SAFL Rules & Regulations
2023 SAFL RULEBOOK – SPRING
Rules Part 1:
The Game, Field, Players, and Equipment
- The game will be played between two teams consisting of 6 players per team at any given time on the field with an official-sized football. The team with the most points scored after regulation or overtime (see overtime rules) will be awarded the victory. Each game will be played under 2 officials. Each team is required to designate one captain to the Officials before the game that speaks for the entire team in dealings with the officials.
- 2 Captains. One on the offense and one on the defense. Both will need to come out for the coin.
- The Field will be rectangular shaped. Dimensions are 80×35 yards with each end zone being 10 yards long. All players, substitutes, trainers, coaches, or any team personnel are subject to the rules written here and governed by the officials. There will be cones at the 5-yard, 15-yard, and double cones at the 50-yard line and at both end zones. There will also be a cone used as the line of scrimmage.
- Field Dimensions: 80/35
- Each team’s roster can have a maximum of 15 players and a minimum of 6 players. • Age limit is set at a minimum of 18 years old. If a player is under 18 parental permissions must be given in the signed form.
- To get more information contact the SAFL governing body. It is 6-on-6 flag football which means at any given time (offense, defense, special teams) there can only be 6 players on the field. Substitutions are allowed at any time except during an ongoing play. Having more than 6 players on the field when the play is ongoing will be a penalty of 5 yards and re-do down.
- Once breaking the huddle, you can not sub unless asking the official
- Each team will have one side of the field to use as their designated “Team Area”. However, Team Area only consists of between the two 15-yard markers on each side of the field to avoid interfering with officials on calls in the end zone.
- Standing anywhere not designated as your “Team Area” will result in a 5-yard flag from the official.
- Each player must always wear their team’s designated jerseys during their time on the field. All jerseys must be tucked in.
- Shoes with metal, ceramic, screw-in, or detachable cleats are not allowed.
- Any slippery or sticky foreign substance on any equipment or exposed part of the body is not allowed.
- Towels attached to the waist are not allowed.
- Each player must wear a flag belt at the waistline with three (3) flags attached (one on each side of the body and one on the back).
- Wrapping, tying, to the belts in any way, or intentionally removing a flag during a play is illegal.
- Referees can and will do random checks to ensure flags are not improperly secured. They will be instructed to also check the flags of any player completing a Touchdown.
- The penalty will be 10 yards, loss of down, and possible disqualification or suspension.
- Helmets, padded uniforms, jewelry, or any type of metal or other potentially dangerous object protruding from one’s uniform is not allowed, no foreign object on the field including pumps.
Rules Part 2: Definitions
- Live Ball and Dead Ball: A live ball is a ball in play while a down is in progress. A dead ball is that period in between downs when the ball is not in play.
Start of Game and Punts.
- The away team will choose heads or tails to initiate the coin toss. The home and away teams will be decided by the record or schedule if they face each other twice in the season. If they only play once, then the better record is the away team so they will choose heads or tails. In case of a tied record, the away team will be determined by who has fewer Points Allowed (PA).
- The winner of the coin toss may select offense, defense, or left/right direction; If offense or defense is chosen by the winner then the other team will choose the direction to start the game. If the direction is chosen by the winning team of the coin toss, the other team will get to choose between offense and defense to start the game. If the winner of the toss chooses to receive in the first half the other team shall receive the ball in the second half and vice versa. If the winner chooses defense, then the other team will be on defense in the 2nd half. If the winner chooses a direction, then the other team will go in that same direction in the 2nd half. The direction of play will always be switched at halftime. Offenses will start at their own 5-yard line and will have 4 downs to get to the “50” yard line or midfield.
- **How ever the first half starts will be flipflopped in the 2nd half**
- No team will start both halves with the ball
- No team will go in the same direction both halves
- Offenses will start at their own 5-yard line and will have 4 downs to get to the “50” yard line or midfield. Failure to do so will result in the other team taking over possession at their own 5 unless a case of a turnover in which case the opposing team takes over at the spot of the ball where the player was downed after the turnover. If the offensive team successfully gets the first down, they will then have 4 downs to get the ball into the endzone. If an offense decides to punt after three (3) downs they can choose to do so.
