center’s body. If the ball hits the ground before the quarterback catches it, the ball is dead.
  5. QB Rushing: QB’s can run the ball past the line of scrimmage only if rushed by the defensive team (i.e. after the defense has counted 4 alligators/steamboats/etc AND crossed the line of scrimmage.  If the defense does not cross the line of scrimmage, the QB may not run with the ball.
  6. Handoffs: If the ball is handed off to a player other than the QB behind the line of scrimmage, then all players are eligible to rush the line of scrimmage. If a fake handoff is used, the rushing player must still count 4 alligators/steamboats/etc unless the ball is touched by the player that the handoff is going to.
  7. Physical Contact: Offensive players cannot charge through set defenders. 
  8. All players have the right of place. Right of place is given to a still standing player and opponents must avoid contact. Standing means to remain at the spot and not moving in any direction. To jump to catch a pass at this spot does not give up the right of place. An offensive player may not push off a player, if a player does so, the play is over and penalty yardage (10 yards) is assessed from the line of scrimmage.
  9. Fumbles: When the offence fumbles the ball the play is dead and the ball is spotted at the fumble. Offence retains the ball.  This is for safety reasons. This includes if the center snaps the ball back to the quarterback and the ball hits the ground before the quarterback catches it.
  10. Player on ground: If the ball carrier falls to the ground (i.e. his/her knee touches the ground); the defense only needs to touch the player for the player to be downed. They do not need to grab the flag once the player is down.  If the player is not touched while on the ground, they can get back up and keep running.  The opposing team then needs to grab their flag.
  11. Flags: Flags must be on the sides of players at all times; shirts must be tucked into the flag belt at all times. Players who do not adhere to this rule after being asked once will have a 10-yard penalty assessed to their team from the line of scrimmage.
  12. Guarding the Flag Belt:  Players shall not flag guard or straight arm (natural running arms are permitted – intentional flag-guarding is not).  If a player intentionally flag-guards, the play will be blown dead and a 10-yard penalty will be assessed from the point of the infraction.
  13. Diving: The ball carrier may not dive to advance their position, however a player may dive in an attempt to catch a ball. If a player with possession of the ball does make an attempt to dive with it to avoid a defender and/or advance its position, the ball will be marked downed at the spot of the foul.


  1. Physical Contact: defensive players must make a clean play on the ball or the flag only.  The defensive player must not hold the player if flags are missed. Physical contact prior to a play on the ball will result in an Illegal Contact Penalty - the play is over and penalty yardage (10 yards) is assessed from the line of scrimmage.
  2. Rushing the QB:  The defense may send one player to rush the quarterback after 4 Alligators (or steamboats or other suitable word). The player rushing must count OUT LOUD the 4 Alligators prior to advancing on the rush so that everyone can hear it.  This counting is meant to emulate 4 seconds, and must therefore be counted at a reasonable speed (one second per alligator).
  3. Downed: Once the flag of the ball carrier is pulled the play is dead and the ball is spotted where the flag was pulled or where the ball carrier has stepped out of bounds.  The exception to this rule is for touchdowns; once one foot crosses the line it is a touchdown.
  4. Safeties: If an offensive player is tackled in their own end zone, a safety will be issued with the opposing team receiving the ball 5 yards from their own side of half. They will have the usual 4 downs to gain the half, as well as 4 additional downs if they do gain the half. No additional points will be awarded for a safety.
  5. *New Rule January 2023* – If a flag is pulled in the process of making a catch, that player will be down at that spot. If a flag is pulled clearly before a player has started to make a catch, the player making the catch will not be considered down, and will still need to be flagged (with their one remaining flag) to be considered down.

Kickoffs, Punts and Fumbles

  1. NO KICKOFFS: Ball taken at the 5-yard line (or approximate location if not marked on the field of play). Rock-paper-scissors winner decides if they want possession to start game or defer to second half.  Loser decides which side of the field they would like to start the game (teams switch at half-time).
  2. Punts: On fourth down, the offense may punt. NO FAKE PUNTS, NO RUSH ON PUNTS.  Ball is dead where it goes out of bounds (touchback to the 5-yard line if it lands in the end zone). The ball will considered DEAD on the spot if the punted ball hits the ground before it touches any other player in bounds. The kicker must punt the ball within 4 Alligators (or steamboats etc.) of receiving the snap. The kicker may not wait longer in order for his players to get down the field for better coverage. Failure to punt the ball within the allotted time will result in a loss of down, and the opposing team will take-over at the spot of the punt.
    Fumble:  The Play is DEAD on a fumble at the point it hits the ground, to prevent injuries.  If the ball hits the ground on the snap, the ball is DEAD and the quarter-back cannot pick the ball back up to keep playing.


  1. Penalty Overview- 10-yard penalties for all violations- repeat down (opposing team can accept or reject penalty).  Unless specifically mentioned above that the play is dead, penalty yardage is imposed after play is complete. 
    All penalties will be “walked off” 10 yards. Penalty yardage cannot result in a score or a 1st down at the half (half the distance to the goal/1st down at half will be applied in those cases).
  • Illegal Contact
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Flag guarding
  • Offensive Pass Interference
  • Defensive Pass Interference (10 yards or ball marked at point of infraction if ball was deemed catchable)
  • Offensive Holding/Blocking
  • Illegal de-flagging- holding offensive player in order to de-flag
  • Tripping opponent
  • Offensive Offsides
  • Defensive Offsides
  • Delay of game (see 20 sec. huddle clock under TIMING)
  • Illegal Forward Pass- throw the ball after crossing the line of scrimmage
  • Illegal Rush - rushing before official counts off necessary "alligators" The appropriate pace of the alligators is one per second.


  1. Any controversial play, where the teams are unable to determine the appropriate call due to not seeing the play, complexity of the situation etc they can defer to the on-site staff and if he or she also cannot make a fair judgement call … it will result in a replay of the down. Once it has been determined that a replay is in order, the 20s clock will start and the game will proceed without further discussion.
    Football size: The game ball shall be an adult-sized football that is provided by Urban Rec.  An alternate ball may be used provided that 1) it is adult-sized, and 2) both teams agree to use the alternate ball.  If one team does not agree to use the alternate ball, then the Urban Rec-supplied ball shall be used.  No child or youth-sized footballs are permitted.
  2. UNSPORTSMANLIKE PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED – Urban Rec leagues are recreational by design and sportsmanship is paramount. This is further articulated in the Urban Rec code of conduct that was signed by all players upon registering to play in any Urban Rec league.
  3. If the on-site staff witnesses any acts of flagrant contact tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking, or any unsportsmanlike act, the game can be stopped and the player can be removed from the game
  4. Trash talking is illegal. (Trash talk is talk that may be offensive to the coordinator, opposing players, teams, or spectators.) The coordinator has the right to determine what is offensive language. If trash talking occurs, the on-stie staff will give one warning. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the game.
  5. If the on-site staff inadvertently blows the whistle, the play is dead at the spot.
  6. Substitutions on dead balls only.
  7. Flag must be showing at all times- shirts tucked in (defense- notify on-site staff if they see a violation). On-site staff may call ball dead at location if an infraction impacted the play.
    If the flag falls off any player (without being pulled by the opposition) –  a one hand touch below the shoulders rule will apply to down said player.
  8. Tiebreaker - If two or more teams are tied in the standings at season’s end, the tiebreaker will be as follows:
    1st tiebreaker – higher in-division wins
    2nd tiebreaker – higher UR fun point average
    3rd tiebreaker – head to head winner
    4th tiebreaker- points for/against in head to head matches
    5th tiebreaker – coin flip