USA Football
Gilbert Youth Football League - NFL Flag Rules

THE TEAMS

All teams MUST be registered with a minimum of 8 players unless a division has too few kids to create enough teams. In this case, the league will make a decision for teams to have at least 6 kids. If a division has more than 4 teams than the minimum requirement MUST be made. A coach may request no less than 8 kids at registration. If a group of kids registers with less than 8, the league will fill the remaining spots for the team.

A normal size team is 10 players. The league will do its best to make sure no team has more than 10. Teams can be over 10 players, but no more than 12.

This rule does not apply to fielding the team for games, but if a team consistently shows up with less than 8 players, the team may risk forfeiting the game.

PLAYERS/GAME SCHEDULES

A full team generally consists of 8 -12 players
To play a game a team should have at least five (5) players.
If a team has only four (4) players, the game can still be played with the teams
playing 4 on 4. Any team with less than 4 players will forfeit the game.

BEGINNING OF GAME

The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line (except for the first play of each half) and has three (3) Plays to cross midfield. Once a team crosses midfield, it has three (3) plays to score a touchdown. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team takes over on its 5-yard line. If the offensive team fails to cross midfield, possession of the ball changes and the opposition starts its drive from its 5-yard line.

All possession changes, except the first play of either half and interceptions, start on the offensive's 5-yard line.

NO COACHES ALLOWED ON THE FIELD FOR AGES: 9-14
ONE COACH IS ALLOWED ON THE FIELD FOR AGES: 5-8
For 7-8 teams, the coach must move away from the general playing area after all players are lined up and ready to snap the ball. For 5-6 teams, the coach can work to keep the players in position but must move away once the ball is snapped.

KICKOFF/START OF GAME AND SECOND HALF

5-6 year old age group will not participate in this play and will start possession from the 5 yard line.

The first play of the game and the second half will be a "kickoff". The ball can be either thrown, or punted to begin the half.

The team receiving the ball can line up anywhere on the receiving side of the midfield stripe.

The kickoff team must line up at or behind the designated throwing line.

The Kickoff:
Players will line up at the designated line for their age group.

The Ball should be thrown or kicked in bounds. If the ball goes out of bounds the receiving team has the option of taking a 5 yard penalty from the out of bounds spot or retry the kickoff. After 3 attempts, the penalty must be taken.

Player "kicking off" the ball can have a running start but must not exceed the designated line for their age group. No one can advance past the line till the ball is in the air.

If the ball goes through the back of the end zone, or is downed in the end zone, the receiving team will have first down at the 5 yard line. There are no turnovers on a kickoff.

Receiving:
The first player to catch, pickup and/or control the ball will be the receiving player. There will be no laterals, handoffs or pitching of any kind. If the kicking team touches the ball while it is on the ground, the ball is down at that spot.
(The ball MUST be on the ground)

If the receiving player kneels down to control the ball the player will be down at that spot.

The ball may still be controlled by a player if tipped or fumbled by him/herself or any other player.

Receiving players may cross the midfield stripe to control the ball after the throw if the ball lands on the opposite side of midfield.

If kicking team touches the ball before it is controlled by a receiving player, the ball will be marked down at that spot and the receiving team will have first down from there. (The ball MUST be on the ground)

Receiving players can advance the ball from the end zone or kneel down and take the ball first down at the 5 yard line.

Receiving players may not run backwards into the end zone and kneel down. This will count as a safety.

Once the receiving player has control of the ball the other players on the receiving team must remain still until the end of the play.

Receiving player can run around his teammates but teammates are not allowed to block or move from the position they are in until the receiving player is down.

Players from the kicking team that make contact with stationary players from the receiving team will receive illegal contact penalties as per our regular rules and yardage will be assessed at the end of the run.

ALL OFFENSIVE PENALTIES FROM THIS PLAY WILL BE ASSESSED AT THE SPOT OF FOUL AND ALL DEFENSIVE PENALTIES WILL BE ASSESED AT THE END OF THE RUN.

