Youth Flag Football Coaching Tips


Although flag football is based on traditional football, the skill set is different because it revolves around flag pulling. This is of the utmost importance because pulling an opponent's flag is the only means of stopping him from advancing the ball. Youth flag football coaching has its challenges, but it can be rewarding to see the kids work hard and enjoy themselves.

Flag Pulling

  • Teach your players the "rake" technique. This consists of pulling the opposing player's flag belt, rather than the flag itself. This technique allows for more consistent flag pulling and provides the additional option of pulling the player's flag if you miss the belt on the first try. To practice flag pulling, have players line up in a single-file line–these will be the ball carriers. Set up a defender five to 10 yards in front of the line, facing the opposite direction–so he cannot see the ball carriers. Have the first ball carrier line run toward the defender and cut to the right of him. The defender's job is to pull the ball carrier's flag as quickly as possible. Have the next ball carrier repeat the process, but run to the left, and so on. Make sure everyone gets to be the defender. This drill forces the defender to develop muscle memory of the flag-grabbing motion so that he doesn't have to think about it before he pulls a opponent's flag.

Running The Ball

  • When coaching running backs, emphasize one thing: always run forward. Many youth flag football players tend to run horizontally to avoid defenders, and they lose yards in the process. Train your players to keep a north-south mentality when running the ball. Set up two long, parallel lines of cones about 10 yards apart. Have your players form a single-file line inside the cones, and have one player stand about 10 yards away, opposite of this line (this is your defender). Instruct the first player in the line to try to get past the defender without leaving the 10-yard-wide path you have constructed. Repeat with each player in the line, rotating defenders as needed. This drill trains players to dodge defenders using minimal lateral space.

Keep It Light

  • At the end of the day, every youth flag football coach must remember he is are coaching kids, not professional football players. Don't be too hard on them and be generous with water, rest, and encouraging words of advice; children tend to be easily discouraged when yelled at. Although the desire to win may be great, the point of a youth flag football league is to have fun, and your job as a coach is to ensure this happens.

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