4 on 4 FLAG FOOTBALL RULES
1. The game is played between two (2) teams of four (4). Each team must have at least three (3) players on the field in order to begin the game.
1. Shirts must be long enough to tuck in so that they remain tucked in the pants/shorts during the entire down or short enough so there is a minimum 4" from the bottom of the shirt to the player’s waistline. Shirts may not contain knots, have frayed sleeves or edges, or an opening more than 4” bellow the armpit. Flag belts must remain outside of the shirt/jersey during play. Teams must wear similar colors.
2. Jewelry: No jewelry or any other item deemed dangerous by the Intramural Staff may be worn such as bracelets, earrings, necklaces, ect. Any player wearing exposed permanent jewelry (i.e. body piercings) will not be permitted to play.
3. Shoes: Regulation rubber-soled cleats and tennis shoes are the only permissible footwear. Sandals, street shoes, boots, or metal spikes are not allowed. No player will be allowed to participate in bare feet. No steel or screw-in cleats.
4. Headwear: Players may wear a knit or stocking cap (no caps with bills) and/or soft, pliable, nonabrasive gloves. Bandanas and other head gear which are tied with a knot are not permitted.
5. Players may wear soft, pliable pads or braces on the leg, knee, and/or ankle. Braces may not have any exposed metal and/or screws. Braces made of any rigid material (including plastic) must be covered with a padded sleeve or at least one-half inch padding for safety reasons. Under no circumstances will a player wearing a cast or splint be permitted to play. Elbow pads are not permitted.
6. Tape or bandages of the hand, wrist, forearm, or elbow are prohibited except to protect an injury. This must be approved by the Intramural Supervisor before the game begins. Players may wear a soft, pliable wrist/forearm band that contains plays.
7. If eyeglasses are worn, they must be unbreakable. Each player is responsible for the safety of his/her own glasses. Sunglasses may be worn as long as they are pliable and are not rigid.
8. Foreign Substance: Any slippery or sticky substance of a foreign nature on equipment, clothing, or an exposed part of the body is illegal.
9. Men will use the regular size, NCAA or NFHS football, while women and CoRec may use either a regular or intermediate-size football. Game balls will not be provided as teams must use their own footballs. Officials will not handle the football; the offense is responsible for the ball at all times.
10. Playbooks are allowed; however, they may not be worn or placed in a position that is not visible to other participants or officials.
1. A game shall consist of two halves of 10 minutes each with a no half time. The clock will stop the last minute of each half under for the following reasons:
A. Penalties/Inadvertent whistles (may start on referee's ready-to-play whistle)
B. Scoring plays
C. Incomplete passes/out of bounds
D. Injured players (this is an officials timeout)
E. First downs (until the ball is set in play by referee)
F. Official and team time-outs
G. Change of possession.
2. Delay of Game: After a ball is declared ready for play, the offensive team has twenty-five (25) seconds after the referee has sounded the whistle to put the ball in play.
3. There is no half time. Field position and team possession will change accordingly as soon as the first half is over and play will continue immediately. However, each half may be extended by an untimed down if:
A. There is an accepted live ball foul that does not carry a loss of down for the offense
B. A touchdown
C. A double foul
D. An inadvertent whistle.
4. Each team is allowed one (1) timeout per game.
5. Overtime: There are no overtime periods during the regular season. Regular season game may end in a tie. However, overtime periods will occur if necessary for playoff games. An overtime period consists of a series of three (3) downs by each team from the 10-yard line, the object of which is to score a touchdown. If a touchdown is not scored in three downs it is a turnover. If the score remains tied after one overtime period, play will proceed to a second period and so on until a winner is determined. All overtime periods are played toward the same goal line and are untimed expect for the 25 second play clock initiated before each play. Offense, defense and direction of play for the first overtime will be decided in a coin toss similar to the one at the start of the game. Only one coin toss shall take place in overtime, options shall alternate between teams if there are any additional overtimes needed.
6. Game time is forfeit time. A team must have a minimum number of players to start a game. If there is fewer than the required number of players, the opposing captain has the option of taking the win or waiting for the minimum number of players to show. If a team chooses to wait, it will be required to wait until the opposing team has the minimum number of players present or a maximum of ten (10) minutes. The game clock will start at the time the game was scheduled for and run continuously until both teams are ready for play or the 10 minute wait has been elapsed.
7. Mercy rule for men's and women's is 19 points with one minute remaining.
Start of Game
1. A captains meeting will take place before the game. A method of deciding choice will be determined by the head official of the game (i.e. coin toss, odd or even, rock/paper/scissors, ect.).
2. The winner of the pre-game decision shall have the first choice of options:
B. Which goal to defend
C. To defer the choice of A or B until the second half
3. After possession and direction have been established, the ball will placed at the 10 yard line and the game play clock will be initiated on the referee’s whistle.
1. Series of Downs:
A. A team in possession of the ball shall have three (3) consecutive downs to
advance to the next zone by scrimmage. Failure to advance will result in a turnover on
B. The field is divided into two 20-yard zones. A first down results when the ball
is declared dead, any part of which is on or above the next zone line, and a live ball
penalty does not bring the ball behind the first down zone.
C.No punting. There will be no option to punt the ball on third down.
2. Motion: One offensive player may be in motion at a time. At the time of the snap the player may only move parallel with the line of scrimmage and not laterally down field. The player in motion must remain behind the line of scrimmage. Exception: Players may avoid this penalty by coming set for one full second prior to the snap.
A. The ball must be snapped backwards off the ground. Both of the center’s feet
must remain behind the line of scrimmage before and during the snap. The ball may be
snapped between the center’s legs or off to the side. The snap must be one quick
continuous motion backwards. Once the ball has left the ground the defense may rush.
B. The player receiving the snap must be at least two (2) yards behind the
offensive line of scrimmage.
A. The offense has 5 seconds from the time of the snap to release the ball. If
the ball has not been released at the end of this time period, the play shall be blown dead. If this occurs, it will be a loss of down and the ball will be placed at the previous spot.
B. All incomplete backward passes shall be marked down at the point of ground contact.
C. Only 1 forward pass may be attempted from behind the line of scrimmage on a given play.
E. A forward pass is illegal if:
1. It is thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage.
2. It is intentional grounding.
3. It is thrown after a change of possession.
4. The passer catches his/her untouched forward/backward pass.
5. It is the second forward pass during a play.
F. All players except the passer are eligible to receive a pass.
G. A player must have complete possession of the ball and land with the first part of their body inbounds, normally one foot, to be a legal reception.
H. A pass intercepted in the end zone may be advanced.
I. If the passer is deflagged prior to releasing the ball, the ball is dead at that spot and the down has ended.
J. If an offensive player goes out-of-bounds on their own volition and returns inbounds, it is an illegal participation foul.
5. Running the Ball:
A. An offensive team runner may not advance the ball through the offensive
scrimmage line. Prior to a change of possession and before the ball has been in player
possession beyond the neutral zone, NO PLAYER may run the ball from behind to
beyond the neutral zone. The penalty for this infraction is an illegal procedure. 4-on-4 is
designed to be a passing game. There are no restrictions after a change of possession
or once a legal forward pass has been touched beyond the offensive scrimmage line.
B. A ball carrier may not hurdle a player to avoid deflagging. Hurdling is
interpreted as an attempt by a runner to jump over a player still on their feet with the
feet or knees of the runner foremost.
C. If a player inadvertently loses their flag belt or it is pulled by the opposition
before gaining possession of the ball, the play will continue and the player must be
downed by a one-hand touch, between the shoulder and knees, including the hand and
D. A player will be ruled "down" when any part of the body other than the hand or
foot touches the ground.
E. When an inadvertent whistle occurs, the offensive team will have the option of
taking the play with the ball spotted at its location when the whistle blew or replay the
down. If the ball is loose following a backward pass or fumble, the team will have the
option of taking the ball at the spot where possession was lost or replay the down.
