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2023 Season Rules

Waxhaw flag football

winter 2023 Rules

Below are the Winter 2023 Rules of Play and Guidelines on Player and Parent Conduct. Please review these rules & guidelines and we ask that you adhere to the codes of conduct. 

winter 2023 RULE BOOK

Game Day Rules:

  • At the time of the coin toss, the coaches can decide to flip for jersey color in case of a conflict.
  • All teams must use the flags provided for teams with jerseys. No other flags can be used. If they are, it is an automatic forfeit.
  • All rosters are final once a team has played a game. No additional late add ons can be placed on that team.
  • No player can move once schedules are released.
  • No player can be added to any team after the season begins for any reason.
  • The minimum players allowed is 5 to play a game, max per team is TBD based on registrations.
  • The field dimensions are 105 feet or 35 yards wide; 210 feet or 70 yards long back line to back line.
  • Fans must be 3 feet from the sidelines.
  • In the event of a rain out during the game, if the teams have played to halftime the game is complete.
  • Rain outs will be scheduled where we can place them in the current schedule. We cannot honor or guarantee no play requests due to rain outs happening at any time. Once a rain out is placed, it cannot be moved. 
  • Schedules are set once they are released. If a team requests a change the other team will need to approve the change and both coaches will work together to request the change with the league commissioner and if approved by league, the game will be rescheduled. Coaches and parents need to understand everybody has important personal schedules and asking a team to move is requesting 10 other families to change their schedule.
  • Games are played to a 50-minute running time. Two 25 minutes halves with a running clock.  Officials can stop the clock at their discretion for injury or conversations with coaches.
  • Mercy Rule - Once a team hits a 28-point lead at any point in the 2nd half AFTER and the losing team has had the ball at least once the game is called.
  • Each team has two each time outs per half. One 60-second and one 30-second time out per half.
  • A player may not use any substance such as "stickem". 
  • Teams must always field a minimum of FIVE (5) players. A minimum of 2 players must be on the line of scrimmage.
  • A coin toss determines first possession. The winner of the toss chooses BALL, DIRECTION, or DEFER. The loser of the coin toss makes their selection. In the second half the team that lost the coin toss chooses either BALL OR DIRECTION. The other team then makes their choice.
  • There are no kickoffs in flag football.
  • Only 1 player in motion at a time. SAME AS NFL.
  • Quarterbacks have 7 seconds to throw the ball. Once a handoff is made the 7 second clock is off.
  • The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has four (4) plays to cross midfield. Once a team crosses midfield, it has four (4) plays to score a touchdown. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team takes over on its 5-yard line.
  • All possession changes, except interceptions, start on the offenses 5-yard line.
  • If the offensive team fails to cross midfield, possession of the ball changes and the opposition starts its drive from its 5-yard line.
  • Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced.
  • After the ball is caught it becomes 1 vs 6. One ball carrier vs 6 people trying to pull a flag. All offensive players must stop and stand still.
  • All teams at all levels can return interceptions. Extra point interceptions can be returned for 2 points.
  • The players on the official roster sent by WAA are the only players allowed to participate during the season.
  • Age Groups can be combined if needed to make a full division.
  • The WAA has the right to remove any coach, parent, or player during the season due to issues within the league or their team for either behavior, rules violations, or safety.
  • A game can only be protested for illegal rosters or rules question, Not judgement calls.  A game must be "played under protest” and coaches must notify the ref they are playing the game under protest during the game. A game cannot be protested after the game ends.
  • NO OUTSIDE NOISE MAKERS such as cow bells, horns, whistles, speakers, or anything similar.  Cheering & clapping are the ways to support the team and show good sportsmanship.


  • Only 1 coach allowed per team in the huddle at a time for 5-7 age group.
  • The offensive coach of the 5–7 year old age group can stay on the field during the play. BEHIND THE QUARTERBACK AND OUT OF THE PLAY.  This is not allowed for any other age group.
  • The defensive coach will have to exit the field before the play starts to avoid interfering with the other team’s play for the 5-7 year old age group.
  • A coach cannot interfere with a play verbally or physically. A coach can’t say “wait stop come huddle” and then run a quick play. A player can do any type of performance he may want to, but not an adult.  This will be a 15-yard penalty and is the same as a coach physically directing one of their O players.
  • A maximum of 2 coaches or adults on a teams’ player sideline during the game. If any more than 2 coaches on the sideline it is a loss of down 15-yard personal foul penalty. No warnings will be given.  Coaches have access to the sideline up to midfield.  You cannot walk up and down the entire sideline.  All parents must be on the parent sidelines. 
  • Coaches are responsible for controlling their parents and fans. If a ref brings up a problem to the coach, they will stop the clock so the coach can address his team and how that behavior will cause ejections and penalties. 


