flag football positions

Flag Football Positions: A Detailed Guide

One of the reasons I love flag football is the higher demand for wit over muscle. The game moves quickly and often in unconventional ways. So, having a sharp mind on the field is a more valuable asset than raw power.

Flag football positions vary with how many players there are in the game. These can range between five to eight, and the lesser you are, the more versatility you require.

Like regular football, the quarterback is at the helm of the offense. Working alongside the QB are centers, wide receivers, and running backs. On the opposite side are safeties, defensive backs, and rushers.

Dive in to see what each of these has to offer the team.

Flag Football Basics

Flag football is similar to regular football in many respects. The game begins with a coin toss, similar to regular football games. Then, the coin toss winner decides whether they’ll start the game on offense or defense.

Some leagues may require mouthguards for extra protection. It’s also crucial to determine what cleats are best for flag football besides other playing equipment.

Instead of tackling players to the ground like regular football, the defenders pull flags. There stay attached to the players’ belts, and pulling indicates a tackle. The number of flags varies depending on the league. 

The game’s duration is typically 40 minutes, split into two halves. Half-time usually lasts for one to five minutes.

The field is often 70 yards long, with endzones measuring 10 yards each. Games commence at the five-yard line. 

The team has three downs to pass the midfield and an extra three to score a touchdown. If they don’t, it’s a turnover.

A touchdown is worth six points. The scoring team can also attempt an extra point by kicking the ball through the uprights from the five-yard line. A score from the ten-yard line earns two points.

Flag Football Offense Positions

Offensive positions in flag football include the center, quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. These players carry the ball and score points for their team.

flag football player running with the ball

Let’s take a keener look into their roles.


Who snaps the ball to the quarterback? If you guessed the center, you’re right. Every play starts with the center player at the line of scrimmage. The center has half a minute to make the snap.

If the NFL’s best centers tell us anything, these players are some of the tallest on the line. The center ensures the quarterback receives the ball in the right spot and shields him from the defensive line.


Key center abilities include:

  1. Quick reflexes to snap the ball accurately
  2. Good hand-eye coordination to catch the snap and control the ball
  3. Strength and stamina to block defenders and protect the quarterback.


The quarterback is the offensive leader and play-caller on the field. They receive the snap from the center and have seven seconds to decide what to do with the ball. They can hand the ball to a running back or throw it to a receiver.

Getting a receiver within this limited time is challenging. The quarterback has to avoid the incoming rusher and identify a suitable receiver. Should they fail to hand the ball before seven seconds, it’s a turnover.


Here are a few tips on how to play QB in flag football:

  1. Be a leader on the field and get the team organized.
  2. Read the defense and know where to throw the ball.
  3. Have a strong arm to throw the ball far in split-second decisions.

Running Back

This player carries the football on running plays, which are penalizable within five yards of endzones and the midfield.

He normally lines behind the quarterback and receives the ball on a handoff. Afterward, he attempts to break past the defense and score a touchdown.

On passing plays, the running back lines up in the backfield or the slot and runs a route to try to open up for a quarterback pass. If the running back is available, he’ll catch the ball and run for a touchdown.


  1. Good hands to catch the ball
  2. Good vision to see the hole in the defense
  3. Quick feet to juke defenders and strong to break tackles

Wide Receiver

Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Couper Cupp… these are just a few of the NFL’s most prolific wide receivers. And one thing these flashy players have in common is superb athleticism.

Wide receivers are the main target of the quarterback and are responsible for most of the passing yards and touchdowns in a game. They must create separation from the defender and make themselves an open target for the quarterback. 

In flag football, there are usually three or two wide receivers on the field.


  1. Good hands to catch the ball
  2. Quick feet to outrun defenders
  3. Run precise routes and create separation from defenders.

Flag Football Defense Positions

Defensive positions include the defensive back, safety, and rusher. While their general goal is to stop the other team from scoring and getting the ball back, each has a unique addition.

man throwing football in the air

So, how do they protect their endzone?


The pass rusher lines up seven yards from the scrimmage line. This player’s job is to get to the quarterback and drive him to make mistakes. He must be fast and have good agility to get around the offensive lineman blocking him.


  1. Quick feet to get around blockers
  2. Good agility and direction change
  3. Excellent discernment and maneuverability to tackle


Some flag football games may include safeties, especially 7-on-7 matches. This player covers the deep part of the field. He is usually the last line of defense before the endzone. So, he must be fast enough to keep up with the receivers and make tackles.


  1. Excellent alignment and skill to pull the flag
  2. Awesome field reading skills to assess where to cover
  3. Good acceleration and speed to keep up with receivers

Defensive Back

The defensive backs line up outside the defensive line. They defend against the receiver and tackle them or prevent them from catching the ball. Defensive backs need to be quick and have good agility to keep up with the receivers.


  1. Can intercept the ball
  2. Quick feet to keep up with receivers
  3. Excellent field analysis to quickly distinguish passing and running plays

FAQS: What’s Everyone Asking About Football Flag Positions?

girl catching the football

Can the Quarterback Run in Flag Football?

The quarterback can’t run in flag football (with the ball) in most youth leagues. They must make forward passes or send them to a receiver behind the scrimmage line. However, they can run to get a pass after handing off the ball.

Is Jumping Permitted in Flag Football?

Jumping isn’t permitted in flag football, as well as diving. Once you have the ball, you can’t guard the flag by pushing away an opponent’s hand or preventing them from pulling it.

What Is a Safety in Flag Football?

A safety in flag football is the defensive quarterback. He is responsible for the deep pass coverage and stopping the run.


Flag football is a great game for those who want to enjoy the benefits of football without full-contact tackling. It requires fewer players, so it’s perfect for small get-togethers.

Whether you’re on offense or defense, there’s a flag football position for everyone. Each player has to play a part to ensure the team’s success. Especially with the reduced number of players in flag football, there’s no room to mess.

We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of the flag football positions and their responsibilities. Now go out there and have some fun.

But before you leave, check our guide on number gaps in football. We’ll show you how to use gaps and holes to stay on top during defense and offense.

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