Designated lines:

  • 5-6 age group: Does not apply
  • 7-8 age group: 10 yard line
  • 9-10 age group: 10 yard line
  • 11-12 age group: 5 yard line
  • 13-14 age group: Goal Line

SCORING

Touchdown:

6 points

Extra Point:

1 point (played from 5-yard line)

2 points (played from 10-yard line)

Safety:

2 points

TIMING

Games are played to 40 minutes with a running clock and a 5 minute half time maximum.

Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced. At change of possession, the offensive team must allow the defensive team to field replacement players and the referee will allow a little bit extra time for teams to substitute players. If the defense is taking too long, the referee will give a countdown from 10 for the team to take the field. If the countdown gets to zero, the defense will be called for delay of game and a 5 yard penalty will be enforced. For 5-6 teams, the clock will be 40 seconds during regular season and back to 30 for tournaments. Please work with your players to try and speed up plays.

Each team has one 60-second and one 30-second time out per half. No Carry overs are allowed. A timeout will NOT be granted to a team that is ahead by more than 28 points.

Two minute rules are only in effect when the score is within 8 points during the second half.

  • The only time the clock will run during the final two minutes is during a play, or in between plays if a player gained positive yards and his flag was pulled in bounds.
  • The clock will stop for: incompletion, penalties, out of bounds, plays that result in no yards gained for the team with the lead, and time outs.

Quarterback can spike ball to stop the clock

A kneel down is not allowed as this will stop the clock due to loss of yards.

Officials can stop the clock at their discretion.

OVERTIME

If the score is tied at the end of 40 minutes, teams move directly into overtime. A coin toss will determine possession with the visiting team calling the toss in the air. The referee will determine which end of the field the overtime will take place on. Each team will take turns getting one (1) play from the defense's 5-yard line for one point or the defense's 10-yard line for two points. Whether to go for one or two points is up to the offensive team. Whether or not the team that begins on offense converts the team that started on defense gets a chance on offense to win or tie by converting a one or two point play of their own.

If a second round of overtime must be played, the team on defense stays on defense for the next round. This process continues with teams alternating starting on offense each round.

Both teams must "go for two" from the 10-yard line starting with the third round of overtime.

The final points earned by the winning team in the final overtime will be added onto the winning teams final score. The losing team will not recieve any additional ponits..

All regulation period rules and penalties are in effect.

There are no timeouts.

HIKING

The ball must be snapped between the legs not off to one side, to start play.

The ball may be snapped to anyone BEHIND the line of scrimmage

Only direct handoffs behind the line of scrimmage are permitted. Handoffs may be in front, behind or to the side of the offensive player but must be behind the line of scrimmage. The offense may use multiple handoffs.

"Center sneak" play is not allowed. The QB is not allowed to handoff the ball to the center on the first handoff of the play. Center may receive a handoff after the first handoff is done but MUST be behind the line of scrimmage.

If a ball is snapped over a quarterbacks head or hits the ground prior to reaching the quarterback the play is a dead ball. For age groups 7 and older, the ball is spotted at the first point it touches the ground. However, if a 5-6 team is attempting a shot gun snap, they will follow this rule as well. Even if the quarterback has touched the ball, the dead ball is marked at the point where the ball hits the ground. If the ball touches the ground in the end zone, the play results in a safety.

In the 5-6 age group, the ref will have the discretion to call a "do over" on a poorly snapped ball if it is early in the game and the team is not in the lead. However, during any tournament play, no "do overs" will be allowed at any time.

Age groups 7 and up will NOT be allowed any "do over" play.

PASSING

All passes MUST be forward and received beyond the line of scrimmage. If a non-blocked passed does not pass the line of scrimmage it is considered an illegal forward pass and will be assessed a penalty.
Shovel passes are allowed, but must be received beyond the line of scrimmage.

The quarterback has a seven-second pass clock. If a pass is not thrown within the seven seconds, play is dead, loss of down. The seven-second clock is always on regardless of the quarterback being rushed or not. However, if the ball is handed off the person receiving the ball DOES NOT have a 7 second clock anymore.

