Playing Rules

Updated September 1, 2023
General Rules

Florida State University does not provide accident insurance coverage for injuries received by Intramural Sports participants. Each participant should make sure that they has coverage either through family policies or the student insurance plan.

Florida State University PROHIBITS possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages on University property. Smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco is also prohibited at Campus Recreation facilities. This includes the Rec SportsPlex, Main Campus Fields, Westside Courts, and Tully Gym. Violators will be asked to leave the area. Failure to do so can result in forfeiture of the contest, suspension of individuals and/or teams, and appropriate action by the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards and/or the FSU Police.

Sport Rules

FSU IM Sports follows NIRSA Flag & Touch Football Rules (2023 & 2024) except for the following modifications.


1. Participation is limited to currently-enrolled, fee-paying FSU students, faculty members, and full-time staff. FAMU & TCC students and members of the community are not eligible.

2. In order to participate in an intramural contest, each player must present his/her current, valid FSUCard or IMLeagues app. Check-in takes place at designated sign-in locations at the facility, not at the fields or courtside.

3. Additional information regarding player eligibility, team rosters, and participant check-in is available in the Seven Principles of Intramural Sports, available online at the FSU Intramural Sports web site and in the Intramural Sports Office at the Main Campus Fields (1001 W. St. Augustine Street). Requests for exceptions to any policy must be directed to the IM administrative staff during regular weekday business hours in the Intramural Sports Office. No exceptions are granted at the fields or courts.


1. Players can compete on only one men’s or women’s team, regardless of league classification. In addition, players may compete for one co-ed team during the same season.

2. Four (4) players constitutes a team. All players must present their current, valid FSUCard or IMLeagues app at the game site to sign-in to participate.

3. A team must have 3 players to start a game. Players who arrive late may be added to the roster and may enter the game at a dead-ball situation.

4. Team rosters will be formed based on the players who compete in the team’s first regular season game (sign-in at the facility on the night of the game). Additions may be made to the roster at any time throughout the season and during the playoffs (until championship day). New players will become part of a team’s roster when they sign-in at a subsequent game. No player may participate on more than one team, unless his/her second team is a co-ed team.


1. Footballs are available for check-out at the Rec SportsPlex. Each team must furnish its own game ball and practice balls.

2. Teams are encouraged to furnish their own like-colored jerseys. Scrimmage vests (pinnies) are available for checkout at the facility.

3. Individual player equipment must meet the following requirements:
A. Shirts: All shirts must be tucked in and remain tucked in during play. If the shirt (sweatshirt or jacket) has a hood, the hood must be tucked inside the shirt (sweatshirt or jacket). If the player wears a half shirt, it must be a minimum of 4 inches above the waist. Shirts must not have arm openings that are larger than 4 inches. Referee will use their fist to measure the distance of the arm opening.
B. Pants: Players may not wear pants or shorts that have belt loops, pockets, or an exposed drawstring. Players may not wear towels that hang from the waist.
C. Headgear: Players may not wear baseball style caps or other rigid headwear. Knit and stocking caps are permitted. Players may wear a headband no wider than two inches and made of non-abrasive cloth, elastic, fiber, soft leather, or rubber. Bandanas with knots are prohibited. Rubber or cloth elastic bands may be used to control hair.
D. Pads or Braces: No pads or braces may be worn above the waist. Leg and knee braces made of hard, unyielding material must be covered on both sides and all edges with appropriate slow-recovery padding.
E. Shoes: All players must wear shoes. Tennis/running shoes, soft-soled shoes, and football shoes are permitted. Metal spikes, baseball-style spikes, and cleats with metal exposed are prohibited. Any player caught wearing spikes will be ejected from the game.
F. Participating while wearing illegal equipment is a 5-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
G. If teams choose to bring a playbook out onto the field, it cannot be of an unyielding material and must not be visible during play. Also, the playbook must stay on the person instead of being thrown on the ground.

