Interesting Facts on Flag Football

In flag football, players wear four or more flags attached to a belt. Ball carriers are not tackled; they are “down” when one of these flags is pulled off. Flag football fields measure 70 yards by 30 yards for youth and 80 yards by 40 yards for older players. Starting from a team’s five-yard line, players have three downs to cross midfield or score. Three extra downs are awarded once midfield is crossed. The ball changes hands when teams fail to cross midfield or score.
When English student William Ebb Ellis picked up a soccer ball in 1823 and ran with it, he broke all the rules of an Ancient Greek game, “harpaston.” He also planted the seeds for modern British football. Later in the same century, British football splintered into rugby and soccer. In the U.S., a rougher game was played on college campuses after the Civil War. This rugby-like game became the forerunner of American football. The first organized flag football is thought to have been played in the 1930s. The sport became popular on military bases in the 1940s, and recreational leagues followed shortly thereafter.
NFL Flag Football is a youth football league for boys and girls that are 5 to 17 years of age. The NFL launched a flag football program in 1996 to educate kids about football while emphasizing sportsmanship and teamwork. Teams must field a minimum of four players during regular play and five players during tournaments. Touchdowns are worth six points and extra point conversions score one or two points. Teams may be co-ed, all boys or all girls. The point values for scores do not vary by gender.
The National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association is the governing body for recreational sports at U.S. colleges. NIRSA rules for flag football indicate that teams can be co-ed or single-gendered. They require anywhere from four to eight players. Flag football rules from Indiana University South Bend state that teams must have at least five players and are allowed seven, one of whom must be female. If a team can’t field a woman, only six players are allowed to take the field. The number of points earned depends on gender. A touchdown by a female scores nine points, while males’ touchdowns earn six points. Female conversions are worth twice as many points as males’ conversions.
The U.S. Flag Touch Football League was formed in 1988 and hosts the largest non-college tournament in the nation. It drew 175 teams and crowned 11 national champions its first year. A semi-pro league was formed in the early 1990s and joined up with other organizations to form the Professional Flag Football League, Inc. in 1997. The PFFL played the first pro travel schedule in 1999, with teams in Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Indianapolis. The league folded shortly after its inception. In 2011, reports that more than 20 million players participate in flag football leagues.
Flag football is played worldwide, and the International Flag Football Federation is the national governing body for flag football. The 2009 IFFF World Cup included 15 countries. The NFL FLAG National Tournament of Champions for youths is also held annually. The 2011 championship drew more than 300 athletes playing for 24 U.S. and 8 Mexican teams.

How to Play Flag Football Defense

Playing defense in a flag football game can be challenging. The difficult part comes when a receiver has caught the ball in the open field. The rules of the game prevent you from bringing your opponent down to stop him. The only thing you can do is pull one of the two small flags that hang from his waistband. This can be a difficult maneuver because you can’t get physical with your opponent. You can hold him up in an attempt to grab the flags, but there can be no physical punishment administered.
Put your best athletes at the linebacker spot. Unlike touch football, offenses will try to put together a decent running game in flag football. But the majority of the running plays will go to the outside. Linebackers with speed can chase the running backs to the sidelines or pull the flags to prevent big plays.
Keep your hands up when rushing the quarterback. In tackle football, pass rushers want to sack the quarterback. When rushing the quarterback in flag football, reaching down with your hands to pull a flag may give the quarterback a clear throwing lane. Keep your hands up once you get past your blocker so you can obscure the quarterback’s vision. If the quarterback is right-handed, keep your left hand up in front of his passing arm, then attempt to pull the flag with your right hand.
Keep the receiver in front of you when you are in pass coverage. Trying to catch a receiver from behind so you can pull the flag is very difficult. But if you can keep the receiver in front of you, you can wrap him up with your arm and shoulder, then grab the flag and pull it.
Read the quarterback’s eyes if you are in coverage. In flag football, most quarterbacks will stare down their receivers before throwing it. A smart defensive player will be able to take advantage of that by jumping the pass route and intercepting the pass whenever possible.
Pull the flag on the opposing ball carrier but do not take the man down. If you inadvertently trip somebody while diving to pull out the flag, the referee will likely let that go with a warning on the first offense. If the referee sees your play as too aggressive, you will get an unnecessary roughness penalty called that will be either 5 or 10 yards. If the referee believes you are reckless or trying to cause physical punishment by tackling, you will be ejected from the game and written up by the official. Players who are written up normally are not allowed to play the next game.

