While the game of soccer is king in most parts of the world, flag football is becoming popular around the globe thanks to its exciting fast pace and safety for participants.
Flag football is a variant of the American football game played in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. It uses a smaller, lighter ball than a traditional football, and players must pull flags off each other to stop them from scoring touchdowns.
In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about flag football played in the UK!
American Football In England
American football is not as popular in England as traditional football (soccer). However, it has been growing in popularity in recent years, with more people tuning in to watch NFL games on television and a growing number of amateur and semi-professional American football teams in the country.
The sport is also becoming more popular among young people, with more schools and universities in England offering American football as a sport – as well as more options to play flag football.
The NFL has played regular-season games in London’s Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since 2007, which has helped to increase the sport’s visibility and popularity in the country.
What Is Flag Football In UK, And How Is It Different From Traditional Football?
Flag football is a variation of the traditional game of football that is played without tackling. Instead of tackling, players attempt to remove the flag from the ball carrier. It is often seen as a safer alternative to tackle football, as it reduces the risk of injuries.
However, it can still be a physically demanding sport, and players need to be in good shape to compete. In addition to being a safer option, it also tends to be more affordable than tackle football, as it requires less equipment.
As a result, flag football in London and other areas in England is an increasingly popular option for those looking to play the sport at a recreational level.
Where Can I Play Flag Football?
There area many opportunities to play flag football in London and the UK.
1. Local Parks and Recreation Departments
Many local parks and recreation departments offer flag football leagues in the UK for both children and adults. Typically, these leagues are offered in the fall and spring months.
The YMCA also offers football leagues at many of its locations across the country. These leagues are typically offered for children, but some locations also offer leagues for adults. Check with your local Y to see if have flag leagues.
3. NFL Flag Football
It is a national program based in the USA that also offers football leagues for children ages 5-17 in England. The program is offered at select parks and recreation departments across the country. It is also open to primary and secondary schools in the UK.
4. Jag Tag
Invented by the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, this version of touch football is growing in popularity across schools in England. More than 300 schools in the UK have Jag Tag as part of their physical education curriculum and after-school programs.
5. Adult Recreational Leagues
There are also many adult recreational football leagues that are open to players of all skill levels. These leagues are typically offered through local parks and recreation departments or private organizations. Competitive adult teams from England have competed in world tournaments through USA Flag and the International Federation of American Football.
6. British American Football Association (BAFA)
The national governing body for American football in Great Britain offers a ton of resources and opportunities to play traditional and flag football in the UK. BAFA supports the Touchdown Football Programme, which provides teachers and school staff with knowledge and support to build a non-contact American flag football program for their school.
Brits who have played professional football in the NFL
There have been a number of British athletes who have played American football in the NFL. Here are a few examples:
Jay Ajayi: Born in London, Ajayi was a running back who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins. He was a Pro Bowler in 2016 and helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII in 2018.
Menelik Watson: Born in Manchester, Watson was an offensive tackle who played for the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos.
Lawrence Okoye: Born in Croydon, Okoye was a defensive end who played for the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, and other teams. He represented Great Britain in the discus throw at the 2012 London Olympics before transitioning to American football.
Efe Obada: Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Obada grew up in London, Obada is a defensive end who played for the Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Washington Commanders. He was the first player to go from the NFL’s International Player Pathway program to make a 53-man roster.
Christian Scotland-Williamson: Born in Harrow, London, Scotland-Williamson was a tight end who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He transitioned to American Football from Rugby Union.
Jack Crawford: Born in London, Crawford was a defensive end who played for the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons.
These are just a few examples, but there are many more British athletes who have played or are currently playing American football in the NFL, including Christian Wade with the Buffalo Bills, Jamie Gillan with the Cleveland Browns, and Jermaine Eluemunor with the Miami Dolphins.
What Are The Basic Rules Of Flag Football?
The basic rules of flag football played in the UK are similar to those of tackle football, with a few important exceptions.
1. The field of play is usually 50 to 100 yards long, with a 10-yard end zone at each end.
2. The game is played with two teams of 5 to 11 players each.
3. Each team has four downs (or plays) to advance the ball 10 yards down the field to gain a first down and keep possession. If the offense (the team with the ball) fails to gain 10 yards after four downs, they must turn the ball over to the defense.
4. To start each play, the offensive team must line up behind the line of scrimmage. The defensive team must not pass the line of scrimmage until the ball is put in play by the center snap.
5. Once the ball is snapped, all players on offense are eligible to receive a pass, run with the ball, or block for the runner.
6. A player may advance the ball by running with it or by passing it to another player. A pass is complete when a player of the same team catches it; if the ball hits the ground before it is caught, it is incomplete and the play is over. A pass may also be intercepted by the defense, turning the ball over the intercepting team.
7. A player may score points by carrying the ball into their opponent’s end zone (a touchdown) or by kicking the ball through their opponent’s goalposts (a field goal).
What Equipment Do You Need To Play Flag Football?
Flag football is a fun and relatively simple game that people of all ages can enjoy in the UK. The basic equipment needed to play flag is a football, a set of flags, and two teams of players. The game can be played on any surface, but a grassy field is ideal. Each team should have an equal number of players, and the teams should be clearly divided by a line or boundary.
The object of the game is to score points by carrying the ball into the end zone or by catching a pass in the end zone. Points can also be scored by kicking the ball through the uprights. It is a great way to stay active and have fun with friends or family. All you need is a little bit of space and some basic equipment, and you’re ready to play.
