Tackle vs. Flag Football: Which is Better for Your Child?
Is your child ready for some football?
Competitive sports are a great way to keep kids active and get them interested in a hobby early in life. If your child is showing interest in playing football, you might be wondering whether to sign them up for traditional tackle football, or flag football. While there are pros and cons to both, safety concerns are often a deciding factor for parents.
Youth Tackle Football
Tackle football programs are available to children as young as 5 years old. These programs often follow the exact same rules as professional football, with a few key differences. Youth football fields are often shorter than adult football fields, and game lengths are shortened.
As with any sport, there are some risks to playing tackle football. Concussions and other sports-related injuries are possible despite protective gear, and studies show that playing tackle football at a young age increases the risk of cognitive impairments later in life. Some programs make use of strict age and weight class restrictions to prevent injuries and keep the game fair for players of all levels.
Starting tackle football from a young age is great for any child who hopes to continue playing football in college or even at a professional level. You can find local opportunities for your child to join a team by searching for local groups.
Youth Flag Football
Flag football was developed in response to the concerns of injuries between players during traditional football games and practice. Although the rules are mostly the same, flag football is usually played on a shorter field and fewer players (usually 5 instead of 8).
Rather than tackling other players to get the ball, flag football requires players to rip off one of 2-4 flags that hang from a player’s belt. When this happens, a play is ended, and the ball is placed wherever the carrier was during the “tackle.”
Flag football is seen as a great alternative for parents who are concerned about the safety risks of traditional football. Although some studies find little difference in the risks of playing tackle vs. flag football, it is generally believed to be the safer alternative. The game is also an ideal alternative for children who see the sport as a long-term hobby but don’t want to pursue football later in life. For children who start in flag football, the transition to tackle football can be a difficult adjustment.
There’s plenty to consider when deciding between a traditional tackle football or flag football team for your child. To learn more about the dangers of a concussion, click here.