Safe Exercises When You Have Fractured Ribs

A fractured rib can be excruciatingly painful, interfering with something as basic as the ability to breathe. Severe fractures can even lead to a collapsed lung. While exercise can help you recover from injuries more quickly, you should not exercise until you get the go-ahead from your doctor, who may recommend specific exercises. If you don’t get a plan from your doctor, though, focus on slowly and steadily increasing the intensity of your workouts over several weeks.
Deep-breathing exercises can help prevent a collapsed lung in the first few days after your injury. Every two hours — or according to the schedule advised by your physician — breathe in slowly and deeply, filling your lungs. Exhale slowly, and continue breathing deeply for two to three minutes. Next, gently cough several times, then breathe deeply again. If the routine is too painful, ask your doctor for pain medication, or hold a pillow or towel over your fractured rib.
Cardiovascular exercise helps keep your heart healthy, but it also increases your rate of breathing — a painful proposition for someone with a fractured rib. Try gentle cardio such as walking your dog or cycling at a slow, leisurely pace. As you begin to recover, you can steadily increase the intensity of your routine by picking up your pace and increasing the length of your workout. If you have trouble breathing, talk to your doctor before doing any cardio.
Stretching routines, such as yoga and Pilates, can help loosen up your muscles. This can help you avoid pain from muscle stiffness if your usual injury undermines your usual exercise routine. Stick with stretches that don’t compress your chest, and be sure to tell your instructor you have a broken rib. You can also stretch at home. Try stretching your chest to alleviate pain by bending your elbows and extending them back toward your back. If you experience back pain from your injury, get on all fours and arch your back, holding for 20 seconds. Then push the small of your back down toward the ground and hold for an additional 20 seconds.
Weight training keeps your muscles and bones strong, and regular weight-bearing exercise can increase bone density, preventing future fractures. Steer clear of workout machines such as the chest press that rely on your chest muscles. Instead, try low-intensity weight-bearing exercises such as squats, lunges, bicep curls and leg presses. As your pain subsides and your injuries begin to heal, you can begin incorporating elements of your old routine, but start slowly and avoid any exercises that cause pain in your ribs.
Avoid contact sports for at least six weeks after your rib fracture. A blow to the chest or side can worsen the break and even collapse your lung. Exercise routines that put you at risk of falling, such as jumping on a trampoline, are equally dangerous. You should also avoid starting a new workout routine or increasing the intensity of your current routine while your injury heals.

Flat Feet & Dancing

Flat foot occurs when the arch of your foot flattens, allowing your entire foot to touch the floor. This condition is common and usually painless, but it can impact your ability to participate in athletic activities such as dancing. There is no cure for flat feet, but there are exercises you can do to help your feet stay strong and pain-free when you dance.
Several different factors can cause flat feet. The arches on your feet form as tendons strengthen and tighten; if those tendons are damaged through injury or illness, the arch will fall and create flat foot. Other causes include heredity and abnormalities such as an extra bone in the foot. People who naturally have flat feet will have an easier time adapting to the demands of dance, while those who have injury-induced flat feet will require some foot exercises to adjust to the condition.
Regardless of why you have flat feet, there are exercises to help strengthen your tendons, which will help with the pointing, flexing, and balance involved in all styles of dance. Pick up items with your toes, then see how far you can throw them. Alternately, you can try to stack items using your toes. A clench-and-release exercise ¡ª clenching your foot as if you are trying to make a fist, then releasing it ¡ª will help strengthen the tendons on the bottom for your foot and help with dance movements that require pointed toes. You can also walk on tiptoes to help strengthen your feet.
Overpronation is one of the most common complications that result from flat feet. Overpronation puts immediate stress on your ankles and throws your knees and hips out of alignment. This can put more stress than normal on your body while you are dancing. As a result, if you are a flat-footed dancer, you need to be more aware of how you are stepping and how you are placing your weight with each step.
If you are new to dancing and have flat feet, or if you are developing flat feet due to age, you may experience some initial discomfort until the tendons in your feet become strong enough to support you throughout the dance. But if you experience regular, consistent pain while dancing, there may be a more serious underlying problem. Visit your doctor to determine what may be causing the excess pain and find a suitable treatment for it.

Strength Training for Soccer Players

Soccer players, male and female, need a mixture of fitness attributes, including coordination, speed, agility, endurance, strength and power. As Robert G. Price notes in his book “The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Soccer”, kicking, sprinting, jumping and tackling all require different types of strength. Dedicating one or two workouts a week to specific strength training will enhance your performance on the pitch.
Muscular endurance is your ability to perform repeated movements of less than or nearly maximum effort without becoming fatigued. Develop muscular endurance by performing multiple sets of 15 to 20 or more repetitions with short breaks of 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Because your legs have the most-used muscle groups when you play soccer, focus your endurance training on your quadriceps and hamstrings at the front and rear of your thighs, respectively. Body-weight squats, lunges, leg extensions, leg curls, leg presses and high box step-ups are all good choices for developing muscular endurance.
Your ability to generate maximal force for a very short period of time is called strength. Strength is important when you’re trying to defend against players who are trying to push you off the ball, either on the ground or in the air. Develop strength by lifting heavy weights at low repetitions. For example, three to five reps with a weight that’s 90 percent of your one-repetition maximum. Free weight exercises such as bench press, squats, dead lifts and shoulder presses are ideally suited to the development of strength. Because of the magnitude of load used in training for strength, always have a spotter present and use good lifting technique to minimize your risk of injury.
Power is strength expressed at speed and is vital for your ability to jump and sprint. Power exercises are performed explosively with weights that you can lift at full speed. Because of the velocity required, only certain movements are suitable for power training. Power exercises include the barbell clean and jerk, the dumbbell snatch, overhead medicine ball throws and squat jumps. Power exercises are advanced and should be attempted only if you have established a good level of basic conditioning and have been working toward power training for a few months.
Soccer players should do the bulk of their strength training during the off-season. Once the season has finished and you have recovered from any injuries, begin to introduce strength training into your workout schedule a couple of times a week. The initial phase should be designed to familiarize you with common exercises and develop your basic conditioning. Muscular endurance training is the ideal format for this phase. After four to eight weeks, you can increase the intensity of your workouts and begin work on developing basic strength. Begin with modest weights and aim to increase the loads lifted during the coming weeks. Focus on compound lifts such as the squat, dead lift and bench press. Finally, as the season approaches, progress to power training. Power training is very demanding in terms of intensity and stress on your body but, after your buildup period, you should be ready. Focus on developing power for the specifics of soccer by performing exercises for your vertical jump and sprinting speed such as squat jumps and power cleans.
Although strength training is an important part of preparation for playing soccer, leave plenty of time on your workout schedule for aerobic training, soccer practices, stretching, core work and rest. Two strength training sessions per week should be sufficient. To maintain your strength during your playing season and allow plenty of time to recover from matches, you can reduce your strength workouts to once a week without worrying about losing your endurance, strength or power.

