Rookie's Guide to Flag Football for Kids - 510 Families

Rookie’s Guide to Flag Football for Kids

If your child is begging for a chance to play football and you don’t know where to begin, keep reading. Huddle up and we’ll help you get started with youth flag football in the East Bay from starter equipment to tips and leagues.

Thanks to Next Level Sports for sponsoring today and offering flag football at Cal.

flag football player

Why flag football?

Flag football is a terrific combination of what’s fun about football without the worry of getting tackled. Boys and girls can have the fun and excitement of fast-paced football in a non-contact environment. Kids have a blast practicing and playing the game while learning life lessons in sportsmanship and discipline.

The big advantage of joining a flag football league is that gear and coaching are provided. You don’t need to be a football expert to help your child learn the fundamentals.

Next Level Flag Football in Berkeley

Registration is open for the second season of flag football at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium for kids in Kindergarten through 7th grade. The children play on the real Cal football field and are coached by Cal football players. In a nod toward family-friendly scheduling, all games and practices happen on Sundays in a two-hour window.

Registration for Flag Football in Berkeley is open >

Cost of the program includes placement on a team, a personalized Nike game jersey, Next Level shorts, Next Level player bag, and flags.

Next Level Sports offers flag football leagues at multiple East Bay locations including: Berkeley, Concord, Moraga, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, and Pleasanton.

Pro tip: Play catch, keep it fun

Learning how to throw and catch a football requires practice. The first step is to buy a youth-sized football for smaller hands so you can play catch in the backyard or in the park. Keep it fun, play with friends and siblings. There’s no need to start with an NFL-level ball for $100, the Franklin grip-rite is easy for small hands to throw and catch and is a terrific first football for kids, great in rain and mud, too. [Note: if we’re just going for fun, these glowing footballs keep things light!]

To go beyond catching the ball and introduce grabbing flags and scoring touchdowns, it helps to have a small flag kit and a few cones to mark your sidelines and end zones. This flag football starter kit has enough for ten players per side. We also highly recommend this kicking holder for kids who want practice at field goal kicking.

flag football
Flag football starts in kindergarten with Next Level | Photo: Next Level Flag Football

Where to throw and catch a football

Short answer: anywhere! Make tossing the football around a family practice. If you have a ball in the car, you’ll always have an easy activity when you spot a grassy field. No need to set up a full football field, some parks and schools with room to run in the East Bay include: Chabot Elementary School in Oakland; Temescal Regional Park; Piedmont High School Field; Caldecott Field; Montclair Park; Codornices Park; Willard Park; San Pablo Park; and so many more. You could even play on a beach like Alameda Crown Beach. Our family has organized an mixed generation Thanksgiving football games at both Havens and Beach Elementary School Turf Field in Piedmont.

You can also join a flag football league for regular playing and coaching (see below!).

Playing catch at Little Farm
Impromptu game of catch at Little Farm | Photo: Whitney Moss

Gear up: where to buy football equipment in the East Bay?

For footballs, flags, and cones, you can try local sports retailers, or if you know what you want, you can click around on Amazon and find it all. For the guidance of a salesperson and a place to try things on, here are some local shops:

Decathlon – 3938 Horton Street, Emeryville
Dicks’ Sporting Goods – 549 Southland Mall, Hayward – (510) 695-2117
Mary and Joe’s – 911 San Pablo Avenue, Albany – (510) 525-1597
West Coast Sports – 1855 Alvarado St, San Leandro – (510) 357-8149
Sports Basement – 2727 Milvia Street, Berkeley – (510) 984-3907

flag football catch
Teamwork and healthy competition | Photo: Next Level Flag Football

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Recreational Leagues for East Bay Youth Football

You may want to check out these recreation flag football leagues to see if their seasons, schedules, and locations fits your family. Please note that we can’t verify their league coaching policies.

There are also many other sports programs offering football camps during the summer and throughout the year.

Watching football together

We’re so lucky to live in the Bay Area where families can enjoy college football as well as high school football. Buy tickets for (tackle) football games at Cal, St. Mary’s, Laney College, and most local high schools.

Thanks to Next Level Sports for sponsoring today and offering flag football at Cal.

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