The first full week of June is National Flag Football Week, which celebrates a safer alternative to traditional tackle football. If your child is excited to play flag football, a few practice drills can help improve their skills and excel in the sport while having fun at home. Head out to the backyard or a nearby park and try these six basic flag football drills!
Consider this first drill a warm-up. Stand facing your child and throw a football back and forth. Start a few feet apart and take a step back after each throw. Continue moving apart until one of you drops the ball. Then, return to the starting position and begin the drill again. Aim to complete a certain number of catches or reach a certain distance apart before moving on.
To work on passing accuracy, set up cones or other markers at different distances and angles. The player will attempt to throw the football and knock each of the cones over. As your child’s skills improve, try challenging them to throw the ball at a cone while running backwards or sideways.
Routes help young flag football players feel more comfortable during a game. Here are two simple route-running drills to try:
At first, parents can have their child practice running the route without a ball in play. It may be helpful to set up cones or other markers to signal when to turn around or change directions. Once your child understands the route, you can throw a football into the mix.
To work on agility and footwork, set up three cones or other markers in a straight line about five yards apart. The player sprints to the first cone and runs a complete circle around it, keeping their feet and body facing forward. Then, they sprint to the second cone, followed by the third cone, using the same forward-facing technique each time.
After circling the last cone, turn around and repeat the drill coming back. Have the player run around the cones in the opposite direction this time.
The ability to pull an opponent’s flag is an important skill every flag football player must develop. To help teach this skill, we use a drill called “The Gauntlet.” For this drill, you will need to set up a small football field about 10 yards long and 5 yards wide. Players will start on opposite ends of the field so they are roughly 10 yards apart. Have your child play defense first. The offensive player will run within the cones to try and get past the defensive player. The defensive player has to try and grab the player’s flags.
This drill is important for developing coordination skills. If you have more than two people willing to participate at home, you can line up more than one offensive player. Once the flags on the first player are pulled, send the next one immediately. Be sure to switch roles so your athlete gets to practice offensive and defensive techniques. Please note, if you don’t have a flag belt at home, you can tuck towels or grocery bags into the players’ shorts.
Flag football players should practice performing a clean handoff without dropping the ball. To run this drill, first set up two cones in a straight line about 5-10 yards apart. The player on one side holds the ball. Both players begin running toward the opposite cone at the same time. When the players meet in the middle, the ball is handed off as they continue to run to the opposite cone and to the back of the line. As they hand the ball off, it’s important to remember the proper technique of placing the ball into the recipient’s cradled arms rather than having the recipient reach out with their hands and grab it. This could be done with as few as two people or as many players as you want. Make sure every player gets a chance at each cone. As the players’ skills develop, you can choose to move the cones further away.
If you’re still looking for a flag football league for your child to join, consider i9 Sports®®. We are proud to be a leader in raising awareness about safety in youth sports. That’s why we offer flag football to benefit the players learning the game with less risk of injury. Our age-appropriate programs include one-day-a-week classes that fit into your family’s busy schedule. We also emphasize good sportsmanship both on the field and in everyday life. To us, this is The Way Youth Sports Should Be®!