4. Jewelry is NOT allowed to be worn by any participant during a flag football game. This jewelry consists of any visible rings (including wedding bands), watches, necklaces, earrings, studs, bracelets, and any other such similar jewelry. Medic alert bracelets must be taped to the body or secured under clothing such as a wristband or sock to be worn during play. A player is subject to ejection for failure to remove any jewelry after first warning.

5. Each player must wear a three flag belt with one flag on each hip and one in the rear. Special rules have been established to determine how to legally fasten and remove the flag belt.
A. All players must have three flags at the beginning of play.
1. Failure to wear a flag belt at the start of the play, if noticed by an official prior to the snap is a live ball penalty (3 yards).
2. If a runner loses his/her flag during the action, play continues. The play ends when a defensive player touches the runner with one hand between the shoulders and the knees.
3. If failure to wear the flag belt is noticed by the official after the play starts, the play continues with the ball becoming dead when the runner is touched between the shoulders and knees. The defense can accept the result of the play or penalize for failure to wear required equipment (3 yards).
B. Tampering with the flag belt in any way to gain advantage, including tying, using foreign material, or other such acts is unsportsmanlike conduct. (5 yards, loss of down)

6. Field Size

A. The field measures 40 yards in length goal line to goal line with a midfield zone line and two endzones of 10 yards each. The width of the field is 30 yards.

7. For each play, the ball shall be spotted at the center of the field at the forward spot on the field where the previous play ended.

8. There will be lines 3 yards and 10 yards from either goal line from which extra point plays will be run. The 10 yard line is also used to put the ball in play to begin a half, after a score, safety, or touchback.

9. There will be a restraining line 2 yards outside and parallel to the sideline. Teams and spectators must stay behind this line.

10. Field barriers shall be set at a distance from the field of play as required by National Federation rules.


1. Game time is forfeit time. A team needs at least 3 legal players to begin the game.

2. The game will consist of two halves. Each half is 12 minutes in length.

3. A toss of a coin will determine which team will gain possession of the ball first. The team that wins the coin toss may make a choice or defer to the second half. The team that retains the choice has the following options:
A. To go on offense to start the game (first possession of the ball).
B. To go on defense to start the game.
C. Defend the goal of their choice.
After the initial choice, the opposing team will select from the remaining two options.

4. There will be no kickoffs. In all “kickoff” situations, the “receiving” team will get the ball on their own 10 yard line, 1st and 10. This includes all touchbacks and after touchdowns and safeties. The ball will be spotted at the center of the field at the start of each series in these instances.

5. Timing will be continuous for the entire first half and for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Only a team time-out and official’s time-out can stop the clock. The clock will stop during the final two minutes of the second half for:
A. Incomplete pass – clock restarts on the snap.
B. Out of bounds – clock restarts on snap.
C. Penalty – clock restarts depending on the result of the previous play.
D. Score – clock restarts on opponent’s next snap from scrimmage.
E. Time-outs – clock restarts on snap.
F. Touchback – clock restarts on snap.
G. Inadvertent whistle – clock starts is dependent on the result of the previous play.
H. First down – clock restarts on the ready for play whistle.

6. Approximately 2 minutes before the end of each half, the Referee shall inform both team captains of the playing time remaining in each half. The clock will stop in the 2nd half for the 2-minute warning and will restart on the next snap.

7. The ball must be put into play no more than 25 seconds after the official has marked it ready for play.

8. Teams will receive two timeouts that are one-minute in length the for the entirety of the game. These are used at their captains discretion and will not carry over into any overtime or extra period.

