Flag Football

While Flag Football is not an official Special Olympics sport, it has emerged as one of the fastest growing sports in the state and was classified as a recognized sport in 2013.

SONC offers three types of flag football competition: individual skills, 5-on-5 traditional team and 5-on-5 Unified Sports team.

Individual skills competition allows Special Olympics athletes to develop sports skills in a competitive format designed to serve as a stepping stone to team competition. The indvidual skills offered for flag football are catching, throwing for accuracy, throwing for distance, and flag pulling.

5-on-5 traditional team competition is played on a modified flag football field with a youth football.

5-on-5 Unified Sports teams pair Special Olympics athletes with persons without intellectual disabilities of similar age and ability on a team.

1 Hour practice:

  • Warm—up/Stretch/introduction – 8 minutes
  • 3 skills to work on – 10 minute each
    • During skill introduction, that is when they can take water
    • Handing ball off, catching ball, passing, running and changing direction
    • Snapping
    • Defensive drills; One-on-one, flag pulling
    • Rushing the quarterback
  • Scrimmage – 22 minutes
    • Basic plays, no defense (running the play on air)
    • Introduce defense
    • Play
  • Review & stretch

Things to know:

  • Don’t spend too much time scrimmaging
  • No lines!
  • Use the internet to search for drills that include at least 10 people (YouTube)
  • Keep plays simple and straightforward 

Make sure practices are:

Realistic – keep it simple!
Inclusive – keep everyone involved; ultizlize assistant coaches to help
Structured – come prepared and with a plan
Equitable – it’s ok to have athletes change positions and mix it up!


Sport Development Team

These volunteers advise SONC staff regarding sport rule modifications, competition and also train coaches in their sport!

Steven Lechner
Raleigh, NC

Byron Moore
Wilmington, NC

Kevin Roberts
Shelby, NC

Find out which sports are offered in your community

Unified Sports Flag Football at Select College/University Campuses

SONC partnered with four college/university campuses to offer Unified Sports Flag Football for their students and Special Olympics North Carolina athletes in Fall 2016!  Fall 2018 details can be found on the flag football calendar.

Flag Football Clinics

If you are looking for opportunities for coaches and athletes to learn more about flag football, check out these clinics being offered. Contact information for each can be found within the information.

2016 NIRSA Flag Football Tournaments

Three universities that host NIRSA Flag Football Regional Championship series will again feature Special Olympics Unified Sports and Traditional divisions:

  • November 4-5, University of Florida (Gainesville); registration deadline Oct 28
  • November 4-5, University of Nebraska (Lincoln); registration deadline Oct 28
  • November 18-20, University of Maryland (College Park); registration deadline Nov 1

These 3 locations have served as hosts for Special Olympics teams for a number of years and do a great job.  Interested teams should contact Andrea Stamm to receive registration information.  Local programs are responsible for all registration fees, travel, meal, and housing costs. Local program coordinators should first get approval fromLindsay Waldron for financial eligibility.

SONC Forms

All forms must be submitted by the local program coordinator.

Invitational Registration Forms

  • Flag Football Individual Skills Competition Invitational Registration Form
  • Flag Football Team Invitational Registration Form
  • Team Rating Summary
  • Team Roster
  • Individual Skills Entry Form

Assessment Forms

For coaches’ use only – do NOT submit with event registration.

Certified Clinician

In addition to the sport development team, these volunteers are able to conduct local sport specific training schools on behalf of SONC. For more information on becoming a certified clinician, contact Andrea Stamm.