Keep it snug for success
| 3 min read
Ah, the flag belt. Really, it’s the heart of flag football. In lieu of a tackle, a pulled flag shuts down a play. Putting on a flag belt may seem simple, but there are a couple key points to know — for both players and coaches.
Flag belts come in two styles, one-piece or multi-piece. A one-piece belt has the three flags sewed onto the belt — either in place or looped so the flags can slide along the belt. The belt stays on the player with a clasp that releases when a flag is pulled. Then, the entire belt comes off.
A multi-piece flag belt has two or three detachable flags that are held to the belt with velcro or a popper. When a defensive player pulls the flag, it’s released from the belt, while the belt itself stays on the offensive player.
There are two flags on an NFL FLAG football belt — positioned on the player’s hips. While some flags are sewn into position, for some others, players will have to slide them to the correct spots on the belt.
To get started, make sure kids have their shirts tucked in. The NFL FLAG playbook recommends kids wear shorts with no pockets. All flags need to be free of any obstructions — pockets included. A player with a loose shirt or dangling belt end could get called for a flag guarding penalty.
Ideally, kids should be able to put their flag belts on by themselves. For the littlest ballers, it’s a good thing to practice at the beginning of the season. The flag belt should be snug around a player’s waist — check to make sure it doesn’t slide around when the player runs. Last step is making sure the flags are in the right place, if they’re the slide-around type.
If using the popper-type belts, make sure that the poppers, which are slightly angular, are flat to the body then point down and away from the body. Having the poppers upside down or pointing in to the body could also result in a penalty.
Experienced coaches fit a belt for each player at the beginning of the season, securing the belt size with tape behind the buckle to hold it in place. Pro tip: Write each kids’ name on the tape. Boom! That’s their custom-sized belt for the season. This will speed things up at the beginning of practices and games when you’re handing out belts.
Another best practice for coaches: Collect belts after each practice or game. While teaching responsibility is valuable, so is a well-fitting belt for every player on your team. Can’t play without them, so don’t leave it up to the kids this time. It’s best if you’re the belt keeper.