- The defense must have at least one player at the line of scrimmage and that player can try to block the throw.
- Punts out of bounds will be marked at where the ball went out of bounds and punts into the end zone will be started at the 5 Yard line. On a punt, if the receiving team touches the ball and the ball then drops to the floor the new line of scrimmage will be where the player touched the ball.
Loose ball or Fumbles:
- THERE ARE NO LOOSE BALLS OR FUMBLES IN THIS LEAGUE. Any ball that hits the ground after a successful completion is considered a dead ball and the official will mark the new line of scrimmage where the ball was last in the possession of the receiver.
- A backward pass or a lateral pass that hits the ground, the new line of scrimmage shall be where the ball first touched the ground.
- There will be no stripping off the ball by the defense from the ball carrier. Any attempt to dislodge the ball from the ball carrier forcibly will be considered a personal foul (Unsportsmanlike).
- Also, Ball Swatting or Stripping. There will be no stripping off the ball by the defense from the ball carrier.
- Any attempt to dislodge the ball from the ball carrier forcibly will be considered an Unsportsmanlike Penalty.
Receptions and Interceptions:
- Reception by a wide receiver from a quarterback consists of securing the ball from the air with two (2) feet down in bounds. A ball that hits the ground without the receiver having full control of it first or without establishing two feet in bounds will be ruled as incomplete.
- An interception is when a defender catches a passed ball from the quarterback or a backward pass from a runner during a play before it hits the ground. The defender also must secure possession of the ball before it hits the ground and has both feet in bounds. Once the ball is intercepted, the defense will be treated as the offense and the offense as the defense.
- In the rare case where both an offensive player and a defensive player come down with the ball, the benefit of the doubt will go towards the offense with no interception rewarded. This is at the discretion of officials.
- Once the ball is passed the line of scrimmage no player is allowed to throw the ball forward but only laterally or behind them. Any forward pass after the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage, the play will be ruled dead immediately and the new line of scrimmage will be where the ball was last before the runner threw it forward. The down, in this case, will not be repeated.
- Keep in mind especially in the End zone, that once a player comes down with 2 feet and possession it will be whistled a touchdown.
- Do not attempt to swat the ball at any time the player has possession of the ball with 2 feet in bounds.
- Should a player juggle an attempted pass and have their flag removed between the initial contact with the ball and the time the ball is secured, the defenders then must down the offensive player with one hand touch rule.
- There will be no blocking in this league.
- There is no offensive line or defensive line.
- Once a receiver has caught the ball the other offensive players cannot block the defensive players but merely be obstacle courses for the defense on their way to pursue the defender. This means a “blocker can set a pick with their arms to their sides and not moving. The rest of the offensive players can get in the way of the defender by standing straight up with hands at their sides or behind their backs before any impact with a defender.
To Begin a Play:
- The Quarterback must put the ball at or in front of the line of scrimmage to initiate the start of any down.
- A QB cannot have the ball behind the line of scrimmage and yell “HIKE” to initiate a play. A play only starts once the ball is crossed by the QB at or in front of the line of scrimmage and the QB brings it back behind the line of scrimmage. The QB will then have 4 seconds (counted out loud by the nearest official as one Mississippi, two Mississippi, and so on) to either forward pass to a receiver or make a lateral or backward pass to a runner.
- AFTER 4 Mississippi’s have been counted by the official the defense can go after the QB’s flag.
- If the QB passes laterally or backwards behind the line of scrimmage the defenders can cross the line of scrimmage only after the other offensive player has touched the ball.
- If any defensive player crosses the line, it is a 5-yard penalty and do-over down unless the play results in a completed pass. Then the offense has the option of declining the penalty.
- The QB can cross the line of scrimmage only AFTER the 4 Mississippi have been counted unless the ball was handed-off, or a pass was thrown backwards, laterally, or forward.
Downs and Distance:
- Each possession will start at the 5-yard line unless there was a turnover in which case the ball will be placed at the spot where the player was downed last.
