7-on-7 Football Rules

Any intramural policies not mentioned here may be found in the Intramural Handbook.  Unless specifically mentioned below, intramural flag football play is governed by NIRSA flag football rules. By participating in Intramural Sports, the participant agrees to abide by all Intramural rules and policies. 

You may suffer physical and/or mental injury from participating in Intramural Sports. There are certain risks of injury that are inherent to participation in sports and recreational activities. These types of injuries may be minor or serious and may result from the actions or inactions of themselves or others. By choosing to participate in Intramural Sports, you do so at your own risk. It is understood that most activities require a certain level of fitness and health, and that each person has a different capacity for participating in these activities. Participants of Intramural Sports are highly encouraged to have a physical examination and procure health insurance prior to play. UC Campus Recreation does not provide health insurance.

Intramural Supervisors undergo concussion recognition training. In the instance a participant is exhibiting any signs or symptoms of a concussion as a result of a head injury sustained during intramural play, he or she will be removed from the activity. This individual must provide a physician’s note clearing the individual to play by a specific date. This note may be e-mailed to intramural@uc.edu or faxed to 513-556-0601.

In order to qualify for playoffs, teams must obtain a 3.0 or higher sportsmanship average during the regular season.

Sportmanship Rating
Score Player & Team Behavior   Penalty
4.0 Always respectful to officials and opposing team.
No complaining or arguing.
No unsportsmanlike penalties.
3.0 Usually respectful to officials and opposing team.
Minimal arguing or complaining about officials.
Maximum one (1) unsportsmanlike penalty.
2.0 Moderately disrespectful to officials and/or opposing team.
Moderate arguing or complaints about officials.
Multiple unsportsmanlike penalties OR Maximum one (1) ejected player
1.0 Frequently disrespectful to officials and/or opposing team.
Frequent arguing or complaints about officials.
Any contact or provocation of officials.
Multiple ejected players or one (1) player involved in a fight.
0.0 Player(s) out of control.
Excessively disrespectful to officials and/or opposing team.
Excessive arguing or complaints about officials.*
Multiple players involved in a fight. Destruction or abuse of property.

* A team that receives a "0" rating will be suspended from competition until its captain meets with the Assistant Director or Coordinator of Intramural Sports. The team may be removed from competition.


To be eligible for intramural sports, each player must be a current University of Cincinnati student (enrolled in at least one (1) credit hour), faculty, or staff member.  For outdoor flag football, intramural sports participants do not need an active membership to the UC Campus Recreation Center.


Participants may participate on one (1) mixed gender and one (1) non-mixed gender (i.e. men's, women's, open, fraternity, sorority) team per sport, per season. Substituting for another team in the same league is prohibited.

3.3 Varsity and Club Sport Rules


Competitive club sport players and former varsity athletes may not participate on an intramural B (recreational) league team in the same or a similar sport as their club/varsity sport.


For sports with five (5) or more players on the playing field at one time, a team is limited to two (2) competitive club sport participants (in the same or similar sport) on its’ roster.


For sports with four (4) or less players on the playing field at one time, a team is limited to one (1) competitive club sport participant (in the same or similar sport) on its’ roster.


Current varsity athletes are not allowed to play on an intramural team of the same or a similar sport as their varsity sport.


Former varsity athletes must sit out 365 days from last appearing on a varsity roster to be eligible to play in the same or similar sport as their varsity sport. Teams are allowed one (1) former varsity athlete (in the same or similar sport) per roster.


Jewelry is prohibited across all intramural sports. This includes, but is not limited to, piercings, necklaces, rings, wrist fitness trackers, watches, and bracelets.


Medical jewelry is allowed but must be taped down.


Billed hats are prohibited in all sports except softball.


Athletic clothing and footwear is required. Prohibited items include, but is not limited to: jeans, cargo pants/shorts, skirts, loafers, open-toed shoes, and boots. Indoor sports require non-marking footwear. For outdoor field sports, detachable or metal cleats are prohibited.


Any casts, braces, or other protective equipment must be padded and secure.

4.5 Additional Considerations


Articles of clothing with pockets are prohibited (i.e. shorts or pants with pockets, hoodies with pockets, etc.). Pockets cannot be taped shut, zippered, or turned inside out.


Towels attached at a player’s waist are illegal.


No helmets or any type of hard or padded headgear are allowed.


A non-mixed genderteam may have up to seven (7) players on the field at once. Non-mixed gender teams may begin play with a minimum of five (5) players.


Additional players may be added until the start of the second half.


A mixed gender team can play with a minimum of six (6) and a maximum of eight (8) players on the field at once. 

  • If playing with six players on the field, there can be no more than three (3) players of a gender.
    • Legal examples
      • Three males + three females
      • Three females + two males + one non-binary
    • Illegal example
      • Four males + two females
  • If playing with seven (7) or eight (8) players on the field, there can be no more than four (4) players of a gender.
    • Legal examples
      • Four (4) males + three (3) females
      • Four (4) females + three (3) males + one (1) non-binary
      • Four (4) males + four (females)
    • Illegal examples
      • Five (5) females + three (3) males
      • Six (6) males + two (2) females


If injuries or ejections cause a team to drop to four (4) players, the team may continue, as long as they started with the minimum number of players.


No team shall participate with less than four (4) players at any time.


A 7-on-7 flag football team may have up to twenty (20) players on its’ roster.


Players may substitute freely between downs.


A game consists of two (2) 20-minute halves and a two-minute halftime.


In the case of inclement weather or other circumstances, a game is considered “official” after the first half is completed.


To start a half, the ball will be placed on the offense’s 14-yard line.


A half will be extended if either team accepts a penalty on the last down of the half.


In the first 38 minutes of the game, the clock will only stop for team or official timeouts.


In the last two (2) minutes of the game, the clock will stop for all incomplete passes, player out-of-bounds, timeouts, and penalties.


Each team is allowed two (2) 30-second timeouts and one (1) 60-second timeout per game.


Coin Toss


The captain winning the initial coin toss will have the choice to start on offense/defense, defend a goal, or defer.


The next choice will belong to the loser of the toss, and choices will alternate thereafter. Possession to start the second half depends on the decisions made in the initial coin toss.


If regulation ends in a tie during the regular season, there will be no overtime.


If regulation ends in a tie during playoffs, the following will occur:


A coin toss and captain’s meeting will occur to determine the options for the start of overtime. The winner of the toss will choose to start on offense, defense, or which half of the field to use. The loser shall choose from the remaining options.


Team A will start on Team B’s 10-yard line (unless moved by penalty) with a 1st and goal. They will have a series of downs to score a touchdown.Should they score, they will decide whether to go for a one, two, or three point conversion. Afterwards, Team B will begin a similar series on Team A’s 10-yard line (unless moved by penalty).

Should team B intercept a pass for a touchdown, they win the game. If the interception is not returned for a touchdown, they will begin their series on Team A’s 10-yard line.


If the score is tied at the end of the first overtime, a second overtime period will begin with Team B beginning on offense.During the second overtime, teams may only attempt two or three point conversions after a touchdown.


If the score is tied at the end of the second overtime, a third overtime period will begin with Team A beginning on offense. Starting with the third overtime, teams may only attempt three-point conversions after a touchdown.


Each team will receive one (1) 60-second timeout for the entirety of all overtime periods. Timeouts do not carry over from the first 40 minutes of play.


All overtime periods are played toward the same goal line.


All touchdowns are worth six (6) points. There is no point differential for mixed gender games.


All safeties are worth two (2) points.


Extra Point Conversions Following Touchdowns:


Successful attempt starting from the 3-yard line = one (1) point


Successful attempt starting from the 10-yard line = two (2) points


Successful attempt starting from the 20-yard line = three (3) points


Mercy Rule – If either team leads by 19 points or more with two (2) minutes or less left in the second half, the game will end and the results are considered final.


The 100-yard field consists of two (2) 10-yard end zones and four two-yard zones. Markers will indicated each goal line, each 20-yard line, and the 40-yard line (midfield).




