So you are a coach and want to improve your flag football team’s performance? Or are you just starting out and want to ensure you have a team that plays well and has fun?
Either way, there are some flag football lessons that every coach should know. And this post is here to share them with you!
Flag football is a lot like American football, except that instead of tackling players to the ground, you simply remove their flags from their belts. This makes it a safer and more fun sport for kids to play.
But that doesn’t mean coaching flag football is easier than coaching tackle football. In fact, it might even be more difficult because there are so many different strategies and plays that you can run.
So, let’s get into the field and learn some flag football lessons, shall we? And after finishing this article, make sure to check out our flag football beginner’s guide.
5 Basic Youth Flag Football Lessons
When you are coaching your team for the first time, you first need to teach them the basics of the sport.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but we suggest you always start with the gameplay and drills themselves before moving on to more complex plays and strategies. After all, if your players don’t know how to play the game, there is no point in teaching them complicated plays.
And playing the game also evokes a sense of fun, curiosity, and camaraderie among teammates, which is essential for any team sport. So make sure your players are having fun while learning the game.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to some basic flag football lessons that you can use to improve your team’s performance.
Get ahead!: Flag football playbooks that win big
Lesson 1 – Running With The Ball
Flag football isn’t just a sport of passing the ball around. Don’t forget this. In fact, your player must be able to demonstrate the proper way of running with the ball to drive the field and score touchdowns.
For example, when a player is carrying the ball, they should be holding it close to their body with two hands, tucking it under their arm, and keeping their fingers spread wide apart. This will help them protect the ball from being knocked away by defenders.
Players should also keep their heads up while running so they can see the field and their teammates. And finally, they should pump their arms and legs to generate speed.
To help achieve these objectives, gather your team on the field, and practice this drill with them.
For this drill, have your players line up behind each other in a single file. They should wear their belts and flags for the duration of the drill.
When you say “go,” the first player in line will start running down the field while carrying the ball. The rest of the players will follow behind them, single file.
After the first player has run for a few yards, they will pass the ball to the second player in line, who will continue running with it. This will continue until all the players have had a turn carrying the ball.
After everyone has had a turn, have the players line up and do the drill again, passing the ball to the player in front of them instead of behind them.
Doing this drill will not only teach your players how to properly carry the ball, but it will also help them learn how to pass and pitch it to their teammates.
To make it difficult, you can assign some players as defense, and they can try to knock the flags off the players carrying the ball. Teach players to move and cut to keep their flags out of reach of defenders.
After your players have mastered this basic drill, you can move on to more complex drills involving passing and catching the ball.
Lesson 2 – Passing The Ball
In flag football, the quarterback is responsible for passing the ball to their teammates. But before they can do that, they must learn how to hold and throw the ball properly.
Have your players line up behind each other, single file. Facing the line, 10 yards away, is the quarterback.
The QB throws to the first in line, who catches the ball and runs it back to the quarterback. This is repeated until all players have caught and run with the ball.
When the players have each had a turn, they should line up again. This time you can move the quarterback back five or 10 yards to make the pass and catch more challenging.
Read the section on catching below for more ways the QB can hone their passing skills.
Lesson 3 – Catching The Ball
In flag football, the receiver is responsible for catching the ball thrown to them by the quarterback. But before they can do that, they must learn how to hold and catch the ball properly.
Gather your team on the field, and practice this drill with them.
In this exercise, the receiver will line up outside as they would in a typical football alignment. The first time around, all will run the same route from a traditional football route tree.
To start, it could be a simple crossing pattern. You can then advance to more sophisticated fly, post, and flag routes that provide greater catching challenges for your receivers.
This drill will not only teach your players how to catch the ball properly, but it will also help them learn how to run with it the right way.
Lesson 4 – Defense
In flag football, players must learn how to “flag the tag.” This means that they need to remove the flag from the belt of the player who is carrying the ball.
You can also modify the above three drills for this purpose.
You can also create a separate drill for this purpose. For instance, you can have two lines of players facing each other. The first player from each line will then run toward each other and try to flag the tag of the other player.
A few tips for pulling the flag include:
- Keep eyes on the hips of the ball carrier, extend your arm out to the side of the body, use one hand to target a flag, and pull quickly.
- While pulling, the aim should be on the base of the flag near the belt, and not just to grab at the flag. This will help ensure that the player gets a good grip on the flag.
- Finally, no player should pull the ball carrier’s jersey at any time. This is considered a personal foul and will result in a penalty.
Sound fundamentals and defensive strategies can be a big difference in wins and losses for young teams.
Lesson 5 – Scoring A Touchdown
The most important thing in flag football is to score touchdowns. This can be done by either running the ball into the end zone or throwing it to a receiver.
The players must avoid getting their flags pulled. If the flag is pulled by a defender, the play will be stopped, and they will not score a touchdown.
Players must practice both running and passing the ball so that they can excel in any game situation.
The best way to practice for touchdowns is to divide your players into two teams and have them play a game where you interject with instruction. In the end, the team that scores the most touchdowns wins the game.
You can also create a drill where the field of play will have different designated zones of the field (1 point, 2 points, 3 points, end zone – 6 points). This will help your players practice running or passing the ball into the different zones to score points.
