Gloves are optional in flag football, but should they be?
| 4 min read
Spoiler alert: This isn’t an article about whether your kid actually needs gloves for flag football. That’s because Dwight Braswell – a long-time NFL Flag football coach in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and founder of Flag Football with Coach D — makes the case for gloves no matter what (even though they’re optional.)
Why? Because when playing flag football, any athlete on the offense, from wide receiver to running back to the center, is an eligible receiver — and gloves “are like having a little double-sided tape on your hands,” says Braswell. “They make the ball stick to your hands. They make it easier to catch. They give players little wins.”
You may be thinking, “Wait, what if my kid’s not playing offense?”
First off, in youth sports, coaches often shift kids between positions to help them get the feel for the game, so Braswell says kids should strap on a pair of gloves every game — and it’s best if they’re not removing them between plays.
The one semi-exception to his recommendation is kids who play quarterback. “When it comes to quarterbacks, it’s a matter of personal preference,” Braswell says, adding that some kids find the grip to be too much when it comes time to pass the ball. “I had some kids who always wore them on their throwing hand, though.” Peyton Manning always wears gloves, he notes, so they certainly don’t hinder a quarterback who likes the feel. “But if it’s a distraction,” he says, “take it off.”
He also says that, though some defensive players claim it’s harder to pull flags with gloves on, but in all his years of coaching, he can count on one hand the players who felt this way.
You want to get your kid a pair of gloves that fit like, well, a glove.
“If your gloves are too big, it works against you,” Braswell says. In other words, don’t assume you can put your rookie 6-year-old in his older sibling’s hand-me-down gloves if they’re a size too big.
Braswell recommends going to a sporting goods store with an ample selection. Find a design your athlete likes, and a color they love. “You want to see where the kid lights up because they found the pair, like when Iron Man pushes the button and his suit just comes together.”
When your child tries on the gloves, make sure you can’t pinch extra material at the top of your fingertips, he advises, and also make sure they’re not too tight when you strap the bottom. (Note, though, that he loves EliteTek’s gloves, which don’t use a strap.)
One more tip? Don’t try to substitute a baseball batting glove, or golf gloves, for football ones. “Sports are equipment specific,” he says.
Some kids might take to gloves right away but a lot of kids will balk at new equipment.
Braswell says rather than emphasize gloves (or any equipment) as something your child has to wear, show them a visual of a favorite player, footballer or not.
“I say, ‘Look, they’re complete,’” he says. “They’re tucked in, their cleats on, look at those gloves.”
Then, get them used to the gloves. Play catch with your child, and get them to notice how often they’re able to make catches. Have them wear the gloves when you go on errands or just for play, until they start to feel natural. (This also helps break the gloves in.)
If they wear the gloves to both practice and games and start racking up small wins, they’ll never want to leave their gloves off.
“It’s a mindset thing,” he says. “Just because something is a little uncomfortable at first, when you break through, there’s good on the other side.”
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