Originating in the 1940s, flag football was invented by soldiers in American military bases who wanted to pass the time playing football but didn’t want to get injured.
The game has since developed to become a professional sport and could be seen in the Olympics in the next couple of years.
Like modern American football, flag football is a highly tactical game. It’s fast and furious and requires players to read the game but also have a developed playbook to fall back on to beat their opponents.
We’re going to be taking a look at the ten best 7 on 7 flag football plays for attack and defense that will help your team score big touchdowns.
Let’s start by taking a quick look at what you should be hoping to achieve in the plays you use.
Your main objective in offense is to find space.
With 14 men on a very narrow pitch, things can get congested pretty quickly, so a running backs goal should always be to get themselves into space.
The more distance you put between your opponent and the flags around your belt, the harder it is for them to tackle you.
Likewise, you need to spread your players enough in defense while congesting critical areas on the pitch to stop your opponents from gaining momentum.
In flag football, teams are allowed three plays to get to the pitch center and another three plays to score. As a defender, congesting the field and stopping your opponents from getting higher up the pitch early is a crucial gameplan you should look to employ in your tactics.
If you can master both these goals in your offense and defense, you’ll score a ton of touchdowns and keep teams away from your line.
10 Best Attack Football Plays For 7 on 7 Flag Football
#1 Out And Go
This is a play you can use to split your defense and open channels in the middle of the pitch.
It’s a great way to gain ground quickly at the start of a phase of play or when you’re deep in the field. It relies on your running backs (A and C in the diagram below) moving to draw defenders from the center of the pitch.
The quarterback (QB) will move back a little further on this play and can find at least three options on the field if his defenders get themselves open. Usually, one of A and B will run a much shallower line to allow the QB to gain solid yardage. Meanwhile, the other running back, player C, and player B will go deep on the play, with C and B running central lines through the middle of the pitch.
#2 B Formation D Run Right
This is a good dummy play to think about if your QB’s throws aren’t breaking through. Providing a rushing option, player D will start his run deep on the left of the QB and advance to take the ball off the QB to attack the line of scrimmage and run at a slant towards the touchline.
D’s swooping run will cause the defense to scramble to track him, which can cause problems in midfield. The QB can then pick off other runners, for example, player A, who can run a cut-back route on the opposite side of the pitch. And with C shifting defenders away from the center of the field, you can also throw player B into space, who can pick the ball up in the center of the park.
#3 Counter Run Right
This switch play overloads players on the left side of the pitch. To fool your defense, the play requires players A, D, or C to transition left touchline and drag most of the defense with them.
The QB will dummy left and instead will look to hit player D, who should be in space on the opposite side of the field. This play was made famous by the Washington Football Team, who typically utilize a strong running back to fake a run left and transition to the right-hand side of the field in open space.
Similarly, player D should fake his run left and shift at the last second, steam off right and pick up the ball from the QB on a diagonal route towards the right touchline.
#4 Play Action Run Option
I like to call this one ‘the fakie,’ as it means the QB can fake to 3 runners transitioning over on the left side of the pitch and instead take the ball upfield himself on the right-hand side. With most defenders covering the left, the QB should be able to gain some unopposed yards.
The offense will set up looking as though they’re going to run a play-action pass with two wide receivers providing options on the left-hand side of the pitch. A running back can then act as a dummy and roll round left, too, allowing the QB to track right. If he comes under pressure, the QB will have at least one option on the left in player B or throw to A in the field center.
#5 I Slant
The New England Patriots won the 2015 Superbowl using a slant play. They are so useful when you’re on the cusp of the end-zone, and particularly in flag football, can be very destructive when your defense can’t make contact with you.
This is a passing play at hart, although you can adapt it to offload to D, who can loop around the scrimmage’s left side. QBs should look to use speed to hit their wide receivers on this play. C will attack through the middle and provide a slant route for the QB to hit, while B will head straight into the end-zone and cut across left to show for the pass. These two routes are perhaps the most destructive on this play, and if you can hit B or C, you’re almost guaranteed a score.
#6 Slants & Go
This is an excellent passing play you can use to confuse your defense but is undoubtedly one that is hard to get right.
Players B and D will line up on the right-hand side, while A will spread wide on the left to give the QB an option on the other side of the field. The play starts with C making a shallow diagonal run towards the right touchline, with B running straight for the end-zone, and D crossing over C’s line to hit the middle of the field at pace. It’s a tricky play to master as it requires B, C, and D to control their runs to not crash into each other in midfield. This is a great play that can be used to ask questions of your opposition.