  • Official WAA Flag jerseys must be worn during play.
  • Shorts and flags must be contrasting colors.
  • Cleats are allowed, except for metal spikes. Inspections must be made.
  • Optional protective mouthpiece is allowed.

Types of footballs allowed:

  • 5-7 age: K2 or league provided ball.
  • 8-9: TDJ or league provided ball.
  • 10 and older: TDY or league provided ball.
  • Teams can always use a larger ball but not a smaller one.


  • Touchdown: 6 points
  • Extra point: 1 point (played from 5-yard line NO RUN ZONE) or 2 points (played from 12-yard line Run or pass ok)
  • Safety: 2 points

Overtime Rules:

  • Regular Season - will have up to two OT’s.  If tied at the end of the 2nd OT, game will end in tie.
  • Playoffs OT - If the score is tied at the end of 50 minutes, each team will get a chance from the 5-yard line. This will be conducted as if it was an extra point in the no run zone (one down, pass only) until one of the team misses and the other one scores. If a winner is not decided after 5 OT move to the 12-yard line and will be able to run or pass.  Each team gets a turn, EX: TEAM A goes then Team B.  If no winner in OT, #2 TEAM B would go first, then Team A. Same as college or high school over times. Coin flip at the beginning of OT to see who goes first.  They both agree on one direction or REFS choice if they cannot decide.  The winner of the coin flip chooses O or D first OT.


  • The ball must be snapped between the legs, not off to one side, to start play.


  • The quarterback cannot run with the ball unless it has been previously handed off to another player and returned to him.
  • QB can field a snap that bounces to him or flies untouched over his head. The ball must be picked up and handled cleanly. If the QB drops the ball it is a dead ball at the spot where it hits the ground.
  • Offense may use multiple handoffs, laterals, or direct hand offs. The QB must make a clean exchange of the ball to the running back.
  • Center Sneak Rule - The QB cannot receive the snap from under center and then hand it back to the center between the center’s legs, if this occurs it is a dead ball loss of down.
  • Laterals, hand offs or pitches are allowed behind the line or in the field of play. If in the field of play this play MUST be backwards. No forward pitch.
  • No-running zones, located 5 yards from each end zone and 5 yards on either side of midfield, are designed to avoid short-yardage. TEAMS MUST PASS. A pass in this zone MUST be across your line of scrimmage.  This eliminates power running situations.
  • The player who takes the handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage. If he hands off the ball to another player that player can throw OR run.
  • Once the ball has been handed off, all defensive players are eligible to rush.
  • Spinning is allowed, but players cannot dive forward into a defensive player to advance the ball.
  • Ball carriers may jump side to side to avoid a flag pull, however no contact can be made with a Defender, or it will be called a roughness penalty.
  • The ball is spotted where the ball carriers’ hips are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball is.
  • Defense may dive to pull a flag reaching for flag and not holding the O player.  If the O player falls down and no flag is pulled it is a tackle. If the O player falls down but a flag pulled it is a clean tackle.


  • All players are eligible to receive passes (including the quarterback if the ball has been handed off behind the line of scrimmage).
  • As in the NFL, only one player is allowed in motion at a time.
  • A player must have at least one foot inbound when making a reception.


  • The QB can throw any type of pass forward (i.e. shovel is OK). 
  • The pass does not have to be beyond the line of scrimmage UNLESS in the NO RUN ZONE. Once the pass is caught ALL Defense can rush in the backfield.
  • If in the no run zone, the WR must be across the line of scrimmage to receive the pass.
  • The QB has a seven-second pass clock. If a pass is not thrown within the seven seconds, play is dead, loss of down. Once the ball is handed off, the seven-second rule no longer is in effect. All defenders are eligible to rush the QB once the ball is handed off.
  • If a behind the line of scrimmage lateral is made the defenders cannot rush until the ball is caught by the RB/WR.


  • Play is ruled dead when:
    • Ball carriers flag is pulled.
    • Ball carrier steps out of bounds.
    • Ball carriers knee hits the ground.
    • Ball carriers flag falls out.
    • Touchdown or safety is scored.
    • Inadvertent whistle.
  • If a team incurs 2 dead ball foul penalties on the same down the clock will be stopped until a successful play is run.  Ex: false start and another false start. We have a running clock in the league, and this is to prevent abuse of the clock.
  • Yardage penalties will be assessed on both penalties and the clock will stop on the second one. If this happens more than once in a game a 15-yard personal foul unsportsmanlike will be called and the clock stopped.
  • Note: There are no fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball hits the ground.


