NJ Play Sports Men's/Women's Flag Football Rules

Men's/Women's Flag Football Rules




**Each team is required to provide its own regulation football and its own flags [Flags should not match the color of your shorts: Please avoid wearing shorts that match your flags as they make it difficult to see]** 

Teams may also use this link to order flags from our preferred vendor

Teams may also find a flag vendor of their choosing, and order flags.
If your team elects to purchase their own flags, they must meet the following specifications:
Flag Length: 16.5 inches long
2 Flags per belt



NJ Play Sports General Rules (All Programs) 


  • The scheduled start time of your game is when the clock will start. 
  • We allow a 10 minute grace period. This grace period is for teams still getting ready, teammates running late, etc. "(Please keep in mind that the game clock will be running during the grace period)"
  • After 10 minutes the game is officially ruled a forfeit. If the teams still want to play after the grace period is up, the referees and site managers will still run a game, but the game will still count as a forfeit for the standings.
  • If an official is late or doesn’t show up, teams have a choice to self-officiate, mutually agree upon an official (team member or spectator), or allow a Site Manager to officiate the game. Games will not be rescheduled and will count as an official game.
  • Games are rescheduled or refunded/credited in the event that NJ Play Sports specifically cancels a game. Reschedules and refund/credits do not apply in events outside of NJ Play Sports control (ie: excessive rainouts, forfeits, etc.) 
  • All subs must fill out a waiver in order to participate in games. At least 50% of the players on the team must be on the roster. You may have no more than 1 bench player available, if you are inviting subs/guest players to the game. 
  • Rosters: Each team can have as many players as they choose as long as they meet the league fee and gender specific qualifications. The roster deadline for every league is the night before the last regular season game. Once the last regular season game is played, no changes may be made to the schedule. 

*NJ Play Sports does reserve the right to make an exception for extreme cases, in order to avoid forfeits. 

  • Roster Checks: Roster checks will be conducted before the start of every game. Substitutes are allowed during the regular season.



If you know you may not be able to field a full team, please let us know at least 48 hours in advance and we will try our best to reschedule your game and avoid a forfeit: 

● Call: 973-358-5729 

● Email: nj@playsportsco.com 


2 Forfeit offenses = elimination from playoffs

3 Forfeit offenses = removal from league



NJ Play Sports is a community of social adult sports enthusiasts. We do encourage safe and healthy competition. Overly competitive players who are deemed to be excessively aggressive may be removed from the game and league without refund. 


NJ Play Sports has a zero tolerance policy in regards to abuse of any kind. Help us keep our community safe!



  • 7 players on the field maximum
  • 5 players required at game time to avoid a forfeit
  • Two 25-minute halves with 1-3 minute half times. Running time for first half, 23 minute running second half with 2 minute stop time if game within 16 points
  • Ball will be spotted where the players hips/flags are at the conclusion of the play
  • Offensive Line Blocking, Downfield Blocking and Five Yard Chuck/Bump are allowed (No Shoulder Blocking/Checking)
  • No picks allowed
  • Each team will have a series of four (4) downs to advance the ball from one zone to another. Mid-field is the only first down. Failure to do so in four downs results in loss of the ball to the opponent. If you start the possession on your opponent's side of mid-field the count will be 1st and Goal.
  • All players must arrive on-time to avoid forfeiture of game(Game time is forfeit time)
  • All games are RAIN or SHINE (unless hazardous conditions)
  • Any unsportsmanlike conduct will result in that player/team being suspended/removed from participating in future NJ Play activities, at the discretion of NJ Play officials.

1-DAY Tournament Rule Adaptations

  • 7 players
  • Downfield blocking
  • Blocking at line of scrimmage and five yard bump is allowed
  • No Actual Punts- Once a punt is declared the defense starts with the ball on there own 10 yard line (Same applies for safeties)
  • Each Game consists of 2 fifteen minute halves 
  • Each team plays 3 Round Robin games. 
  • Qualified teams will advance to the playoffs.  
  • Player refs will be assigned throughout the day to assist main officals with out of bounds and down field calls 


Questions for the referee Only the team captain is allowed to ask the head referee for rule clarification. If it is a judgment call, the referees can confer with each other and the team captains for discussion, but players and/or captains are not allowed to question judgment calls.

Game Cancellations

  • Leagues may be cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions, facility constraints or other unforeseeable reasons. NJ Play will not cancel games unless absolutely necessary, so you should always assume games are on unless you receive notification. If the games are cancelled, NJ Play will send information via email.

Start of Game

  • Referee will have two captains shoot rock/paper/scissors, odds/evens, or coin flip.
  • Winning captain selects Offense/Defense or direction in the first half (In the second half, teams change directions and possession).
  • Game starts with the receiving team in possession on its own 10-yard line.

Clock Time

  • Two 25-minute halves with 1-3 minute half time
  • Running time for all 25 minutes of first half, 23 of 25 minutes running time second half (see below for explanation)
  • Final two minutes of second half - clock stops when the score differential is 16 points or less for:
  • Official's time-outs (injuries and called time-outs)
  • An incomplete pass
  • An offensive player goes out-of-bounds (Without being deflagged)
  • A touchdown
  • A First Down
  • Any turnover (interception, change of possession on downs or after a punt)
  • The clock continues to run on all fumbles (including fumbles snaps from the center to the QB)
  • Any penalty deemed intentional by the referee in an effort to affect the clock (whether to run off time or stop the clock) in the last two minutes of the game is prohibited
  • If a team is up by 17 or more points, the clock will continue to run for the last 2 minutes
  • If the point differential changes from below 17 points (stoppage time) to 17 points or above (running time) within the final 2 minutes the clock shall stop/run in accordance with the score.
  • The clock will stop for a 2 minute warning in the second half if the score differential is 16 points or less. Clock is always restarted when the offense snaps the ball.


Each team receives two time-outs per game. Timeouts last one minute.

Team Size

  • 7 Players
  • Each team shall field no less than 5 players
  • Teams must start at game time if the minimum numbers of players are present
  • Rosters are limited to 15 players with a minimum of 9.  Each player on Roster is required to sign waiver prior to playing first game. 


  • Team shirts are provided by NJ Play
  • Proper footwear must be worn to participate (i.e. sneakers or cleats)
  • Metal Cleats are prohibited


  • Touchdowns 6 points
  • 2 yard conversion: 1 point
  • 10 yard conversion: 2 points
  • Safeties: 2 points

*Extra point attempts may be intercepted and returned for 2 points with the defense retaining possession at their 10 yard line.


A safety will be scored when a player:

  • Is de-flagged with the hips across the goal-line in their own end zone (not on a punt or intercepted pass)
  • If player advances the ball out of end zone and runs back in on a punt or intercepted pass, a safety will be awarded
  • Runs out of bounds in their own end zone
  • Snaps the ball out of the back of their own end zone
  • Fumbles in their own end zone

*The defensive team receives 2 points and will receive a punt from the opponents 10 yard line

First Downs

  • Each team will have a series of four (4) downs to advance the ball from one zone to another. Mid-field is the only first down. Failure to do so in four downs results in loss of the ball to the opponent. If you start the possession on your opponent's side of mid-field the count will be 1st and Goal.

Snapping Ball into Play

  • Only 7 men are allowed in the huddle
  • Ball must always be snapped near the ground by the center to the quarterback
  • The center is eligible to receive a pass after snapping the ball into play
  • The player receiving the snap is the quarterback for that play
  • No player shall put the ball in play until it is declared ready-for-play by the head referee
  • The offensive team has 25 seconds to put the ball in play after it is spotted by the referee
  • Centers may adjust the ball, including picking it up to reposition it as long as this motion is not used to intentionally draw the defense offside
  • Only 1 man may be allowed in motion when the ball is snapped.  The man in motion has to be moving parallel to the line of scrimmage or backwards.
  • Only 3 players are allowed in the backfield at the snap
  • If the ball hits the ground during the snap it is treated like a fumble and is dead immediately at the spot where it hit the ground.
  • This will not stop the clock during the last two minutes of the 2nd half


  • Offensive linemen are allowed to block the defense (No Shoulder Blocks)
  • The offense can keep players in the backfield to block for the quarterback for the rush.  Everyone is an eligible receiver.
  • Five Yard Chuck is allowed. Making contact with a receiver within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage
  • Downfield blocking is allowed (No Shoulder Blocking/Checking)

Offensive Picks

  • Offensive picks are not allowed (Intentionally impeding the path of a defensive player in order to free up a potential receiver).  This is considered offensive pass interference, 10 yards replay the down. 

Rushing Quarterback

  • Pursuing the QB is allowed after 3 Mississippi (counted by the Referee) or during the defensive teams 1 blitz per four downs
  • The quarterback may only run when the defense uses a blitz (crosses the line of scrimmage prior to the 3 Mississippi Count)
  • The defense must yell BLITZ when blitzing.  If BLITZ is not yelled by the defense, a five yard penalty will be assessed for defensive offside.  
  • The defense may rush immediately if a handoff/lateral takes place behind the line of scrimmage. This is not counted against your blitz if you haven't used it already.
  • If there is Defensive offside and the offense accepts the call the defense will get there blitz back. If the offense declines the penalty the defense loses their blitz. 

Play Will Continue Until

  • Ball carrier is de-flagged
  • The receiver can be de-flagged once he makes initial contact with the ball.
  • Ball carrier touches the out of bounds line with any part of his/her body
  • Ball carrier scores. Ball carriers hips must break goal plane for touchdown or conversion
  • Ball touches the ground as a result of a fumble, punt or incomplete pass or even while in a player's hand
  • Ball carrier slips or falls, or any part of his/her body (except feet or hands) touches the ground, the ball becomes dead
  • If an offensive player becomes de-flagged without cause the play will continue until he is touched with two hands by a defender

Stiff Arms

  • There are no stiff arms allowed by any player. This will be considered an illegal contact foul and a 10-yard penalty will be assessed and loss of down.

Complete/Incomplete Passes

  • A pass is complete:
  • Caught by any player of the passing team (who has at least one foot in bounds) beyond the line of scrimmage
  • Caught in bounds simultaneously by opponents & the ball is awarded to passing team at spot of catch
  • Player that has ball control and is pushed out of the end zone/sideline will be considered inbounds/TD/extra point

Start of the game/Scores

  • The team taking possession of the ball will start on its own 10 yards line.  There are no kick-offs


  • The offensive team must declare a punt and allow the defensive team time to set-up in a punt return formation.
  • There does not need to be a snap during a declared punt play
  • No fake punts allowed
  • Punts must be kicked
  • The kicking team may not cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked
  • The receiving team may not attempt to block the punt, however one player of the receiving team must remain at the line of scrimmage during the punt
  • Downfield blocking is allowed
  • Once the ball comes in contact with the ground it is a dead ball and possession changes at the spot of contact
  • A touchback (ball placed on the 10 yard line) is award if:
    • Ball is punted into or out of the end zone
    • Player drops the ball in the end zone
    • A player becomes de-flagged or takes a knee in the end zone without previously entering the field of play



  • There are no fumbles, any play ends when the ball makes contact with the ground
  • If a player has possession of the ball and then loses it and the ball makes contact with the ground the ball will be spot where the player last had complete control of the ball
  • If a ball becomes loose, either team my attempt to catch the ball prior to it hitting the ground and advance it towards their opponents end zone
  • Stripping the ball is not allowed


  • Interceptions may be advanced by the defense.
  • If the offensive and defensive players both have simultaneous possession, the ball will be awarded to the offensive player


  • Downfield laterals are allowed
  • A lateral is a toss of the ball to a team member next to or behind you. If the lateral is behind the line of scrimmage, the player receiving the pass has the option to run the ball, regardless of Mississippi count, or throw the ball down field to an eligible receiver
  • Illegal forward laterals will result in a 5 yard penalty from the spot of the foul.

Substitutions in the Huddle

  • A team is permitted to substitute players before each play. Players must be set on the field for one second before the snap.
  • Teams may not have more than 7 players in the huddle.
  • The penalty for an illegal substitution is 5 yards from the line of scrimmage prior to the ball being snapped


Delay of game The offense has 25 seconds to run a play after the referee has signaled he is ready for play.  Referees will give a count from 5 down to zero before calling this penalty  5 yards; play is blown dead prior to snap

Too Many Men on the field - No more than 7 players Penalty will be assessed after discovery  5 yards; replay down. Opposing team may decline penalty

