October 24, 2022

Coaches: What to Expect on Game Day


For flag football coaches, game day is an action-packed, fast-paced day. Whether it’s your first-time coaching or you’re looking for a refresher, we’ve outlined exactly what you can expect on game day—with tips—so you’re set up for success.

Be prepared


Give yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to ensure you’ve packed all your equipment, playbook, and whatever else you need to run a flag football practice and coach your game. You also want to arrive early—we recommend 15 to 20 minutes—to check field conditions and set up. Most NFL FLAG leagues have a tent on site with staff available, if you have any questions or need help. 

Conduct a short practice

You’ll run a short 30-minute practice before your game, as NFL FLAG leagues only meet once per week. Check out our tips on how to easily create a practice plan with drills on fundamental skills, like throwing, catching, and running routes. After practice, you’ll move right into your game, so you want to have your starting roster and substitution plan set.

Keep plays simple


We can’t reiterate this enough—when it comes to youth flag football plays, simpler is better. Trust us, the last thing you want is to get tied up on game day trying to run plays that are too complicated for your age division. Not to mention that one play might only last a few seconds, so you’ll be calling them back-to-back.

Also consider how you’ll communicate routes to your younger players during the game. For example, instead of calling routes by their name—like a fly route—simply explain what the player is going to do—”run straight and fast!” If you need a starting point, here’s a list of easy-to-teach flag football routes and basic flag football plays you can use—we suggest picking three to start. 

Build up their confidence


Flag football is an engaging game where every player makes an impact on the field—but they can also make mistakes. And as their coach, it’s important to stay positive throughout the entire game, while encouraging sportsmanship and respectful sideline behaviors. 

Also keep in mind that younger players have a wide range of abilities—some come with experience and coordination, while others are new to the sport. Give every athlete on your team a chance to play their favorite position (spoiler: it’s quarterback) and keep inclusivity top of mind. Remember: NFL FLAG is designed to give every youth athlete an opportunity to play.

Make it fun


It’s no secret that youth sports continue to become more competitive. But at the end of the game, every kid wants the same thing: to have fun. There might be moments during your season where some players (or quite frankly, parents) lose sight of this. And as their coach, you can be the role model who always keeps flag football fun. 

For example, you can pick a “special assistant coach” every game to help you develop plays. Or you can create a signup chart for parents to bring a snack at the end of every game, giving families a chance to socialize. During your practices, you can play a silly game with your players. The list goes on and on. As long as you keep fun at the foundation, both you and your players will have a positive, meaningful experience.