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Boundary lines: The outer perimeter lines around the field, including the sidelines and back of the end zone lines. 

Offense: The team who has possession of the ball and is trying to advance to the opponent’s end zone for a touchdown. 

Defense: The team who doesn’t have possession of the ball and is trying to prevent the other team from scoring by pulling the ball-carrier’s flags down.  

End zone: The two end zones, located on opposite sides of the field, are the scoring areas. The goal line, which a player must cross to score a touchdown, is the start of the end zone. 

No run zone: The rules for flag football include no run zones that are located five yards before each goal line and the midfield. If the ball is spotted within a no run zone, the offensive team must use a pass play to earn a first down or touchdown. The objective is to prevent power football in tight spaces, limiting contact. 

Line-to-gain: The line the offense must cross to get a first down or score. 

Line of scrimmage: This is an imaginary line that expands the width of the field and runs through the point of the football. It indicates where teams can’t cross until the play has begun. 

Backfield: The part of the field directly behind the line of scrimmage


Dead ball: This refers to the period of time directly before or after a play, when the ball isn’t in motion. Flag football rules are more strict about deadlines: they commonly happen when the ball touches the ground, the ball-carrier’s flag is pulled from their belt, the ball-carrier steps out of bounds, the ball-carrier’s body—outside of their hands or feet—touches the ground, the pass is incomplete, the ball-carrier’s flag falls out or the receiver has one or no flags when catching the ball.

Downs: A down is the period after the ball is snapped and the team is attempting to advance down the field. In flag football rules, teams have four downs to cross midfield. If they successfully cross midfield within four downs, then they have three downs to score a touchdown. 

Flag guarding: This flag football term happens when the ball-carrier prevents a defender from pulling down their flags. For example, they might stiff arm, cover their flag with their open hand, or lower their elbow. It is illegal and results in a penalty. 

Lateral: A backward or sideway toss of the ball by the ball-carrier. Reminder: laterals are ONLY allowed only behind the line of scrimage.  

Live ball: This is the period of time when the ball and play is in motion. It’s generally used in regard to penalties—live ball penalties are enforced before the down is considered complete. 

Passer: The passer is the person throwing the ball. This flag football term is more common in flag football because the passer doesn’t necessarily have to be the quarterback. 

Rush line: An imaginary line running across the width of the field seven yards (into the defensive side) from the line of scrimmage. In other words, any defensive player who is positioned seven yards off the line of scrimmage is eligible to rush.

Rusher: The defensive player assigned to rush the quarterback to prevent him/her from passing the ball by pulling his/her flags or blocking the pass. Offensive players must steer clear of the rusher. When the ball is handed off, any defender may rush. 

Shovel pass: A pitch attempted beyond the line of scrimmage. The quarterback “shovels” the ball directly forward to a receiver. These are legal. 

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