- For each possession, the offensive team has 4 downs to get to the “40-yard line “or midfield. Failure to do so results in the opposing team taking over the ball at the spot of the turnover. • If the offensive team successfully crosses the 40-yard line, the team will then be given 4 downs to get to the end zone.
- Failure to score after 4 downs are over results in a turnover on downs and the opposing team will take over at the spot where the ball was downed last.
- The offensive team has an option to “punt” the ball after 3 downs if they choose to do so (read Start of Game and Punts above).
- After each down or after each play is whistled dead, the offense is given 30 seconds before they start the next play. The offense can start their play anytime within that 30 seconds if the officials are set and give the go-ahead whistle.
Removing The Flag:
- When a defender cleanly and legally removes a flag from an offensive player with the football the play is whistled dead.
- The defensive player then should hold the flag high above his head and help the official locate where the play occurred.
- The defensive player may not hold, push, or knock down the ball carrier (see Penalties).
- Once the play is over the defender may place the flag on the floor where the play happened or hand it back to one of the offensive players.
- Offensive players may not guard their flags by slapping or striking the defenders (see Penalties.)
- In the case of the flag falling accidentally or pulled down before the offensive player has possession of the ball the “one hand touch” rule will apply.
Touchdowns = 6 points
Extra Points = 1 point if successful from the 5-yard line
Extra Points = 2 points if successful from the 15-yard line
Safety = 2 points and the team gets the ball
Defensive Interception and returned on an Extra Point Attempt: 2-points awarded to the Defense.
- Games consist of two halves of 26minutes each.
- Halftime will be a quick 2-minute break.
- The clock is continuous all thru the halves except at the two-minute warnings.
- Each half will have a two-minute warning timeout. After the two-minute warning till the conclusion of the game, the clock will stop at each incomplete pass, when a ball carrier goes out of bounds, or on a change of possession.
- EACH TEAM IS ALLOCATED 3 TIMEOUTS FOR EACH HALF. The timeouts don’t carry over from half to half. Each timeout will last 1 minute.
- In the case of overtime, in the regular season, teams will each have a chance to try to win the game (1 possession each starting on the 5-yard line).
- There will be a coin toss.
- The winner of the coin toss will have the options of offense, defense, or left/right direction
- If the team that wins the coin toss decides to choose a direction the other team will go that same way when they get the ball.
- If the team who wins the toss decides to take the ball, they will take the ball at the 5-yard line which the other team decides to defend (the team choosing a direction is essentially choosing a direction for both teams.
- The receiving team will have 4 downs to get to midfield. And then from there, they have another 4 downs to score. If a defense holds the offense to 4th down the offense can punt the ball and the ball will be marked at the spot the punt (see punting rules in amendments) is downed (a player can run back the punt and score for the game win). If a team fails to convert on 4th down the ball will be placed at the current line of scrimmage.
- In the regular season, these rules apply for only 1 possession per team. If neither team scores or if both team score and it is still a tie, the result of the game will be a tie.
- In the playoffs, the rules above apply, however, the game cannot end in a tie. If after the 1st overtime, there is still a tie then we will play the 2nd overtime. The 2nd overtime will be sudden death rules. The first team to score will be the winner of the contest. The way that we will choose who gets the ball first in the 2nd overtime will be the team who did not get the ball first in the 1st overtime and the other team will choose a direction for both teams.
- (NO Double Overtime in regular season play)
- Games can be started with a minimum of 5 players.
- There will be a 10-minute grace period for each team if the players don’t show up on time. After the 10 minutes, the Official can use their discretion as to when to rule the game as a Forfeit.
- The forfeited team will be given a loss and the other team a Win. If a team forfeits twice (2) they will no longer be allowed to participate in the league. (Mandatory)
- The game shall end in a “mercy rule” if one team is winning by at least 24 with 6 minutes to go or by 18 at any point inside the 2-minute warning.
- There will be no exceptions to this rule.
- Players must appear in at least 3 games to be eligible for playoffs (8-game regular season).
- Injured Player Eligibility: If a player is injured and cannot participate, we will allow them to get game credit as long as the player is at the game, checks in with the stat keeper, and stays for at least 20 min of the game.
