More kids are playing flag football these days than ever before. It’s easy to see why—flag football is exciting, inclusive, and incredibly fun. It’s also perfect for families who want their young athletes to play football with a lower risk of injury than the traditional tackle version. If you’re new to the game, brush up on the basic rules of flag football before signing up your child for a local youth sports league.
Kids of all abilities can learn how to play flag football. No specific build, skill set, or prior experience is required. Both boys and girls from 4 to 17 years old can join a youth flag football league through i9 Sports®®.
Every game begins with a coin toss to determine who starts with the ball (there are no kickoffs). Games last 30 to 50 minutes, divided into two 15- or 25-minute halves. The clock only stops for timeouts, injuries, and halftime.
When playing in our most common format, 5 v 5, the offensive team begins on its 5-yard line and has four plays to cross the midfield for a first down. If the players fail to advance the ball after three downs, they can either punt (turn the ball over to the opposing team, which starts from its own 5-yard line) or attempt a fourth down. If the offense still fails to cross midfield, the opposing team takes possession of the ball from this spot.
If the offense succeeds in crossing midfield, they have three remaining downs to score a point. Touchdowns are worth six points, and safeties are worth two points.
While there are several differences between tackle and flag football, the most important one is that there’s no contact allowed. Instead of physically tackling the ball-carrier, players attempt to remove one or both flags that hang from a belt around the ball-carrier’s waist. There’s also no diving, blocking, screening, or fumbles in flag football.
While most youth sports leagues follow the same basic flag football rules, many different versions of the game exist. One important consideration is team size. Youth leagues typically compete with 5-on-5 or 7-on-7, with up to 12 players allowed per team. Team sizes vary by region and age group. To accommodate smaller team sizes, a flag football field is shorter than a tackle football field, measuring 30 yards wide and 70 yards long.
Understanding the most common flag football terms makes watching the game that much more fun! Here’s what to know:
Most of the same positions you know from tackle football are found in flag football. Here’s a breakdown of each one:
Is your son or daughter interested in playing flag football? If so, i9 Sports® is the youth sports league for you! We provide age-appropriate flag football instruction, fun for kids, and one-day-a-week classes to cater to busy families. With a presence in 1,000 communities across the United States, you’re bound to find an i9 Sports® office near you. Reach out to us today!