Flag football is a popular variation of American Ffootball, which replaces the roughest forms of contact, particularly tackling, with nylon belts with attached flags, which may become detached when pulled. After a player in possession of the ball has had his flag detached, the player is then “down” as if the player had been tackled. Other variations include “touch” football, which simply counts a down as a defender touching the player in possession with their hands.
Flag belts are essential to any flag football match, distinguishing the game visually and effectually from normal football. Flag belts come in two general styles: simple flagged belts that detach at the buckle when pulled on, and “sonic” flagged belts that emit a noise when the flags are detached. The simple non-sound emitting belts are relatively cheap and easy to use for amateur play. The sound emitting belts aid in establishing downs and are better suited to leagues and official play, where more precise measurement is necessary. Sonic belts are endorsed for play by several major flag football associations, including the International Women’s Flag Football Association, World Cup of Flag Football, and the United States Flag and Touch Football League.
Any flag football game requires a football. You will want to choose the proper sized football for your game or league, depending mostly on the age of the players and whether the game is casual or part of a formal league. Sizes vary between juniors and adults, with different patterns on footballs affecting grip, texture and durability.
Two different colored jerseys are needed to distinguish teams from each other. Flag football jerseys can be as simple as mesh primary colored shirts, or as complex as standard league football jerseys, depending on the level of play. While variations of team jerseys are possible, such as “shirts and skins” or personal T-shirts of uniform color, more organized forms of flag football are likely to have standard colored mesh jerseys at minimum.
Depending on the level of formality of the game, additional equipment may be required. If playing without a full length fully marked football field, cones may be used to mark off end zones and sideline boundaries. Additional football equipment such as football cleats, helmet, or light padding may also be necessary. Despite the light-hearted nature of touch or flag football, padding or other protective gear can be necessary per league rules, particularly if the league allows for physical contact. Be mindful that while some leagues may encourage padding or additional athletic gear, others may prohibit it. It’s always best to check the rules of your league or game before playing.