During a legal forward pass or a legal kick, if an inadvertent whistle occurs, the ball is
returned to the previous spot and the down replayed.
6. Fumbles: A fumble is dead at the point the ball touches the ground, if fumbled backwards, or at the spot where the fumble occurred if fumbled forward. The ball goes to the team who last had possession with the resulting loss of down. A fumble that lands in or behind the goal line results in a touchback or safety.
7. Handoffs: Handing of the ball is allowed forward or backward at any time.
8. The offensive is responsible for retrieving the ball after every play. In case of inclement weather, a towel may be used. The towel must be kept in between the field markers (pucks) at the line of scrimmage before and during the play.
9. Blocking: Screen blocking is allowed and shall take place without contact. Any use of the hands, arms, legs, elbows or body to initiate contact by an offensive player is illegal. Players also must allow one full step when setting a block behind a stationary opponent and may not stop to set a block so close to an opponent that he or she cannot stop or change direction to avoid contact.
A. NO RUSHING ALLOWED. QB will have 5 seconds to throw the ball
A. Point values will be as follows:
1. Touchdown: 6 points
2. Safety: 2 points
3. PAT from 3-yard line: 1 point
4. PAT from 10-yard line: 2points
5. PAT from 20-yard line: 3 points
6. Defensive players can not return extra points.
B. Players must be deflagged by an official after a score. Illegally secured flag belts will result in a penalty and no touchdown or PAT. Belts removed by players and not officials will be considered illegally secured.
C. A safety occurs when a runner carries the ball from the field of play to across his/her own goal line, and it becomes dead there in his/her team’s possession. A safety results in two (2) points for the defensive and possession of the next offensive series.
12. Captain or on field spokesman should be ready to render a decision following any penalty on the opposing team.
13. Teams may designate a coach for each game. The coach must be present at the captain’s meeting. The coach is allowed to be on the field in between plays but must clear the field before play begins. Only one coach for each team may be on the field at a time. Coaches are allowed to call timeouts.
1. Substitutions are allowed at any time the ball is dead.
2. Players entering the game must be ready for play with correct equipment.
1. Teams consist of two (2) males and two (2) females. A team may play with uneven numbers of men and women so long as the number of either gender does not exceed two (2). A minimum of three (3) players are needed to begin and continue play.
2. The regular, intermediate, junior or youth sized football may be used. The offensive team is responsible for getting the desired ball in play.
3. The offensive team must have one (1) player on the line of scrimmage.
4. Game Play:
A. Each series will begin with an "open" play. Once a male to male
forward pass is completed, the following plays will be "closed" until a male to female, female to male, or female to female forward pass is completed. This completion must result in positive yards. Once this condition is met, play is "re-opened" with another "open" play permitted.
B. Open and closed plays are determined by the action of a legal forward
pass and catch. Therefore, throughout a play there may be multiple possessions by males or females but the status of the next play is determined by the initial pass and catch.
C. A penalty does not negate any passes on a play concerning open and closed. A male to male completion called back for any reason other than illegal forward pass will still result in a closed play to follow.
D. The "open/closed" status of a play is not affected when a team scores
a touchdown. The PAT's status is determined by the previous play that scored the touchdown.
E. PATs count the same regardless of who scores, one (1) point from the 3-yard line, two (2) points from the 10-yard line, and three (3) points from the 20-yard line.
F. If a female player scores a touchdown, the point value is nine. If a female player throws a legal forward pass and a touchdown is scored by any Team A player, the point value is nine, provided no change of possession occurs during the down. All other touchdowns will score six points.
G. There is no running in CoRec.
H. Mercy for CoRec is 25 points with a minute remaining in the second half.
1. Each team will have a chance to score. Coin toss will determine who starts on offence and defense.
2. Possession will start on the ten yard line.
3. 3 downs to score a touchdown. During the first two overtimes teams can choose to go for one or two points. After the second overtime you must go for two.