Ankle & Foot Pain After Exercise

Your foot and ankle are comprised of many small bones that work together during exercise to help you run, shift your weight and jump. Because exercise places extra pressure on foot and ankle joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, the feet are subject to injury, swelling and pain. While some extra pain or discomfort can be common after an exercise session, experiencing severe pain or swelling can indicate a more serious injury or need to change the way you exercise to prevent future injuries.
In some instances, foot and ankle pain can be attributed to wearing unsupportive shoes or failing to stretch the muscles properly before exercising. Making these small changes can help relieve pain. Foot pain also can be related to a loss of natural foot padding that occurs with age or even osteoarthritis of the foot and ankle joints. Increasing your exercise duration or intensity by too much may mean your feet and ankles were not prepared to accommodate for the extra intensity. Sudden twisting movements also cause an ankle sprain, a common athletic injury.
Your athletic shoes help to protect you against foot pain and injury by supporting and cushioning the foot. The right shoes for you depend upon what activity you are performing. For example, if you are an athlete who engages in twisting and back-and-forth movements such as those in basketball, football or volleyball, high-top or three-quarter length top shoes are best to protect the ankles from twisting. For other exercise types, focus on comfort and function for activities you commonly perform. If you commonly practice step aerobics, a trail-running shoe that is made to increase traction in dirt would be too heavy and grooved on the bottom for stepping. Also, replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If your shoes start showing too much wear on the bottom or the backs start to break down, it¡¯s time to buy new athletic shoes.
While treatment may vary based on the specific ankle and/or foot pain you are experiencing, there are a few techniques you can use to lessen pain. The first is using sports massage techniques to rub the foot and relieve tired and sore muscles after exercise. Icing the foot and elevating it after exercise can help to reduce inflammation that leads to pain. Wearing an ankle brace even after exercising can help stabilize the ankle joint and reduce instability. If the foot continues to hurt for more than a few hours, refrain from exercising at least one additional day or switch to a low-impact exercise like swimming to reduce pressure placed on the foot and ankle.
Some foot and ankle symptoms indicate the need for immediate medical treatment. If the foot does not respond to your self-care techniques after one to two weeks, seek medical evaluation. Symptoms indicating the need for medical treatment include inability to bear weight on your foot, bleeding, deformity or an open sore accompanied by fever. Your physician can evaluate your foot and recommend treatment options, which may include surgery in severe instances.

How to Put on Weight for Football

Being bigger and heavier is an advantage for most football players, due to the physical demands of the sport. While you likely want to put on weight to play, you don¡¯t want to lose any athleticism or speed by gaining fat instead of muscle. To effectively put on the pounds and become a football force to reckon with, participate in a high-volume weight training program and adhere to a diet that supports muscle growth.
A high-volume weight training workout is designed to increase muscle mass. It will also help ensure that the extra calories you consume puts on muscle rather than fat. Lift weights four days per week, targeting your muscle groups with separate workouts. For example, hit your lower body on Mondays and Thursdays, and your upper body on Tuesdays and Fridays. Do not work the same muscle group two days in a row; the muscles need at least a day to recover from the workout. Physiologist Joseph A. Chromiak, Ph.D., writing for the National Strength and Conditioning Association, recommends doing two to three sets of five to 12 reps of each exercise during each workout. Give your muscles just 60 to 12 seconds of rest between sets.
Forget the isolation exercises and instead focus on compound, multi-joint exercises. They¡¯re more effective for building muscle mass, according to the American Council on Exercise, and they¡¯re also better for training for football. Back squats, for example, more closely mimic the movements that your lower body has to handle during football than straightening your legs on the leg extension machine. Quality compound exercises that will help you put on mass include squats, deadlifts, hang cleans, push jerks, snatches, bench press, military press and pullups.
To put on weight and fuel the muscle-building process, you¡¯ve got to consume adequate calories. You can gain a single pound of muscle mass by creating a caloric surplus of 3,500; if you’re not adhering to your workout program as outlined, however, these excess calories will translate into a pound of fat rather than muscle. This caloric surplus needs to be created gradually, however. Shoot for an excess of 250 to 500 calories everyday, said Chromiak. This allows you to put on 1/2 to 1 pound of muscle every week. Make sure your meals feature a high amount of protein, which is required to put on muscle; take in 0.65 to 0.8 grams of protein daily for every pound you weigh, Chromiak advised.
Instead of shooting for three large meals, consume smaller meals throughout the day. This will help ensure that the excess calories are used for the muscle-building process and not stored as fat. Eat a meal consisting of both protein and carbohydrates within 30-minutes after completing each of your weight training workouts. You can significantly increase protein synthesis by getting in fuel during this short period after your workouts, said Chromiak.

