How To Coach Flag Football}

Submitted by: Jonathan Grant

Because of the nature of flag football people are often given the responsibility of coaching a team that knows little or nothing about the sport. Just because a person used to play tackle football doesnt mean they can coach flag football. In fact, many times thats a disadvantage. Flag football is not just tackle football with flags, its a completely separate sport with its own unique challenges.

Most coaches just copy what they did on their high school or college football team, but thats a mistake. They end up doing a lot of things that are unnecessary and missing out on a lot of advantages that the unique flag football rules allow. Each league is different, with unique rules. The first thing you need to do is forget everything you think you know about football and start over from scratch. The second thing you need to do is to go over the rules of your league and get a full understanding of them. Brainstorm ways to take advantage of them.

If you do decide to carry over some things from tackle football, make sure you completely understand the concept of what you are doing. Ive seen teams learn all sorts of complicated motions before the snap to add in to their plays. When I ask them why they do that they have no idea. What purpose do they serve? In tackle football you can utilize those motions to take advantage of your opponents specific schemes to create specific match ups that you want. There are a couple of other reasons as well, but they dont apply to flag football. Now, there are a couple of ways you can take advantage of motions if you know what you are doing. But, if you dont know 100% why you are doing something, dont do it.

Plays vs System

The next thing you need to do is get a system for your offense and defense. There are several places online where you can get a bunch of random plays, but that wont help you very much. Another common mistake most teams make is to just choose a handful of plays and think thats sufficient. Theres a lot that goes into creating a system. The plays you choose need to have a purpose in your gameplan and you need to have as few plays as possible so you can perfect them. If you have more than 10-15 plays, theres no way you can possibly execute them correctly. So, you need to be extremely efficient and comprehensive in your play selection.

You cant have many plays, but you need to be prepared for whatever defense and adjustments your opponent makes. This takes a lot of thought. You also must think about how your plays work together, how you call the plays, how you audible, etc.


QB Reads

Most plays Ive seen flag football teams use are severely lacking in their information. You cant just have a diagram, route assignments and think you are ready to go. You must know exactly how to run each play against every type of defense you might face and how to counter any adjustments the opponent might make. QB reads consist of much more than just numbering the receivers in order of importance. The QB read is the key to making a play work versus any defense.

Draw a diagram of your play on a piece of paper and add in each type of defense you might see. Notice the difference between each situation and determine the best course of action for every one. You need to make sure the QB will always perform that action. Now you need to figure out how the QB can arrive at that action using the least amount of reads as possible, and each read must be easy to make. Theres no magic to it, you just have to spend the time brainstorming and using trial and error until you get it as efficient as possible. You can have the QB read a receiver, of course, but you can also have him read a specific defender. A lot of information can be gained by reading a defender if you know what to look for. Its usually more effective than just reading receivers if you do it right.


A play is only as good as you execute it. You can have the best plays and QB reads in the world, but if they dont run them right they wont work. You can imagine how much time it must take to perfect just one play! Theres a lot to learn in each play and they need to be able to run it without having to think. They must practice it so much they can do it using only muscle memory. When you get into game situations it becomes difficult to think so they cant rely on just brain memory. Practice each play with every type of defense and defensive adjustment so they know how to run it in every situation.

Start slow. Learn one read at a time and practice it through repetition until they get it down. Then go on to the next one. After they get that one, go back over the first one again because they will have forgotten it. Once you have gone over all the previous reads again, teach the next one. Youll need to spend the first part of the next practice going over the play you learned the previous practice because they will have forgotten parts. Once they are able to run it perfectly, go back over all the other plays youve previously learned. Dont introduce the new play until they are able to run all the others perfectly. Trust me, its better to have 4 plays that you can run perfectly than to have 20 that you cant.


Most of the drills Ive had my team run were based on the plays we had. To help perfect execution Id isolate one specific part of a play I thought was important and had them just run that over and over until it became second nature, then Id pick another important part to practice. If theres something that is the same in multiple plays it can be beneficial to isolate it and run it as a drill.

The QB needs to know how to throw all the passes correctly, and the timing between QB and receiver is crucial as well. So, practicing route throwing is a good drill to run.

Defense Drills

Defenders need to know how to pull flags. Dont take it for granted that everyone can pull a flag easily. A missed tackle is devastating and they are fairly frequent. Have them practice flag pulling, especially in an open field! Defenders also need to know how to stay under control and in balance when pursuing a ball-carrier so they wont be juked out of the play. Proper man coverage and zone coverage techniques must be practiced as well. Drills will allow your players to develop their muscle memory through repetition. Theres no magic to creating drills, just isolate what they need to learn and have them do it over and over.

Have Fun

Remember, as competitive as flag football is, its still a game and the goal is to have fun. If you keep things fun your players will be more likely to work hard and respect each other. Push them and be stern, but always have fun. If you are enthusiastic about it, they will be as well. Show them respect and praise and be patient. Bruised egos lead to dissention.

This should be a good starting point for you. I wish you the best of luck! And welcome to the wonderful sport of flag football!

About the Author:

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Jonathan Grant is considered by many to be the leading expert on flag football coaching in the world. His Offense and Defense packages do most of the work for you, so even the most clueless coach can have the best offense/defense possible! If you are serious about being a flag football coach, visit his website – There’s nothing else even close to it available anywhere!


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