Why Contact Flag Football?


Modified Youth Football Game? As concerns over player safety mount, the national governing body for youth and high school football has been working on modifying versions of the youth football game that look radically different from what football fans might expect of Tackle Football for 3rd through 8th grade participants. Unlike sports like baseball – which has progression levels from T-ball up and suited to each age group – youth football has had few alternatives to flag and tackle versions. Now a new game format has been developed, we call Contact Flag, and is a modified youth football game that bridges 5 player Flag with 11 player Tackle Football. Effective Fall 2017, CYO Football in partnership with the Pacific Youth Football League (PYFL), will adopt the new Contact Flag football game format for the 3/4 grade division level.


Above: The Regis Ram CYO Youth Football Team at the 2016 Playoffs.

CYO Youth Football Progression Levels

  • Grade K-2 Flag Football
    • 5-on-5, 40 Yard Field, Shorts, Flag Belt
  • Grade 3-4 Contact Flag Football
    • 7-on-7 or 8-on-8, 40 Yard Field, Helmet, Shoulder Pads, Shorts, Flag Belt
  • Grade 5-6, 7, 8 Tackle Football
    • 11-on-11, 100 Yard Field, Helmet, Shoulder Pads, Padded Pants

Contact Flag Football Overview

  • It’s modified to be leaner, less contact-inclined football game, focused on fostering well-rounded athletes and cutting down on the kinds of high impact, open-field contact that injure players and upset parents in the bleachers.
  • Players still wear football helmets and shoulder pads. From the waist down they wear shorts, flag belt and cleats.
  • The modified game is played on a smaller football field, which dramatically shrinks the 100-yard field to a length of 40 yards. This length allows a typical field to be split in half, so that two separate games can be played on the same surface at once. Hash marks will be the side-lines.
  • Seven players on each side. In a tackle football game, 11 players for each team would be on the field at once; in the modified version that number is reduced to seven – though we have not ruled out the possibility of anywhere from six to eight.
  • Three offensive and defensive line positions. All other positions (QB, RB, WR) advance the ball or defend (LB, DB, S) against advancement.
  • Players at the line of scrimmage are not allowed to be in a “three-point stance” – a body position that allows for great leverage and more power off the line. Lineman are required to be in a two-point stance.
  • There will be no special teams. In other words, that means no kick-off, punts, etc. in an attempt to cut down on open-field contact those plays often involve that cause injury.
  • Players must rotate positions, rather than specialize in just one. All too often kids lose interest in football because they never touch the ball. This format gives everyone the chance to throw, catch and run the ball.
  • Coaches must ensure players of equal size are matched up against each other. Grade divisions, weight and size are all considered for a better and safer game.

The overall aim of the modified youth football game is to create a progression from K-2 Flag Football that will allow young athletes to have a successful and fun experience while being introduced to the fundamentals of Tackle Football at the 5-6 and 7-8 division levels

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