The Average Score of College Basketball Games

On average, NCAA Division I men’s teams manage 67.875 points in a game. NCAA Division I women’s teams score an average of 60.937 points each game. These figures are calculated by adding 16 teams’ point totals together on a particular night and dividing that number by 16. The Best Basketball Tips website points out that scores are typically in the 60s or 70s. NCAA basketball games are generally lower scoring than professional games, and several factors contribute to the difference in scoring.
NCAA men’s Division I games consist of two halves, each 20 minutes long. An NBA game is four quarters, each 12 minutes in length. NBA players have more time to generate a greater number of points, resulting in higher scores. Also, NCAA players are allowed only five personal fouls in a game before they are ejected. An NBA player is allowed to commit six before disqualification. If an elite NBA player, responsible for the majority of his team’s scoring, has committed five personal fouls but not six, he can remain in the game and continue to rack up points.
College basketball emphasizes team play more than the NBA does. The NBA focuses more on one-on-one matchups, such as Lebron James vs. Kobe Bryant. NBA coaches design plays specifically for their superstars to showcase their abilities. A college basketball team with skills inferior to those of its opponent may use a strong defensive game plan to limit its opponent’s scoring abilities. This type of strategy will result in a lower-scoring game. Another factor that contributes to lower scoring in NCAA play is the 35-second shot clock. The NBA uses a 24-second shot clock, which forces professional players to make shots more quickly and more often, leading to higher point totals.
On average, NBA players have greater strength and athletic ability than college players. Several NBA players were once college superstars and several of them may play on one NBA team. This skill level results in greater point totals. Since NCAA players are younger, between the ages of 18 and 23, they are also more prone to miss three-point shots and tend to give the ball away more often than NBA players. Also, NCAA players must attend school and worry about academics. NBA players can spend all of their free time perfecting their skills on the basketball court.
The NCAA has no limits on what type of zone defense you can play. Players can cover whatever area they wish, making it more difficult to score. In zone defense in the NBA, players can stay in a specific lane for a maximum of three seconds. This type of game play would open up more room for defensive breakdowns in the NBA, leading to higher point totals. Until the 2001-02 season, zone defense was completely illegal.