  • All players who rush the passer must be a minimum of seven yards from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped.
  • Only one RUSHER can rush the QB.
  • Any player from any location on the field may rush if they are 7 yards back: i.e. - a corner may rush the QB if they are behind the marker. Players not rushing the quarterback may defend on the line of scrimmage. 
  • Once the ball is handed off, the seven-yard rule is no longer in effect, and all defenders may go behind the line of scrimmage. A special marker, or the referee, will designate seven yards from the line of scrimmage. Remember, no blocking or tackling is allowed.



  • If the field monitor or referee witnesses any acts of tackling, elbowing, cheap shots, blocking, or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped, and the player will be ejected from the game. FOUL PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
  • Trash talking is illegal. Foul language used at any WAA facility is illegal. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. (Trash talk is talk that may be offensive to officials, opposing players, teams, or spectators.) If trash talking or foul language occurs, the referee will give one warning. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the game AND THE PLAYER AND PARENT WILL BE SUSPENDED FOR 1 ADDITIONAL GAME! ! !
  • If a parent is the one using trash talk or foul language, the referee will give one warning. If it continues, the parent and their player will be suspended for that game and 1 additional game.
  • All penalties will be called by the referee. A penalty can negate a first down (spot foul penalties that push the ball back)
  • Personal Foul: 10-yard penalty no loss of down. Will apply to both offense and defense.
  • Stripping the ball is not allowed and is a 10-yard personal foul penalty. Hitting the ball out of the Qb’s hand is a strip and automatic first down.


  • Offside: 5 yards and automatic first down, not a dead ball play. Play continues offense can choose result of the play or penalty.
  • Pass Interference: 10 yards and automatic First down
  • Illegal contact (holding, pushing, blocking, etc.): 10 yards and automatic first down.
  • Illegal flag pull (pulling a player’s flag when they do not have the ball): 10 yards and automatic first down.
  • Illegal rushing (starting the rush from inside 7-yard marker): 10 yards and automatic first down.
  • If a rusher "jumps" the snap count he must go back behind the marker and then rush in. Play continues.


  • Illegal motion/ FALSE START: more than one person moving, false start, etc. Dead Ball. 5 yards & replay down.  After 2 false starts in a row, every false start is a loss of down and 15-yard penalty for that team for the rest of the game. Sportsmanship issue.
  • Illegal forward pass 2 forward passes: 5 yards and loss of down.
  • Illegal contact: Blocking, pushing off/away defender from either a blocking back or WR: 10 yards and loss of down.
  • Down field screen: Once the ball crosses the line of scrimmage no blocking is allowed even if is a screen block. Spot foul 10-yard penalty
  • Non-contact flag: The offensive players must stop and cannot move if they are in front of or near the WR who catches the ball. A team cannot have 2+ players running side by side down the field or have players running in front of the ball carrier. All WR must stop and stand still like a "basketball pick" block. The official will judge if the players did this to gain an advantage on the play
  • Flag guarding: 10 yards (from spot of the foul) and loss of down.
  • If the Offense is in the no run zone, they cannot benefit by having a penalty pushing them out of the no run zone.  EX If the O is on the 3 you cannot have a delay of game penalty or any other to push you out of the no run zone.  You will get the penalty AND it is still a no run play for the rest of the series.
  • Delay of game: Clock stops, 5 yards no loss of down.
  • Illegal substitution/ sleeper play: 10-yard penalty.  Players must be in the huddle and or be identified by refs prior to a play.  EX a player standing on the sideline cannot sneak on the field.
  • Last man to beat penalty: Will place the ball at the 6-yard line, automatic first down, 4 DOWNS TO SCORE run or pass for all downs--- Ref decision if flagrant.

Referees determine incidental contact that may result from normal run of play. All penalties will be assessed from the line of scrimmage.

Only the team captain may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretations. Players cannot question judgment calls.

Games cannot end on a defensive penalty unless the offense declines it.


