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Columbia Youth Football League

Columbia Youth Football League

K thru 7th Grade Flag Football Rules

2023 Fall 9v9 Flag Football Rules


  1. 1)  At the start of each game, captains from both teams will meet at midfield for the coin toss to determine who will start with the ball. The visiting team will call the toss.

  2. 2)  The winner of the coin toss has the choice of offense or defense. The loser of the coin toss has the choice of direction.

  3. 3)  The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its own 20-yard line and has four (4) plays to get a first down.

  4. 4)  If the offensive team fails to get a first down after three (3) plays, they have the option to punt, give possession to the other team from their 20-yard line, or attempt to get first down on their 4th down.

  5. 5)  If the offensive team fails to get a first down on their 4th down attempt, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team starts its drive where possession was lost.

  6. 6)  After a team has scored, the new offensive team will start its drive on its own 20-yard line.

  7. 7)  Teams change sides after the first half. Possession changes to the team that started the game on defense.


  1. 1)  Games are played on a 40 minute continuous clock with four 10 minute quarters and a 5 minute half-time


    1. Timeouts: Each team has two 45 second timeouts per half. During a team’s timeout, the game clock will be stopped. Unused timeouts do not carry over.

    2. Injury: In the event of an injury, the clock will stop and then restart when the injured player is safely removed from the field of play.

    3. 2 Minute Warning: During the last 2 minutes of each half, the clock will be stopped:

      1. While the ball is being spotted by the head official.

      2. When an offensive player who is in full possession of the ball runs out of bounds with both flags intact.

      3. Incomplete pass.

    4. Officials Discretion: Officials can stop the clock at their discretion.


  1. 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.

  2. If the score is tied after the end of both halves, the game will then go into overtime.


    1. Each team is allowed a minimum of one possession. First possession goes to the winner of the overtime coin toss. Visitor team calls it.

    2. The ball will then be placed on the opponents’ 20-yard line and the offensive team will have four (4) plays to score a touchdown.

    3. After a touchdown has been made, the scoring team has the option to go for 1 extra point or 2 extra points.

    4. After the first offensive team has either scored or turned the ball over, the opposing team has the same scoring opportunity from the same 20-yard line in the same direction.

    5. If the score is still tied after each team has had an offensive possession, the entire process is repeated in a second overtime.

    6. If the score is still tied after the 2nd overtime, then the game will be declared a tie.

    7. All regulation rules and penalties are still in effect.

    8. There are no timeouts during overtime.


  1. 1) Teams must consist of at least 14 players with a maximum of 20 players as of 2023.


  1. 1)  The league provides each player with a flag belt.

  2. 2)  Each team must wear corresponding belt colors.

  3. 3)  Players must wear shoes or cleats; however cleats with exposed metal are not allowed.

  4. 4)  Players must remove all watches, earrings and any other jewelry that the officials deem hazardous.

  5. 5)  Padded soft-shell helmets and mouth guards are REQUIRED to enter the game.

  6. 6)  Players’ jerseys must lie underneath flag belt. If a players’ jersey interferes with an opponent removing their flag, they will be asked to tuck in their jersey for the remainder of the game.

  7. 7)  Each team has the option to use its own football. If a team does not have a football one will be provided for them.


  1. 1)  Touchdown: 6 points

  2. 2)  PAT (Point After Touchdown) 1 point (5-yard line) or 2 points (10-yard line)

a. A team that scores a touchdown must declare whether it wishes to attempt a 1-pt. conversion (from the 5-yard line) or a 2-pt. conversion (from the 10-yard line).

b. There shall be no rushing between the center and the guards on extra point attempts.

  1. 3)  Return of An Extra Point Attempt by Defense: 2 points (on 2-pt. conversions only)

  2. 4)  Safety: 2 points

a. A Safety occurs when the ball carrier is declared down in his/her own end zone. They can be called down when their flags are pulled by a defensive player, their flag falls out, they step out of bounds or they hit the ground with their knee or arm and are declared down by the “touch” rule.


  1. 1)  The field dimensions are 40 yards by 80 yards with two 10-yard end zones.

