When watching girls’ flag football, it becomes quickly apparent that pulling flags instead of tackling is not the only way the sport’s rules differ from boys’ football.
Recently, Bartlett’s flag football coach Steve Stansbury was kind enough to explain some of the rules unique to flag football.
The first-down rules provide one of the biggest differences. After a score, teams do not kickoff. Instead, the opposing team takes possession at its own 14-yard line. The initial line-to-gain is always the 20-yard line. Like boy’s football, the team has four downs to make it from the 14 to the 20 and does have the option to punt.
If the 20 is reached, the team gets a new set of four downs and the new line-to-gain becomes the 40, regardless of where the ball is spotted. For example, if Bartlett ran the ball to the 21-yard line for a first down, it would have first-and-19 to go to the 40; if Bartlett ran the ball to the 35, it would have a first-and-five. Subsequent first downs are gained at the opposing 40, the opposing 20 and the goal line.
When a flag football team gets near the goal line, it doesn’t have the option of kicking a field goal. If the team crosses the goal line, it doesn’t have the option of kicking an extra point. Instead, the team can choose to pass or throw for a one-point conversion from the 2-yard line, a two-point conversion from the 10-yard line or a three-point conversion from the 20-yard line.
Also worth noting is the size of the football used. There is nothing in the rule book to regulate what size football teams use. Each team is responsible for providing its own footballs. Stansbury said teams could play with Nerf footballs if they wanted, but most teams use a standard-sized youth football.