9. Overtime will be played in all games, as necessary. In overtime:
A. A coin toss will be conducted to start the overtime period. The winner of the coin toss has the choice of offense, defense, or side. If the game goes to a second overtime, the team which lost the toss at the beginning of the first overtime, has the choice to start on offense or defense for the second overtime. The choice will then alternate for each succeeding overtime period.
B. Each team will have a series of three downs to score from their opponent’s 10-yard line. Teams which begin their overtime period outside of the 20-yard line due to penalty must score in 3 downs and will NOT receive any first downs for crossing zone-line-to-gains in the process. Teams may receive another set of downs by penalty only (automatic first down).
C. When a team scores, they will attempt an extra point (1, 2, or 3).
D. The team on defense first will have its chance to score and attempt an extra point.
E. Overtime will continue until a winner is declared.
F. When the defense secures possession of the ball during overtime, the offense’s series shall be over and the ball declared dead. The defense may not return the ball for a touchdown.


1. The FSU Intramural Sports Office reserves the right to postpone or reschedule a contest if circumstances warrant such action. Regular season games cancelled by rain are generally not rescheduled. Contests postponed due to other reasons may or may not be rescheduled at the discretion of the Intramural Sports staff.

2. Weather conditions at the playing facility shall be monitored by Campus Recreation staff utilizing electronic technology with postponements and cancellations made in accordance with prescribed departmental weather policy. When such technology is not available, the NIRSA Flag Football Interrupted and Shortened Games rule shall apply.

3. In the case of inclement weather, the Intramural Sports staff will not make a decision regarding the playing of games until after 4:00 pm. For information on cancellations, visit @FSUIMRainLine on Twitter or the Intramural Sports web site.
A. If inclement weather occurs after the closing of the Intramural office, decisions regarding the continuing of the games will be made on the field by the IM supervisors. If you have a question regarding whether a game will be played, check Twitter @fsuimrainline or visit the Intramural Sports web site.
B. When games are cancelled due to the weather, the fields will not be available for practice.


1. A touchdown (TD) shall count for six (6) points.
A. After a player scores a touchdown or try after a TD, the player must raise their arms above their head so that the nearest official can deflag the player.
B. If the official deems that the flag belt has been illegally fastened (tied, twisted, tucked in, etc), the player is disqualified and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is enforced. (5 yards from the previous spot with loss of down and the score is nullified, no loss of down if it occurs after change of possession.)

2. After a touchdown, the scoring team attempts a PAT (point after touchdown). The captain will indicate from which distance the offense will attempt the PAT. The captain may also designate where, between the inbounds lines, the ball shall be spotted for the PAT.
A. From the 3-yard line – Worth 1 point.
B. From the 10-yard line – Worth 2 points.
C. From the 20-yard line – Worth 3 points.

3. When the defense secures possession of the ball during a PAT attempt, the attempt shall be over and the ball declared dead. The defense may not return the ball for a touchdown (cannot score during a PAT).

4. A safety shall count for 2 points. Afterwards, the ball will be put in play by the scoring team at their 10-yard line.

5. (Mercy Rule) If a team is leading by 19 points, or attains a lead of 19 points or more, in the final 2 minutes of the game, the game will end.


1. Teams will have 3 downs to advance across the next zone line (or goal line). There are NO punts. A team registers a first down when it crosses or touches one of the first down lines (zone lines-to-gain). Once the first down has been established, that team may not make another first down by crossing the same line during that series of downs.

2. Line of Scrimmage, Required Number of Players
Only one (1) offensive player (the snapper) must be on the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap. A player is deemed on the line of scrimmage when facing his/her opponent’s goal line with the line of his/her shoulders approximately parallel thereto and with his/her head or foot breaking the plane of the imaginary line drawn through the waistline of the snapper and parallel to the scrimmage line. There is no requirement for defensive players to line-up along the line prior to the snap.

