When it comes to football, many parents are concerned about their kid’s safety, especially the possibility of concussions. But what if a child is interested in football and wants to try it? Let them play football — but also let them know there are some great alternatives to try first!
Here are the seven best football alternatives for kids to try:
- Multi-ball football
- Bubble football
- Beach soccer
- Ultimate football
- Flag football
- Pur instinct
Before going into detail about football alternatives, it’s important to define what football is. Football is a broad term that refers to sports that use feet and hands to score a goal. It’s used for many similar sports, including American football and soccer. To simplify things, we’ll include alternative sports that use feet and hands in the article. So, let’s begin!
Football Alternatives Kids Should Know – 7 Great Sports!
Some good alternative sports for children to play instead of football include futsal, multi-ball football, bubble football, beach soccer, ultimate football, flag football, and pur instinct.
Football is a contact sport; therefore, it can be intimidating for kids. Our suggestion is to try the already mentioned seven football alternatives first.
These seven sports are safe, fun, and family-friendly. Through these football alternatives, our kids will still learn teamwork, how to follow the game’s rules, and improve their physical skills.
As children get older, they will feel more ready to handle the sport’s competitive elements and perhaps eventually transition to “real” football.
Here are seven great football alternatives for kids!
Futsal is an indoor soccer game played on a smaller court (not a field), similar to a basketball court. There are five players per team, the game is fast-paced, and there are more opportunities for scoring a goal.
For kids, futsal is a great activity. Because it is an indoor sport, it’s played throughout the year. The emphasis of futsal is running and learning the technique of controlling the ball, and the best part is it restricts tackling.
#2-Multi-ball football (soccer)
Multi-ball football is an excellent game for building confidence and developing dribbling skills. Furthermore, it’s a great exercise for soccer schools and training sessions. Multi-ball has standard soccer rules with one difference; every team has its own ball.
The game is not officially regulated, so the regular number of balls is usually seven, but it can be less.
For kids, multi-ball football is perfect because every player is increasingly involved in the game and learns the difference between defense and attack. Because of the number of balls, the game is super fun.
Bubble or Zorb football is another fun and amusing game. Playing this game, a child will laugh and enjoy it. Every player wears an inflatable and transparent bubble on their upper body.
Here, full contact is more encouraged because it is hilarious. Making funny collisions with other players makes this game safe and entertaining. Actually, it’s so entertaining that kids usually forget to play football, and they just intentionally bump into each other.
Beach soccer is played outdoors on the sand. Just like in regular soccer, we play with our feet but barefoot. The sand field is, of course, smaller than the traditional soccer field, with five players per team.
If we live near the beach, try beach soccer with the kids during spring and summer. There are no special clothes for this game, only a bathing suit.
Ultimate football or frisbee is a non-contact sport. It combines Frisbee and American football, and it’s played by hand with a frisbee. This is a fast-paced, moving game that kids and adults enjoy playing.
Kids will learn teamwork, endurance, and coordination. This sport is different and unique from others because of the Spirit of the Game rule. It’s a guiding rule that requires kids to act as referees, meaning they have to settle any disagreement on the field and call out their own fouls.
Flag football is a non-contact version of American football. Tackling isn’t allowed. Instead, each player has a flag attached to their waist. If a player successfully pulls off the flag from the opponent, the game is stopped, and another one begins.
The rules on how to score the ball are the same as in American football, except there is no contact.
It’s a great alternative sport because it’s safe for children, and the sport is growing in popularity.
Pur instinct is a non-contact sport that combines the skills of basketball, soccer, football, baseball, and handball. The rules are pretty simple: carry the ball across the field without getting touched by the opponent and without dropping the ball. It’s another great sport with minimum contact.
What Sport Is Most Similar to Football?
The most similar sport to football is rugby and lacrosse.
As we mentioned at the beginning, football is a broad term that includes sports like American football and soccer. What Americans call soccer, Europeans call football. It is the same sport, only a different term is used.
Also, what we call American football, Europeans call rugby. We promise we won’t overcomplicate the issue.
For this reason, we’ll include the two most similar sports to football; rugby because it’s similar to American football, and lacrosse because it’s almost like soccer.
Rugby is very similar to American football, although there are differences. Their similarities are the oval-shaped ball, they are physical sports, and they are fast-paced and interesting games. The dynamics and the rhythm of the game are almost the same.
