The game, which is a summer camp staple and often played at family picnics and in gym class, follows basic rules similar to those of mainstream football (often called “tackle football” for contrast). Instead of tackling players to the ground however, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier (“deflagging”) to end a down.
Flag football has quietly become one of the fastest-growing varsity sports for high school girls. A decade after it was introduced, nearly 5,000 girls play in the state of Florida — a welcome development in a state that, like others, has struggled to close the gender gap in high school athletics. Unfortunately flag football is only played at the club and intramural level in colleges. Hopefully it will be added to the list of NCAA emerging sports soon.
The sport favors fast, nimble athletes who are skilled in the kind of blocks and screens used in basketball. It’s also a great choice for girls who are burned out from having played the same sports for years.
The game does not always get the respect it deserves. Many think it’s a powderpuff game that you sometimes see during homecoming week. Powderpuff football games are an annual tradition at many high schools and universities where the girls compete each other and the guys dress in drag and cheer.
If you’re looking to try something new, flag football might just be the sport to consider. It seems likely that girls playing the game are reaping the same developmental and health benefits as those playing volleyball, soccer, or any of the other more traditional sports. And you can have alot of fun doing it. Touchdown!
Get in the game
The International Women’s Flag Football Association (IWFFA) is an alliance of girls and women’s flag football teams, leagues and individual players from around the world. An organization run by women.
The NFL has sponsored coed local leagues for boys and girls ages 5-17. It’s the premier youth football league providing young players a fun and exciting opportunity to engage in non-contact, continuous action while learning lessons in teamwork. To join a league, visit NFL Flag Football.
Flag Football 101
All players with the ball are offensive players. The center will hike the ball to the quarterback, which will allow all offensive players to go out for a pass.
Defensive players will prevent the other team from scoring a touchdown. A defensive player will guard opposing player and pull their flag if they catch a pass.
Offensive team will start the game with the ball on the center line. They must pass the ball to a teammate to begin the game.
A touchdown is made when a receiver carries the ball across the goal line or a pass is completed in the end zone.
The offensive team must be behind the line of scrimmage, and the defensive team must be one yard away from the line of scrimmage.
Centering the ball:
The act of putting the ball into play, the ball must be centered to the quarterback sideways in one motion.
Each team has four downs to advance into the next zone or to score. If the team advances to the next zone, a first down is earned. Failure to advance the ball to the next zone in four downs results in loss of possession.
Advancement of a player beyond the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped.
The 10 yards area between the goal line and end line.
Line of Scrimmage:
An imaginary line marking the position of the ball at the start of each play.
Start of Game:
The team starting with the ball will begin at a point half way between their goal line and the first down line.
The ball is dead when an opponent removes the ball carrier’s flag.