What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Playing Flag Football?
1. Not Establishing a Strong Grip
One of the most common mistakes people make when playing football is not establishing a strong grip on the flag. If you don’t have a firm grip on the flag, it’s very easy for an opposing player to run away without being downed. In order to ensure that you have a strong grip, make sure to wrap your fingers around the flag as tightly as possible.
2. Not Staying Low
Another common mistake people need to pay more attention to is staying low when they play. It’s important to remember that it is a game of speed and quickness, so you need to be as agile as possible. Staying low will help you be more agile and make it more difficult for the opposing team to take you down.
3. Not Keeping Your Eyes Up
A third common mistake people make is not keeping their eyes up when they play. It’s important to keep your head up so that you can see what’s happening on the field. If you’re constantly looking down, you’re likely to miss something important that could help your team win the game.
4. Not Communicating With Your Teammates
A fourth common mistake people make is not communicating with their teammates. Flag football is a team sport, so it’s important that everyone is on the same page. If you’re not communicating with your teammates, it’s very easy for things to get confused and for the opposing team to take advantage of the situation.
5. Not Being Aggressive Enough
A fifth common mistake people make is not being aggressive enough when they play. While it’s important to avoid penalties, you also need to be aggressive in order to win the game. If you need to be more aggressive, the opposing team is likely to take control of the game and eventually win.
6. Not Playing Smart
A sixth common mistake people make is not playing smart when they play. There are a lot of rules in flag football, so it’s important that you know all of them before you step onto the field. If you’re not playing smart, you’re likely to either get penalized or cause your team to lose the game.
7. Not Having Fun
Finally, one of the most common mistakes people make when playing football is not having fun. Flag football is a sport, so it should be enjoyable! If you’re not having fun, you’re likely to either get bored or start taking things too seriously and remember why you’re even playing in the first place.
In playing flag football, those are some of the most frequent errors that players commit. If you can keep yourself from doing these things, you’ll be well on your road to improving as a football player.
Flag Football Playing Tips To Help Improve Your Game
Flag football is a game of speed and quickness, so one of the best ways to improve your game is to work on your agility. One way to do this is by setting up cones in a zig-zag pattern and running through them as quickly as possible. Another way to improve your agility is by playing tag or another similar game with a friend or family member.
Here are some other tips:
1. Understand the objective
The first and most important tip is to understand the objective of the game. It seems simple, but so many people play without really knowing what they are trying to achieve. Once you know the objective, you can start to formulate a plan on how to achieve it.
2. Know the rules
Secondly, you need to know the rules inside out. This will give you a huge advantage over your opponents as you will be able to make moves that they are not expecting. It will also help you to avoid making illegal moves that could cost you the game.
Read our guide on flag football for beginners for more knowledge.
3. Choose the right equipment
Another important tip is to choose the right equipment. Having the right shorts, belt and flags, and padding can make a world a difference in how you feel and play.
4. Warm up properly
Before starting any game, it is essential that you warm up properly. A good warm-up will help to prevent injuries and improve your performance. It is also a good opportunity to practice some basic moves and get yourself into the right mindset for the game ahead.
5. Be aware of your surroundings
It is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times during a game, as this can give you a significant advantage. Knowing where your opponents are and what they are doing will help you to make better decisions and avoid being caught off guard.
6. Stay calm under pressure
One of the most important things in any game is to stay calm under pressure. If things start to go against you, it can be easy to panic and make rash decisions that could cost you the game. Learning to stay calm will help you to think more clearly and make better decisions when it matters most.
7. Practice, practice, practice!
Last but not least, the best way to improve your game is simply by practicing as much as possible. The more you play, the more experience you will gain and the better you will become at making strategic decisions and reading your opponents. So get out there and start playing!
1. Is American football played in the UK?
Yes, American football is played in the UK.
American football is a lot like rugby – players primarily use their hands and bodies to carry, pass, and tackle an oblong-shaped ball – and there is a lot of physical contact.
However, flag football is a much after option where hitting and tackling players are against the rules. It is a safer option for young people who want to learn the game before possibly advancing into tackle football.
There are many options to play flag football in the UK, including school programs, local rec organizations, and high-level tournaments for adults. Offerings include teams for girls and co-ed.
2. Do British schools have American football?
Yes, many British schools have American football teams. Football is a popular sport in the UK, and many students enjoy playing it.
3. Is there a UK NFL team?
There is no UK NFL team, but there is a London-based NFL team. The London-based NFL team is the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they play one home game per year in London.
The London Monarchs competed in the World Football League and NFL Europe in the 1990s.
4. What is the British version of American football?
The British version of American football is known as rugby. Rugby is a physical sport that involves two teams of fifteen players who try to score points by grounding the ball in the opponent’s territory or by kicking it over a crossbar between two upright posts.
Rugby is considered a more physical sport than American football, and it doesn’t have the same level of protection for players. This can lead to injuries, which is why rugby is not as popular in America as American football.
5. Can you play American football in London?
Yes, you can play American football in London. The NFL has hosted games in London since 2007, and the sport continues to grow in popularity there. In addition to the NFL, there are several amateur leagues that host games in London. So if you’re interested in playing American football in London, there are plenty of opportunities available.
Time To Enjoy Flag Football!
Flag football is a fun and exciting sport that anyone can enjoy. Whether you’re looking to play competitively in England or just for fun, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.
If you’re new to the game, be sure to brush up on the rules and strategies before heading out onto the field. And remember, practice makes perfect! With a little bit of effort, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time.
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!