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NFL FLAG football is about fun and fundamentals

Amy Mills Tue, 07/30/2013 - 12:07pm

Flag football gives every child the chance to be an impact player.


Kids of all sizes are throwing and catching the ball, making interceptions, pulling flags on defense and running for 50-yard touchdowns – all while having a good time, making friends, getting exercise and having fun.


In 2012, about 210,000 players age 5 to 17 participated in NFL FLAG powered by USA Football and enjoyed the many benefits of the sport.


Along with being a fun and exciting sport that can be played year round, children learn football skills while understanding the importance of maintaining good form and footwork.


“Kids benefit from playing NFL FLAG football in many ways,” said Sam Rapoport, USA Football director of football development. “They learn the fundamentals of the sport and compete with other players who love the game as much as they do. It’s great exercise. It’s fun. And kids get to wear authentic NFL team jerseys while doing it.”


NFL FLAG teams typically consist of eight to 10 players in a 5-on-5 playing format. This gives everyone a chance to get on the field in order to develop and grow their games.


“In one flag football game, they are going to get many more touches compared to tackle football,” said Rob Patterson, a flag football coach with The Farm League in Houston. “It teaches the kids the proper way to run a route and what happens when everyone does their job at the right time.”


Flag football is a non-contact sport but requires the same focus and concentration as the tackle game on every play.


NFL FLAG is a fast-paced, exciting game.


Wide receivers and defensive backs use the same skills in the flag game as in tackle.


“Defensive backs playing flag football have to read the route, keep an eye on the quarterback and think about the coverage. They need to know man-to-man, one safety or two safety coverage,” Patterson said.


Quarterbacks learn how to make independent decisions and call plays at the line of scrimmage. The quarterback can’t run, so coaches teach them how to be smart with the football and create opportunities for their teammates.


Self-reliance and leadership skills are gained in small-group settings.


“Children can really flourish and become a lot more confident,” Patterson said. “They see that they can go into the huddle and participate before the snap occurs.”


Friendships are also formed, and teams can play together year after year.


“Everybody that plays always has a positive experience,” Patterson said. “This is a sport that they can continue to play on a college campus.”


Las Vegas Sports League girls flag football coach Sheldon McArthur said that the sport is about learning life lessons.


“Flag football is about girls learning another sport, traveling to different areas for competition and getting the benefits of self-esteem and team camaraderie,” McArthur said.


McArthur’s league is entering its fourth season affiliated with the NFL FLAG program.


“The people involved with the NFL FLAG program do an incredible job,” McArthur said. “The resources are there, including: coaching certification, player development tools, background checks, league insurance, health and safety and fundraising.


“Everything about the program is central and easy-to-handle. They take a lot of the leg work out of it.”


The rules are designed to keep children playing every year.


“I encourage those interested to come to a practice and watch,” McArthur said. “Go to www.nflflag.com and find a league. Children who try flag football say they love it.”