The team in possession of the ball shall have four consecutive downs to advance to the next zone line-to-gain.


A new series of downs shall be awarded when a team moves the ball into the next zone.


Zone Line-to-gain


The zone line-to-gain in any series shall be the zone in advance of the ball, unless such distance has been lost due to penalty or failure to gain. In such case the original zone in advance of the ball at the beginning of the series of downs is the zone line-to-gain.


The most forward point of the ball when declared dead between the goal lines shall be the determining factor.


After change of possession, all penalties shall be enforced prior to determining the zone line-to-gain.




There are no kickoffs. A coin toss will determine the possession for the beginning of each half.


The team that starts with possession will begin play at its’ 14-yard line with the 20 yard line-to-gain.




Prior to making the ball ready to play on fourth down, the official will ask the offense’s captain if he or she would like to go for it or punt. The official will communicate this decision to the defense and other officials.


The offense may request a punt on any down.


After declaring a punt, the ball must be picked on the ensuing down. The decision may not be changed except when:

A time-out is called.

A penalty occurs during this down which results in the kicking team having the opportunity to repeat the down. The official will ask the offense’s captain if he or she wants to punt or go for it.


Neither team may cross its’ scrimmage line until the ball is kicked.


A rolling ball inbounds may be advanced the receiving team provided no one has touched the ball first.


If the ball touches someone then hits the ground, the ball is declared dead.


Fair Catches


There are no fair catches.


Prior to the Snap


Each team will be permitted 25 seconds to put in the ball in play after the “ready for play” whistle is given by the official.


The snap must be a continuous motion between the snapper’s legs or flipped back by a player standing sideways while keeping the point of the ball on the ground. Penalty – Illegal Procedure, 5 yards.


The player receiving the snap must be at least two (2) yards behind the scrimmage line. Penalty – Illegal Procedure, 5 yards.


During the snap, the offense must have at least one (1) player on the scrimmage line and within one yard of the scrimmage line. Penalty –Illegal Procedure, 5 yards.


Three and four point stances are legal.


No player of the offensive team shall make a false start (any movement simulating the start of play). Penalty – False Start, 5 yards.


After the snapper has made his or her final adjustment of the ball, no player of the defensive team shall break the plane of his or her scrimmage line. Penalty – Encroachment, 5 yards (10 yards for 2 or more consecutive encroachments).


All offensive players must be motionless for one (1) second preceding the snap, except for a player moving parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage.


If a player starts in motion from the scrimmage line, he or she must be at least five (5) yards behind the scrimmage line when the ball is snapped. Penalty – Illegal motion, 5 yards.


An offensive player that moves/shifts (other than going legally in motion) must stop for one (1) full second before the snap. Penalty –Illegal Shift, 5 yards.


Scrimmage Lines


The scrimmage line for the offense is the yard line and its vertical plane that passes through the forward point of the ball marked by an orange marker.


The scrimmage line for the defense is the yard line and its vertical plane that passes one yard from the point of the ball nearest its own goal line marked by a yellow marker.


Handing the Ball


Any player may hand off the ball forward or backward at any time.


Passing and Receiving


All players are eligible to touch or catch a pass.


Only one forward pass may be thrown per down.


A forward pass is illegal (Penalty – Illegal Forward Pass, 5 yards, loss of down if prior to change of possession):

If the passer’s foot is beyond his or her team’s scrimmage line when the ball leaves his or her hand.

If the ball is thrown after team possession has changed during the down.

If a passer catches his or her untouched forward pass.


The pass begins when the ball is released from the passer’s hand. The ball is dead if the passer is deflagged before the release.


The initial direction of a pass determines whether a pass is forward or backward.


After the ball is snapped and until it has been touched, there shall be no offensive pass interference beyond the scrimmage line when the legal forward pass crosses the scrimmage line. Penalty – 10 yards.


After the passer releases a legal forward pass and until it has been touched, there shall be no defensive pass interference beyond the offensive team’s line while the ball is in flight. Penalty – 10 yards.


A pass may be touched by any number of offensive players prior to being caught.


