4v4 Flag Football Rules

NIRSA Flag Football rules shall apply to all games, except any of the following adaptations. 

Players and Substitutes

  1. 3 players minimum to start a game.
  2. 4 players maximum can play the field in a  game
  3. 1 player is required to be on the line of scrimmage (LOS) at the snap
  4. The following equipment is illegal and may not be worn by any player
    1. Jewelry
    2. Shorts/Pants with, zippers, exposed drawstrings or belt loops
    3. Hooded sweatshirts
    4. Metal cleats
  5. Teams may provide their own ball. IM Sports will have balls for check out.
    1. Co-rec teams have the option to use youth, junior or official size balls
    2. Men's leagues must us official size balls
  6. Teams must wear the same color shirt for each game. Captains will select that color during team registration.
  7. Flag belts will be provided by GVSU IM Sports.



  1. The game shall consist of 2-15 minute halves
    1. The clock will run for the entire first 29 minutes of the game
      1. The clock will stop the clock at the one minute warning of the second half
    2. During the last minute of the second half, the clock will revert to “one minute timing rules.”
      1. One minute timing rules will stop the clock for
        • First down
        • Out of bounds
        • Incomplete pass
        • Penalty enforcement
        • Touchdown
        • Safety
        • Touchback
        • Change of possession
        • Team or official’s time out
      2. The game officials will indicate when the clock will start based on the previous play.
        • When there is less than one minute remaining in the game, the offended team of any foul will have the option to start the game clock on the snap when it would have normally started on the ready.
    3. Teams are entitled to 2 timeouts per game
    4. Regular season games will end in ties. Playoff games will follow the overtime procedures.
  2. Mercy Rule
    1. If a team is ahead 25 with one minute remaining in the second half, the game will be ended. 
  3. If a game is called because of facility issues, halftime will constitute an official game.

The Game

  1. To start a half, after a touchback, touchdown or safety, the ball will be snapped from the 7 yard line. The player receiving the snap for all downs must be two yards behind the LOS.
  2. The orange cone is the offensive LOS and the yellow spotter is the defensive LOS. The 1 yard area between is the neutral zone
  3. There will be two zone lines to gain (ZLTG). The officials will announce the line to gain and the down on each play.
    1. The ZLTG will be mid field and the goal line.
  4. Teams have 3 downs to advance the ball to the next ZLTG.
  5. There are no punts.
  6. There is no defensive rush. The defense may not cross their scrimmage line until the ball is passed (illegal advancement, 3 yard penalty).
  7. There must be a legal forward pass each down and the quarterback must release the pass within 5 seconds or the play is whistled dead and the result is an incomplete pass. The legal forward pass may be touched behind OR beyond the line of scrimmage.
  8. No member of the offense may run the ball through the LOS before a legal forward pass is touched (illegal advancement, 3 yard penalty).
  9. Flag football is non-contact. Players may not hold, push, and “chuck players on the LOS.” Non-contact screen blocking is allowed during each down. Flag guarding is illegal.
    1. 10 yard penalties = 5 yards
    2. 5 yard penalties = 3 yards
  10. Only one forward pass is allowed per down. It must be from behind the line of scrimmage. Teams may throw unlimited backward passes
  11. Only one person may be in motion at the time of the snap. Motion players may not be moving towards the line of scrimmage at the snap.


  1. Touchdown
    1. 6 points
  2. PAT
    1. 1 points – ball snapped from the three yard line
    2. 2 points – ball snapped from the 10 yard line
    3. 3 points – ball snapped from mid-field yard line
  3. Safety
    1. 2 points

Fouls and Penalties

  1. Three yard penalties
    1. False start
    2. Encroachment
    3. Illegal motion
    4. Illegal shift
    5. Illegal snap
    6. Illegal forward pass (also a loss of down)
    7. Illegal advancement 
    8. Delay of game
  2. Five yard penalties
    1. Illegal contact
    2. Flag Guarding
    3. Pass interference
    4. Illegal participation
    5. Illegal equipment
    6. Stripping or attempting to strip the ball
    7. Roughing the passer
    8. Unsportsmanlike conduct
  3. All fouls during a running play will be enforced from the end of the run. All fouls during a loose ball play will be enforced from the previous spot. All dead ball fouls will be enforced from the succeeding spot.

Co-Rec Specific Rules


  1. Legal co-rec lineups
    1. 2 females and 2 males
    2. 2 females and 1 male
    3. 2 males and 1 female
  2. There are NO open/closed plays in co-rec
  3. There are NO additional points given if a woman scores a touchdown or PAT.

Page last modified January 31, 2023