IFAF on 03/07/2011

The IFAF Flag Football Rules are based on IFAF Tackle Football Rules.

To keep the Flag rules short and simple, a lot of things are not explained. Only important or special things have been determined and ruled. Even so this Flag Football Rules Book will cover everything to play Flag without knowing the Tackle rules. If there is a need for more information (e.g. specifications of ball) you will have to look in the Tackle Rules Book (e.g. R 1-3-1). As a coach or official, you need to understand the Tackle rules too.

The Football Code is an integral part of the Flag rules.

The referee will decide according to the Tackle rules on any ruling which is not covered by this Rule Book.

Flag football is non-contact. Blocking, tackling and kicking are not allowed.

The structure of these rules will follow Tackle Rules, but content and numbering is not corresponding.

Word from the editor


The rule book 2011 is the first revised edition of the first ever international Flag Football rule book, published in 2009. It has a lot of editorial changes to clarify things or simply delete errors. Important changes compared to the 2009 version are:


  • ° Two possible national changes are added, the flags could be Velcro type and a mouthpiece could be only recommended.
  • ° The possible national changes for Indoor are now listed and extended.
  • ° Uniform attachments are illegal.
  • ° Substitution for defense is possible till the snap.
  • ° Illegal blitzer signal is added.
  • ° Only 2 blitzers can ask for the right of way.
  • ° Illegal backward pass gets a loss of down.
  • ° Jumping, diving, flag guarding and illegal kick are making the ball dead and administered as dead ball fouls.
  • ° On a change of possession only a team not fouling before getting the last possession can keep the ball, otherwise the down will be replayed.
  • ° The enforcement has been changed; the philosophy is part of rule 10.
  • ° Rule 11 has been reduced to the minimum because an official's manual exists now.
  • ° Interpretations have been added, maybe the most important thing.

The change of enforcement has been done, because this was the only real criticized point in the former edition. Main complaints have been, that some enforcements are not exactly fitting the situation and the enforcement is too much complex in general. This is a good example about the different directions of wishes the rules have to fulfill.

After hours of thinking and rethinking and changing and rechanging it, I believe I found a solution what takes care of the complaints, brings a more equitable enforcement and is simpler than before. Hopefully I found the Jack of all trades. The new enforcement is not changing as much as it looks at the first moment. Even with the old enforcement, technical penalties have been enforced from the scrimmage line. And on the other hand the new exceptions with the worst spot principle (basic spot) will enforce fouls during the play from the spot of foul or end of play. So the changes are small in practice.

Thanks for assistance to:

Erwin Aigner (AUT), Jim Briggs (GBR), Nick Inzerello (USA), Magnus Lauesgaard (DEN), Tsutomu Negishi (JPN), KK Park (KOR), Alexandre Roger (FRA), Rick Sowieta (CAN), Michael Ulicny (AUT) and all the people behind them.


Wolfgang Geyer (AUT)



Other Media

FlagMechsManual.pdf (342 KB)

flagmechanicsquickstart.pdf (511 KB)

IFAF Flag Rules 2011.pdf (4.47 MB)

2011 IFAF Flag Rules