- All teams will make the playoffs
- 2021 Playoff Tie-Breakers: In the case of ties in the standings at the end of the season, the first tie-breaker will be the Head-to-Head records, the second tiebreaker will be the Total Net Points, the third tie-breaker will be the Total Points Allowed in the season (PA), and the fourth tie-breaker will be Total Team Points Scored (PF).
2. Total Net Points
3. Total Points Allowed (PA)
4. Total Team Points Scored (PF)
- The #1 seed will always end up paying the lowest seed so in some cases a reseed will be necessary most likely in the semi-final round.
- Example (10 Teams):
8v9 Winner plays the 1st seed
2 v 7
3 v 6
4 v 5
Semi-Finals – possible reseed, #1 seed plays the lowest seed
2022 Playoff Structure | Division 1 & Division 2 |:
#1 and #2 Seed Bye
3 vs 6
4 vs 5
Reseed after Round 1 if necessary.
Rules Part 3: Penalties
Infractions and Penalties
- Offensive Offsides: All offensive players must be behind the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. Penalty 5 yards.
- Defensive Backs Distance pre-snap: All offensive and defensive players must be within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage once it’s deemed ready to play (defense can play back on punts only). Penalty 5 yards.
- No defensive player may touch any offensive player behind the line of scrimmage before the 4 Mississippi count. Encroachment penalty 5 yards.
- Defensive Pass Interference: No defensive player may pull, tug, push or otherwise interfere with a wide receiver’s body while the receiver is trying to make a catch (Ball in the air). Penalty spot of the foul and re-do down. If the infraction occurs in the End zone ball will be placed at the 1-yard line and redo down.
- Offensive Pass Interference: No offensive player may pull, tug, push or otherwise interfere with a defensive player trying to make an interception. Penalty 10 yards and re-do of down.
- Defensive Holding: No player can pull, push, hold, or otherwise interfere with other players’ routes or running. Penalty 5 yards and re-do down. The penalty may be declined.
- Unnecessary Roughness: No player may hold, push, or knock down any ball carrier. Penalty 10 yards and replay the down and a possible suspension from the game depending on severity.
- Once the ball is passed the line of scrimmage no ball carrier may pass the ball forward. Ball carriers may pass laterally or backwards. The ball whistled dead if the ball passed forward and a new line of scrimmage will be where the ball carrier last was.
- If an infraction occurs by the defensive team during a PAT (point after touchdown) attempt, the play will be replayed with penalty yards. (see Amended Rules)
- If an infraction occurs by the offensive team during a PAT attempt, the play will be replayed with penalty yardage attached. (see Amended Rules)
- Putting a ball in play before officials deem it ready to play. Penalty 5 yards.
- The team is not ready to play in the second half. A penalty of 10 yards will be added to the opposition’s next possession if available.
- Illegal use of hands, illegal removal of flags, striking, kneeing, elbowing, meeting with knees, striking with open hands, etc. Penalty 10 yards.
- If off-setting penalties occur during any play, the play will be replayed.
- No roughing the passer. Penalty 10 yards and replay down. If excessive ejection. 16. Ball carrier cannot grasp a teammate or be pushed or pulled by a teammate. Penalty 10 yards from the spot of the foul.
- Defensive players may not hold, grasp, or obstruct ball carriers’ forward progress when trying to pull down a flag. 10-yard penalty from the end of the run and replay the down
- No offensive player may touch the ball once out of bounds. You cannot come back in play if you step out of bounds. Penalty ball 5 yards and loss of down.
- Unsportsmanlike conduct- No exaggerated celebrations, no exaggerated taunting, no threatening remarks, no fighting, etc. Penalty 10 yards and possible suspension from the game and league.
- If a player doesn’t have a jersey they may wear a matching colored shirt. No jersey or matching colored shirt will result in a 5-yard penalty on the first possession of the game.
If multiple players do not have a jersey or matching colored shirt that means a 5-yard penalty on each possession corresponding to the # of players not having jerseys or matching colored shirt. If a player is not wearing a team jersey or matching shirt, they will not be allowed to play.