If a pass is caught simultaneously by opposing players, the ball becomes dead, is considered a completed pass, and belongs to the offense.


The offense is responsible for retrieving the football after each play.


Ball In Play:


If a team delays under two (2) minutes left in the game, the first infraction shall be a loss of down. A second delay of game infraction will carry a loss of possession.


Dead Ball:


A live ball becomes a dead ball as provided in the rules, when an official sounds the whistle (even inadvertently), or when an official declares the ball dead.


The ball is declared dead:

When it goes out of bounds.

When any part of the runner’s body other than the hand or foot touches the ground. The ball in possession is considered part of the player’s hand.

When a touchdown, touchback, safety, or success extra point conversion is made.

When a player of the kicking team catches a punt.

When a forward pass strikes the ground or is caught simultaneously by opposing players.

When a snap, backward pass, or fumble by a player strikes the ground. It is dead at the spot where it hits the ground.

When a runner has a flag legally removed by a defensive player. When a runner is legally touched with one hand between the shoulders and knees, including the hand and arm, in cases where the flag belt comes off without any obvious contact.

When the passer is deflagged before releasing the ball.




A fumble or backward pass is dead at the point it hits the ground. In each case, possession goes to the team that last had possession. Just touching the ball is not sufficient for legal possession.


Out of Bounds


A ball in player possession is out of bounds when either the ball or any part of the runner (other than a hand or foot) touches the ground or touches a player/official who is on/outside a boundary line.


A loose ball is out of bounds when it touches the ground or it touches a player/official who is on/outside a boundary line.


A player who is catching a forward pass is considered out of bounds when any part of his or her body contacts an area declared out of bounds. One foot inbounds is needed for a legal reception.


To be ruled a touchdown, the ball must break the plane of the goal line (i.e. If a runner’s body is in the end zone but he or she is deflagged while the ball has not broken the plane of the goal line, it is not a touchdown).


After each touchdown, the player who scored must immediately allow the game official to pull off his or her flag belt.  This is done to ensure the belt is not secured in an illegal manner. Penalty – Illegally Secured Flag Belt, Player ejection, loss of down, loss of score.


Once the captain makes the decision to go for one, two, or three points on the conversion, he or she may not change the decision unless the team takes a time-out.


If the offensive team commits a foul that carries a loss of down penalty on the extra point conversion, the ball is considered dead, and the conversion is failed.


After a successful or failed conversion, the ball is placed on the scored upon team’s 14-yard line, unless moved by penalty (there is no kick-off).


If there is a foul by the defensive team during a down that results in a successful touchdown, the scoring team may choose to have the foul enforced at the succeeding spot (extra point conversion) or at the opponent’s 14-yard line (after the conversion attempt).




If the ball is ruled dead after a runner carries the ball from the field of play to or across his/her own goal line, it is a safety.

Exception: A player from the defensive team who intercepts a pass or catches a protected scrimmage free kick between the 5 yard line and goal line and whose original momentum carries him/her into his or her end zone is not subject to a safety if the ball is ruled dead in his/her possession or if the ball goes out of bounds in the end zone. In either case, the ball belongs to the defensive team at the spot where the pass was intercepted or the kick was caught.


A fumble or backward pass by the offense which first hits the ground in its’ own end zone is a safety.




A team that intercepts a pass in its’ own end zone may advance the ball out of the end zone. It is a touchdown if the interceptor is deflagged before leaving his/her own end zone.


Personal fouls include:


Punching, striking, stripping, or attempting to steal the ball from a player in possession.


Using a fist, foot, knee, or leg to contact an opponent.


Tackling the ball carrier by grasping or encircling with the hand(s) or arm(s) and taking the opponent towards the ground, as in tackle football. The tackler will be ejected from the game.


Illegal contact




Unnecessary roughness


Roughing the passer (automatic first down) – Applies only to player throwing a pass behind the offensive scrimmage line. If the defender contacts the passer’s arm, whether or not he or she touches the pass, it is considered roughing the passer. Flagrant offenders will be ejected.


The runner may not:


Be aided by a teammate (grasped, pushed, or pulled). Penalty – Helping the runner, 5 yards.