The Best Diet for Running Cross-Country

Cross-country runners have different nutritional needs than nonrunners. They require an increase in certain nutrients to provide sustained energy for long distance runs. The best diet for running cross-country consists of a precise ratio of protein, fat, carbohydrates and iron. This mix enables a runner’s body to operate at peak performance.
First and foremost, cross-country runners must remain hydrated. According to Purdue University, cross-country runners should consume a great deal more water than nonathletes. When you run, energy is released as heat. Your body uses water to sweat and cool itself to prevent overheating. Water also helps prevent muscle fatigue and cramping. Cross-country runners lose four to eight pounds of water every hour. To find out how much water you need to drink, weigh yourself before and after training. For every pound you lose while training, drink 16 ounces of water.
A cross-country runner’s diet should include iron-rich foods. According to the University of Chicago, iron helps produce red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout the body. This is essential for maintaining athletic endurance. Iron-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, leafy green vegetables, beans and whole wheat bread. Do not take iron supplements unless your doctor recommends them. Too much iron can lead to constipation.
Load up on carbohydrates if you’re a cross-country runner. According to Colorado State University, carbohydrates produce more energy than the same amount of protein. Cross-country runners have more endurance with ample amounts of carbohydrates stored in their bodies. Complex carbohydrates last longer than simple carbohydrates derived from sugar. Cross-country runners should get 70 percent of their energy from complex carbohydrates. A diet that includes whole grain spaghetti, potatoes and whole grain bread eaten two to three days before a race will fill up your glycogen storage spaces.
Protein is also essential in the diet of cross-country runners. While the primary energy comes from carbohydrates, protein is burned as well. Protein is also essential for muscle repair and recovery. According to Greg Crowther of the University of Washington, runners require more protein than sedentary people because of the intense demands they place on their bodies. At least 15 percent of your calories should come from protein sources like meat, eggs, tofu and low-fat dairy products. Endurance athletes should eat about 2.5 grams of protein per day for every pound of body weight.
Don’t fear the fats. If you run for more than one hour, your body will turn to fats for most of its energy. Cross-country runners must train their bodies to efficiently utilize fat for energy. To do this, they must consume good fats like omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. These are found in olive oil, fish and vegetable oil. Avoid bad fats like trans fats and fatty red meat.

Does Playing Sports at a Young Age Affect Bone Growth?

Boys and girls have been playing sports for generations. Recently, doctors and exercise physiologists have realized that youth sports represent both positive and negative impacts to bone growth. Certain injuries carry the potential for long-term damage but usually are preventable. On the other hand, even moderate levels of sports and physical exercise reward young participants with improved health, including sturdier bones and stronger muscles.
According to the Center for Kids First, 30 to 40 million American children participate in some form of organized sports. About one-fifth of these children are members of school-based athletic teams. Nearly half of eligible children participate in organized non-scholastic sports such as Little League or Pop Warner football. Despite Title IX legislation in the 1970s, boys still have greater opportunities to participate in sports and therefore outnumber girls at nearly all levels, according to “Youth Sports in America: An Overview.”
Children’s bones are constantly growing. Growth accelerates during puberty before coming to an end in adulthood, but bones add material only in special regions called growth plates, located near the ends of bones and points where tendons and ligaments connect to the bone. Growth plates resemble cartilage in their structure and texture before transitioning into mature, solid bone. The longer bones of the legs and arms experience the most pronounced growth, while growth plates located elsewhere influence the contours of bones. Bone fractures that extend into the growth plate run the risk of causing permanent deformity or stunting. In most cases, however, doctors are able to set the bones properly and restore normal blood flow. Crushing injuries, though relatively rare in sports, represent the greatest potential for permanent disability.
Research has shown that even modest levels of physical exercise during the growth years has a measurable, positive impact on bone strength. One study in particular determined that active children accumulated as much as 10 percent to 40 percent more bone mass in certain areas than nonactive peers. However, the intensive and weight-conscious sports such as gymnastics and wrestling might lead to slower bone growth. Both female gymnasts and male wrestlers have later onsets of puberty and are shorter than children of the same age. Scientists suspect that a combination of high-intensity workouts and a restricted diet might work to slow overall development and bone growth.
Light resistance training performed under appropriate supervision both improves performance in young athletes and protects against injury. The important point is that youth training should focus on technique rather than building muscle. Lifting more than the body is prepared for does increase chances of strains and other injuries. Expensive workout machines or a gym membership are not necessary for a quality strength training routine. Many resistance workouts incorporate thick elastic tubing or the body’s own weight as an exercise tool.
The fear of injuries or delayed growth is no reason to discourage young children from sports participation. Most injuries can be prevented if children follow some basic fitness guidelines, such as warming up properly and stretching the major muscles groups. Sports build valuable life skills such as teamwork and leadership and bolster a positive self-image. The benefits of good physical fitness last a lifetime. Good habits start early and it’s almost never too early to push for a lifestyle of exercise and healthy competition.