HKAFL 5v5 Flag Football Rules & Regulations

  • Flip a coin or rock/paper/scissors to decide which team gets first possession.
  • The offensive team takes possession of the ball at their 5-yard line and has 5 plays/downs to score.
  • If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team take over on their 5-yard line.
  • Interceptions can be returned. Ball is spotted where returner gets “tackled”.
  • (2) 17-minute halves, running clock (non-stop), for both regular season and Playoff games. The clock ONLY stops at the 1-minute warning of both halves. Each time the ball is spotted a team has 25 seconds to snap the ball. Each team has one 30 second timeout per half.


  • All teams are required to provide one player to be a referee each week. Referees will either ref the game before or after their own team's game.
  • Two referees per game.
  • All players are encouraged to study the rules prior to the start of the season.
  • A team that does a ‘no show’/Forfeit on the day during the season will not be eligible for the playoffs.
  • A team that does 2 advanced forfeits (must give a day’s notice) in the season will not be eligible for the playoffs.
  • A team whose referee doesn’t turn up twice in the season is not eligible for the playoffs.
  • A forfeit will result in a 28-0 score for the winning team.
  • Teams must field a min of three players at all times.
  • No limit on number of players per team.
  • If team is more than 10 minutes late for their scheduled game they will be ‘no show’/forfeited.
  • Teams may start at their scheduled time, regardless of whether their opponents are ready. Referee’s discretion.
  • Players must keep their shirts tucked in, so that Flags are fully visible. Additionally, flags cannot be the same color as jerseys and/or shorts, and flags must be on hips and not in front or back (penalty, unsportsmanlike conduct, 5 yards). Games cannot end on a defensive penalty, unless the offense declines it.
  • Shorts must NOT have pockets.
  • Games are played two halves of 17 minutes. Highest score at end of regulation wins.
  • Rubberband Mercy Rule (At any time if a team is leading by 28 points, winning team must sub off a player. The 5th player can come back on if the point differential becomes sub 28 points again. Teams may decline using this rule).
  • Touchdown = 6 points, extra point = 1 from 5 yards out or 2 from 10 yards out, safety = 2 points.
  • Touchdown for female players (has to be involved in the play as a recordable stat) = 9 points.
  • All extra point attempts can be returned as a defensive score worth 2 points.
  • Touchdowns scored on or after the final whistle of the game, still require an extra point conversion to be made, even though game time has expired. A game cannot end on a touchdown with no conversion attempt.
  • Once an extra point attempt is snapped the scoring team cannot change the point selection even if a penalty occurs and requires the play to be repeated.
  • There is no overtime in the regular season. ONLY in Playoffs.
  • Coin toss determines first possession in overtime.
  • Each team receives three offensive plays. 5 yards-1 point, 10 yards two points. Possessions are alternating.
  • If the teams are tied again, overtime continues with sudden death rule, 1 play at a time, alternating possessions.
  • The person who receives the snap (identified as the Quarterback) cannot run the ball.
  • Direct hand-offs, pitches and laterals behind the line of scrimmage are legal. Offense can use multiple handoffs.
  • The player who takes the hand-off/lateral can throw the ball as long as he does not pass the line of scrimmage.
  • Forward handoffs are not considered a forward pass and the player can continue to throw a forward pass.
  • Laterals in play are allowed.
  • "No run zones" are located 5-yards before then end zone.
  • Spinning is allowed but players cannot leave their feet to avoid the defense (no hurdling nor diving into the endzone or to gain extra yards; penalty is loss of down).
  • The ball is spotted where the ball is held at the time of their flag being pulled.
  • No Blocking or “Screening” is allowed at any time; if the Defense has his/her feet set, the Offense must change directions.
  • All players are eligible to receive passes.
  • Player must have at least one foot in bounds when making a catch.
  • One player is allowed in motion per play (more than one player moving at the time of the snap is considered an illegal shift).
  • QB is allowed to receive passes after a hand-off.
  • All passes must be forward and thrown from behind the line of scrimmage. Any backwards passes are considered a lateral.
  • QB has a 7-second "pass clock." If the pass is not thrown within the 7 seconds, the play is dead and its a loss of down. Ball spotted at line of scrimmage.
  • Once the ball is handed off, the 7-second clock is dead.
  • Interceptions can be returned.
  • Ball must be snapped between legs, not off to one side.
  • Play is dead when the ball carrier’s flag is pulled and the next play will be spotted at the location of the ball during the flag pull.
  • Play is dead when the ball carrier steps out of bounds.
  • Play is dead when a touchdown is scored.
  • Play is dead when the ball carrier's flag falls out, followed by a one-hand touch.
  • Play is dead when the ball carrier's knee hits the ground.
  • There are no fumbles. The ball is spotted where it hits the ground.
  • Anytime the ball touches the ground, it's dead.
  • The QB is the player receiving the snap.
  • All players that rush the QB must be 7 yards from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped, and they must be lined up at least 1 yard outside of the snapper or receiver(s) directly next to the snapper.
  • Rushers must have their hand up clearly, to be eligible to rush the quarterback. This hand must remain up until the snap of the ball.
  • Players can raise their hand but not rush.
  • Players not rushing the QB may defend at the line of scrimmage pre-snap, and cross the line of scrimmage after the snap only if going for a player that isn't the QB. They can not affect the QBs vision or movements, doing so will be "illegal rushing"
  • Once the ball has been handed off the 7 yard rule is no longer in effect and all defenders are eligible to rush.
  • The referee will designate 7 yards from the line of scrimmage.
  • Defenders must go for the flags and cannot obstruct or contact the throwing arm/upper body. Roughing the Passer.
  • Rusher Interference - the offense is NOT ALLOWED deliberately impede/block/obstruct the rushing path of the rusher. Once the ball is snapped, if the offensive player come off the line of scrimmage and their running route does "impede" or "block" or "obstruct" the path between the rusher and the QB, then it is a "illegal contact" penalty against the offense. 
  • All rushers according to the rule have the right of way and offensive players shall avoid contact.
    • Note: Even if there is no contact, it still could be interference by the offensive player.
  • Rushers must blitz the QB in a straight lane to maintain ROW.