3. Fumbles
A fumble is dead at the point the ball touches the ground. The ball goes to the team who last had possession with the resulting loss of down. A ball that has not hit the ground can be recovered (in the air) and advanced by either team. This includes snaps by the center that are not caught by an offensive player (i.e. quarterback). Bad snaps are dead at the spot they hit the ground. For the purposes of timing, fumbles and bad snaps are considered running plays and the clock will not stop on

4. Running Plays
An offensive player may NOT advance the ball across the scrimmage line. There are no restrictions after a change of possession or once a legal forward pass has been caught beyond the offense’s scrimmage line. Any player may hand the ball forward or backward to any player anywhere on the field. During a handoff, the ball is in contact with a player at all times.

5. Forward Passes
There must be a legal forward pass each down. The receiver must catch the ball beyond the offense’s scrimmage line. There is no time limit for attempting a forward pass. A forward pass is LEGAL when:
A. The passer’s foot is behind the line of scrimmage when the ball leaves the hand.
B. The pass occurs before a change of possession (defense may not throw a forward pass following a fumble recovery or interception).
C. It is the first and only forward pass made during the down. Only one forward pass is permitted per down, regardless of whether the pass is completed beyond or behind the line of scrimmage.

6. Pass Receptions
All legal players are eligible to receive a pass. One foot must land in bounds before any part of the body lands in the out-of-bounds area for a legal pass reception. One knee is equivalent.

7. Interceptions in the End Zone
If a player intercepts the ball in the endzone, the player may return it out of the end zone. If the player is deflagged while running in the end zone, it is a touchback. Interceptions in the end zone during a PAT attempt or overtime immediately end the play (no returns).

8. Screen Blocking
The only type of blocking that is allowed is screen blocking. No contact is allowed between the offense and defense. Penalty: Personal foul, 5 yards.
A. The screen blocker must have his/her hands at his/her side or behind his/her back.
B. Any use of the hands, arms, legs or body to initiate contact is illegal.
C. The player must be on his/her feet before, during and after the screen block.
D. The blocker cannot take a position so close to a moving opponent that his/her opponent cannot avoid contact by stopping or changing direction. This position will vary from 1 to 2 steps depending on speed of the defensive player.

9. Retrieval of Ball after a Play
The offensive team must retrieve the ball after every play from scrimmage. The snapper will maintain control of the ball and bring the ball from the huddle to the line of scrimmage.

10. Punting the Ball
There are NO punts in 4-on-4 flag football.

11. Inadvertent Whistles
When an official sounds his/her whistle inadvertently:
A. During a legal pass, while a snap is in flight, or while a kick is in-flight, the down will be replayed.
B. When a player is in possession or during a backward pass, the team in possession at the time of the inadvertent whistle may choose either to accept the play where it is blown dead or to replay the down.

12. Scrimmage Plays

There is no rushing to be done by the defense on a scrimmage play. The quarterback will have five seconds to release the ball. Failure to release in these five seconds will result in a play blown dead by the official and a loss of down.


1. Delay of Game (dead ball foul, 3 yards from the previous spot)
The ball must be put in play properly and legally and any action or inaction by either team which tends to prevent this is illegal delay of game. This includes:
A. Interrupting the 25 second count for any reason, except for a time-out allowed by the referee.
B. Consuming more than 25 seconds in putting the ball in play after it is marked ready for play.
C. Deliberately advancing the ball after it has been declared dead.

2. Encroachment (dead ball foul, 3 yards from the previous spot)
Following the ready-to-play whistle and prior to the snap, no player on defense may encroach, touch the ball, or contact an opponent in any way. It is encroachment for any player to break his/her scrimmage line plane (yellow disk [defense], orange disk [offense]). Players do NOT have the opportunity to jump across the line and “get back” onside. It is a foul as soon as the player initially enters the neutral zone.

3. False Start (dead ball foul, 3 yards from the previous spot)
No offensive player shall simulate a charge or start of a play. After a huddle, all offensive players must come to a stop and remain stationary for 1 second before an offensive player may go in motion.

4. Illegal Formation (3 yards from the previous spot)
The player who receives the snap must be at least 2 yards behind the offensive scrimmage line.

