Roughly speaking, a flag football match can last up to an hour, though this will, of course, depend on how many players are taking part and how long each half is. There are generally two halves in a flag football game, each lasting around 20 to 30 minutes.
However, if one team is significantly ahead of the other, the game may be ended early to avoid an unfair victory. In addition, if the weather conditions are particularly bad, the game may be called off sooner than planned.
As newbies to flag football, you and your friends may ask, “how long are flag football games?” And so, to help you answer them, here’s a quick guide.
Flag Football – Timing and Periods
Flag football is an easy-to-understand game with simple rules and a short playing time. Although the game is not as popular as its full-contact counterpart, it has been slowly gaining popularity in recent years.
The game is played in two halves, each lasting around 30 minutes. Games in tournaments where several contests will occur over the course of a day are often reduced to halves of 10 to 15 minutes.
NFL Flag games tend to have 15- to 25-minute halves. See more NFL flag rules here.
Some leagues may have two quarters per half, and there is a small halftime break in between. The game clock is stopped whenever the ball carrier goes out of bounds, a pass is incomplete, or a player is injured. The clock runs again when play is restarted by the game officials.
There are generally three periods in a flag football game – first half, second half, and overtime (if necessary).
The First Half – How Does A Flag Football Game Start?
The first half of the game starts with a coin toss. The team that wins the toss gets to choose whether they want to receive or kick the ball. The other team gets the option to choose what end of the field they want to defend.
The game then starts with one team kicking the ball off to the other. Depending on the league set up the game may begin with the offensive team simply taking possession at a specified yard line. From there, the offense will try to advance the ball down the field while the defense tries to stop them.
Once the offense reaches the end zone, they score a touchdown, and the game restarts with a kickoff or the opposing offense takes possession at a specified yard line.
If the offense does not reach the end zone, they will have to punt the ball, attempt a field goal, or turn it over to the other team.
The Second Half – How Does Flag Football Game Proceed?
In the second half, the teams will switch sides, so the team kicking off in the first half will now receive the ball.
The game proceeds in the same way as the first half, with each team trying to score touchdowns and prevent their opponents from scoring.
If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, then overtime will be played.
Overtime – How Does A Flag Football Game End?
Overtime is played in a similar way to the regular game but with some slight changes. The team that wins the coin toss will have the option to receive or kick the ball or pick what goal line they want to defend.
From there, each team will have four downs to score a touchdown or gain as much yardage as possible. If both teams are still tied after each team has had a chance to possess the ball, then the teams will switch sides and start again.
This process will continue until one team scores or the time limit expires.
If neither team has scored after two overtime periods, then the game will be declared a tie.
Here, you can learn more about field lines and other flag football rules.
Flag Football – Playing Time and Timeouts
In a flag football game, there are multiple intervals and intermissions. As the game progresses, timeouts are called, and the clock is stopped.
Timeout – What Happens When Timeout Is Called In Flag Football?
A timeout is a brief break (usually 90 seconds) called by either team. Each team is allowed three timeouts per half, and they can use them at any time.
The timeout will stop the clock, and play will resume when the referee restarts the game.
How long do games last?
The answer to how long you can play flag football really depends on the league and the level of competition.
A flag football game will usually last around 1 to 1 1/2 hours. However, if the game is close or there are injuries or other delays, then the game could last closer to 2 hours.
Timeouts are generally used sparingly, as each team only has three per half. Intermissions are usually five to 10 minutes long at halftime and for a couple of minutes between quarters.
Vance J has played flag football since he was a boy. Since then, he has become a coach and a huge advocate for growing the sport. He loves to write and talk about flag football!