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NFL Flag Official League

Code of Conduct:

Neighborhood Sports was created with the goal to provide a fun, recreational youth league within a safe environment. NFL Flag football embodies the discipline of teamwork, and challenges kids to learn the skills, tactics and strategies of the game to improve as a player. The league allows for spirited competition within the rules of the game while demanding good sportsmanship among all. With this in mind, Neighborhood Sports will require all coaches, players and spectators, to adhere to the following: 


A. Each team (except the 3-4 Instructional and 5-6-year-old divisions) will be allowed to have one coach on the field during the game. That can be the head coach or an assistant coach. The coach must stay out of the play (at least 5 yards behind the deepest player) and should not run along with the play. 

a. 3-4 / 5-6-year-old coaches are allowed up to 2 coaches on the field at a time. 

b. Each team can have 2 assistant coaches on the sideline to assist the head coach. 

B. Only the head coach of each team is allowed to address the official, regardless if they are the on-field coach or on the sideline. Parents, spectators and assistant coaches will not be allowed to partake in conversations with the referee. 

a. The head coach must be the one to do the coin flip at the beginning of the game. 

b. In order for the head coach to speak with the official, they must use a time out and speak with them on the sideline away from play, not in the middle of the field. 

c. The head coach can ask the official for a rule’s clarification. 

i. The referee will take an official time out to review the rules with the head coaches and determine the call. 

ii. The coach can only ask for a rule’s clarification one time during the game. If no decision can be reached on the field, a commissioner can join to ultimately decide. 

C. Once a coach has used their clarification, they are not to disrupt the flow of the game by arguing spots and official calls. If a coach is over-arguing with the referee, they will be given a poor sportsmanship penalty. If a coach receives a second poor sportsmanship penalty, they will be removed from the game and suspended for the following week. 

a. Reminder: we are all here for the kids to have fun. While our referees do their best, blown calls are an unfortunate part of the game, even at the highest levels. With Neighborhood Sports, we want to always strive to be good role models for the kids on how to handle those situations. 

b. All interactions with the referees should be conducted with respect. 

D. No arguing, begging calls or questioning the judgment of the official will be tolerated. 

E. The on-field coach, if not the head coach, should not talk to the official unless to ask about the 5-yard no run zone. If they have a concern, they must raise it with the head coach for them to address the official. 

F. The on-field coach is to assist the players only. 

a. In the event the official determines that the on-field coach is disrupting the game or the officials, that team will forfeit the right to a coach on the field for the rest of the game and all coaches will be asked to coach from the sidelines. 

G. Any coach that’s thrown out of a game will receive a minimum one game suspension for the following week. Second occurrence will result in an indefinite suspension, pending circumstance. 

H. The head coach is responsible for the assistant coaches and his players. 

I. The head coach is responsible for their spectators and sideline. 

J. All teams and coaches must line up to shake hands with the opponent once the game is over. There should be nothing but “good game” and respect in the handshake line. No exceptions. 

K. Profanity will not be tolerated at any time. A coach, player or any sideline personnel that violates this rule can immediately be removed from the game by the referee.

L. Coaches must play their roster up to 50% of the game. Referees will keep an eye on kids who are not playing in the game, or kids who are not coming out of the game while other kids stand on the sideline. No exceptions, and suspensions can be levied against coaches who are not adhering. This is for fun and learning. Don’t be that coach - play all your kids!

Sportsmanship and Roughing:

A. If in the referee’s judgment they witness any act of flagrant contact and tackling, cheap shots, blocking, elbowing or any other dangerous or poor sportsmanlike act, they will be given a poor sportsmanship penalty. 

B. Players are not allowed to talk to the referee’s unless spoken to by the referee. 

a. Players are not allowed to question the referee's call or ask for a rule’s clarification. 

b. If a child is not respecting the referee, they will be given a poor sportsmanship penalty. 

C. There is zero tolerance for taunting the opposing team.

a. We encourage the kids to celebrate their accomplishments together as a team, but not at all at the expense of an opponent. 

b. If a referee deems a player has taunted the opponent, there will be a 15-yard poor sportsmanship penalty. 

D. There is a two-strike poor sportsmanship rule. If a player, or a coach, accumulates 2 poor sportsmanship penalties in the same game, the head coach and whomever received the penalties will be suspended the following week.