4. You cannot return an interception for touchdown during any overtime period the play is dead.
Enforcement of Penalties
1. All 10-yard penalties are 5 yards and all 5-yard penalties are 3 yards.
2. Penalty Enforcement at the basic spot:
A. Pass play or during the punt (see exception below) – basic enforcement spot is the scrimmage line (where ball was snapped).
B. On all running plays - basic enforcement spot is the end of the run.
C. All fouls are marked from the basic enforcement spot (Exception: An offensive foul behind the basic enforcement spot which becomes a spot foul, or the “all but one principle”.)
D. The only exception to the above regulations is roughing the passer; this penalty will be added on to the end result of the play.
E. If there is a foul by the offensive team, other than unsportsmanlike or non-player, during a down which results in a successful touchdown or try, the acceptance of the penalty nullifies the score. If there is a foul by the defensive team during a down which results in a successful touchdown or try, the penalty will be enforced from the
F. If there is a foul by the defensive team during a down that results in a successful touchdown, the scoring team may choose to have the foul enforced at the succeeding spot (enforced on the try) or the 10-yard line (after the try).
G. If there is a foul by the defensive team during a down that results in a successful touchdown or try, including unsportsmanlike conduct, the scoring team may choose to have the foul enforced at the succeeding spot (enforced on the try) or the 14-yard line (after the try).
Summary of NIRSA Football Penalties
Loss of 3 yards:
1. Required Equipment Worn Illegally
2. Delay of Game (Dead Ball Foul)
3. Eligible Substitutions
4. Illegal Substitution
5. Encroachment (Dead Ball Foul)
6. False start (Dead Ball Foul)
7. Illegal Snap (Dead Ball Foul)
8. Offensive Player Not Within 10 Yards of the Ball
9. Illegal Formation (Minimum Line Players)
10. Player Out-of-Bounds When the Ball is Snapped
11. Illegal Motion
12. Player receiving the snap within 2 yards of Scrimmage Line
13. Illegal Shift
14. Illegal Advancement by a Male Runner (Co-Rec only)
15. Intentionally throwing backward pass or fumble
out of bounds (Loss of Down, if by Team A)
16. Illegal Forward Pass (Loss of Down, if by Team A)
17. Intentional Grounding (Loss of Down)
18. Illegal Forward Pass - 2 Consecutive Male-to-Male Forward Pass Completions (Loss of Down) (Co-Rec only)
19. Illegal Forward Pass – Male Catches Pass and Runs Beyond Scrimmage Line (Loss of Down) (Co-Rec Only)
20. Helping the Runner
Loss of 5 Yards:
1. Illegal Player Equipment
2. Two or more consecutive encroachments during same interval between scrimmage downs
3. Offensive Pass Interference (Loss of Down)
4. Defensive Pass Interference (Automatic 1st Down)
5. Illegally Secured Flag Belt on Touchdown (Loss of Down and Disqualification if Offense) (Automatic First Down and Disqualification if Defense)
6. Unsportsmanlike Player Conduct (Disqualification if Flagrant)
7. Spiking, kicking, or throwing ball during dead ball (Disqualification if Flagrant)
8. Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Coaches, Substitutes, or Others (Disqualification if Flagrant)
9. Illegal Contact
A. Strip or Attempt to Strip the Ball
B. Contact With Opponent on Ground
C. Throw Runner to the Ground
D. Hurdling Any Player
E. Contact Before or After Ball is Dead
F. Unnecessary Contact of Any Nature
G. Drive or Run Into Player
H. Position Upon Shoulders or Body of Teammate
I. Tackle Runner (Disqualification)
J. Fight an Opponent
K. Roughing the Passer (Automatic 1st Down)
L. Defensive Use of Hands
M. Holding the Runner
10. Illegal Offensive Screen Blocking
11. Interlocked Interference
12. Stiff Arm
13. Flag Guarding
14. Batting a Loose Ball
15. Illegal Participation
16. Illegal Substitute/Replaced Player
17. Pretended/Unfair Substitution
18. Illegal Flag Belt Removal
19. Intentionally Contacting an Official (Disqualification)
20. Flagrant Personal Fouls (Disqualification