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Nov, 2022

TACKLE FOOTBALL VS FLAG FOOTBALL

For some kids, flag football is a great way to test the waters first before deciding whether they want to play tackle football. They can develop their technical skills without the intimidating physical contact. Flag football is an inclusive sport and opens the doors to many players, including female athletes.  In fact, women's flag football is on track to become a sanctioned college sport.

However, many athletes still choose the tackle football route. Even though participation has dropped slightly, football is the most popular sport among high school boys, with over 1 million participants. And then, of course, there are families that let their children play both.

Every family’s situation is unique. The best way to make your decision is to analyze the data, interpret it based on your child’s needs, and then choose the right option for your family. To make it easier for you, we outlined the biggest differences between tackle football and flag football.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TACKLE FOOTBALL VS FLAG FOOTBALL?

The most notable difference between flag football and tackle football is, well, tackling. In flag football, contact is not permitted. Players wear flags and defenders are tasked with removing the flags in order to “tackle” their opponent. If the ball carrier can reach the goal line with both flags intact, he or she scores. That being said, you will find some forms of flag football that allow blocking; however, NFL FLAG is strictly non-contact. 

Here are a few other key differences: 

  • Number of players on the field: In general, there are fewer players on the field in flag football. The most common youth flag football leagues are 5 on 5 and 7 on 7. The field is also shorter to accommodate the smaller team size.  

  • Faster pace: Without tackling, flag football games are much faster paced. Think about it: less timeouts, no kick offs, less stoppage time— kids are flying out there. And as a result, the games are shorter than tackle football as well (usually an hour or less). 

  • Rules: To eliminate contact, you’ll find many differences between tackle football and flag football rules. For example, quarterbacks aren’t allowed to run with the ball in flag football. Diving, blocking, screening and fumbles aren’t allowed—once the ball hits the ground, it’s dead. See the complete list of flag football rules here.

THE RISE OF FLAG FOOTBALL

Flag football is taking off. The number of 6-to-12-year-olds playing has increased by 38 percent, to more than 1.5 million, since 2015. And for a good reason—not only does it help youth players learn football fundamentals in a competitive environment, but it also teaches the value of teamwork and leadership.

The Aspen Institute created an extensive white paper on the benefits of youth flag football, noting: “We suspect that flag football could prepare children for the world ahead no less readily than tackle football, and other sports, especially if delivered by coaches trained to work with youth.” 

Because of its fast pace, flag football is physically demanding and can significantly improve cardiovascular endurance. It also helps with hand-eye coordination, strength, and agility.