(Must have team jersey or matching shirt to play. If they comply no penalty and are legal to play)
- Push Out of Bounds in the End-zone:
- If a receiver is in the end zone in the air or is at any time deliberately pushed out of bounds, it will be ruled pass interference and can lead to an unsportsmanlike penalty.
- Holding to get the Flag:
- When an infraction occurs, the Official will notify the captain of his choice to either accept or decline. If declined or in the chance of off-setting penalties no down or distance is lost. The captain’s choice cannot be revoked.
- When two infractions occur in the same play the offended Captain has the choice to accept whichever penalty.
- If there is a live ball penalty and a dead ball penalty both can be assessed at the same time.
- If there are offsetting penalties the down is replayed. If there is an offsetting penalty and there is a change of possession (i.e., interception) the team that gained possession last will get the ball.
- Unsportsmanlike penalties are ALWAYS enforced and there can be multiple infractions at any given time.
Rules Part 4: Prohibitive Acts
Any unsportsmanlike conduct is strictly prohibited. Prohibited acts include:
- a) Abusive or insulting language to anyone.
- b) b) Any acts of unfair play.
- c) c) Managers, coaches, or substitutes on the field of play other than when stated above or given permission to.
- d) d) A substitute or any other person interfering with a play while the ball is still alive. e) e) Delaying the game in an excessive manner.
- f) f) Pulling or removing a player’s flag intentionally without them having the ball. h) Tripping, or blocking.
- i) No player should be thrown to the ground or pushed aggressively.
- j) No player shall contact an opposing player during a play or on a dead ball except when necessary and deemed legal.
- k) The ball carrier CAN NOT deliberately run into an offensive player.
- l) No Stiff arms or prohibiting defensive players from pulling flags down by slapping or any aggressive method.
- m) Any aggressive language/behavior/threats to a player, official, league member, or spectator of the SAFL.
- All prohibitive acts and unsportsmanlike conduct will be judged harshly by SAFL and its governing bodies.
Officials and Their Responsibilities:
- All officials have concurrent jurisdiction over the game, infractions, and plays. All officials will carry a whistle. The official at the line of scrimmage will countdown the 4 Mississippi’s after the ball is snapped.
- Both officials must whistle loudly and clearly to prevent rough play once the play is dead. • When an official notes an infraction a flag must be thrown and use the proper guidelines to administer the penalty unless declined by the offended Captain. All Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will be enforced.
- An official may eject players based on the guidelines above and if the player performs any of the prohibited acts.
- The Officials must keep track of accurate time via a Stopwatch.
- The Officials must also keep track of accurate scores at all times. The officials have sole authority and general oversight over the games.
- The officials are also in charge of making sure of the field dimensions and putting down the cones.
Amended Rules that supersede any rule above:
- Flag Shielding: 10 yds. a penalty from spot and Loss of Down.
- Dead Ball Unsportsmanlike Penalty after a touchdown: Offensive Penalty Infraction the ball will now be placed on the 15-yard line if going for 1 Pt Conversion and on the 25-yard line if going for a 2 Pt Conversion.
- If a defensive team causes a penalty on a dead ball after the touchdown the 1-point conversion will be played from the 2.5-yard line (half the distance). If the offense decides to go for 2 the ball will be placed at the 7.5-yard line.
- Ejections for Unsportsmanlike Behavior: Two Unsportsmanlike Penalties on the same player will result in an automatic ejection from the game and the playing field. Depending on the severity of the unsportsmanlike conduct, 1 penalty can also result in an ejection. The player ejected will be reviewed by the league officials to make a final decision on further suspension or ejection from the league. At any time, we Deem a player to try to enforce physical harm on another player it will be the judgment of the Officials to penalize that player up to an Automatic Ejection. Such examples can be tackling, lowering a shoulder, pushing a player out of Bounds, Stiff Arms, tripping, Blocking, or running off a sideline to interfere with an ongoing play.
The Officials have the right to eject any player as the result of an unsportsmanlike penalty at any time in the game. (In addition to stopping the game due to a team’s sideline behavior)
- Pass Interference on the defense: Spot foul replay down unless it crosses over the 1st down then it is a 1st down. If the spot is in the endzone the ball will be spotted on the 2-yard line
- Pass Interference on the Offense: 10 Yard penalty from line of scrimmage replay down.
