Have you ever wanted to play American football without brain or spinal injuries? If so, then it sounds like flag football is for you. Football and flag football may be similar in many ways, but the sizes of their fields are not.
Flag football is played on a field that measures 70 yards long and 30 yards wide. The end zones measure 10 yards wide, leaving a playing area of 50 × 30 yards. However, there can be slight variations between regulation flag football field dimensions.
Have you ever wondered how flag football is played? If so, I’ll explain everything you need to know about flag football, from the size of the field to the rules.
What Is Flag Football?
The history of this team sport can be traced back to World War II, when US military personnel wanted a way to enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes without inflicting injury to each other. While there is some debate regarding the birthplace of the sport, the earliest records show that it was developed in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Flag football is a non-contact sport that limits the majority of rough-housing during gameplay. Instead of tackling or diving into each other, players wear belts with low-hanging flags around their waists that signify the end of the play when removed from a ball-carrying player.
Although flag football still requires high levels of defensive and offensive strategies, tactics like screening or fumbling the ball are prohibited. Flag football is less about being physical and more about increasing the pace at which football is played.
Dimensions of a Flag Football Field
In this guide, I will explain the basics of flag football rules and how they differ from traditional football. But before we begin, let’s talk about the sizes of a flag football field.
There are three regulation flag football field sizes:
- 70 × 30 yards
- 70 × 25 yards
- 64 × 25 yards
The differences might seem minute, but after learning about the markings on the field, you might realize just how impactful they can be.
Flag Football Field Markings
There are a few terms you should understand about flag football fields. Knowing them will help paint a picture of how the three regulation-size fields differ from each other.
Field—The length and width of the entire field, including the end zones. The field can measure 70 × 30 yards, 70 × 25 yards, or 64 × 25 yards.
End Zones—The scoring areas are located on opposite ends of the football field. In 70-yard-long fields, the end zones are 10 yards wide. In 64-yard-long fields, the end zones are only 7 yards wide.
Playing Field—The length and width of the entire field minus the end zones. The playing field can measure 50 × 30 yards or 50 × 25 yards.
No-Run Zones—Specific places in a flag football field where players must pass the ball to score a touchdown or to earn a first down. These zones are established to prevent players from initiating contact at the most critical parts of the field. The no-run zones are established 5 yards in front of each end zone and 5 yards wide from the midfield line toward the end zones in both directions.
Midfield Line—The line that divides the flag football field in half.
|Parameter||70 × 30 yards||70 × 25 yards||64 × 25 yards||Notes|
|End Zones||10 × 30 yards||10 × 25 yards||7 × 25 yards||Found on opposite ends of the field|
|Playing Field||50 × 30 yards||50 × 25 yards||50 × 25 yards||Field minus end zones|
|No-Run Zones||5 × 30 yards||5 × 25 yards||5 × 25 yards||There are 4 no-run zones in a flag football field|
|Midfield Line||Drawn at the 35-yard mark||Drawn at the 35-yard mark||Drawn at the 32-yard mark||Relative to the length of the field|
The Rules of Flag Football
For a more comprehensive breakdown of how to play flag football, you can check out the official rulebook created by the NFL. Since the league is pushing hard to get flag football in the Olympics, these are the rules that most, if not every, minor-league flag football association should follow.
- Flag football is played by 2 teams of 5, 6, 7, or 9 players, depending on the league. The number of players will usually affect the size of the field.
- Forward passes and handoffs are allowed. Players cannot throw the ball laterally or pitch it in any direction except toward the opponent’s end zone.
- The quarterback—the person who receives the snap—has only 7 seconds to throw the ball. They cannot run forward with the ball unless they receive it back via a handoff.
- If a flag is removed from the ball carrier’s waist, the play ends, and the line of scrimmage is repositioned to where the flag was removed from the wearer’s belt.
- Defensive players lined 7 yards away from the line of scrimmage are permitted to rush the quarterback.
- The offensive team has 4 downs to attempt to score a touchdown.
- Offensive fouls will result in a loss of a down and/or a pushback of the line of scrimmage.
- Defensive fouls will result in a first down for the offensive team and/or advancement of the line of scrimmage.
- A fumbled ball results in the end of a play and the loss of a down. The opposing team cannot pick up a fumbled ball.
- A flag football match lasts for 2 15- or 25-minute halves.
- Each team is permitted 1 60-second timeout per half.
Special Flag Football Rules
- The team that wins the coin toss starts with the ball in their possession. They start at the 5-yard line from their end zone.
- The offensive team is given 4 downs to cross the midfield line. After crossing the midfield line, they have 3 downs to score a touchdown.
- If the offensive team feels that it cannot pass the midfield line after the 3rd down, they can “punt” the ball. Possession is switched to the other team, where they will also have to start at their 5-yard line. If the offensive team elects to play the ball but fails to pass the midfield line, possession is given to the opposing team, and the line of scrimmage is unmoved.
- No-run zones are parts of a flag football field where the offensive team has to throw the ball. These zones measure 5 yards wide in front of each end zone and 5 yards wide from the midfield line in both directions.