Flag football is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and for good reason. It’s fun, action packed, inexpensive, and relatively safe to play. For kids learning the game of football, flag offers a non-contact alternative where they can discover how things work and hone their skills, without parents worrying about doctor visits. Here are some flag football tips that make players better.
Getting Your Hands on the Flag
Grabbing the flag is the aim of a defense in flag football. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done, especially when the ball carrier is doing their best to make sure you can’t get your hands on it. Here’s a tip that will make grabbing the flag easier. Don’t aim for the flag.
While that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it’s easier to grab the flag if you aim for the flag belt instead. The belt is always around the ball carrier’s waist, so even if they spin, the belt stays relatively stationary as far as an aiming point’s concerned. The flag moves much more than the flag belt. Aim for the belt, then grab where the belt and flag intersect. You’ve got a much better chance than trying to grasp that swirling flag end.
QB Containment Tip
The QB is one of the most dynamic offensive players on a flag football team. Keeping them contained is one of the keys to an effective defense. For pass rushers, quickness, speed and breakdown of the essence.
When confronting the QB as a rusher, break down and force the QB to choose a direction to avoid the rush. If you’re positioned correctly, you can make sure that they have to choose fast, or throw before they want to. When the defense is using a single pass rushing scheme, the key is forcing the QB to move to the side away from his throwing arm. That will create a much more difficult throw.
If they throw early it gives the linebackers and DBs a much better chance to intercept the ball or break up the pass. If they don’t the pass rusher has a better flag grab opportunity. Either way, you’ve disrupted the play, and hopefully made the offense waste a valuable down.
Play Through the Whistle
Just as in tackle football, flag demands playing through the whistle. In flag, it may be even more important, since it is so difficult for the runner to know when the flag’s been pulled. In tackle, the runner knows when they’re down for the most part. In a flag contest, defenders are always grabbing for the flag and contacting the runner’s waist area. The flag may not be off however, so don’t stop moving. If there’s no tweet, your legs should still be moving!
Fakes Freeze the D
A QB pump fake can freeze the defense and give receivers a free step, especially if the offense has made them respect the pass. If they haven’t, the defense won’t bite on the fake, but it still makes them think. That mental pause could be all the offense needs to make a play.
The pump fake can be effective on a QB scramble. As the QB rolls, the linebacker comes up to make the play. A fake toward a receiver freezes the linebacker just enough to bleed a little speed, while the QB just accelerates by, flags still attached, for a nice gain. Establishing the passing game so the defense respects it is essential for the fake to work consistently, though.
It’s Not All About Length
Tip: Look at short. Short can be a beautiful thing, especially when it comes to a passing game. Using the short passing game like a running game extension can be highly effective. Long passes can make wonderful highlights, but also have the ball ending up in opponents hands, instead of the end zone.
Unless your QB and receivers are highly talented and well-practiced, long passing plays can fall short on the risk / reward ratio. Teams loaded with ex-high school starters, elite 7v7 travelling team players, or talented and experienced flag players can pull this off. Often however, the lure of the deep ball seduces those without the athletes or practice to pull it off on a regular basis.
Instead, focus mostly on short pass plays and moving the ball consistently. It often produces more where it matters; on the scoreboard! If it turns out you have the team makeup to hit the long ball consistently, work it in to your playbook.
Flag football is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors, competition, and a team atmosphere. It’s a fantastic activity for those yearning to taste football again, or for the first time. Use these tips to improve your game. Stay safe, and we’ll see you on the field!