Purpose and Intent of the Boston Women's Flag football League (BWFFL)

In our society, winning tends to be emphasized more than pure competition itself and the values and/or benefits of competition can be lost.  It is the desire of the BWFFL, through its games, to promote, organize, offer competition, increase skill level, develop strong character and personality traits, high self-esteem, encourage good sportsmanship as well as comradeship amongst other athletes and to professionalize the sport for females.  The spirit of the game of women's flag football lives in effective blocking, aggressive flag-grabbing, tireless pursuit, skillful running, passing and kicking, and well-planned game strategy.  This positive atmosphere cannot be maintained unless the spirit, as well as the letter, of the playing rules are observed.

Establishing Principles of Good Sportsmanship

While the code attempts by rule and penalty to prohibit all forms of unnecessary roughness, unfair tactics and unsportsmanlike conduct, it is obviously impossible to list every conceivable dishonorable or unethical act that might take place. It is the responsibility of players, coaches, officials and team supporters to maintain the highest ethical standards. Deliberately violating the rules in the hope or expectation of not being detected is deplorable and indefensible. No true athlete should violate any of the unwritten rules that exist for the good of the game. Coaches need to be responsible for conduct of their players as they all are a reflection of the BWFFL and all female athletes. The negative actions of a few individuals may ruin the reputation, enjoyment and integrity of the sport for all.

Code of Ethics


The officials and league commissioner have the authority to rule promptly on any situation not specifically covered in the rules. These decisions are final in all matters pertaining to the game.  The officials shall govern all players, coaches, trainers, and other persons in team area.  Only authorized persons shall be allowed on the sidelines and field of play.


There are three divisions (A, B, C) in the BWFFL.  Seeding within these divisions is based on Power Rankings. Once the season has concluded, the teams will be organized according to their Power Ranking:


Each team shall designate a field captain (offense/defense/special teams) who will be the only on field players allowed to speak to the officials. Coaches (including non-playing coaches) may also speak to the refs. All captains and coaches are expected to do so in a courteous manner that follows our code of ethics.  Teams shall have no more than 3 individuals per game (including captains and coach) who are allowed to speak to the officials.


Both teams must email game scores to BWFFL commissioners and webmaster at conclusion of game for archive purposes (within 48 hours following the game).


Teams are randomly assigned to paint the lines on the field as well as take the down markers, chains, and sideline markers home after the last game and bring them back to the field for the first game the next Sunday.  All of this is published on the game schedule.  If the assigned team fails to paint the lines the following penalties will be assessed.

FIRST PENALTY – A $100 fine will be charged to that team

SECOND PENALTY  - Said team will have two weeks to pay the penalty.  If the fine is not paid by the start of their scheduled game two weeks after the infraction that game and all other games will be forfeited until the fine is paid.  

If the fine is never paid and there is a balance due at the end of the season no player on that roster may join the league in following years until the balance is paid in full.


Each player, coach, and official must sign a waiver release acknowledging that they are participating in a flag football event and agree not to hold the BWFFL or any sanctioned BWFFL leagues and events liable for any injuries or harm that may result from their participation.  This waiver also allows for photos to be taken and used on all BWFFL advertising such as website, facebook or any other BWFFL published item.  Waiver forms must be submitted, on the correct form, by the deadline as set by the commissioner (3rd week of the season) in order for a player (team) to participate in that season.  If the roster form is not turned in by the start of the 3rd game of the season that team will forfeit that game, and all games, until the proper paperwork is turned in.  


All players and coaches need to be active members of the BWFFL and listed on team roster (listed on waiver form).  If it is discovered during competition that a player or coach is not:

PENALTY: Player Ineligibility - game will be forfeited immediately. If opposing team was winning, game score stands. Otherwise score will be 18 - 0 in favor of opposing team.


Regulation football field: 50 yards x 100 yards (includes 10 yard end zones).  Field should be lined every 10 yards.


A player wearing illegal equipment shall not be permitted to play until the official deems the equipment legal.

Football:  Each team must provide their own Wilson Junior football. The league commissioner will provide teams with a place to purchase the ball. Only these football are permitted to be used during games.

Flags:  The official flag is the Flag-A-Tag Sonic socket release type (which pop).  

Jerseys:         All same color with numbers (no duplicates) displayed on back - numbers on front, optional.  All jerseys must be tucked in and are not permitted to hang over the flag belt.

Shorts/pants:  May not be same color (including stripes) as the flags.  Shorts/Pants with pockets are NOT allowed.

Hats:  Must be soft or else the bill must be turned around.