Another way to score points is by conversion. This can be done by kicking the ball through the uprights (1 point) or running or passing (2 points).
Your players will need to practice both ways of scoring so that they can be prepared for either situation.
Demonstrate the rules of touchdown and scoring to your players. Then, have them practice in a game situation.
Rules For Touchdown And Scoring:
In flag football, a touchdown is worth six points. After scoring a touchdown, the team can elect to kick an extra point or go for a two-point conversion.
If the team decides to kick an extra point, the kicker will need to kick the ball through the uprights. The kick is worth one point.
If the team decides to go for a two-point conversion, they will need to either run or pass the ball into the end zone. If they are successful, they will be awarded two points. If they fail, they will not get any points.
Special Lessons For Flag Football
A strong team isn’t the one with the best players. It’s the one with the players that work best together.
Flag football requires each player to trust their teammates, as well as themselves.
For a team to be successful, all players need to understand their roles and how they contribute to the team. In addition, great collaboration and communication among the team will result in better performance on the field.
Encourage your players to work together and communicate with each other. This will help them build trust and cohesion, which are essential for any successful team.
It is also important for the players to understand their roles and also their responsibilities depending on their position on the field.
Following are some special lessons and drills for specific positions.
A good quarterback needs to be quick, smart, and consistent.
Quarterbacks need to be able to make quick decisions and know when to pass or run the ball. They also need to be able to control the team and be a good leader.
Encourage your players to practice their passing so that they can become more accurate. Also, work on their speed and agility so that they can be more elusive when running with the ball.
In addition, quarterbacks need to be able to read the defense and know where the open receivers are. They should also be aware of the defenders so to avoid interceptions and turnovers.
Drills for Quarterback:
Snapping and Throwing – The quarterback will need to take a snap from the center, then quickly drop back and pass the ball to a receiver. The QB must learn to operate while taking the ball from a traditional snap and a shotgun snap.
Dropping back – The QB must learn to perfect their dropback by throwing the ball precisely on 1, 3, and 5 steps back. Getting the ball out on time will allow receivers to run after the catch and avoid quarterback sacks.
Passing and Catching – Have the quarterbacks throw passes to the receivers while running routes. The receivers should try to catch the ball while they are moving.
Running and Passing – The quarterbacks should practice running with the ball while avoiding defenders. They can also practice passing the ball to the receivers while on the run.
Check out more flag football quarterback drills.
The center is responsible for snapping the ball to the quarterback on each play. Therefore, they need to be able to snap the ball quickly and accurately when the quarterback is both directly under center and in the shotgun formation.
In addition, centers need to be able to block the defenders so that the quarterback has time to throw the ball. They should also be able to block for the running backs so that they can run with the ball.
Under some rules, the center may also be eligible to catch passes from the QB.
Drills for Center:
Blocking – The center will need to practice blocking the defenders. They should use their body to keep the defender from getting through and tackle them.
Snapping – The center will need to snap the ball to the quarterback promptly, then quickly block the defender.
Running Back (RB)
Running backs need to be able to run quickly and elusively. They should also be able to catch the ball when it is thrown at them.
Additionally, blocking for the quarterback is also one of the responsibilities of a running back.
Drills for Running Back:
2-Step Handoff Drill – The running back will start in a stance behind the quarterback. The quarterback takes two steps backward and hands off the ball to the running back, who should then run with it.
3-Step Handoff Drill – The same as the 2-step handoff drill, but the quarterback will take three steps before handing off the ball to the running back.
Fake Handoff Drills – The quarterback will fake a handoff to the running back, and the running back should act like they are taking the ball. The quarterback can then pass the ball to a receiver or run with it.
You can use cones to help running backs learn to cut quickly to avoid defenders and protect the ball.
Wide Receiver (WR)
Wide receivers need to be able to run fast and catch the ball when it is thrown at them. They should also be able to run routes effectively and find open areas on the field.
The drills for wide receivers depend upon the routes that they will be running.
Relay race, snake run, and zig-zag run are some of the drills that can be used to improve the speed and agility of wide receivers.
Drills for Wide Receiver:
Running Routes – The wide receiver will need to run the route that they are assigned. They should start at the line of scrimmage and run their route while avoiding defenders. There are several routes you can use to test your wideouts, including slants, comebacks, wheel routes, digs, and more.
Your Responsibilities As A Flag Football Coach
As a coach, you will be responsible for teaching the players the plays and helping them to understand the strategies. You will also need to help them to improve their skills and techniques. In addition, you will need to motivate the players and keep them focused on the game.
You must also ensure that the players are following the rules and regulations of the game. If they are not, you will need to take appropriate action.
Finally, you will need to be prepared for each game by creating a game plan. This plan should include the plays that you want to run, as well as the strategies that you want to use.
Learn more: Best flag football coaching books
Flag Football – Theory, Demonstration, Practice!
The basic mantra to teach your players anything is “theory, demonstration, practice.”
You will first need to explain the concept or theory to the players. Once they understand the theory, you will need to demonstrate it to them. After that, they will need to practice it so that they can master it.
And that’s it! If you follow this simple process, you can teach your players anything they need to know about the game of football. So, get your team on the field and start coaching!
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!