We recently shared a list of six non-soccer sports where women are wearing IDA cleats, and one of them was flag football (the US kind of football!). This got us thinking… is American Flag Football really a thing? And what’s it all about? We thought you might like to know too so we broke it down for you… 

This may be obvious but we’ll start with the obvious… flag football is a variation of traditional American football. Some would say it offers a more thrilling and even more fast-paced alternative that retains the essence of the sport while eliminating some of the physicality. Played by more and more people every year, it's a sport of its own that combines strategy, athleticism, teamwork, and agility. Whether you're a seasoned player or a newcomer looking to understand the game, let's go through a run-down of the rules and positions of American flag football.

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The Rules

  1. The Point of the Game: Like traditional football, the primary objective is to score more points than the opposing team by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone. No surprise there! 
  1. Team Composition: A typical flag football team consists of 5 to 7 players. The roles of offense and defense are distinct, with each team alternating between the two during the game.
  1. Starting Play: The game begins with a coin toss to determine possession. The team winning the toss chooses whether to start on offense or defense. The game starts with a kickoff or a snap from the line of scrimmage.
  1. Downs and Possession: The offense has a series of four downs (attempts) to advance the ball at least 20 yards. If successful, they gain another set of downs. Otherwise, possession changes, and the opposing team takes over on offense. Again… just like tackle football!
  1. Scoring: Points are scored by crossing the opponent's goal line with possession of the ball. A touchdown is worth 6 points. After a touchdown, the scoring team has the option to attempt a conversion (usually 1 or 2 points) from a specified distance.

Ok, now this is where it gets interesting… 

  1. Flag Removal: Instead of tackling, defenders remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier to stop the play. Once a flag is pulled, the ball is declared dead at that spot.
  1. Blocking and Contact: Blocking and physical contact are prohibited. Players must avoid any form of physical interaction, making agility, speed, and strategic maneuvering crucial elements of the game.
  1. Penalties: Penalties are enforced for infractions such as holding, illegal blocking, and pass interference. They result in yardage losses or automatic first downs, depending on the severity of the violation.
  1. Time Management: Games typically consist of two halves, each lasting a predetermined amount of time (e.g., 20 minutes). The clock stops during certain situations, such as incomplete passes or out-of-bounds plays. Length of the game often depends on the league, the age of the players, and the level of play! 


Positions in Flag Football

  1. Quarterback (QB): The quarterback is the leader of the offense, responsible for directing plays, passing the ball, and often the primary decision-maker on the field.
  1. Running Back (RB): The running back is tasked with carrying the ball, either by running or receiving short passes from the quarterback. They must be agile and elusive to evade defenders.
  1. Wide Receiver (WR): Wide receivers are responsible for running precise routes and catching passes from the quarterback. They must possess speed, agility, and good hands.
  1. Center (C): The center snaps the ball to the quarterback to initiate the play. They also provide protection for the quarterback and may assist in blocking.
  1. Offensive Line: The offensive line consists of blockers who protect the quarterback and create running lanes for the ball carrier. They must have strength, agility, and coordination.
  1. Defensive Line: The defensive line aims to pressure the quarterback, disrupt passing plays, and contain the run game. Quickness and tenacity are essential traits for defensive linemen.
  1. Linebacker (LB): Linebackers play a versatile role, often switching between pass coverage and run defense. They must be able to tackle well and read offensive plays effectively.
  1. Defensive Back (DB): Defensive backs are responsible for covering wide receivers, intercepting passes, and preventing big plays. Speed, agility, and anticipation are key attributes for defensive backs.

So it turns out that the rules and positions of American flag football are pretty similar to tackle football, aside from the obvious lack of physical contact. The key difference ends up being in the style of the play that emerges when tackling is not allowed… speed, quickness, and agility all become even more essential than ever before! Whether playing casually with friends around Thanksgiving or competing in organized leagues, flag football offers an exhilarating alternative for football fans of all ages and skill levels.

And yes, our selection of women’s specific soccer cleats work for flag football as well! Especially if you are playing on natural grass or lush 3G turf fields. 

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