Flag football is a fun and safe alternative to full-contact football. It’s a great sport to teach younger kids how to play the game without risk of injury, but that’s not all. In fact, there are a number of flag football leagues around the country, so even if kids never get into full-contact football, they can enjoy years of fun playing in flag football leagues.
Of course, as with any sport, there’s a lot of technique and strategy involved in flag football. If you want your players to improve – whether they’re young children, high school or college students, or you’re in an adult recreational league – check out some of these helpful youth flag football drills.
Basic One-on-One Flag Pulling
Pulling a player’s flags is one of the most essential skills for defensive players in flag football. It seems like an obvious and easy task, but it’s actually a lot more difficult than you might think, especially if a player hasn’t practiced pulling much before.
In this basic one-on-one drill, two players will stand opposite each other while you or another player stands slightly to the side. You or the other player will throw the ball to one of the two players participating in this drill. They will run toward the other player and try to get past them to a designated goal line.
The focus here is on the opposite player, whose goal will be to pull a flag from the player with the ball to stop them from making it to the goal line. This will teach that player to start in an athletic stance, to move dynamically, and to read the opposing player’s movements so that they can more easily grab the flag and stop them.
Two-on-One Flag Pulling
You can also modify this drill to have two defenders trying to pull the flag from the player with the ball. In this variation, you’ll focus more on the offensive player, a this is a good drill for them to work on their dynamic movement and anticipating where the defender will go to try to stop them.
Another big issue for flag football players is fumbling the ball on handoffs. For this drill, set up four cones in a long rectangle and divide your team into two groups. Send the two groups to opposite ends of the rectangle with each group standing in a line. The first person in line on one side will hold the football and run to the other line to hand it off to the first player in line there before moving to the back of the line at that end of the rectangle. The ball will be passed back and forth from one end of the rectangle to the other until you decide that your players have drilled enough and that they’re holding onto the ball and passing it more stably.
Using cones or lines on the field, set up an area of play. Divide your team up into players and defenders. At first you’ll want more players than defenders, and you can even start with just one defender. Have the players run the length of the field of play, trying not to get their flags pulled by the defenders. Whenever a player gets his or her flag pulled, he or she becomes a defender. The players will continue to try to run across the field, evading the defenders, until all of the players have been turned into defenders. Then you can move on to another drill or start over.
These four drills work on speed, agility, and dynamics, as well as dexterity. Try them out with your team and see how much better they perform in their next game.