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FLAG FOOTBALL POSITIONS

What are the positions in flag football? In simple terms, flag football positions are essentially the same as tackle, but without the linemen. There are five players on the field in NFL FLAG football—for both offense and defense—with assigned roles. Here’s a basic overview of the football positions 5 on 5. 

Football offense positions:

  • Quarterback: The quarterback receives the snap and passes the ball or hands it off (they aren’t allowed to run with the ball after the snap).

  • Center: The center snaps the ball to the quarterback and then can run for a pass as a receiver.

  • Wide receiver: Depending on the play, some 5 on 5 teams field three receivers, or a couple receivers and a running back. The receiver runs designated routes to catch a pass (usually right and left receivers).

  • Running back: The running back takes a hand off and runs with the ball or throws it. They’re also eligible to receive a pass.

Football defense positions: 

  • Defensive back: The defensive back covers wide receivers, either man-to-man or zone. 

  • Safety: The safety stands further back from the line of scrimmage and is responsible for stopping opponents who get loose. 

  • Rusher: The rusher attempts to prevent the quarterback from passing the ball (must be at least seven feet off the line of scrimmage at the snap to rush the passer).

Flag football positions 7 on 7:

Keep in mind that there are many versions of flag football, including 6 on 6, 7 on 7, 8 on 8, and 9 on 9. So as the team size increases, so do the football positions. For example, flag football positions 7 on 7 use a combination of wide receivers, running backs and tight ends on offense, in addition to the quarterback and center. The number of each position depends on the coach’s strategy and whether limited contact is allowed on the field. 

On defense, players can also be assigned as linebackers, who line up behind the rusher, in 7 on 7. 

Players who have a well-rounded skill set make the most impact in an offensive football position. They can throw, catch, and quickly run complicated pass routes. They have the ability to read the field and know how to adapt their football position during a play to successfully advance downfield. Here are the offense football positions explained:

Quarterback  - Think of the quarterback as the team’s offensive leader. This football position is responsible for calling the play or receiving direction from the coach and then communicating it to the rest of the team. In NFL FLAG football, every play begins with a snap to the quarterback, who then decides to hand it off or pass it. They’re a central part of the team as they touch the ball on every drive and are highly visible players. 

Skills 

  • Good vision of the field 

  • Ability to read the defense 

  • Passing fundamentals, such as wind up, release, accuracy, and strength 

  • Quickness to avoid a defensive pass rush

  • Leadership skills and mental toughness under pressure 

Center - A center is responsible for snapping the ball to the quarterback and reading the opposing team’s defense. This football position differs the most compared to its tackle counterpart. The center actually becomes a wide receiver after snapping the ball, so you’ll often find them running a pass route immediately after the snap. 

Skills

  • Proper coordination to accurately snap the ball to the quarterback to begin the play

  • Quick reflexes 

  • Ability to read the defensive team while clearly communicating with the quarterback

  • Similar skills as a receiver: Ability to sharply increase speed and take off downfield for a pass, correct technique to grip the ball and successfully catch a pass

Wide receiver - The wide receiver’s main job is to catch a pass from the quarterback or another player and advance down the field or score. They’re constantly running precise and often complex pass routes to try and get themselves in a position away from their defender to receive a pass. In flag football, teams typically have two to three wide receivers on the field at once. 

Skills

  • Speed and stamina go a long way for wide receivers as they’re always trying to outrun the other team 

  • Ability to run specific and complex pass routes

  • Good hands and athleticism to catch difficult passes (acceleration, strength, jumping) 

  • Clearly communicates with quarterback  

Running back - This position in football is responsible for carrying the ball during a running play. The center lines up in the backfield and after the ball is snapped, they move forward to receive a hand-off from the quarterback and run with the ball to advance down the field. If they don’t receive the ball from the quarterback, they can become a receiver as well. Running plays are not permitted within five yards of the midfield or end zone in NFL FLAG football, so this football position typically adapts their role to the play more often than others. 

Skills

  • Quick feet and acceleration are key traits of a good running back

  • Multifaceted player who understands fundamentals and can fill in where they’re needed most 

  • Similar skills as a wide receiver: Good hands and athleticism to catch difficult passes (acceleration, strength, jumping) 

FOOTBALL DEFENSE POSITIONS

Since there’s no contact in flag football, such as tackling or blocking, defense looks a little different. Instead of linemen, there are five defensive football players who typically take on one of two positions: a defensive back or rusher. But all flag football defensive positions have the same objective: to prevent the offensive team from scoring. Here are the defensive football positions explained. 

Defensive backs - A defensive back’s primary goal is to defend wide receivers and intercept the incoming pass or pull the flags off the ball-carrier’s belt. These positions in football can play either man-to-man or zone, depending on the coach’s strategy and league rules. 

Skills

  • Quick and agile to defend opposing players 

  • Mental sharpness to read the field and react to a passing play vs. a running play 

  • Ability to react to the ball and intercept the pass

  • Technique to properly pull the ball-carrier’s flags off: correct alignment, stance, and movement 

Rusher - Rushing the passer is an important role on defense as it prevents the quarterback from completing the pass. The rusher starts seven yards behind the line of scrimmage at the snap and the quarterback has a seven-second pass clock to throw the ball. Bottom line: The quicker the rusher gets to the quarterback, the more opportunities the defensive team has to force mistakes and intercept the pass. 

Skills

  • Speed and acceleration, with the ability to come under control once they are within distance of the quarterback to remove the flag(s)

  • Technique to properly pull the ball-carrier’s flags off: correct alignment, stance, and movement

Safety - Some flag football teams will play with a safety on their defense, although this is more commonly found in 7 on 7 leagues. This player sits further back behind the line of scrimmage and acts as a catch-all, stopping anyone who gets loose. If an offensive player makes it out of a running play, or a wide receiver goes deep, the safety covers and prevents the ball-carrier from scoring. 

Skills

  • Ability to read the field and play, while making game-time decisions on where coverage is needed 

  • Speed and acceleration 

  • Technique to properly pull the ball-carrier’s flags off: correct alignment, stance, and movement

Defensive positions in football have three main responsibilities: to read the play, see the ball and “tackle” the ball-carrier by removing their flag(s). Even though players aren’t physically tackling their opponents, many of these defensive skills directly transfer over to tackle football.  For example, the way that flag football players are required to square up their body and align their head and knees with their opponent before pulling off their flags is the exact same positioning needed to physically tackle a player. That’s why coaches are adamant about teaching proper technique, as these fundamentals are necessary among every position in football.

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