The Quarterback can become an eligible receiver once the ball is handed off and the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage.

Interceptions can be advanced. Except for an extra point.

All passes that do not cross the line of scrimmage, whether received or not, are illegal forward passes unless the ball is tipped by a defensive player.

The quarterback may throw the ball away to avoid a sack. Pass must go beyond the line of scrimmage.

All players on offense MUST come to a stop once the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. A reasonable amount of time to stop will be considered by the ref and is an interpreted rule. A player stopping or creating a "Pick" will be enforced as a penalty if the defensive player is immediately blocked out of a play. This rule does not apply if the offensive player stopped well before the defensive player was in position.

RUNNING

The quarterback cannot run with the ball unless the ball is handed off and then back to the original quarterback.

Only direct handoffs behind the line of scrimmage are permitted. Offense may use multiple handoffs.

Absolutely NO laterals or pitches of any kind anywhere on the field.

Co ball possesion. If a player behind the line of scrimmage is in co possession of the ball the defense will be allowed to consider this a handoff:

Co possession means that two players both have their hands on the ball. (Simulates a handoff)
QB Cannot run unless a complete exchange of the ball is made (Release ball and receive back)

No-running zones, located 5 yards from each end zone and 5 yards on either Side of midfield, are designed to avoid short-yardage power running situations. Running the ball in a no run zone will result in a five yard penalty and loss of down. Coaches need to be aware of the no run zones and if unsure ask the ref. Refs may not always say it out loud.

The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of Scrimmage. A person who crosses the line of scrimmage cannot come back to receive a handoff.

Once the ball has been handed off, all defensive players are eligible to rush.

Handoffs are allowed in the no-run zone as long as the player receiving the handoff throws a pass from behind the line of scrimmage.

Runners may not leave their feet to advance the ball. Diving, leaping, or jumping to avoid a flag pull is considered flag guarding. Spinning is allowed, but players may not leave their feet to avoid a flag pull. Jumping in the air in a forward motion to advance the ball, while attempting to avoid a flag pull, is not allowed. Lateral moves to the left or right are permitted. Runners may leave their feet if there is a clear indication that he/she has done so to avoid collision with another player without a flag guarding penalty enforced.

Players spinning out of control will be called for flag

The ball is spotted where the ball carrier's front foot is when the flag is pulled, not where the ball is.

No stripping of the ball is allowed.

Any dropped handoff results in a dead ball. The ball will be marked at the point where the front foot of the person handing off is. If the person's front foot was in the end zone, the play will result in a safety.

Ball carrier's flag falls out untouched by defender the ball carrier is down at the spot.

Any player that starts a play without a flag is an ineligible player.
If a players flags are not on the hips or they are covered by their jersey it will be considered a flag guarding penalty if the player receives the ball during the play. If the shirt comes out during the play or the flags get moved, the play may continue as normal.

It is understood in 5-6 that players may trail the play. This is fine if there are no defenders blocked

RECEIVING

All players are eligible to receive passes (including the quarterback if the ball has been handed off behind the line of scrimmage).

Any player that starts a play without a flag is an ineligible player. (if a player loses the flag after the play starts or a defensive player is missing a flag, the player is still eligible to catch the ball but the player cannot advance the ball. On a defensive interception possession will change at the spot of the interception)

As in the NFL, only one player is allowed in motion at a time. The motion player must run parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage and may not move toward the line of scrimmage until after the ball has been snapped. Players may shift positions but have to set for 2 seconds before the ball can be snapped. Any movement simulating start of play will be considered a false start and a penalty enforced.

A player must have at least one foot inbounds when making a reception.

DEAD BALLS

Substitutions may be made on any dead ball.
Play is ruled "dead" when:

  • Ball carrier's flag is pulled.
  • Ball carrier steps out of bounds.
  • Touchdown or safety is scored.
  • Ball carrier's knee hits the ground.
  • Ball carrier's flag falls out.
  • Fumbles: The ball is spotted where the ball carriers front foot is. There are no turnovers on fumbles.
  • Inadvertent whistle has a choice of being played over or spotted at the point where the whistle blew and play counts.