  2. 2)  First down lines will be pre-marked every 20 yards starting from the front of each end zone.

  3. 3)  Field size may vary based on field availability for each league.

  4. 4)  Stepping on the boundary lines is considered out of bounds


1) The ball is spotted where the runner’s feet are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball carrier has the ball. Forward progress will be measured by the player’s front foot.


  1. No running in between the center and the guards, the running back is only allowed to outside of the guards.


a. SCORING: To score, only the football needs to cross the plain of the goal line.

  1. 2)  Handoffs may be in front, behind, or to the side of the offensive player. The offense may use multiple handoffs, pitches and laterals.

  2. 3)  QB Sneaks are not allowed at any time, and there shall be no rushing between the center and the guard when within 5 yards to the goal line. QB designated runs are ALLOWED but only outside of the center/guard protected zone.

  3. 4)  Maximum of (2) running backs are allowed in the backfield at one time.

  1. 5) The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage.

  2. 6)  Runners may not leave their feet to advance the ball. Diving, leaping, or jumping to avoid a flag pull is considered flag guarding. (A small hop or jump-cut to avoid a defender is acceptable).

  3. 7)  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.

  4. 8)  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.

  5. 9)  STIFF ARMS: When running the ball, stiff arms to the upper chest are legal. When using the stiff arm, the arm must remain straight the entire time. Pushing, shoving, grab/pulling or stiff arms to the hand/arm, face, or neck will be issued a penalty.

  6. 10)  Runners may not lower their shoulder to advance the ball at any time. Doing so will result in a penalty. Stiff arms, spinning/juking, and using lead blockers are the only forms of avoiding a flag pull that are allowed.

  7. 11)  Ball carriers MUST make an effort to avoid defenders with an established position.

  8. 12)  No crack back blocking allowed.

  9. 13)  Only one (1) offensive player is allowed to be put in motion at a time. No motion is permitted towards the line of scrimmage.

  10. 14)  Flag Obstruction – flags must be on the player’s hips with the belt tight to the waist, and free from obstruction. Deliberately obstructed flags will be considered flag guarding. (Towels can be worn, but if pulled, it will be considered a flag pull).


  1. 1)  All passes must be thrown from behind the line of scrimmage.

  2. 2)  Shovel passes and screen passes are allowed.

  3. 3)  The Quarterback must have their throwing arm in a forward motion, and release the ball to avoid a sack.



    1. Legal Moves: Straight Arm, Body Positioning

    2. Illegal Moves: Holding, Grab/Pull, Clubbing, Crack-back, Cut-block, Lowering the shoulder

  2. 2)  An offensive player who uses any of the listed illegal moves will be issued a penalty.

  3. 3)  All offensive players are eligible to block once the ball has been snapped.


  1. 1)  All players except the 3 down linemen are eligible to receive passes (including the quarterback if the ball has been handed off behind the line of scrimmage).

  2. 2)  Only one (1) player is allowed in motion at a time. No motion is permitted towards the line of scrimmage.

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

  4. 4)  In the case of simultaneous possession by both an offensive and defensive player, possession is awarded to the offense.

  5. 5)  Interceptions change the possession of the ball at the point of interception.

  1. 6)  Interceptions are RETURNABLE and possession will be deemed at the spot the ball is dead at.

  2. 7)  Interceptions that take place during a 2-pt. conversion attempt can be returned for 2-pts.



    1. Legal Moves: Spin, Swim, Under, Rip/Inside, Counter/Club

    2. Illegal Moves: Bull Rush, Grab/Pull, Punches, HANDS TO THE FACE

  2. 2)  A defensive player who uses any of the listed illegal moves will be issued a penalty. NO defensive players will be allowed over the center. Only 2 defensive lineman allowed at a time, must be over the guards on the LOS.

  3. 3)  Only 1 defensive player is eligible to rush at any time from 7 yards from the LOS(Line of Scrimmage) who are not defensive linemen. The two defensive lineman over the “guards” are allowed to rush at any time. A defensive player can rush between the "center/guard protected” zone if he starts from 7 yards.

