Flag Pulling Drills The Patriots Way

By FirstDown PlayBook on Apr 9, 2022

There was an ESPN article a few years back that noted the New England Patriots were occasionally incorporating flag pulling drills into their practices. It was a good article. It centered on how Bill Belichick was a proponent because of the good habits that it reinforced.

When it comes to tackling vs flag pulling there are many fundamentals that are the same up to the point of contact. Both flag puller and tackler have to take a proper angle to the football. If you take a poor angle, the rest is irrelevant. This is one of the reasons flag football teaches young players skills that they can use later if they want to play tackle football.

A flag puller has to get to the ball carrier with speed. It is also important to begin to come to balance as they near the ball. When done correctly both flag and tackle players will begin to come to balance without stopping their feet. You can watch football on Sunday in Lambeau field or on Saturday down at your park and see why this fundamental is so important for playing good defense.

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Flag Pulling Drills Should Be A Part Of Your Practice.

The great thing about pulling a flag is that it is logical for the defender to focus on the flag. This should force the flag puller to bend their knees as they near the ball carrier. In tackle football, the defenders can get overly focused on the physical tackle they are trying to make. They often will start looking at head and shoulder fakes.

Flag Pulling Might Just Be Harder Than Tackling

The final point that we would like to make and we will stand by this. Pulling a flag is a lot harder than making a tackle. It’s not as physical obviously but can you imagine trying to pull Tyreek Hill’s flag? When NFL tacklers encounter a physical ball carrier they often will just try to “hang on” until help arrives. This does not happen in flag football. Maybe the first defender makes the ball carrier pause for a second but that’s about it.

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To incorporate flag pulling into your flag football practice is a no brainer. If you don’t you are in for a long season. Today though, we want to make a point that if you are in spring drill with your high school varsity team, you might want to think about using these drills too. What better way of teaching tackling fundamentals and you don’t need a ball or pads.

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Tap on the drill diagram above to read the interesting ESPN article from a few years back. Also stay tuned because FirstDown PlayBook will be adding a Drills and Skills section this fall for tackle and flag football coaches. Soon your plays, playbooks and technique help will all be in one place!