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2 key elements to an ideal Flag American Football taster session.

By Dale Bottomley

2 key elements to an ideal Flag American Football taster session.

Below is an explanation of the two key elements to the ideal taster session (one-two hours with a group of young people, though this will also apply to older participants).

American Football can seem an incredibly complex sport to the average person that has at the very most, watched snippets of the NFL on TV. However, when the sport is boiled down to it’s very basic form, it’s an incredibly simple sport that can be introduced to beginners in not months, weeks or even hours but in a matter of minutes.

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Before we begin to plan the taster, we need to identify the aim (like any regular practice or activity); what do we want to have achieved by the end of the session? Well, quite simply, we want the participants to want to play the sport again! That’s it.

Now we have the aim, we can identify the two key elements of the taster session:

  • Fun!

  • Introduce the basic components of Flag American Football

Fun!

This is the most important of the two elements. How do we make the session enjoyable? Well, what do young people (especially school pupils) most commonly ask at the beginning of a session? …’Can we play a game?’ Many coaches will respond, ‘yes we will play a game at the end of the session, we need to get through these drills first.’ CLICK - did you hear that? That’s the sound of the kids switching off. Instead, I suggest the response to that oh so common question should be, ‘yes, absolutely we can play a game. In fact, we’re going to play games all the way through the session.’ CLICK - did you hear that? That’s the sound of the kids switching on (their faces lit up too).

‘Games’ doesn’t just mean having the participants play a full-blown Flag American Football game straight away. In fact, there are numerous games that can be used to introduce the sport and I will cover these in a later article. Games should also include high levels of involvement (no long lines of players or even any lines at all!) and plenty of competition (keep score).

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Introduce the basic components of Flag American Football

What sets apart American Football from other sports? What makes American Football, American Football? The forward, ‘overarm’ pass (including touchdowns!) and four ‘downs’ to score in an end zone. If we can get the participants to pass the ball and score touchdowns, we’ve done a good job. If we can get them to pass the ball, score touchdowns and do it with 4 downs (or ‘goes’) to score, we’ve done a better job. At the end of the session, ask the players, ‘so what is American Football?’ - their responses will give you a good idea of how much they have taken on board. Skills, techniques and strategies can be introduced if the players have the ability but these aren't essential for a short taster session.