  1. Boundary lines – the outer perimeter lines around the field. They include the sidelines, and the rear end zone lines.
  2. Line of Scrimmage – an imaginary line running through the point of the football and across the width of the field.
  3. Line-To-Gain – the line the offense must pass to get a first down or score.
  4. Rush Line – an imaginary line running across the width of the field 7 yards (into the defensive side). from the Line of Scrimmage.
  5. Offense – the squad with possession of the ball.
  6. Defense – the squad opposing the offense to prevent them from advancing the ball.
  7. Passer – the offensive player that throws the ball and may or may not be the QB.
  8. Rusher – the defensive player assigned to rush the Quarterback to prevent him/her from passing by pulling his/her flags or blocking the pass.
  9. Downs (1-2-3-4) – the offensive squad has four attempts or “Downs” to advance the ball. They must cross the Line to Gain to get another set of downs or to score.
  10. Live Ball – the period that the play is in action. Generally used regarding penalties, Live Ball Penalties are considered part of the play and must be enforced before the down is considered complete.
  11. Dead Ball – the period immediately before or after a play.
  12. Whistle – the sound made by an official using a whistle that signifies the end of the play or a stop in the action for timeout, half time or the end of the game.
  13. Inadvertent whistle – an official’s whistle that is performed in error.
  14. Charging – the movement of the ball carrier directly at a defensive player who has established position on the field.  This includes lowering the head, contacting the defender with a shoulder, chest or forearm.
  15. Flag Guarding – an act by the ball carrier to prevent a defender from pulling the ball carrier’s flags by stiff arm, lowering elbow or head or by blocking access to the runner’s flags with a hand or arm.
  16. Shovel Pass – allowed if attempted beyond the line of scrimmage by throwing the ball underhand or pushing it towards a receiver in a shot-put type manner.
  17. Lateral – a backwards or sideways toss of the ball by the ball carrier.
  18. Unsportsmanlike Conduct – rude, confrontational or offensive behavior or language.

Guidelines on Player Conduct​​​​​​

  • Players will play within the rules at all times.
  • Players will give their best effort on the field.
  • Players will give their teammates 100% support.
  • Players will not harass, nor verbally attack, others.
  • Players will not intentionally attempt to injure others.
  • Players will not use inappropriate or obscene language.
  • Players will never openly question a coach or referee.
  • Players will not mingle with parents or supporters during games or practices.
  • Players will never respond to any negative comments from parents or supporters.
  • Players will arrive on time for all team related functions.
    • As a member of the team, you have a responsibility to the other team players to be at practices and games.
    • If you are unable to attend any practices or games, please call, text, or email your coach at your earliest convenience (24 hrs notice preferred).
  • Players will wear the appropriate uniform, practice attire, mouth protection and protective equipment whenever they are on the field.
  • Players should congratulate opponents on good plays, help opponents up if they are down or injured, and shake hands at the end of a game.
  • Players should approach the coach with any questions about playing time, positioning, or strategy before/after games or practices. These issues will not be discussed with teammates, especially during a game.

Guidelines on Parent Conduct

  • Parents should support all team members equally.
  • Parents will leave the coaching to the team’s coaches.
  • Parents will not use inappropriate or obscene language.
  • Parents will not verbally abuse referees, coaches, players, or supporters.
  • Parents will not direct negative comments toward anyone on the field or in the crowd.
  • Parents should congratulate all players and coaches for nice plays and a good game.
  • Parents will remain in the designated area for spectators and not go to the bench unless instructed or requested by the coach.
  • Parents will not run on the field when an injury occurs unless a coach or medical professional requests their assistance.
  • Parents will not openly question coaching decisions about playing time or strategies. 
  • Respect Coaches' Decisions – there is a time and place to talk to the coaches; the best time is before or after a game/practice, in private.
    • Coaches make best efforts to give your children their full attention during games and practices.
    • During games and practices, this is the time for parents to sit back and support your child by watching them play Flag Football while enjoying their experiences.
  • If you can provide a service to the league and the children involved with the league, then please fill out a volunteer application.

Consequences for Player/Parent/Coach Unsportsmanlike Behavior

  • Ejected Player – Any player who throws any type of equipment in anger will be ejected from the game. ALL COACHES ARE TO MAKE THEIR PLAYERS AWARE OF THIS RULE. A player ejected from a game more than once during a season will be suspended from further competition, as decided by the division commissioner, flag football president or the WAA Board.
  • Suspended Player/Coach – Any player/coach displaying unsportsmanlike behavior will be ejected from the game. ALL COACHES ARE TO MAKE THEIR PLAYERS AWARE OF THIS RULE. The player or coach ejected from the game will also be suspended for their team's next played game, and will not be allowed anywhere near the field.
  • Parent Code Of Conduct – Any parent displaying unsportsmanlike behavior during the game will be removed from the field area. If the unsportsmanlike behavior continues, their child will be removed from the game and asked to leave the complex. If the situation continues or escalates further, local law enforcement may be called in.

The WAA Flag Football Commissioners and its Board Of Directors thank you in advance for your cooperation and adherence with all of the above guidelines. Thank you, now let’s have FUN & PLAY BALL! :-)

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