What is Flex Football?

Flex Football bridges the gap between flag and tackle for the first time. Inspired by the NFL’s high tempo, low impact, assignment and scheme-focused approach to practice, Flex is the ideal experience to develop true football fundamentals. The value lies in the development of advanced football skills while keeping the head out of the game.

Championships are won in the offseason.

Let's see who is willing to put in the work.

Flex Football is the ideal offseason training option for your tackle football program.  Because Flex involves all positions - not just the skill positions - your players can work on schemes, technique, and timing, preparing them for the upcoming season in ways never available before.

The Basics
  • 9 v 9 play
  • Three (3) OL, five (5) WR/RB, one (1) QB
  • Traditional point values & 1st downs
  • Open-hand blocking and blitzing
  • SoftShell helmets & shoulder pads
  • Tackling via flag belts or two-hand touch
The Benefits
  • Scheme work for the entire team - not just skill positions
  • Gameplay mechanics with pads
  • Run and pass blocking techniques
  • Pass rush techniques
  • Defeating blocks
  • Bump & run / press coverage techniques
Play the Game
  • in gear worn by HS, College, & Pro teams
  • to develop football skills in all positions
  • because it is FUN & you love football
  • with added protection

Flex Football fills the gaps between Flag Football and traditional tackle football, and presents a safe, cutting-edge solution to the following dilemmas:

I’m a parent who isn’t ready to let my son/daughter play tackle football.  But, I’m looking for something a little beyond traditional flag football.  I’m looking for a sport that will introduce limited contact in a controlled setting, while still giving my son/daughter an idea of what tackle football would be like.

I’m a flag football player.  I’m not looking to make the jump to full tackle football yet.  But, I am interested in trying a new flavor of football that brings in more advanced football skills like blocking, pass rushing, press coverage and more.

I’m a tackle football coach, and I need a way for my team to train together in the offseason in a realistic, game-like setting. The 7v7 options aren’t a good fit because they do nothing for my offensive and defensive lineman, they aren’t helpful to installing our full offense, and our defensive players don’t get the realistic reps they need to prepare for the season.

The Pillars of Flex

Blocking

Blocking is an essential skill required of multiple offensive players on every play.  There’s run or pass blocking at the line of scrimmage, lead blocking by backs or pulling lineman, stalk blocking by receivers and downfield blocking once the ball passes the line of scrimmage.  Whatever the variety of blocking, the best in the game excel through the use of body positioning, leverage and controlling the defender with proper hand placement and use.  The best blockers don’t lunge recklessly and don’t need to lead with their heads.  Flex Football gives you the opportunity to teach the fundamentals and best practices for blocking – all while keeping players’ heads out of harm’s way.

Line Play

Tackle football games are won and lost in the trenches.  Despite this reality, offseason training options have typically provided linemen with few opportunities to develop the higher-level skills involved in offensive or defensive line play.  Flex Football turns that paradigm on its head.  By incorporating offensive and defensive line play, Flex Football enables players to learn the critical skills of body positioning, leverage and proper hand placement and use.  Offensive lineman will get repetitions run and pass blocking.  Defensive linemen will have the opportunity to fine tune their run stopping and pass rushing skills.  Flex Football rules allow offensive and defensive lineman to build their athleticism, while minimize concussive contact, by encouraging the use of skill and speed techniques over brute force (there will be plenty of time to work on those “pancake” blocks and bull rushes when you get to preseason camp).

Pre-Tackling

The best defenders in the game make their tackles well before contact ever occurs.  For them, the battle is won or lost in proper angles of pursuit, breaking down and remaining under control as they approach the ball carrier, and positioning themselves to “fit” in for the perfect form tackle (keeping the head clear of contact at all times).  Gone are the days when players were taught to “put their head on the ball” and hope to walk away from the collision.  Flex Football, with its emphasis on teaching the fundamentals of tackling and limiting contact, provides players with the optimal environment within which to learn the fundamentals of pursuit and preparing to tackle the opposing player.  Whether your league goes with flag belts or two hand touch, your players will learn how to initiate the tackling process more safely – skills that are designed to carry over onto the tackle football field (if that’s part of your Football Journey).

Tackling

The art of tackling has evolved in recent years.  With the emphasis on keeping head contact to a minimum in football (a concept we at New England Football embrace), the best coaches are teaching techniques like “HAWK,” “rugby style” or “Heads Up” tackling. While each technique uses different nomenclature to describe the steps involved, the basics are very similar.  Defensive players are taught to approach the ball carrier under control, with good balance and leverage, and with their heads safely out of contact with the ball carrier.  Flex Football (with “tackling” via two hand touch or flags) requires defensive players to employ the same movements as they engage the ball carrier and helps build muscle memory intended to carry over to the tackle football field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Flex Football?

Flex Football bridges the gap between flag and tackle for the first time.  The addition of RockSolid’s soft shell equipment enables Flex to build on the benefits of flag football by introducing key concepts that have historically been reserved for tackle: blocking, line play (pass rushing, pass blocking), bump & run/press coverage, and pre-tackling to name a few.

Flex is the ultimate experience to develop true football fundamentals and teach proper technique while keeping the head out of the game, and is the ideal offseason training option for tackle football programs.

What are the rules of Flex Football?

NEFF follows a modified version of the RockSolid Flex Football rules.  NEFF’s rules are available HERE.

What type of equipment is needed for Flex Football?

RockSolid soft shell helmets, RockSolid soft shell shoulder pads, and mouth guards must be worn at all times, and rubber cleats are recommended for outdoor play. RockSolid equipment can be purchased during registration [Equipment Sizing Guide].   Teams must wear matching numbered uniforms.  Uniforms are provided by NEFF for all youth divisions and are available for purchase by high school and adult teams if needed.

NEFF provides the following:

  • Youth Division(s):
    • Flag belts
    • Uniforms
    • Footballs (two per team)
  • High School and above:
    • Flag belts

Note – equipment can be reused from season to season. Mouth guards are available for purchase at the field (while supplies last).

How many players are on a Flex Football team?

Nine players are on the field at a time for each participating Flex Football team.  A team size of fifteen players is recommended, however NEFF wants to provide as many kids that want to play with the opportunity to do so and reserves the right to ask a team to carry additional players if forming another team does not make sense.

What are the age requirements for Flex Football?

Flex Football is open to players in Grade 3 through college as of August 1st of the targeted season

What size field is used for Flex Football?

A regulation-sized football field is recommended for Flex Football, with two games being played simultaneously running lengthwise. Each possession begins on the 45 yard line with the offense driving towards the end zone. The area between the 45 yard lines is a common end zone used for defensive scores only (interception, safety).

Unlike flag football where first downs are achieved by crossing midfield, traditional first down rules apply in Flex Football, complete with chains and a yard marker.

The Ideal Offseason Training Option

Grades 5-6 Winter League Action

Want to Play Flex?