5. Illegal Batting (5 yards from the spot of the foul)
Players shall not bat a loose ball other than a pass or fumble in flight unless it is in the direction of their own goal line. Exception: A backward pass in flight may not be batted or thrown forward by the passing team.

6. Illegal Motion and Shift (3 yards from the previous spot)
Only one offense player may be in motion, but not in motion towards the opponent’s goal line (or line of scrimmage), at the time of the snap. If two or more players shift/go in motion simultaneously prior to the snap, both must come to a stop prior to the snap.

7. Flag Guarding (5 yards from the spot of the foul & replay the down)
The ball carrier shall not protect his/her flags by blocking with his/her arms or hands in order to deny the opponents the opportunity to remove them. This includes the quarterback/passer in possession of the ball. Note: Stiff arming is flag guarding. Running while holding the ball at hip-level, intentionally or unintentionally, may also be considered flag guarding.

9. Illegal Contact by the Ball Carrier (Personal foul, 5 yards from the spot of the foul)
The ball carrier must run to avoid tacklers. Deliberate charging of an opponent is against the rules. Officials will use the same judgment on charging and blocking by offensive and defensive players as in basketball. “Brushing contact” and unavoidable contact is not willful “charging.” The ball carrier may spin or jump around defenders to avoid deflagging; however, the ball carrier must remain in control of his/her body during such moves. If the foul is intentional or poor sporting behavior, then 5 more yards will be added to the penalty and the player will be disqualified.

10. Holding (5 yards from the end of the run [defense], 5 yards from the spot of the foul [offense])
Holding is grasping or encircling an opponent with the hand or arm in any way that impedes their movement. A defensive player may not hold, push, or knock the ball carrier down in an attempt to remove the flag. Similarly, an offensive player may not hold an opponent to prevent a deflagging.

11. Tripping (5 yards from the end of the run)
Tripping is using the lower leg or foot to obstruct an opponent (including the ball carrier) below the knees.
PENALTY: 5 yards from the end of the run.

12. Illegal Contact by the Defense & Tackling (5 yards from the end of the run)
If a defensive player reaches across the body of the ball carrier to pull the flag and contact is made, the responsibility of the contact lies with the defensive player. A runner shall not be thrown to the ground. There shall be no contact with an opponent who is on the ground. If a defensive player tackles the ball carrier, who in the opinion of the referee, would have scored except for being tackled, a touchdown shall be awarded. Deliberate tackles will result in disqualification.

13. Roughing the Passer (5 yards from previous spot, if incomplete pass thrown; 5 yards from end of run following completed pass. In both cases, automatic first down.)
Defensive players must make a definite effort to avoid charging into a passer. Contact with the passer shall be avoided except in cases where the defensive player is attempting to deflag the passer. Excessive contact is not permitted at all times. Contact with a thrown ball (hitting the ball then the passer in the same motion) does NOT affect this rule and roughing the passer may still be called. Roughing the passer does not apply on illegal forward passes; however, illegal contact may be called.

14. Illegal Forward Pass & Intentional Grounding (3 yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down)
A pass thrown in violation of the legal pass guidelines listed above is considered illegal. A pass that is intentionally thrown to the ground or out of bounds to avoid a loss of yardage is also illegal.

15. Offensive Pass Interference (5 yards from the previous spot)
Pass interference occurs when a player contacts another eligible receiver who is beyond the line of scrimmage. Restrictions exist for the offense from the time that the ball is snapped until it has been touched by a receiver. Some examples of Offensive Pass interference are as follows:

A. “Picking” the defense off to create space for another route runner

B. Creating space using hands, otherwise known as a pushoff

C. Cutting off the path of the player to the body forcefully

D. Intentionally removing the flag belt of a defensive eligible receiver prior to the pass being touched.

16. Defensive Pass Interference (5 yards from the previous spot)
Restrictions exist for the defense from the time the pass is thrown until it has been touched by a receiver. Note: Contact or interference by the defense prior to when the pass is thrown is still considered illegal and will be penalized as a personal foul. Some categories or actions that can be considered defensive pass interference are as follows:

