Flag Football, A Safer Alternative To Learning American Football?
The National Football League brings in more revenue than any of the other major sports. The NCAA is also thought to make billions of dollars from College Football, so it's safe to say people love football.
For decades, young students learned to play through pop warner contact football leagues, but the rising concern of injuries, like CTE, has led to an interesting conversation. If full grown adults suffer these injuries, what problems may arise from children who haven't developed fully? The debate amongst sports lovers is "would you let your child play tackle football?".
This is where flag football comes in. The same skills needed compete in contact football are still learned but in a safer environment. Offensive skills like route running, handoffs, throwing, catching, and eluding defenders are valuable in any league. Defensive skills like where and how to line up, defensive angles, and breaking down before tackling are easier to learn if a player doesn't have to also worry about tackle form.
I have learned coaching youth for several years that you may tell them a hundred times how to do a task, but they don't usually get it the first time. Tackling is something that you can mess up once and it will still have lingering effects in the future.
In flag football, the defender can't run full speed at the player to stop the ball. To tackle, they have to have their head up, position themselves at the right angle to first slow the runner down, gather their feet, locate the ballcarrier's flag and pull. There is a certain finesse to it and learning how is important because the first three steps are not only the same in tackle football, but are imperative to bringing the runner down safely.
On offense, players have to make every effort to avoid a defender. This means they can't run them over, they have to make an effort to avoid contact. They also can't defend their flag with their hands, ball, or in any other way that would create a barrier between their flag and the defender. This is important because the offender has to use speed, agility, and elusiveness to avoid being brought down, as opposed to brute force. Those same skills will translate to tackle football or any other sport.
We teach children ages 5-12 the fundamentals of football and give them a foundation to take with them into tackle football, if they wish. This is not a knock on youth tackle football organizations, parents that allow younger players to play tackle football, or anyone else who disagrees. There are tons of tackle football organizations teching tackle for the correct way, and it is usually the parent fulfilling their child's desire to play tackle football. We believe playing flag football gives children an opportunity to learn skills that will translate to any sport, in a fun and safe environment.