Teaching the very young American Football skills

For those teachers wanting to introduce American football skills to the very young child (5 and 6-year olds), here is a suggested game that can be used to develop basic skills that would then be used as the step before the School Games 3v3 competition format. As a game, it can also be used to develop ‘higher-level’ skills such as route-running variations, explosive speed, foot-work in directional changes, evasion techniques and, throwing and catching. For the young child it is a structured ‘throw-catch-run’ game that is short and great fun. For the teacher, it requires minimal equipment, has maximum activity impact, is easy for the children to understand and, can be safely delivered to a class of 30 children with minimal periods of inactivity.

To play the game, cones are set out at 5-yard distances with one cone (2) at 3-yards and one cone (5) at 10 yards ;

4 5

3
2
1
CA CB
Child A (CA) shouts ‘go’ and child B (CB) runs around cone 2, and once past that cone, CA throws them the ball;
CB catches the ball and runs around cone 3, and cone 4, to run towards cone 5 (scoring cone).
As soon as CB has passed cone 3, CA chases CB by also running to cone 3 but then running diagonally between cones 3 and 4 to ‘tackle’ (by touching) CB before CB gets to cone 5 and scores.
For older children, improved technique can be introduced and/or points: 1 point for CB for catching the ball, 1 point for CA if the ball is dropped. 2 points if CB scores, 2 points if CA stops them.
Different ‘routes’ can be added or created, a third player could be introduced as a Defensive Back (DB), standing in front of CB (who is actually called a ‘Receiver’) and in-line where cone 3 would normally be. In this version, CA (the quarterback, QB) cannot run and can only throw the ball.
By adding another R and another DB on the other side of QB, and a new player standing between where cone 4 and 5 would be (in front of the QB) called the ‘Safety’ (S), the children have progressed to the 3v3 format. Play now goes directly down the field, rather than going to either side (download the ‘Learner’s Guide to Officiating’ in the AQA area and the other Guides, too!);

S

DB DB

R QB R

Extra players can be added to create 4v4 and 5v5 formats, and the final player position of the Centre (who initially holds the ball for the QB) can also be added.
Flag football should be a fun, safe, gender-equal and inclusive sport, to be enjoyed by all children.