Fields will be half of the rugby/soccer field. Endzones will be in line with the side of the 16 yard box (Soccer). If there is no 16 yard box, an appropriate 7-10 yard endzone will be marked out. Teams are responsible for marking out the field before the game. Sidelines will be the top of the 16yard box and the half way line. Flat cones will be used to mark out endzone.



    Illegal flag pull Before receiver has the ball 10 yards, first down

    Pass interference


    10 yards, first down



    5 yards, repeat down

    Illegal rushing

    Start rush from inside 7-yd marker, or lined up directly in front of snapper

    5 yards, offense cannot rush, repeat down


    Grabbing shirt, shorts, body, arm, or flag belt to stop the progress of the receiver or runner.

    5 yards (from end of run), first down

    Illegal contact

    Bump and run, blocking, wrapping, pushing players, accidental tackle

    10 yards, first down

    Roughing the passer

    Includes hitting the passer on the follow-through; Defense cannot rip down QB’s arm or touch his hand at any point of play

    10 yards, first down

    Intentional tackling

     Includes tripping with hand or feet

    Player ejection, first down

    • Note: face guarding is allowed as long as there is NO CONTACT.
    Illegal motion More than 1 person moving, false start, motion, etc.) 5 yards, repeat down

    Illegal forward pass

    ball is thrown past the line of scrimmage - whole body must be past the LOS to be a foul

    5 yards, loss of down


    Offense running into a Defender who has his/her feet set

    5 yards (from point of infraction), loss of down

    Illegal Contact

    Offense deliberately impede/block/obstruct the rushing path of the rusher or the running paths of other defenders

    10 yards, loss of down

    Offensive pass interference

    Illegal pick play, pushing off/away from defender

    10 yards, loss of down

    Flag guarding

    Includes jumping and diving while running with the ball

    5 yards (from point of infraction), loss of down

    Delay of game


    1st time: receive warning
    2nd time: 5 yards, loss of down

    • Referees determine incidental contact, which may result from normal run of play!
    • Penalties inside the 10 yard marker will be half the distance to the respective endzone.
    • If penalties occur by both teams during a play the penalties offset and the down is repeated (If ejection is warranted the ejection still stands).
    • If multiple penalties are committed by the same team, the opposing team can only select one to be enforced. 
    • Defender must hand flag back to ball carrier (5 yard penalty).
    • If the field monitor or referee witnesses any acts of tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking, or an unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped and the player will be ejected from the game. Any players repeatedly ejected throughout the season will receive a league ban or game suspensions, at the discretion of the league.
    • Trash talking is illegal. Official has the right to determine language which is offensive; any derogatory language or verbal assault directed at the referee will result in 10 yard penalty and a player ejection
    • Only the team captain may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretation. Player cannot question judgment call and cannot speak to the referee directly.
    • “Tackle” by going for flags, not for shirts or shorts.
    • FOUL PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED! This is a recreational league, and we are all here to play safely and have fun.