A. Playing through the back of the receiver

B. Grabbing and restricting the receiver

C. Early contact initiated by the defense

D. Using your arm/hand to trap the players arm against their body creating an “armbar”

E. Cutting off the path of the player to the body forcefully

F. Hooking the offensive players body and causing it to turn

G. Intentionally removing the flag belt of an eligible receiver prior to the pass being touched.

17. Other Personal Fouls (5 yards from the end of the run [defense], 5 yards from the spot of the foul [offense])
Any act prohibited hereunder or any other act of unnecessary roughness is a personal foul.
A. No player shall punch, strike, strip, steal, or attempt to steal the ball from the player who has possession.
B. There shall be no tripping or clipping.
C. There shall be no hurdling. Hurdling shall be interpreted as an attempt by the runner to jump with both feet or knees foremost over a player or between player. (You can jump or spin away from players to avoid having your flag pulled.)

18. Unsportsmanlike Conduct (all enforced from dead ball spot, 5 yards)
No player shall commit poor sporting behavior acts during play or intermission including:
A. Using words similar to offensive audibles or quarterback cadence prior to the snap in an effort to interfere with the offense’s signals or movements.
B. Intentionally kicking the ball (other than a punt)
C. Intentionally kicking an opponent or swinging an arm, hand or fist at any opposing player or official.
D. Disrespectfully addressing an official or indicating objections to an official’s decision.
E. Using profanity, taunting, insulting or vulgar language or gestures.
F. Fighting or leaving the sidelines and entering an alternation.
Two unsportsmanlike fouls by the same player or nonplayer results in disqualification. A player or nonplayer can be disqualified following the first unsportsmanlike foul.

19. Illegal Rushing (Live ball, 3 yards, previous spot)

It is illegal to cross the neutral zone during live ball play in attempts to sack the quarterback.


1. The mission of Intramural Sports is to provide a recreational environment for the University community which is safe and enjoyable. While the game atmosphere is often competitive, ensuring participant safety, providing a fun, social atmosphere, and promoting good sporting behavior behavior among participants, spectators, and team followers are our primary concerns. The game atmosphere should remain good-natured at all times. Participants shall maintain good sporting behavior throughout their participation in all facets of the intramural program.

2. The Sporting Behavior Rating System is intended to be an objective scale by which teams’ attitude and behavior can be assessed throughout the intramural sports league and playoff seasons. Behavior before, during, and after an intramural sports contest is included in the rating. The team captain is responsible for educating and informing all players and spectators affiliated with his/her team about the system.

3. A team is responsible for the actions of the individual team members and spectators related to it. Additionally, FSU Intramural Sports does not recognize the use of coaches. Only the team captain shall speak to the officials regarding administrative matters (protests, ejections, disqualifications, etc). Furthermore, the team captain’s efforts in assisting officials/staff to calm difficult situations and to restrain troubled teammates are key to controlling team conduct.

4. Good sporting behavior is vital to the conduct of every Intramural contest. In order to encourage proper conduct during games, officials, administrative personnel, and supervisors shall make decisions on whether to warn, penalize or eject players or teams for poor sporting behavior. These decisions are final. The Intramural Sports administrative staff will rule on further penalties as a result of a sporting behavior conduct penalty.

5. Each participant should choose his or her team members carefully, as all team members will suffer the consequences of any disciplinary action taken by the Intramural Sports staff against that team for violation of the intramural rules and sporting behavior guidelines. Protests or appeals of sporting behavior ratings will not be recognized. The Intramural Sports administrative staff reserves the right to review any rating given to a team.

6. Additional information regarding team and participant sporting behavior including the rating method, factors, and scale is available in the Sporting Behavior Principle of the Seven Principles of Intramural Sports, available online at the FSU Campus Recreation web site.