#7 X Counter Left
This is another misdirection play that asks defenders to pick up runners coming from the backfield. The way players line up in this formation is enough to cause some concern in your opposition defense. With two players in the backfield and one wide receiver on the right, the play initiates with player C driving up and to the left of the pitch. Player B also makes a slanting run left field, leaving the right-hand channel exposed.
The QB then has two running backs who he can distribute the ball to. They’ll be the confusing part of the defense who will be looking to track your wide receivers out left but will also have to watch players A and D crossing and running diagonal lines from the backfield. Again this play requires your players to time their runs to ensure they don’t crash into each other.
#8 Shotgun Motion Left Sweep
Our 8th best flag football attacking play is the shotgun sweep that relies on a swooping movement from the running back. Disguised as a classic shotgun play, your wide receivers A and B will line up in a passing formation. The QB sits back to fire the shot but will not receive the football.
Instead, player D or our running back will swing round to take the ball from the snap to take the ball. With A and B transitioning to the right side of the field, they will open up a gap for D to move the left and attack the wing. This is a pretty deceptive running play I like to use when my team attacks from the backfield to gain quick yards.
#9 Shotgun Receiver Swirl
Similar to the above, players will align in a passing formation. This is a great formation to use to stretch your defense to either flank.
The QB will again take a deep position off the snap to give time to get a long pass away. He can look to each flank on this occasion, with player B running a hook route on the right touchline while player D shoots a long run down the left. The QB also has two options in midfield, with A and C shooting diagonal runs across the center of the pitch. It’s a great move to stretch and pick holes in a narrowly aligned defense.
#10 Stack Right Post Left
This is another good play to attack the end-zone. By stacking two receivers on the right, offenses can trouble their opponents with an onslaught of runners, who can be hard to pick up.
Stack your running back behind your wide receiver on the right, and instruct them both to start running straight. Tell your running back to then make a slanting run infield to provide your QB with an option deep in the center of midfield. On the other side of the pitch, player A will provide a much shallower run that diverts infield. Player C, meanwhile, will run a short hook route to draw another defender away from your stacked attackers on the right.
Again this is one of the best flag football plays you can use to tear defenses apart.
10 Best Defense Football Plays For 7 on 7 Flag
Your objective is to squeeze space on the field and force attackers out wide to push them out of bounds. Plus, if you can lump pressure on your attackers to force a knock-on or take an interception, then you’ve achieved your goal. Here are the ten best flag football plays on defense.
#1 Cover-2 Defense (2-1-2)
The cover-2 defense is the standard-defense of the NFL. It relies on two banks of defenders set with the first line set up to track wide receivers and the second line set up to intercept long throws. I recommend using this play when you see offenses looking to attack with long balls as its zonal system allows you to intercept long passes.
Players X and Y should look to force match-ups against wide receivers lining up on the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, players U and S cover the central channels and look to attack the quarterback. Behind them, player T maintains a central role to block all passes down the center of the pitch and is supported on each side by two deep-lying safeties who cover the back of the pitch.
#2 Cover-2 Defense (1-3-1)
In the 1-3-1 formation, we look to stop running plays. I’d use this play if you can see a team looking to gain yards quickly upfield. It places three defenders in tight around the fringes of the snap. They are flanked on both sides by two wide defenders who will cover wide channels next to either touchline.
This play can sometimes be a little risky as it leaves you with only one safety to cover two zones at the pitch’s back. I’d only play your best and fastest defender in this position and instruct player Y to retreat to help provide extra coverage should the play come long down the right channel.
#3 Fire Zone Defense (4-3)
Use this defense when you’re expecting a big throw. Advise your defenders to sit back and play for the interception. With three safety’s in the backfield, you should be able to comfortably challenge for the catch while two other players can cover if the attacker makes the catch. Plus, you’ll also be able to limit where runners can go if they do catch the football. Make sure to position your best runner in the center of the three as they’ll have to cover the most ground.
In the middle of the pitch, you can utilize one defender (T) to attack the QB, another player (V) to guard the area behind the snap. Meanwhile, players X and Y can act as the first defense line to protect against short throws coming through from the QB.