Jewelry: Not allowed at anytime.  However, taping is allowed if jewelry cannot be removed.

Shoes:  No metal spikes allowed.

Padding:         Soft pads for the knees, elbows and forearms and hand gloves are allowed.  Hard materials are prohibited.  Knee braces are allowed if properly covered.

Mouth guards:  Mandatory.


All players on offense, defense & special teams MUST wear flags at all times.   The belt is to be worn fitting (not loosely) around the waist with 1 flag on each player’s side. They are to be worn with the stem of flag attachment protruding outward.  Excess belt must be tucked in.

FIRST PENALTY - Official warning

SECOND PENALTY (and thereafter) - Delay of game - 5 yard penalty.


25-woman MAXIMUM roster limit.  Teams do not have to use one of the 25 spots for a non-playing coach, however the coach must still be listed on the Roster.  A player cannot play on two different teams.  No team should have more than 5 players who play for a women’s pro or semi-pro  tackle football team within the last roster year.   For example: If a player was on a tackle team’s roster for the 2008 tackle season but not on the roster for the 2009 tackle season they are eligible to play in the BWFFL and not count against the 5 tackle player limit. Any player who played in the BWFFL (formerly JPWFFL) before the 2001 season shall not be considered a pro/semi-pro player.  

PENALTY: Player ineligibility -- team will forfeit that game.


The BWFFL requires 3 officials per game. Their positions are: Line Judge, Back Judge, and Umpire.

Play-off games should use 4 officials.  The added official will be Side Judge.


More than 8 players per team on the field:

PENALTY: Team offended has choice - 5 yard loss from line of scrimmage, repeat the down / or to decline penalty and take end result of the play.

Less than 8 players per team: before or during game (due to injuries), they cannot continue with game.

PENALTY: Game will be forfeited immediately. If opposing team was winning game, score stands. Otherwise score will be 18 - 0 against team with less than 8 players.


There are two 25-minute halves. For the first 23 minutes of each half, clock will run continuously with the exception of called time outs, change of possession (until chains are set), after each scoring play until the following kick-off, and injuries  until the final 2 minutes of each half.


Official will announce that there are two minutes left in each half.  A time out is awarded which does not use one of either team's remaining time outs.  Clock will stop for incomplete passes, out of bounds, first downs, change of possessions and scores.

During the two-minute warning period, should injury occur to an offensive player, a time out will automatically be charged to the offensive team.  If they do not have any time-outs left, a 5-yard penalty will be given to offensive team.


Each time out will be 30 seconds. Refs must acknowledge the time out.

Each team is allowed (4) time-outs during the game.

One additional time-out added for overtime period for the entire over time period.


Kickoff, Receive, Defend a Goal (only done at beginning of game).  


If a team is leading by 30 points at the end of 37 ½ minutes (midway through 2nd half), the team that is behind will have one last chance to score.  If unsuccessful, team will also have the option to play out the game and officials MUST STAY.


PENALTY: Receiving team has choice to accept ball where it went out of bounds (ball will be hashed at the middle of the field), or re-kick with 5 yard penalty.


If kicking team does not have 7 players on the kicking line, either too many or not enough:

PENALTY: Illegal formation - 5 yard penalty - ball will be re-kicked at kicking team's 25 yard line. Receiving team will then line up at their 35 yard line (there should be 20 yards apart between the kicking and receiving team)

If kicking team crosses line before ball is kicked

PENALTY: Offside - 5 yard - ball will be re-kicked at kicking team's 25 yard line. Receiving team will then line up at their 35 yard line

After the ball is kicked and if the kicking team catches the ball or touches the ball, the ball will be dead at that spot where the receiving team will take possession of the ball (first and ten).

Receiving team will always receive the ball unless offensive player catches the ball, clearly has possession and laterals to teammate and it is intercepted by player on kicking team – then it is an interception.



Only the player that has touched or dropped the ball when receiving a punt or kick-off may pick up the ball up and advance it.


When a kick returnee catches the ball in her own end zone and elects not to run it back out of the end zone, she signifies the election of a touchback by touching one knee down on the field. The next play automatically starts on the receiving team's 20-yard line.

A touchback also occurs automatically when a kicker kicks the ball past the receiving team's end zone, the ball goes "untouched" into the endzone, or should player "muff” the ball and tap the ball into the endzone.

If the ball catcher gets caught in the endzone and de-flagged, ball will come out to 20 yard line. However, if ball catcher runs out of endzone, then back into endzone and gets "de-flagged", it is a safety for opposing team. If the ball carrier fields the ball outside of the end zone and carries it in, and is then flagged in the end zone, then this is also a safety.