A. Spectators/parents are not to disrupt the flow of the game by arguing spots and official calls.

a. The spectator/parent will be given one warning from the official. If the spectator/parent continues to disrupt the game, they will be asked to leave the field, or the team will forfeit the game. 

B. There is zero tolerance for taunting the opposing team’s fans. Unless being positive, there should be no interaction with the opposing team’s fans during or after the game. 

C. There is a zero-tolerance fighting policy. Parents involved in any physical or verbal altercation can be indefinitely suspended from attending games.

NFL Flag Overview:

*Note – 3-4 Instructional will be 4 on 4, and no score will be kept.

  1. NFL Flag is 5 on 5. Just like real football, the visiting team will call the coin flip before the game. Visiting team wears white, the home team wears colors. Jersey combinations are not important unless both teams are wearing similar colors. If both teams show up wearing navy, the visiting team will have to flip their jerseys inside out. Home and Away is noted on the schedule.

  2. Make sure all the kids have their jerseys tucked in and have a mouthpiece. Mouthpiece’s will be given with jerseys at the beginning of the season. If a kid needs a new mouthpiece, they can come to the tent and buy one for $5.

  3. There are two 20-minute halves with a 3-minute half time. (3-4 year olds will play two 15-minute halves.) There is a 25 second play clock from the time when the ball is spotted. Refs should warn you on the first delay of game, and then a 5-yard penalty will be enforced after that. Refs should give you a 10 second warning before the play clock expires, and the head coach can ask the ref for the countdown if it’s not happening. You have 3 timeouts that you can use throughout the entirety of the game, that is the only way to stop the clock

Game Play:

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  1. Everyone starts with the ball at their own 5- yard line. You get 3 downs to get a first down at mid-field. On your own side of the field, you can choose to go for it on 4th down. If you don’t pick it up, the other team will take possession where that play ends. If you “punt” on 4th down, then the other team will start with the ball on their own 5-yard line. There is no 4th down option after you have crossed midfield going into the end zone, you only have 3 downs to score. If you fail, the opposing team will take the ball at the 5.

  2. On the field, there are 4 total “No Rushing Zones” that are 5 yards wide. Each team will have two “No Rushing Zone” sections per drive – 5 yards before midfield when you can pick up a first down, and 5 yards in front of the endzone before you score. This is to prevent power running plays in small spaces. If any part of the ball is spotted in the No Rush Zone, the referee will call out that the play is “pass only” and the only option is a forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage.

    1. NOTE: The 3-4, 5-6-year-old divisions do NOT have the “No Rush” zones on the field. They can run the ball all the way up and down the field. 
  3. When you score, you can take a 1-point option from the 5-yard line, or a 2-point option from the 10 yard line. This includes the No Rush Zone if you go for 1 point. If the play is intercepted and the defense scores, it’s 2 points just like real football. 

  4. There are NO FUMBLES in NFL Flag. Offense will retain possession at the spot where the ball hit. If you fumble on 3rd down before the line of gain at midfield, the ball will go over unless you choose to go for it on 4th down on your side of the field. If you fumble on 3rd down going in for the score, the drive is dead, and the other team will take possession at their own 5-yard line.

  5. All offensive penalties result in a loss of down. All defensive penalties result in an automatic first down.

  6. Once a 28-point lead has been taken in the game, the score will be final, but we will allow the game to finish, that way everyone can keep getting better. 

Passing the ball

  1. The QB/Center exchange does not have to be from shot gun beneath the center’s legs. The center can take a knee and hike the ball back.

    1. If there is a bad snap, the play will be allowed to continue if the ball and quarterback are both under control and he is able to quickly pick it up. If the snap goes over his head, or the ball gets kicked around, the play will be blown dead and the down will be consumed. If the QB is trying to pick up the ball while a blitzer is closing in, the ref can also blow the play dead, and the down is consumed. This is a judgement call by the referee.

  2. Once the quarterback receives the snap, he has 7 seconds to either hand the ball off to a teammate or pass it beyond the line of scrimmage. The referee will count it out. If the ball isn’t out in 7 seconds, that’s ruled a sack, the ball is downed there, and the down is consumed. 

  3. There are NO laterals, pitches, tosses, or anything like that, anywhere on the field. It must be a full handoff. There can be as many handoffs behind the line of scrimmage as you’d like.

  4. If the QB hands the ball off, he is eligible to go out for a route. He can even take the ball back after he has handed it off, but it must be a full handoff. 

  5. Once the QB hands the ball off, the 7 second clock is dead, and the defense can cross the line of scrimmage and come after the play immediately. 

  6. Players can shift pre-snap and reset. Once the QB gets into his cadence, only one player can be in motion, like a jet sweep.

  7. The quarterback cannot take the snap directly and run. He MUST hand off or pass within 7 seconds. 

Running the ball

  1. The 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 divisions cannot run the football inside the no rush zone, you can only pass beyond the line of scrimmage.

    1. Reiteration: 3-4 Instructional, 5-6 year olds CAN run the ball

  2. There is no leaping or diving to avoid having your flag pulled. A normal jump cut is fine, but if a kid loses control of his body for an extended period of time, that’s a foul. It’s a judgement call by the ref.

  3. There is no blocking or moving screens in NFL Flag. Have your kids learn to stop once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage. If they are STOPPED, an offensive player can use a kid as a screen like basketball, but if they are running along with the play and interfere with someone pulling a flag, that’s a foul.

  4. Once a ball carrier crosses the line of scrimmage, that kid owns the football, no laterals.

  5. If a player’s flag falls off while running, the ball is down where the flag fell off.

Receiving the ball

  1. All kids are eligible to receive a pass, they just need 1 foot in bounds. 

    1. Like mentioned earlier, QB’s can catch a pass if they’ve handed it off behind the line of scrimmage first.

    2. Centers are eligible to go out for a pass after the snap.

  2. If you are a receiver and your flag falls off in your route, the ball is down where the pass is caught.


  1. Interceptions can be returned for a touchdown.

  2. To rush the QB, your rusher must be lined up behind the 7-yard bullseye from the line of scrimmage. You can put as many players back to blitz the passer as you’d like.

    1. There will be a down marker at the line of scrimmage. There will be a bullseye “first down” marker that will be 7 yards off the line of scrimmage. This is where a player must be lined up behind to rush the passer.

    2. Note – the “first down marker” is not a true first down marker – you can only gain a first down by crossing mid-field. It is only a rushing line for defensive pass rushers to line up behind.

    3. Note: 3-4 Instructional, 5-6-year olds do not have blitzes. You can line your kids up wherever. They can only cross the line of scrimmage and pull a flag once the ball has been handed off. 

  3. Any one in front of the 7-yard marker has to play coverage until the ball is handed off or a pass is completed. Once the ball is handed off, everyone can cross the line of scrimmage to pull the flag.

  4. If you have a kid behind the 7-yard marker to rush, and he jumps that line before the ball is snapped, it’s not a foul, but he can no longer rush the passer. He has to play coverage until a pass is completed or the ball is handed off. Another kid who stayed behind the line till the snap is still eligible to rush.

    1. If a kid is lined up in front of the rush marker at the snap and still rushes the passer before a handoff, that is an illegal rush and a foul.

  5. A rusher can bat a ball down, but he can make NO CONTACT with the QB. Teach your kids to go for the flag and a sack. If a defender makes contact with the quarterback as he is trying to pass, that is considered roughing the passer, and will be a foul.

  6. If the QB’s flags are pulled behind the line of scrimmage, the ball will be spotted where the ball is when his flags are pulled, and the QB is sacked.

    1. If a pass is made simultaneously while the QB’s flags are pulled, the pass will be allowed to stand. QB flags must clearly be pulled before the pass. This is a judgement call. 

  7. The offense CAN NOT impede the rusher, he has a right to a clear path regardless of where they line up before the snap. No blocking. 

  8. If the path of the rusher is occupied by an offensive player, it is the responsibility of the offensive player to get out of the way. 

  9. Rub routes are illegal, it is the responsibility of the receiver to run his route to avoid the pass rusher. If the rusher is impeded on his line to the quarterback, that will be “impeding the rusher” and a foul.

  10. If the QB breaks the pocket and rolls out, and the rusher changes his path, there is no longer “impeding the rusher.” Impeding the rusher is only valid if the QB remains in the pocket, and the rusher is maintaining his line that he started the blitz from. 

  11. Any defender can pull the flag. Teach your kids to raise the flag high in the air once they have pulled a flag

    1. If a child pulls a flag and does not hold it up, and the play continues, it is to the discretion of the referee as to where the ball will be spotted.

    2. Once a defender has pulled a flag, it should be walked over and given back to the offensive player. A poor sportsmanship penalty can be given for dropping flags on the ground after they are pulled.

  12. Defenders can dive to pull a flag - offensive players CAN NOT dive to avoid having their flag pulled. 

  13. If a player is actively trying to grab a flag but accidentally grabs shorts, the play should continue without a foul.

    1. Grabbing shorts to intentionally slow someone down is considered a holding foul, they need to be clearly trying to reach the flag. It is a judgement call by the ref.

Below is a rules overview. Please remember – the referees are human and are doing their very best. Refer to Code of Conduct for behavior mandates.

  1. Offensive Procedural Foul Penalties

    1. False Start: -5 yards from LOS and loss of down

    2. Delay of Game: - 5 yards from LOS and loss of down

    3. Illegal Procedure – 5 yards from LOS and loss of down

    4. Illegal Motion (more than 1 person in motion): - 5 yards from LOS and loss of down

    5. Illegal Forward Pass (pass doesn’t cross LOS): -5 yards from LOS and loss of down

    6. Impeding the Rusher: -5 yards from LOS and loss of down

    7. Offensive Pass Interference: -5 yards from LOS and loss of down

  2. Offensive Spot Foul Penalties

    1. Unnecessary Roughness: -10 yards from foul and loss of down

    2. Screening or Blocking: -10 yards from foul and loss of down

    3. Flag Guarding: -10 yards from foul and loss of down

  3. Defensive Procedural Penalties

    1. Illegal Rush: +5 yards from LOS and automatic first down

    2. Illegal Flag Pull (before the receiver has the ball): +5 yards from LOS and automatic first down

    3. Roughing the Passer: +5 yards from LOS and automatic first down

  4. Defensive Spot Foul Penalties

    1. Unnecessary Roughness: +10 yards from foul and automatic first down

    2. Holding: +5 yards and automatic first down

    3. Defensive Pass Interference: Ball is marked at the spot of the foul, automatic first down

  5. Poor Sportsmanship

    1. a. On offense, it will be a -15 yard penalty from the original line of scrimmage and a loss of down. If the play results in a touchdown, the touchdown will be taken off the board, and the penalty will be enforced from the original LOS.

    2. On defense, it will be a +15-yard penalty from the end of the play, or the line of scrimmage if an incomplete pass, plus an automatic first down. If the penalty is enforced after a touchdown, the infracting team’s offense will begin with the ball at their own 5-yard line on 3rd down. 


  1. Procedural penalties will be marked as the foul occurs, and the ball will be reset.

  2. Spot fouls will be assessed after the play has ended.

    1. I.E- If it is third down, and the offense completes pass for a first down, then flag guards down the field, the foul will be marked off and the down will be consumed. If after the 10-yard penalty the offense has still crossed midfield, they will begin with the ball on 2nd down going to score.

    2. If the foul is marked off and the offense is behind the line of gain, it will be 4th down.

    3. If it is third down on the scoring side of the field and the offense commits a penalty, the drive will end, and the ball will go to the other team starting at their own 5-yard line.

    4. The offense can decline defensive penalties.

      1. I.E- If there is an illegal rush, but the QB completes the pass for a touchdown, the touchdown can stand.

  3. Offensive illegal procedure – If you make a substitution mid-drive, you MUST allow the defense to get reset. If you sub in a wide receiver while the cornerback is still 20 yards down the field, that will be a procedural foul. If you don’t make any substitutions, you can go as fast as you’d like. Just make sure the ref has spotted the ball and the chains are set before snapping. 

  4. Flag guarding - teach your kids to keep two hands on the ball to try and avoid this. Any type of deterrent from having someone grab your flag is a foul. Just have them juke and run away. No stiff arms or anything of that nature. It’s a spot foul, so wherever the foul occurs, the ref will spot the ball 5 yards behind, and you will lose a downNOTE: The 3-4, 5-6-year-old divisions do NOT have the “No Rush” zones on the field. They can run the ball all the way up and down the field. 

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Forney, Texas 75126

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