Flag football coaches don’t need a whole lot of gear to get started
| 3 min read
Asking Patrick Williams about coaching flag football is like asking Tom Brady how to throw a pass. Williams has been coaching for more than 15 years, working with 4-year-olds to high schoolers and every age in between. He’s also the commissioner for 13 NFL Flag football leagues in Southern California.
Needless to say, Williams knows the game – which is why we asked him about the practice essentials for new flag football coaches.
This one seems like a no-brainer. But heads up — footballs come in different sizes, just like soccer balls. Make sure you get the right size for your age group. Kids 9 and under use a size 5, while 14 and over use an official ball, size 9.
All players wear a belt with two flags. In flag football, there is no contact – a.k.a. no tackling. A play is dead when a defensive player pulls a flag off their opponent’s belt. (Most NFL Flag leagues will provide belts and flags as part of registration.)
These are essential for creating boundaries on the field and setting up drills. Williams does a fun one called “Jukes for Days” where he sets up a rectangle with cones. Two players go 1 v 1 within the rectangle to see if they can score or stop the play. “It gets them warmed up and it also helps them with their reflexes,” says Williams.
An agility ladder is used in a number of drills to help with key skills on the flag football field: quick feet, fast reflexes, and – you guessed it – agility. Bonus: kids think they’re fun.
Some coaches use whistles — but you’ve already got something just as effective. Williams prefers that his players listen to his voice at all times — for good reason. “There might be multiple games going on, on other fields,” he explains. “If my kids stop when they hear a whistle, it might be a whistle from the other field.”
This is key, coaches. A typical flag football practice plan starts with 10 minutes or so of warmups, followed by a few activities that work on different flag football skills — from passing to man-to-man and zone defense — and then everyone’s favorite: scrimmage. Scrimmaging is a great way to practice skills and flex those competitive muscles. Plus, it’s plain fun.
Williams keeps it simple. “That’s about all you really need for practice,” he says. “If you use more than that, you’re going a little overboard.”
And don’t forget what really matters – kids getting outside and having a blast.
For more flag football practice basics, check out: