NFL Flag USA Football Gridiron List USA Football
Official Football Development Partner
NFL NFL Players

Philosophy

The league philosophy regarding the game of flag football can be summarized into three simple principles; first, all players should have equal playing time, second, all players should have the same opportunities in the game and be developed equally, third, good sportsmanship and integrity should be upheld at all times.  When it comes to enforcing these principles the league has approved a policy to address the three core principles known as the “Rules of Three”.  The policy consists of three rules, they have an emphasis on the number three for easy recognition, they are league-wide, they are MANDATORY, and are as follows…

 

 1. All players MUST play a minimum of three offensive series (typically 3-6 plays each series) and a minimum of three defensive series (typically 3-6 plays each defensive series). This rule has been adopted to ensure that all players have an equal amount of playing time on BOTH sides of the ball (no specialists).  In an effort to remove the mental distraction of managing each player’s time from the coach, and still ensure equal playing time for all players, the following guidelines were created and are to be followed by every team, in every division without exception.  The playing time guidelines are as follows…

 

    • 10 Players – two groups of five are created, one group plays offense the first half then switches and plays defense the second half OR one group plays an offensive and defensive series then the second group plays an offensive and defensive series and continue that rotation through the half. Once a group is defined then players cannot switch groups during the half.  At halftime the coach may switch up the groups to play in the second half, once the second half groups are established then they cannot be changed during the second half and the same rotation method used in the first half should be used in the second half ensuring that all players play both offense and defense in the game.

 

    • 9 or 8 Players (Iron Man) – two groups will still be created with the same methodology as having 10 players, once groups are determined players cannot switch groups during the half. One or two players will be designated “iron men” for the half and play with both groups during the half (offense and defense).  During the second half one or two new players will be designated as “iron men” and they will play with both groups (offense and defense).  The iron men will be identified during attendance and the referee will write down which players are used as iron men for the game.  The iron man will wear a yellow wrist band so that they are identified.  No player can be iron man a second time until all players on their team have been iron man at least once (except if the players that haven’t been iron man are absent and the team needs an iron man).  This continues each week until the end of the regular season (a player can’t be iron man a third time until the rest of the team was iron man two times, etc).  The iron man rotation starts over again once the playoffs start.

 

    • 7 or 6 Players – the coach determines who plays while incorporating all phases of the Rules of Three policy (minimum playing time requirement is met with at least three offensive and defensive series, players scoring maximums, and sportsmanship).

 

    • 5 Players – Everyone plays every play, all phases of the Rules of Three policy still apply (minimum playing time requirement is met with at least three offensive and defensive series, players scoring maximums, and sportsmanship). If a team only has five players then they will be allowed to call two time outs per half.  The opposing team will still only have one time out per half.

 

    • Less than 5 Players – Forfeit, the opposing team wins and a mixed squad scrimmage should be played during the scheduled hour. The winning team will be awarded a 7-0 score in the standings.

 

 2. Individual players should not be scoring more than three times in a game. In an effort to distribute the ball evenly on offense, and help develop all players, the following guidelines were created for the specific divisions…

 

    • Divisions 1-2 (Coed), 3-4 (Boys) and 3-5 (Girls) – It is discouraged for one player to score (touchdown, 1 or 2 point conversion) more than three times in total (offense and defense combined) during a game. Once a player has reached their scoring maximum and playing on offense, per the playing guidelines, they may play as quarterback and potentially throw for a score or be a decoy in the field without touching the ball.  If that player advances the ball on offense (running it or catching it), then the play will not count, the ball will be returned to the line of scrimmage and the penalty is loss of down.  If the violation occurred on third down then the opposing team gets possession at their five yard line.  When playing on defense, per the playing guidelines, after reaching the scoring maximum then the coach should not play the player in a key defensive position.  It that player does intercept the ball then it cannot be advanced and their team will have the ball at the spot of the interception.  The player may be involved in a defensive scoring play resulting in a safety.
    • Divisions 5-6 (Boys), 6-8 (Girls) and 7-8 (Boys) - It is discouraged for one player to score on offense (touchdown, 1 or 2 point conversion) more than three times (defensive scoring does not count towards the three score maximum). Once a player has reached their offensive scoring maximum they will not be allowed to run with the ball or catch the ball on offense.  If, per the playing time guidelines, they are required to still play on offense, then they will be allowed to play quarterback and potentially throw for a score or be a decoy in the field without touching the ball.  If that player advances the ball on offense (running it or catching it), then the play will not count, the ball will be returned to the line of scrimmage and the penalty is loss of down.  If the violation occurred on third down then the opposing team gets possession at their five yard line.  If that player plays defense, per the playing guidelines, then they may intercept the ball and return it for a score or be involved in a play that results in a safety.  The player can still play defense without limitations. 

 

 3. Games should not be decided by more than three maximum scoring drives (24 points). In an effort to promote sportsmanship and an enjoyable experience for all it is discouraged for a team to continue to run their primary scoring plays while winning by at least 24 points (three touchdowns and three two-point conversions).  Since the league has implemented playing time guidelines, each half of a game could be dramatically different so an immediate “mercy rule” will not be enforced.  Note: As a coach, your objective is NOT to try to be winning by as many points as you can in the first half, keeping sportsmanship in mind at all times.  However, if the score remains at least a 24 point differential with 10:00 or less remaining in the game, then the mercy rule will be enforced and the winning team will be awarded the victory.  If the team that is losing is in the middle of a drive when the clock shows 10:00 or less remaining then that team may complete their drive and point after try if applicable.  If the result of that drive lowers the differential to less than 24 points then the game will continue until they fall behind by at least 24 points or time has run out.  If their last drive does not lower the differential to less than 24 points, then the game is over and the team that is ahead won the game.  The referee will inform both head coaches that the official game has ended via the mercy rule.  The remaining time in the game will be played out as a scrimmage and the playing time guidelines will be suspended for the rest of the gameIt is consistent with the league’s philosophy to give players opportunities on offense that typically are not the first choice and position similar players on key defensive positions.  This will help develop more players while not affecting the standings.  After the referee notifies each head coach that the mercy rule is being enforced then all future scoring will not be recorded.