      • A defender lines up close to the scrimmage line directly in front of a receiver (individual coverage).
        • RULING: The receiver must avoid contact for the first few steps because the defender has ROP. If the defender starts to move they will lose ROP and must avoid contact with the receiver and give room for the pass route. 
      • A defender lines up close to the scrimmage line directly in front of a receiver. At the snap the defender moves immediately inside and collides with the receiver who is also going towards the middle. 
        • RULING: Illegal contact foul by the defense. Once the defender moves the ROP is lost and they are charged with avoiding contact. The receiver has to avoid the place where the defender stands at the snap, but they cannot anticipate in which direction the defender will move.
      • A defender lines up close to the scrimmage line directly in front of a receiver and stretches their arms sideways to block the receiver. After the snap the defender does not move and the receiver, in trying to run around the defender, contacts an arm of the defender.
        • RULING: Illegal Contact by the defender. Even with ROP the defender shall not to seek contact with an unnecessary act. 
        • NOTE: The same ruling will apply to a snapper who is shielding a rusher by stretching the arms sideways.
      • A defender is in zone coverage and looking at the quarterback when an offense receiver runs across the field and intentionally hits the defender from behind/side.
        • RULING: Illegal Contact by the offense. Even with ROW, a player is not allowed to aim and hit an opponent. 
      • A defender is squeezing the runner towards the side line. The runner tries to stay in bounds by keeping the lane, rather than going out of bounds, and, as a result makes, contact with the defender. 
        • RULING: Charging by the runner. The runner must avoid contact and has no ROW
      • Two defenders squeeze the runner between them. The runner tries to hit the gap between the defenders and contacts one or both defenders. 
        • RULING: Charging by the runner. The runner must avoid contact even when this stops the forward progress.
      • A defender running towards the runner slips and falls right in the front of the runner. The runner jumps over the defender in order to avoid contact. 
        • RULING: Illegal Jumping by the runner. A runner is charged with avoiding contact with a defender, even if that means running around a player on the ground to avoid committing another foul.
      • A receiver makes a catch standing with their back to the defender who closes in to attempt a flag pull and stops, establishing ROP due to now being stationary. After the catch the receiver turns around on the spot and in the act of making the turn, the receiver contacts the defender. The receiver then runs away from the defender and after gaining some extra yardage the receiver is de-flagged. 
        • RULING: No foul for illegal contact. The receiver does not lose ROP by turning. 
        • NOTE: An extra movement by the receiver (or the defender) which caused contact to be initiated would result in a foul for illegal contact.


      • A rusher is running quickly towards the quarterback and a receiver running a route has to alter direction to avoid the rusher. 
        • RULING: No foul. A receiver has to give the rusher the superseding ROW. If another defender who had not made a valid signal to gain ROW was rushing, it would have been a foul against the defender for shielding. 
      • A rusher is running quickly towards the quarterback and a receiver running a route blocks or contacts the rusher.
        • RULING: Penalty for illegal contact against the offense. All receivers must avoid the rushers' rushing lane(s). 
      • A rusher is running slowly towards the quarterback and a receiver running a route is blocked. 
        • RULING: Penalty for illegal contact against the defender. A rusher has the ROW only if rushing quickly and the receivers have the chance to calculate the rushers' rushing lane(s). 
      • A rusher is rushing towards the quarterback and as the quarterback starts to roll out the rusher changes direction.
        • RULING: The rusher loses ROW when changing direction and must to take care not to contact a receiver thereafter. 
      • A rusher contacts the snapper, who has remained stationary since the snap. 
        • RULING: Penalty for illegal contact against the defender. ROP of the snapper is worth more than the ROW of the rusher. 
      • A rusher is rushing towards the scrimmage line but stops before crossing it. 
        • RULING: No foul. The rusher does not have to cross the scrimmage line, but loses ROW by stopping and will have to avoid the offensive players thereafter. 
      • A receiver is crossing the lane of the rusher. The rusher tries to avoid contact but still runs into the receiver. 
        • RULING: Penalty for illegal contact against the offense. 
      • A receiver is crossing the lane of the rusher. The rusher does not try to avoid contact and forcefully runs into the receiver. 
        • RULING: Penalty for illegal contact against the offense and the defense. The fouls offset and the down will be repeated. 
      • A receiver is crossing the rushers lane without impeding. The rusher hits the receiver with an extended arm as they pass. 
        • RULING: Illegal Contact by the rusher. Even with the ROW the rusher may not initiate contact. 
      • The rusher stops in front of the quarterback after the ball has been released and touches the quarterback with the hands at the hip going for the flag pull. 
        • RULING: No foul for the touch, because contact has to have an obvious impact. 
      • The rusher stops in front of the quarterback as the ball is released. The natural throwing movement with a step forward brings the quarterback into contact with the rusher. 
        • RULING: No fouls for the contact as both players are standing and have the ROP. 
      • The rusher jumps straight up in the air as the quarterback releases the ball. The quarterback takes 3 steps forward after releasing the ball and contacts the rusher. 
        • RULING: Penalty for illegal contact offense. The rusher has ROP despite the jump and the quarterback’s actions mean that they are responsible for the contact. If the momentum of the jump had carried the rusher into the quarterback then the foul would have been against the defense. 
      • As the quarterback starts to release the ball, the rusher jumps forward in an attempt to deflect it and hits the ball or arm prior to leaving the quarterback’s hand. 
        • RULING: Penalty for roughing the passer, because the point of attack was a ball in possession of a runner.


        *We reserve the right to reduce the number of games due to unforeseen circumstances. *We reserve the right to amend the rules throughout the season, should an alternative ruling be fairer to all participants.

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