  4. 4)  A sack occurs when the quarterback’s flag is pulled behind the line of scrimmage or falls to the ground and is declared down by the “touch rule.”

  5. 5)  Running through the quarterback/obstructing the passer’s throwing arm is not allowed; a roughing the passer penalty will be called.


  1. 1)  A legal flag pull takes place when the ball carrier is in full possession of the ball.

  2. 2)  Defenders can dive to pull flags, but cannot tackle, hold or run through the ball carrier when pulling flags.

  3. 3)  It is illegal to attempt to strip or pull the ball from the ball carrier’s possession at any time.

  4. 4)  If a player’s flag inadvertently falls off during the play, the player will be deemed down at the flags location.

  5. 5)  A defensive player may not intentionally pull the flags off of a player who is not in possession of the ball. Doing so will result in a penalty.

  6. 6)  All defensive players MUST make an attempt to pull the offensive players flag. Tackling, holding, running through a ball carrier, and pushing out of bounds is not allowed.



  1. Offense must have a minimum of three (3) down linemen during each play.

  2. Maximum of (2) running backs are eligible to be in the backfield.

  3. One player at a time may go in motion.

  4. The quarterback must be off the line of scrimmage. QB is allowed to receive snap from under center.

  5. The center must snap the ball in a continuous motion between his/her legs to a player in the backfield.

a. A defense is not obligated to rush and can use any formation they like


1) The ball is live at the snap of the ball and remains live until the official whistles the ball dead.

  1. 2)  The official will indicate the neutral zone and line of scrimmage. It is an automatic dead ball foul if any player on defense or offense enters the neutral zone. In regard to the neutral zone, the official may give both teams a “courtesy” neutral zone notification to allow their players to move back behind the line of scrimmage.

  2. 3)  A player who gains possession in the air is considered in bounds as long as one foot comes down in the field of play.

  3. 4)  Substitutions may be made on any dead ball.

  4. 5)  Any official can whistle the play dead.

  5. 6)  Play is ruled “dead” when:

    1. The ball hits the ground.

    2. The ball carrier’s flag is pulled.

    3. The ball carrier steps out of bounds.

    4. A touchdown, PAT or safety is scored.

    5. The ball carrier’s knee or elbow hits the ground and is declared down by the “touch rule.”

    6. The ball carrier’s flag falls off and is declared down by the “touch rule.”

    7. Inadvertent whistle.

  6. 7)  NOTE: There are no fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball carrier’s feet were at the time of the fumble.

  7. 8)  In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the offense has two options:

    1. Take the ball where it was when the whistle blew and the down is consumed.

    2. Replay the down from the original line of scrimmage.

  8. 9)  A team is allowed to use a time out to question an official’s rule interpretation. If the official’s ruling is correct,the team will be charged a time out. If the rule is interpreted incorrectly, the time out will not be charged and the proper ruling will be enforced. Officials should all agree upon any controversial call in order to give each team the full benefit of each call.


  1. 1)  If the field monitors or referee witnesses any acts of intentional tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, illegal blocking or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped and the player will be ejected from the game. The decision is made at the referee’s discretion. No appeals will be considered.

  2. 2)  Offensive or confrontational language is illegal. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. If offensive or confrontational language occurs, the referee will give one warning, and then a penalty will be enforced. Upon a 2nd occurrence the player or players will be ejected from the game. FIGHTING will result in an ejection.

  3. 3)  Players may not physically or verbally abuse any opponent, coach or official. Doing so will result in suspension or ejection from the game.

  4. 4)  Ball carriers MUST make an effort to avoid defenders with an established position.

  5. 5)  Defenders are not allowed to run through the ball carrier when pulling flags.

  6. 6)  Fans and players are required to keep fields safe and kid friendly:

    a. Keep younger kids and equipment such as coolers, chairs and tents a minimum of 10 yards off the field.

    b. There will be no smoking on the sidelines.


Columbia Youth Football League
PO Box 7052 
Columbia, Missouri 65202

Email: [email protected]

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