- Roughing the Passer: 15-yard penalty and repeat the down.
- Using the Ball as a Blocking Device: The ball carrier is NOT allowed to use the ball in any manner to create separation or block between the defender and the ball carrier’s flag.
- Extra Point Attempt: If a defender intercepts the ball on an extra point attempt the defender is allowed to run the ball back to the end zone. If there is no penalty or a flag was not pulled, then the result will be 2 points awarded to the intercepting team.
- Encroachment: It is a defensive penalty. Before the ball is hiked, the defense goes offside. It will be considered encroachment and will be an automatic 7-yard penalty. The offense
CANNOT decline or accept. It will be a replay of the down OR if the offense crosses over the 1st down marker, then it will be a 1st down.
- Kickoff: Teams will start at the 5-yard line at the beginning of the game. There is no kickoff to start the game.
- Blitzing: Defenses will be able to blitz once every 4 downs. Defenses can blitz on any down. As soon as the referee completes saying “3 Mississippi” the “Blitzer” must yell “blitz” to initiate the blitz. If the Blitzer does not yell “blitz” it will be an offside penalty on the defense.
- Giver: The defensive linemen will be able to drop into coverage unrestricted after the offense hikes the ball but must be within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage before the actual snap • Check-ins: Players must bring their ID every week and check in with the stat/scorekeeper every week to be able to participate in the game. On the day, the player first plays, the scorekeeper will take 1 picture and upload it with the scorecard to reflect that person’s eligibility for the rest of the season.
- Any ineligible player will not be eligible to participate in a game until eligibility is proven. The commissioner and the committee have discretion. No exceptions to this rule. It is imperative that we protect the players and the league’s integrity.
- Punting: When a team punts the receiving team will have an opportunity to return the ball. If the ball hits the ground and no one touches it between the time when the punter punts, it and it hits the ground that ball will be considered live for the receiving team if the punting team touches it, it will be considered dead. If the ball is punted and touches any player on the receiving team and then hits the ground, then it is considered dead at that spot where it hits the ground.
- Roster Adds/Drops/Trades: A team can add/drop/trade players until week 4. Week 4 is defined as the game played on the Saturday of week 4. The rosters will be locked on that Saturday at 11:59 pm. The next day will be considered Week 4. However, once the roster is set at week 1 any adds/drops/trades will need to be communicated with the commissioner’s office so that the proper transaction takes place.
- Review: Any play resulting in a touchdown will be subject to “review”. Review is defined as the referee pulling the flag of the person who scored the touchdown.
- No Automatic First Down: There is no penalty in the SAFL that will result in an automatic first down. The only time a penalty will result in a first down is if the penalty carries the ball over mid-field. This is not considered automatic it is just a result of the penalty.
- No Diving: A player cannot dive or jump to get into the endzone or reach the 1st down by jumping or diving. It will be a 5-yard penalty and loss of down.
- Spot of Ball: The ball will be spotted where the front foot was when the flag was pulled. In the case of the end zone or first down the foot is the actual determining factor of a 1st down or TD or XP. The foot must be in the endzone or across the 1st down marker for it to be marked a 1st down or TD or XP. Anything that has to do with the sidelines or backline is where the “two feet” rule applies (See: Receptions and Interceptions)
- QB Throwing the Ball Near the Line of Scrimmage: We will use the NFL rule of the body can be across the LOS when the ball is being thrown if one part of the QBs body is at or behind the LOS it is a legal throw.
- Injury Timeout: In under two minutes in either half, the team that has an injured player will be charged with a timeout. If the team with the injured player does not have a timeout, then 20 seconds will be deducted from the game clock. The game can end because of the 20-second run-off.
- (2023 Season) Unsportsmanlike Conduct – END OF GAME – Penalty will be assessed on the following game/season and it will be the player’s first Unsportsmanlike penalty for that next game which consequently can lead to an ejection on the next unsportsmanlike conduct penalty OR if deemed overly excessive by the referee possible automatic ejection of current game and/or suspension for the following game dependent on the severity of the infraction.
• A Stat keeper will be at the field every week