Lacrosse is very similar to soccer. The positions in soccer and lacrosse are the same; both sports are played in two halves, have similar field sizes, and are fast-paced sports.
A soccer player shouldn’t have issues understanding the lacrosse game’s defensive and offensive strategies.
What Is the Best Sport for Kids?
The best sport for kids are any they enjoy, can play, and have minimal risk of injury. Common favorites include flag football, volleyball, swimming, tennis, basketball, soccer, baseball, and other sports with less contact.
We know the sports we mentioned have minimal contact, but they are not as aggressive as American football or rugby. For a young child, it’s better to start a sport with less combative physical contact.
If a child wants to try football, flag or ultimate football is a terrific alternative that is safe and fun to play.
Should I Let My 10-Year-Old Play Tackle Football?
If a 10-year-old is interested in playing tackle football, let them try flag football first. Then, they can learn the basics and the dynamics of the game at the same time without involving tackling or contact.
As parents, we’re worried about our children’s safety. It’s natural to be concerned about full-contact sports at any age. Every sport has a risk of injury; in this case, tackle football has more risk.
Again, every kid is different — some kids are more sensitive than others, and some are more athletic. Nevertheless, we advise flag football first to learn the basic skills. This way, kids will learn all the different defensive and offensive strategies more safely.
When it comes to tackling football, parents should consider their child’s emotional and physical state. For example, maybe the child is in a good emotional state but physically isn’t ready to play tackle football.
So, how do we make a decision that is best for our kids? The best way is to review our kids’ development. Ask these questions: Does my child know how to protect themself? Can my child follow the rules of the game? Does my child know how to fall? Can my child focus during the training session?
Also, not every parent is the same. Different parents have various levels of comfort when it comes to injury. Most people will say that tackle football is purely a mental game, but that is not exactly true.
If parents decide to let their kids play tackle football, they should talk to them openly about the sport. Secondly, we should ask for advice from the child’s doctor. Lastly, the child will hopefully have a great coach and teammates that will make them safe and happy.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
The physical and mental benefits are obvious in any sport a child decides to play. We will see a positive change in our child. Building confidence and team spirit are precious gifts that sports give our children.
When it comes to full-contact sports, it’s natural to be worried. We always advise talking to a medical professional first if it will put your mind to rest. For some kids, tackle football is just what they need, while for others is not.
Talk to your kids, find out what they want and love, and go from there!
Need some help picking a sport for your child to try next? Read these articles to get your inspiration game going strong.
- Soccer and Basketball: Differences Explained
- Soccer and Rugby: Differences and Similarities Explained
- Tennis Vs Badminton (What Are The Differences)
- Is Mixed Martial Arts Better Than Boxing? (Differences Explained)
Learning from your own experiences is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.
- Deener-Agus, E. (2022, December 19). Why Children Should Play Ultimate Frisbee. HowTheyPlay. https://howtheyplay.com/team-sports/Why-Children-Should-Play-Ultimate-Frisbee
- Diamond, G. (2016, February 9). Flag Football for Kids – A Non-Contact Alternative. https://www.truenorthcamps.com/blog/2016/02/09/flag-football-for-kids-a-non-contact-alternative
- Everything you need to know about Flag Football. (n.d.). Park Ridge Football and Cheer. https://parkridgefootballandcheer.com/what-is-flag-football/
- Garda, A. (2017, October 4). Questions to Consider Before Letting Your Child Play Youth Football. Bleacher Report. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1072875-questions-to-consider-before-letting-your-child-play-youth-football
- Hobbs, S. (2022, April 20). The Best Other Sports for Soccer Players. Girls Soccer Network. https://girlssoccernetwork.com/other-sports-for-soccer-players/
- How To Get Kids Into Playing Futsal. (n.d.). Australian Sports Camps. https://australiansportscamps.com.au/blog/get-your-kids-playing-futsal/
- Inspiring the next generation: Five alternatives to get children into football | sportanddev.org. (n.d.). https://www.sportanddev.org/en/article/news/inspiring-next-generation-five-alternatives-get-children-football
- Neefs, J. (2020, October 14). Football alternatives make the game fun and safe for kids. Active for Life. https://activeforlife.com/football-alternatives-for-kids/
- Ultimate Football. (n.d.). Westfield PE/Health Department. http://westfieldpe.weebly.com/ultimate-football.html