Straight arm or lower a shoulder into the opponent. Penalty – Personal foul, 10 yards.


Guard his or her flags by blocking with arms or hands, thereby denying an opponent the opportunity to pull or remove the flag belt. Penalty – Flag guarding, 10 yards.




Blocking is prohibited. A player may not use his or her hands, arms, or body to block or ward off an opponent. Penalty – Personal foul, 10 yards.




Offensive players may protect the runner by screening. The offensive screen block shall take place without contact and the screener may maintain a position (moving or stationary) between the defensive player and the runner.


The screen blocker shall have his or her hands and arms at his or her sides or behind his or her back.


Any use of the arms, elbows, or legs to initiate contact during an offensive player’s screen block is illegal.


A screen blocker may use a hand or arm to break a fall or retain balance.


Players must remain on their feet before, during, and after screen blocking.


No part of the screener’s body, except the feet, may be in contact with the ground.


Defensive players must go around the offensive player’s screen block. Defenders may not use their hands or arms to gain an advantage in going around the offensive screen blocker. Penalty – Personal foul, 10 yards.

Illegal contact between the blocker/rusher will be called against the player determined to have initiated the contact.

Repeated illegal contact will not be tolerated and will result in an ejection.


Flag Removal


Players must have possession of the ball before they can be legally deflagged.

In circumstances where a flag belt is removed illegally, play will continue with the non-offending team having the option of accepting the penalty or result of the play. Penalty – Personal foul, 10 yards.


When a runner loses his or her flag belt accidentally or inadvertently (i.e. flags fall off without someone attempting to deflag), play continues. The deflagging reverts to a one-hand tag of the runner between the shoulder and knees.


Tampering with the flag belt in any way to gain an advantage, including tying or using foreign materials, will result in a player ejection, 10-yard penalty and loss of down (offense)/automatic first down (defense).


Illegal Participation


Unless blocked or pushed out of bounds, no player of either team shall participate by touching the ball or hindering an opponent after having been out of bounds during the down.


Unless blocked or pushed out of bounds, no player of either team shall participate by touching the ball or hindering an opponent after having been out of bounds during the down.


It is also illegal participation:

To have more than seven (7) players for non-mixed gender teams and more than eight (8) players for mixed gender teams participating at the snap or free kick.

If an injured player is not replaced for at least one down, unless halftime or an intermission occurs.

To use a replaced player or substitute in a substitution or pretended substitution to deceive opponents at or immediately before the snap, free kick sport, or at the line of scrimmage.


Ratio and team requirements are listed in rule 5.2.


The football size used may be intermediate, youth, or junior. An official size football may be used if both teams agree.

Note: The player will be ejected if any of the infractions are deemed flagrant

Loss of 5 Yards

  1. Delay of Game (Dead Ball Foul)
  2. False Start (Dead Ball Foul)
  3. Encroachment (Dead Ball Foul)
  4. Illegal Snap (Dead Ball Foul)
  5. Illegal Procedure
  6. Illegal Motion
  7. Illegal Shift
  8. Player receiving snap within 2 yards of scrimmage line
  9. Illegally handing the ball forward (loss of down)
  10. Illegal substitution
  11. Aiding runner by teammates

Loss of 10 Yards

  1. Illegal Contact (ie. stiff arm)
  2. Flag Guarding
  3. Offensive pass interference
  4. Defensive pass interference
  5. Personal Foul
  6. Unsportsmanlike Conduct
  7. Roughing the passer (automatic first down)
  8. Kick catch interference
  9. Illegal flag belt removal
  10. Illegally secured flag belt (loss of down and player DQ)
  11. Illegal Participation
  12. Illegal batting of the ball
  13. Illegal kicking of the ball

Additional Penalties

Inside 2 minutes of the second half, infraction committed by:

  1. Team on offense: First delay of game of game (loss of down)
  2. Team on offense: Second delay of game (loss of possession)
  3. Team on defense: First delay of game (automatic 1st down for offense)
  4. Team on defense: Second delay of game (loss of 1 player/rest of game)