You might think a blitz defense won’t work in flag football because there’s no contact. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. The best flag football defenses are those that force your opposition to make mistakes, and that’s what a blitz sets out to do. Disrupt the QB and make them throw a wild pass or fumble the ball.
I’d advise you to line up in a 5-2 combination, with your first line of defenders setting up on the line of scrimmage and two insurance players at the back to intercept the play if the ball comes over the top. Players should then run at the QB and rushing players to stop them from distributing the football. You’ll need to play your two fastest and best defenders in the safety positions, though, as they’ll be very exposed at the back of the pitch.
#5 Short Pass Stopper (2-3-2)
A 2-3-2 defense is used to block up the middle of the pitch. I’d use this play if you know your opponent is going for a short throw to gain quick yards or make their last down. With two defenders at the scrimmage, one will attack the QB while the other tries to block runners coming through the center of the pitch.
Meanwhile, with three players situated in midfield, you can block out any short passes to runners hitting the middle of the pitch. Now, although this defensive play can sometimes be relatively narrow, you can utilize your last line of defense to come forward to defend against players coming down the wide channels. But you need to make it clear to your safeties that their first duty is to protect the backfield before they defend the wide channels.
#6 Spread Defense
If you’re coming up against a team with speedy receivers, it’s sometimes wise to spread your defense-wide across the pitch. Double-teaming dangerous defenders can sometimes be a risk, but you can force an intercept and take control of the game if you get it right.
This formation relies on a sweeper (player U) at the back of the pitch who has the discretion to sweep the backfield and move to support his defensive backs on the wings to provide extra cover to make an intercept or force a fumble. Player Y will guard the midfield, and player T will either attack the QB or track any running back plays coming through.
#7 High Press
High press formation is a man-marking play that requires each player to line up high on the pitch. This defense aims to pressure your opposition to disrupt the play and force a fumble or an interception. It’s one of our top ten best seven-on-seven flag football plays because it can shift momentum in a game and allow you to recover the ball when you’re on the back foot.
Like a blitz, you’ll have two players attacking the scrimmage line to force the QB to miss throw the football or take out the center player. Next, your wide defenders will each need to pick up an opposition wide receiver and the running back on the pitch. For added security, you’ll have two sweeping players deep in the backfield. One is responsible for covering the center of the field, while the other has free roam to cover right or left. Ultimately this should be your fastest and best defender, who knows where to move after the pass has been thrown.
#8 Cover The Runner
This play is designed to stop running plays and pressure the QB and the Center to fumble the ball.
With four players based on the line of scrimmage, you’ll overload the offense with players T and W sweeping around quickly to attack the QB. Player Y will hold and track the offensive player in the middle but can use their discretion to attack the QB if they can. Player S will follow the running back and will have to be on their toes to follow swooping runs from the runner ahead of the play. Meanwhile, in the backfield, three wide defenders will sit deep and guard against passes coming over the top.
#9 Hail Mary Coverage
Hail Mary plays are a nightmare to defend. It relies on a combination of zonal coverage and man-marking. But if done right, they can be super effective. In this play, players T and S will run with your opposition wide receivers advancing on your end-zone. They’ll be backed by X and V, who will provide extra coverage of the QB’s target zone. They can get a head start on the throw and force a fumble early on.
Meanwhile, in the center of the pitch, player W and player Y will either advance on the QB or trackback to cover space in the middle of the pitch. This is one of the best 7 on 7 flag football plays to stop attackers running at you from deep, so don’t just use it for Hail Mary coverage.
#10 The Surprise
Disclaimer: we don’t advise using this play in a competitive match unless you’re really trying to throw your opposition off.
For a bit of fun, gather your defenders in a huddle just at the line of scrimmage. This will bewilder your opposition as they’ll be confused about why you’re taking so long to line up. On the snap, each player should break from the huddle or gathering of players, and each run directly at an opposition player. The aim is to confuse your opposition using this fast breakout defense, which will break at pace towards them to either force a fumble or intercept a pass.
The Final Play
Whether you’re attacking or defending, each of these plays serves a unique purpose on the field. When calling each play, remember to think about your current position on the field, your opposition’s predicted play, and how each play can work to your team’s strengths and players.
But depending on how the game is going, your opposition’s strengths, and what players you have available, remember each of these plays are totally flexible. Although they are the best 7 on 7 flag football plays, as a coach, you can incorporate different runs and ask players to stand in different positions to gain an advantage over your opposition.
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