30 seconds - Offensive team has 30 seconds to call play, set up formation and hike the ball (to put ball into play).

Official will blow whistle (after setting chain gang) to start the 30-second clock.

PENALTY: Delay of game 5-yard penalty repeat down.


A minimum of 5 offensive players on line of scrimmage at snap. All other offensive players must be in the offensive backfield. Center must be between the 2 guards. Receivers may overload to one side.

PENALTY: Illegal formation - 5 yard from the line of scrimmage and repeat the down.


Offensive penalty - offensive player feigns or moves prior to snap, after being "set".

PENALTY: 5 yards from line of scrimmage / Repeat down /Penalty cannot be declined (dead ball foul).


The offensive line (center and 2 guards) must be in a 3-point stance at the time of the snap and can be no more than 3 inches (as close to toe-to-toe as possible) from each other.

PENALTY: Illegal Procedure - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage / Repeat the down.

PENALTY: Ineligible Receiver - 5 yards / line of scrimmage / Repeat the down.


Direct and shotgun snaps are legal and center must snap ball between legs. Ball must be caught cleanly and cannot touch the ground.

PENALTY: Illegal snap - 5 yard penalty from line of scrimmage / Repeat the down.  

Once the ball touches the ground, it is considered dead.

PENALTY: Ball is dead at spot where it hit the ground / Loss of Down.


Is the length of football on the line of scrimmage.


 Only 1 player is allowed in motion at a time and at the snap.  Example: Player A is in motion, resets… player B then goes in motion and the ball is snapped. This would be legal. Having both player A and B in motion at the same time, even if one sets before the snap is illegal.   Motion is player running parallel to or backward from the line of scrimmage.  Player cannot move forward until the ball is snapped. Player in motion can not start on the line of scrimmage and must be set up in the slot or the backfield.

PENALTY: Illegal procedure - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage line / Repeat the down.


You are allowed to: push with hands opened, use your upper arm, use your body as long as you are blocking your opponent between their shoulder and waist and body frame.  Blocker should make block inside their shoulder frame (cannot extend arms to the sides to make block).  2 on 1 blocking is allowed.

PENALTY: 10 yard / down over

PENALTY: Illegal use of hands - 10 yards from the spot of the foul / loss of down


Offensive holding (i.e. grabbing shirt, encircling defender)

PENALTY: 10 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage / Repeat the down.


Ball carriers are supposed to run the clear field.  Should the ball carrier run into a defensive player who has established position it is illegal and called runner charging.

PENALTY: Runner Charging - 10 yards from the spot of the foul / loss of down.

However, if defender has not established her position and both players are running then ball carrier is allowed to make inadvertent contact with defender with no penalty assessed.  Spins are allowed.  Ball carrier may also hurdle over downed players (to avoid contact /stepping over them).



The Spot of the ball will be where the ball is when the offensive player is de-flagged.


Stiff-arming is illegal. Ball carrier may not extend arms to thwart or push off defender.

PENALTY: Stiff-arming - 10 yards from the spot of the foul / loss of down.


Illegal use of ball carriers hand or arm to protect flag from being pulled.

PENALTY: Flag Guarding - 10 yards from spot / loss of down.


Defender will use two hands to "touch" runner within runner's body frame OR grab remaining flag.


At the time of the inadvertent whistle, the team with possession of the ball has the option of replaying the down or the result of the play.


Once the ball hits the ground, it is considered dead and there is no loss of possession.


Fumbles are dead at spot. This includes snaps over quarterback or punters head.


Batting is intentionally striking or stripping the ball with the hand or arm.  Stripping or batting of a held ball is illegal.  Defender is supposed to go for flag.  

PENALTY: Offense keeps possession of the ball plus 10 yards. Enforced from the spot of the foul.


Diving to advance the ball is legal. Diving to pull flag is legal.


The pass rusher can make an attempt at blocking the pass from the quarterback with one arm only.  The pass rusher should attempt to pull the player's flag however she is allowed to extend her arms in the air if she is jumping vertically, and not coming at the passer.  When the ball is "off' and the ball is thrown / in mid-air, the defender can react to the ball.  It is legal for a defender to inadvertently contact the passer if the ball was tipped in mid-air. It will be the referee’s discretion on whether the contact was inadvertent or unsportsmanlike.


It shall be roughing the quarterback if the ball is not tipped, and defender makes contact with the passer; the ball while in the passer’s hand; if the quarterback is tackled or if there is blatant incidental or unsportsmanlike conduct.

PENALTY: Automatic 1st down plus 15-yd. penalty. Penalty yardage added to any gain.


If ball is in passer’s hand when de-flagged, passer is down.  It does not matter if her arm is in motion.


One forward pass per down behind the line scrimmage. Once the ball crosses over the line of scrimmage, no forward pass may be thrown.

PENALTY: Illegal Forward Pass - 5 yard from scrimmage / loss of down.


It is illegal to avoid a sack by throwing the ball to an area where there are no receivers. In the last 2 minutes the quarterback is allowed to stop the clock by spiking the ball.

PENALTY: Intentional Grounding - 5 yards / loss of down.


Receiver needs to have one foot in bounds and possession or control of ball.


Inside the first 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, is an area where the defender and offensive player can chuck or push their opponent as many times as they can as long as:

PENALTY: Illegal Chucking - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage / Down is repeated.


When the ball is thrown, potential receivers should not have obstruction by opposing player. This means their vision should not be blocked and physical contact is illegal, even if it is inadvertent.  If both players jump up for the ball and inadvertently make contact, it is allowed and legal.  There is no face guarding and a defensive player must make a play for the ball.

OFFENSE PENALTY: (against the offensive team) 10 yd. penalty line of scrimmage / Loss of down.

DEFENSIVE PENALTY: (against the defensive team) Automatic 1st Down / Spot foul.  Offensive team will receive the ball where violation occurred.


There must be two defensive linewomen in a three-point stance. These two defensive players must have at least 50% of their bodies within the offensive guards but be no more than 50%  in front of the center (a defensive lineman may not line up directly in front of the center).



PENALTY: Enforced from the spot of the foul / Automatic 1st Down

PENALTY: 5 yards from the spot of the foul


This is a defensive penalty when any player is over the line scrimmage during snap.  Defensive line player may cross over the line of scrimmage before the snap as long as defender does not make contact with anyone on offensive team and must be behind the line of scrimmage at the snap.

PENALTY: Encroachment - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage / Repeat the down or decline penalty.


On a fourth down (or before then), should the offensive team decide that they do not want to run or pass for a first down, they may punt the ball to the opposing team to put them in better field position.  Captain declares to official that team will "punt" and teams will line up.

PUNTING TEAM - Punts are now declared a dead ball.  The offense has their 30 second play clock to decide if they are going to go for it or punt.  If they are going for it the play must be set up and ball snapped within the 30 second play clock as usual.  If it is declared a punt it is a dead ball and the game clock stops.  Teams then have 30 seconds from time of declaration to get set.  Game clock will start upon the punt of the ball.  Players no longer have to be in a 3 pt stance and the center no longer has to snap the ball between their legs.  The punter can just take the ball as we do in kickoff situations.  

PENALTY: Illegal procedure - 5 yards from line of scrimmage / Down repeated

Should the punter drop the ball, or if it goes over her head, where the ball hits the ground is where ball will be spotted for the receiving team.  First and ten.



PENALTY: Illegal fair catch signal / 5 yards from spot of catch.


TOUCHDOWN:  6 points

When any part of the ball, legally in possession of a player inside the sidelines, on, above, or over the opponent's goal line.

EXTRA POINTS:  1 or 2 points

After a touch down, the scoring team is allowed to attempt for extra points during one scrimmage down. They have a choice to either:

If the ball is intercepted during a 2-point try, it can be run back by the defensive team.

SAFETY:  2 points


Will result after a safety. Team who has scored safety will line up minimum of 5 players at 40 yard line (to receive kick), opposing team (who had just been scored against) lines up on the 20 yard line and then punts.


Are acceptable if the player celebrating does not taunt her opponent. Judgment of official.

PENALTY:         First offense - Official shall give verbal warning.

        Second offense - Unsportsmanlike conduct - 10 yard penalty assessed at kick-off.


If at end of second half the teams have identical scores the tie shall be resolved.


After 3 over time tie breaker attempts and tie still exists - Sudden Death will apply.


If a tie breaker is necessary - If teams have same power ranking for their league, then to determine placement of each team, the following rules will be employed. They are listed in priority:

  1. The winner from head-to-head match-up between teams during the regular season advances.  If teams play two games and split them (head-to-head W-L record is even) go to next tiebreaker.
  2. The team who has allowed least amount of defensive points scored advances.
  3. Team with higher differential number between total offensive points scored minus total defensive points advances.
  4. We have never had to use additional tie-breakers past the third breaker, but if ever necessary we will flip a coin to determine winner.


Play-offs are Single Elimination.

PENALTIES (clarified)


If penalties are called against both teams at the same time the penalties will cancel each other out and the down will be replayed from the previous line of scrimmage.