Offense only has to wait for the defense on change of possession. However, the offense CANNOT set their own ball. If the ball is not set by the referee, the offense needs to hand the ball to a ref to be set.

SPOTTING THE BALL

The referee is the only person that should be spotting the ball. The referee will mark the line of scrimmage with the ball or a marker and will step off the 7 yard rush line and mark that spot as well. The ball will be placed close to the center of the field and will not be allowed to be moved from that spot. (NO SIDELINE PLAYS WILL BE ALLOWED). A play cannot be run until the referees have spotted both the ball and the rush cone and has moved out of the playing field. If you are trying to run a quick offense, help the ref with the cones to allow the team to do this.

RUSHING THE QUARTERBACK

All players who rush the passer must be a minimum of seven yards from the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. The rusher is allowed a direct line to the quarterback and can not be impeded by any offensive player running a route. Once an offensive player leaves the line of scrimmage he is not allowed to impede the rusher. Any number of players can rush the Quarterback. Players not rushing the quarterback may defend on the line of scrimmage. Impedance will not be called if the Quarterback rolls out of the pocket (Rolling out is a minimum of 2 yards from center).

If the rusher leaves the rush line early he is allowed to step back, reset and rush the quarterback. This is allowed even if the ball has been snapped. Only a player who began behind rush line is allowed to reset.

The rusher can jump or swat at the ball, but cannot make any contact with the Quarterback when doing so.
This will result in a roughing/illegal contact penalty. If the ball is hit out of the Quarterbacks hand, this will be a stripping penalty and enforced from line of scrimmage with an automatic first down.

Once the ball is handed off, the seven-yard rule no longer is in effect, and all defenders may go behind the line of scrimmage. A special marker, or the referee, will designate seven yards from the line of scrimmage. Remember, no blocking or tackling is allowed.

5&6 Recreational Division: When a team is up by 9 or more points and on defense, that team is not allowed to rush the Quarterback. If they do, the offense will be granted a 5 yard penalty and replay of the down.

MERCY RULE / SCRIMMAGE MODE

If a team is losing by 28 points or more they are asked if they wish to take Mercy Rule.

If the losing team elects to take Mercy Rule the team gets one offensive series to continue regulation play. If they do not score, the game goes into scrimmage mode playing up to the end of game or a fifteen minute clock in the second half. After the fifteen minute mark, the game is over.

Scrimmage Mode: The losing team gets the ball for up to three possessions. Each possession lasts until the team scores or fails to achieve the Line-To-Gain. Points do not count in final score. After three possessions the game is over.

Rules:

  • No rushing of the Quarterback can occur
  • An interception cannot be returned and ends that possession

Common sense by opposing coach should be used. Do not play all strong players at one time and be sure to rotate everyone around to different positions. This allows for the opposing team to actually have some fun during the game.\

PENALTIES

All penalties will be assessed from line of scrimmage unless noted

Spot Fouls

Defensive Spot Foul

  • Defensive Pass Interference...............................................................Automatic First Down
  • Holding....................................................................................................Automatic First Down
  • Stripping...................................................................................................+10 Yards and Automatic First Down

Offensive Spot Fouls

  • Screening or Blocking...........................................................................-10 Yards and Loss of Down
  • Charging..................................................................................................-10 Yards and Loss of Down
  • Flag Guarding.........................................................................................-10 Yards and Loss of Down

Defensive Penalties:

  • Offsides................................................................................................+5 Yards from LOS & Automatic First Down
  • Illegal rush (starting from inside 7 yards)...................................... +5 Yards from LOS & Automatic First Down
  • Illegal flag pull (Before receiver has ball)..................................... +5 Yards from LOS & Automatic First Down
  • Delay of Game (After change of possession only)...................... +5 Yards from LOS & Automatic First Down
  • Roughing the passer......................................................................... +5 Yards from LOS & Automatic First Down
  • Taunting & Sideline Conduct.......................................................... .+5 Yards from LOS & Automatic First Down
  • Defensive Unsportsmanlike Conduct..............................................+10 Yards from end of the Play & Automatic First Down
  • Defensive Unnecessary Roughness............................................. .+10 Yards from end of the Play & Automatic First Down

Offensive:

  • Offsides / False Start......................................................................... -5 Yards from LOS & Loss of Down
  • Illegal Forward Pass......................................................................... -5 Yards from LOS & Loss of Down
    (Received behind LOS or any part of QB Past LOS)
  • Offensive Pass Interference............................................................. -5 Yards from LOS & Loss of Down
  • Illegal Motion (More than 1 person moving)................................. -5 Yards from LOS & Loss of Down
  • Delay of Game.................................................................................... -5 Yards from LOS & Loss of Down
  • Impeding the Rusher......................................................................... -5 Yards from LOS & Loss of Down
  • Taunting & Sideline Conduct........................................................... -5 Yards from LOS & Loss of Down
  • Offensive Unnecessary Roughness...............................................-10 yards from the end of the Play & Loss of Down
  • Offensive Unsportsmanlike Conduct..............................................-10 yards from the end of the Play & Loss of Down

Referees determines incidental contact that may result from normal run of play.
Only the coaches may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretations. Players cannot question judgment calls. Sidelines should discuss officiating issues with coach and not the referee.

Coaches have 1 opportunity during the game to call a timeout if they feel a call by the referee was incorrect. The team must have a timeout remaining to use this option. The Referee and the coach will discuss with the head ref and a flag director on the call. If the call is found in favor of the coach, the referees call will be reversed and the time out will NOT be assessed. Once the next play has been run, the previous play cannot be clarified. If the team has used all their timeouts, they will not be allowed to stop play to clarify a rule.

We do not use instant replay in any form. No photos or videos shall be used to contest or overturn an official's ruling during the game, No Exceptions.

Games cannot end on a defensive penalty, unless the offense declines it.

It is the responsibility of the coach to discuss rules with the referee. Any questions from the players or the sidelines MUST go through the coach. Anyone questioning a call directly with the ref that is not the coach of the team will receive a warning on the first offense and a penalty on the second of 10 yards (loss of down will be assessed to the team if they are on offense or automatic first down for the other team if they are on defense). The referee will contact a League Director if anyone continues such outbursts and questioning during the course of the game provided the team has been warned. The League Director may eject any person that continues these disruptions.

SPORTSMANSHIP/ROUGHING

If the field monitor, or referee witnesses any acts of tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking, or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped and a League Director called to the field. The player may be ejected from the game. FOUL PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Trash talking is illegal. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. (Trash talk is talk that may be offensive to officials, opposing players, teams or spectators.) If trash talking occurs, the referee will give one warning. If it continues a League Director will monitor the situation, the player(s) or coaches may be ejected from the game. Spectator trash talking may also result in an ejection from the fields.

SPECTATORS

Spectators MUST be a minimum of 2 yards from the field. No spectator can sit and/or stand forward of the teams bench. Only coaches and players are allowed within the 2 yard "safe zone".

ATTIRE

All games will be played with a league supplied ball. No substitution of the ball may be made for any reason. The ref will have the ball for all games.

All players MUST wear the league supplied "GYFL" shorts and Official NFL Flag jersey. If a player loses either of these, they MUST contact the league and pay for replacements. The player will not be allowed to play until they have the proper uniform supplied by the league.
(League directors may determine exceptions to this rule if a player is too small.)

NO ALTERATIONS MADE TO UNIFORMS (NO NAMES ALLOWED ON UNIFORMS)
Flags must be worn on each side of the players' hips. Jerseys MUST be tucked in during play and cannot cover the flag belt.

All players must have both flags during play!

Cleats are allowed, except for metal spikes. Inspections must be made.

All players must wear a protective mouthpiece; Anyone caught without a mouth piece during a play will be required to leave the field and miss 1 play unless time out is called. There are no exceptions.