Should Your Child Play Flag Football or Tackle Football?

Playing tackle football at a young age also presents some dangers. Despite the fact that players are required to wear all the proper safety equipment, the risk of injury remains.

According to a study performed by the Boston University School of Medicine, participating in tackle football before the age of 12 greatly increases the risk of having cognitive impairments later in life.

More: Drill of the Week: Football Stop Route for Kids

Flag Football: The Basics

Flag football was created in an attempt to provide a similar game as the tackle version, but without the physicality.

Each player wears a belt around his or her waist with two to four flags hanging from it. Instead of tackling a ball-carrier, the goal is to rip a flag from another player's belt. Once this occurs, the play is dead, and the ball is placed wherever the ball-carrier was at the time of the "tackle" before the next down is played.

Though rules and regulations will differ depending on the league, flag football is typically played with shorter quarters, shorter fields, fewer players on the field and no field goals. The rest of the rules are often the same.

Flag Football: Benefits and Dangers

If your child is interested in playing football, but you're worried about the long-term physical effects of the sport, starting him or her in flag football can be an ideal alternative. This gives kids a chance to learn the nuances of the sport without putting their body at as high of a risk.

Flag football is also beneficial for children who don't see football as a long-term hobby, but want to find sports and activities for fun opportunities to exercise and meet new friends.

The main downside of flag football is it can create bad habits for children who hope to transition to tackle football in the future. Tackling and blocking are skills that take years to perfect, and kids who start at an earlier age will often have an advantage once they reach high school. Children who play flag football will be more accustomed to reaching for flags and avoiding physical contact and will have some catching up to do.

More: 8 Benefits for Kids Who Play Football

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About the Author

Hunter Hewitt

Hunter Hewitt is the fitness editor for Active.com. As a former collegiate athlete, Hunter has always been passionate about living an active, healthy lifestyle. He enjoys weightlifting, basketball, ultimate frisbee and many other outdoor sports and activities. Follow Hunter on Twitter @HunterHewitt
Hunter Hewitt is the fitness editor for Active.com. As a former collegiate athlete, Hunter has always been passionate about living an active, healthy lifestyle. He enjoys weightlifting, basketball, ultimate frisbee and many other outdoor sports and activities. Follow Hunter on Twitter @HunterHewitt

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