  • Defense
  • Defensive Offsides- If any defender crosses the line of scrimmage before 3-Mississippi is fully uttered: 5 yards will be assessed from the line of scrimmage  and the down will be replayed (Penalty may be decline by the offense)
  • Offense
  • QB illegal forward pass/illegal run - The QB throws a forward pass after he crosses the line of scrimmage or runs before defense crosses the line of scrimmage- 5 yards will be assessed from the line of scrimmage  and there will be a loss of down (Penalty may be declined by the defense)
  • Offensive Offsides- When any part of the offensive player's body is beyond the scrimmage line before the ball is snapped or an offensive play leaves before the ball is snapped: play is blown dead at snap, 5 yards will be assessed from the line of scrimmage  and the down will be replayed
  • Illegal Motion - Players must be set on the field for one second before the snap. - 5 yards; 
  • Intentional grounding -  5 yards; loss of down (Intentional grounding will not be called if the QB spikes the ball immediately after the snap during the last two minutes of the game to stop the clock)
  • Illegal forward lateral - Illegal forward laterals will result in a 5 yard penalty from the spot of the foul.
  • Shoulder Blocking/Checking - No should/checking blocking is allowed (Penalty: 10 yards from line of scrimmage; replay down.)
  • Illegal contact/holding Making intention contact with another player will result in a 10 yard penalty and replay the down
  • Offensive picking - Offensives picks are not allowed (Intentionally impeding the path of a defensive player in order to free up a potential receiver).  The penalty is yards and replay the down
  • Pass interference (when ball is in the air) - Pass interference will be called if a player significantly hinders the ability for an opposing player to get open or catch the ball. It will be considered incidental contact if both players are clearly going for the ball.
  • Defensive Pass interference will be an automatic first down at the spot of the penalty.
  • Defensive pass interference in the end zone will result in a first down on the 1 yard line
  • Offensive Pass interference will result in a 10 yard penalty and replay the down.
  • Flag Guarding- Intentionally or unintentionally obstructing an opposing player from reaching for a flag belt - The play will be blown dead and it will be a 10 yard penalty from the spot of the foul. This will also result in a loss of down.
  • Diving/Sliding To Gain Extra Yardage - a player with possession of the ball may not dive or slide to gain extra yards. This will result in a 10 yard penalty from the spot of the dive and loss of down
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct - including an illegal tag, grabbing and holding onto the shirt, tackling or pushing, abusive or insulting language to another player or referee, taunting opponent or similar theatrics before or after the touchdown. 15 yard penalty. If after touchdown, will be assessed on conversion
  • 2 unsportsmanlike penalties to 1 player in 1 game - player automatically ejected from the game and has a one-week suspension.
  • Any player fighting or abusing the referee will automatically be ejected from the game without a warning.
  • NJ Play reserves the right to remove any player from a game, season and/or future season

Note: If a team commits a loss of down penalty on 4th down, the ball is turned over to the defense.

Unintentional Whistle

If a referee inadvertently sounds the whistle during a play, the play is immediately dead. If the whistle is sounded during a run, it is the offensive team's ball at the spot when the inadvertent whistle occurred or they have the option to replay the down. If the ball is in flight (snap, pass, or punt) the down will be replayed.


  • Ranking Points (Win: 3, Tie:1, Loss: 0)
  • Win Percentage 
  • Head to Head
  • Points Against
  • Power Index (Strength of Schedule Metric)
  • If none of the above tie breakers resolve seeding issues there will a coin toss to break the tie

Overtime (Playoffs)

  • There is no Overtime during the regular season, a tie at the end of regulation is a tie in the standings
  • Playoffs: Each team will have four downs to score from the opponents 10 yard line
  • A coin toss, rock/paper/scissors, odds/evens will determine possession in overtime
  • Teams will attempt to score in the same end zone
  • If a team scores, they will have the opportunity to go for 1 or 2 on the PAT
  • An interception will result in a team losing its possession. (Interceptions may be returned for a touchdown, which would end overtime)
  • Overtime will end when each team receives the same amount of possessions and one team has the lead
  • No 1st downs will be awarded except in the case of a penalty


  • NJ Play's ultimate goal is for you to have fun. Please keep this in mind while participating. While games may become intense, please maintain sportsmanship. Any behavior or abusive language to another player or referee, and is considered unacceptable by the referee, may result in suspension or ejection from a game or the league.


Player Protests 

In the event that a team feels that the referee or site management does not acknowledge or incorrectly assumes a written rule in the NJ Play Rule Book the captain can protest said rule. The captain is protesting the fact that the rule exists or is different from what the referee is applying to the game. They are NOT protesting the interpretation of said rule or protesting any judgment calls on the field.

When a team protests a rule they must declare they are officially protesting the rule, the game will pause while the site manager and/or team captain confirm the rule exists or that the rule is being read correctly. If the rule exists or was being read incorrectly this is considered a successful protest (see below). If the rule does not exist or was being read and applied correctly on the field, this is considered a failed protest (see below).


Successful Protests:

Protest must take place on site before the next play begins, no alterations to the game can take place after the next play begins.

Play will continue using the accurate rule

Failed Protests:

Flag Football: Timeout will be deducted from the teams allotted timeouts. If no time-outs are available the team will be penalized 10 yards from the spot of the next play.



Men's Flag Football League Locations

Men's Flag Football

Play Flag Football at any one of these locations:

Morristown NJ Men's Flag Football

Wayne NJ Flag Football

Clifton NJ Men's Flag