  1. Illegal forward pass: Passing the football when beyond the line of scrimmage -- Enforced from line of scrimmage/loss of down.
  2. Invalid fair catch: Running after a fair catch has been made or not properly waving for a fair catch.  -- Official shall blow whistle immediately to end play and receiving team will penalty at the spot of the catch.
  3. Delay of game: When the ball is not put into play within 30 seconds from when the official makes the ball ready by blowing his/her whistle. Any action that delays the game. -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  4. Putting ball in play before declared ready-for-play: Snapping the ball before the official blows his/her whistle.  -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  5. Infraction of a free kick formation: Lining up in the neutral zone for a free kick.
  6. Illegal snap: Not snapping the ball (between the center's legs) to a player behind the line of scrimmage. -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  7. Illegal formation -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  8. Illegal Procedure: Having 2 or more players in motion at the snap. -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  9. False start/simulating start of play: Offensive player illegally in motion at the snap. -- Enforced from line of scrimmage.
  10. Illegally handing ball forward (loss of down). -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  11. Intentionally grounding pass (loss of down). -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  12. Illegal shift: Having players "set" for less than a second. -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  13. Helping the runner: Pushing or pulling the runner forward. -- Spot foul.
  14. Illegal flag grab -- Enforced from line of scrimmage.


  1. Stiff arming -- Enforced from the spot of the foul / loss of down.
  2. Running into opponent (charging) -- Enforced from the spot of the foul / loss of down.
  3. Holding -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  4. Defensive holding -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  5. Flag guarding (loss of down) -- Enforced from the spot of the foul.
  6. Stopping the ball carrier's forward momentum (if not going for the flag) -- Enforced from the spot of the foul.
  7. Tripping -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  8. Offensive pass interference (loss of down) -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.
  9. Illegal block in the back: Hitting a player behind the back -- Enforced from the spot of the foul
  10. No contact is allowed on the kicker, holder and punter -- Enforced from the line of scrimmage.


These are personal fouls and will be assessed at scrimmage line.  They are very severe penalties which players will receive field penalties and will also be subjected to BWFFL Grievance Protest Committees (GPC).  If official believes player was malice and intentional in her actions: Player may be ejected immediately from that game, and also for her following game.  In these cases, officials will write a description and hand to league commissioner.  League commissioner may take additional action and will be forwarded to the GPC for further action.




1)  Accept the ball where it went out of bounds or

2)  5 yard penalty and re-kick


Offside - Offense or Defense (PENALTY - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.)

Illegal Snap (PENALTY – 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.)

Delay of Game (PENALTY - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.)

Illegal Motion (PENALTY - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.)

Illegal Formation (5 women not on the line) (PENALTY - 5 yards 'from the line of scrimmage.)

Note: The defensive may jump across the neutral zone and jump back with no penalty provided that they did not make contact with and offensive player and that the ball was not snapped while they were in the zone.  An offensive linewoman, once set, may not move until the ball is snapped. The term set is defined as a linewoman coming to a complete stop. Once motion has stopped, they cannot move until the ball is snapped.  Also, they must be "set" for 1 second prior to ball being snapped.


PENALTY - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage from the spot where the ball is declared dead after the kick.

PENALTY - 5 yards from the line of scrimmage from where the ball is declared dead after the kick.

PENALTY - 10 yards from the spot of the foul.






Protests cannot be made against an official's judgment call.  INTERPRETATION of rules (not the applications of rules) may be protested.  Protests must be made following disputed play and before the snap of the next play.

  1. Rule Interpretations will be handled on the field to avoid unnecessary delays and it is the head official who has the final "judgment".
  2. Protesting team will call a time-out after the play in question happens. If a time out is called at any other time, it is charged as a time out and the "incident" will not be discussed.
  3. Both the officials on the field will talk with "protestor". The "protestor" is required to state their "protest" clearly and concisely, stating which rule they believe to be interpreted incorrectly.
  4. The "protestor" has approximately five minutes to state the "protest" and the rule.
  5. The officials will then confer at their discretion to determine whether rule was interpreted properly.
  6. If the officials determine that the "protestor" was correct in their interpretation of the rule than the team will not be charged the time-out and the play will resume according to the correct interpretation.
  7. If the officials determine that they interpreted the rules correctly and no "protest" exists than the "protestor" will be charged the time-out and play will resume, as it would have prior to the time-out.


"Protestor/Protesting Team" or head coach must file a grievance as to the alleged misinterpretation of the rule or any other incidents during games (regular season or play-offs) within 30 days of the incident.

The grievance will be classified in one of three ways: