Flag football is one of the fastest growing youth sports, currently on its way to becoming a college sanctioned sport. Tackle football fields over 1 million high school student-athletes each year. No matter which way you look at it, our love for football runs deep.
While extensive research is being conducted to better understand football safety, it’s still a game that comes with many physical and emotional benefits. Need proof? Here are five great benefits for kids who play football:
1. Health benefits: Football is a fast moving game with a lot of variety. Players run, jump, quickly change direction, and stop and start, which improves cardiovascular health. Practice drills, complex running routes and defensive techniques all encourage speed, strength, and stamina. And these activities also engage motor skills, specifically hand and eye coordination. Plus, a recent study found that playing football has positive effects on bone strength.
2. Teamwork: Youth football teaches kids accountability, leadership, and the impact of positive sportsmanship. Every position has a purpose and to execute a play successfully, each individual needs to fulfill their responsibility, while working together—a skill that’s valuable both on and off the field.
3. Discipline: Learning routes, repetitive drills, and executing proper technique take a high level of discipline—and football players do it time and time again. Each practice is laying the foundation for a strong work ethic that kids will use throughout their lives. And this is one of the biggest benefits of football.
4. Mental toughness: Sports are a great platform to build mental toughness. Whether it’s making a mistake on the field or needing to comeback from a major upset, setbacks are bound to happen. And to move forward, players must learn how to persevere. Football provides a lot of opportunities to improve mental toughness, from remaining calm under pressure to focusing during chaotic situations.
5. Socialization: Football teaches kids how to effectively communicate and work well with others. After all, one player can’t do everything. They rely on each other—what a better way to make long-lasting friendships? Layer this with learning to respect and receive direction from authority (aka coaches) and you have a range of socialization skills.
Flag football has a lot to offer, from co-ed leagues to competitive tournaments. Here are five important benefits for kids playing flag football:
1. No Contact: Flag football is a non-contact sport, meaning there’s no tackling, diving, blocking, screening or fumbles allowed. Therefore, players aren’t required to wear any heavy equipment, such as helmets and shoulder pads. This creates an approachable atmosphere where kids can learn how to play and develop their skills without the aspect of physical contact.
2. Accessibility: Flag football is an incredibly inclusive sport and opens the doors to many players, including female athletes. In fact, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) plans to launch the first college sanctioned women’s flag football league in the spring of 2021.
3. Learn the fundamentals: There’s a common myth that flag football doesn’t prepare kids for tackle football—and that simply isn’t true. The basic fundamentals taught in flag football directly transfer to tackle, including catching, throwing, formations, routes, and defensive skills. For example, the way defensive players are required to square up their body and align their head and knees is the exact positioning needed to physically tackle an opponent.
4. Easy commitment: With most leagues only meeting once per week, many families happily squeeze flag football into their packed schedules. Typically, teams practice for about 45 minutes before their game, and then the game itself is usually an hour or less. Of course, some high-level competitive leagues offer more playing time, if that’s something you’re looking for.
5. It’s fun!: Plain and simple, flag football is loads of fun. With fewer players on the field, there’s more engagement and a faster speed of play. Games are quick, competitive and every drive counts, especially in tournaments. It’s the version of football you loved playing in your backyard—why ever stop?