Running flag football routes isn’t too different from running traditional football routes, but there are some nuances & differences, along with common terms and names for them that many new players aren’t familiar with. Here is a list of 33 flag football routes, a football route tree that you can reference and some information to help you become a flag football routes master!
Block & Release
Playing off of a block, you can intentionally run a block and release route to get the rushers to commit, then turn up field where the quarterback can get you the ball quickly in space. With double blockers and a double rush, having both blockers release can give you a 2 on 1 situation over the middle linebacker when pitching is allowed.
The bubble route is used typically to get space to catch a WR screen style pass with blockers where allowed in contact styles, or to simply get in position for a play designed to have players in pitch position for quick high percentage plays to try and break a long gain on an easy completion.
A corner flag football route, also known as a flag route, is typically a 5 – 10 yard vertical with a 45 degree break towards the nearest sideline. In man coverage, it’s very hard to defend a perfect throw unless the defender is significantly faster than you with great instincts, and allows the quarterback to put the ball towards the sideline limiting the chances of an interception, but also making it a very tough throw.
A deep comeback route is a good route to use in long distance situations where your receiver sprints as if they are running a go route, then breaks down on a comeback towards the sideline typically 15-20 yards downfield once the DB has committed and turned his hips to run.
Dig / Drag
The dig flag football route, also known as an “in”, “drag” or “crossing” route, can be similar to a shoot route, except they are typically a bit deeper, between 3-10 yards, although the distance can be modified to the quarterbacks desire. They’re also considered a “crossing route”, ran towards the opposite sideline crossing the center, versus a “shoot route” or “out” which is always towards the nearest sideline. These routes can be rounded off or squared off depending on your preference and how quickly you’re looking to get in and out of the route.
The dig up route is run just like the dig, but 2-4 steps into the crossing route, the receiver plants and cuts up field into a seam or fade route depending on the DB’s leverage. A great route for man coverage with an aggressive DB who is known to chase down on crossing routes consistantly.
If you think a defender is playing far off the ball to give up the short passes and make sure nothing gets behind him, the double stop works great. I love to use this on 3rd and long, trying to give the illusion that we’re going deep then breaking back towards the ball at the first down marker. Hard to defend a speedy receiver running this route with a DB that isn’t as fast. Run it just as you would a stop and go, but break down around 12-15 yards downfield or at the line to gain on the comeback.
It might be a stretch to include this with traditional football routes, but in flag football so many teams use it, that it’s worth mentioning in case you’re not familiar. If you’re ever asked to “star” or “drop”, or be a “throwback”, this is what they mean. Essentially, your goal is at the snap of the ball, to immediately sprint back behind the primary quarterback, allowing him to throw backwards to you if desired in a lateral type move, that then affords you the ability to run or throw again depending on your rules. Not all leagues or tournaments allow this, but many do.
Drop & Go
If you use the drop route regularly, sometimes you will notice the defender assigned to your 2nd QB chases the drop aggressively giving you an option to fake the drop and cut back up the sideline right by the defender who’s over committed.
Go / Fly
Probably THE most common football route of all time, it’s just as effective in flag football as well. Also known as a “fly”, a go route is essentially just run straight as fast as you can and catch the football, pretty simple. A “seam” route usually bends in towards the middle thirds of the field, typically run out of the slot position, while the “fade” route is typically run from the outside, allowing the quarterback to fade the receiver towards the sideline where the defender doesn’t have much of a shot to defend a perfect throw. A good quarterback will expect you to know the difference between each, as it greatly affects the placement of the ball if the receiver bends it the wrong direction.
In Out In
A favorite route of many along the goal line, the in out in route is very tough to defend as it may confuse a defender who may look to pass the receiver off in a zone, or over commit to the 2nd move in a man lock situation. It’s advised to “soft sell” the first in before breaking out so the defender may think they got you and over commit to the out, before breaking back in where you have a good clean window for the quarterback.
One of my personal favorite flag football routes, the receiver essentially runs a snag route, either from the center or slot position, then wheels up the sideline for a deep bomb. The quarterback typically will need to buy some time as this is a longer developing route, and it’s best to pump fake the snag just before the wheel to suck in the defender. Also a tricky route for the outside defender along the goal line to catch an aggressive corner jumping the out route.
Another of the common flag football routes, out routes are as simple as they come. Always clarify how deep the quarterback wants the route run, as you can run it at almost any distance, whether it be 3, 5, 8 10, 15 or 20 yards even depending on the quarterback. Always run towards the sideline, essentially the opposite of a dig route.
Out & Up
Fake the out route, and wheel up the sideline. Again it can be run at any depth, and works great with a quarterback who can effectively pump fake and buy time as it may take a couple extra seconds to process.
Out Up Stop
A variation of the out and up, if you know the defender won’t bite and just sits over the top waiting for the out & up possibly in a cover 3 type scenario, thrown in a stop route at the end at around 12-15 yards to mix it up and keep them honest for a high percentage route.
Similar to a corner route, the post route is run towards the middle of the field, usually on a 5-10 yard break, at a 45 degree angle or so. If run correctly, and against man coverage, it’s a low risk high reward type of play that is typically run with your faster athletes or against your best match ups.
Essentially just a corner route, but takes slightly longer to develop thanks to a step or two towards the post, before breaking back to the corner. The idea is to set up the defender inside and get him to bite on the double move before breaking to the corner. If sold properly, it’s hard to stop.
Many times when the defense is in a soft zone, it’s not ideal to continue running a post or crossing route directly into the defense. In those cases, running a “Post Stop” type route will allow your receiver to settle in the soft zone of the defense. Great against a 2-2 style defense where the middle is typically the weak spot, this route is a great 10-15 yard easy read and completion against most zones.
Effective against man or zone defenses, this route is harder to run correctly due to the post to out angle that needs an excellent route runner to be crisp to catch the defender over pursuing the post. If run right, it’s very hard for a defender who is turned to chase the post to flip their hips back to the sideline without knowing it’s coming.
Post Corner Post
Also known as “PCP”, this route is almost impossible to stop in man coverage with a speedy receiver that can run good routes, and a quarterback that can buy a little time. It takes a second or two longer to develop than the post corner, so usually best with a blocker or while rolling out and buying time, but if you can pump fake the corner route and get the defender to bite, it’s as close to a sure touchdown as you can get.
Post Corner Comeback
A high end route effective against any style defense, the PCC route is hard for a defense in man coverage to break on, and equally effective against a zone where you can settle in a hole between a short and deep route to that side for a flood.
Shoot flag football routes are also known as “quick outs” by many, where you immediately “shoot” towards one sideline or the other, staying close to the line of scrimmage. Similar to the “out” route, except you don’t advance up the field at all initially, and you immediately look for a quick pitch or throw as the route is much quicker to develop.
One of the most common routes in football is just as common in flag football, and run similarly. Typically run at 3-5 yards on the break, from slot or outside, most everyone should be familiar with this football route.
A variation of the slant, also known as a “slant & go”, a sluggo sells the slant route, with a quarterback pump faking the slant, then the receiver cuts up field into a seam (middle thirds of the field) or fade (towards the sideline) depending on the coverage. Some quarterbacks even distinguish the route they want you to run by calling it a “Slant Fade” or “Slant Go”, so make sure and check with them what their preference is. Very effective against a aggressive man defense.
Piggybacking on the sluggo, the sluggo post flag football route is a more advanced route that is highly effective in man coverage. Typically used after the other routes have set this up properly to give the defender a false sense of security, just like a post, this is a hard route to cover if run properly.
The sluggo stop route is a great variation in the event you are predicting man coverage with a defender who’s playing far off the ball, typically because he’s afraid of your receiver’s speed or in a long distance situation. The sluggo stop route is typically good for 10-15 yards without much problem in these cases, and can also be used to settle into a mid-range middle zone between the safety and linebacker.
A snag route is essentially a way to disguise whether you’re running a “shoot” or a “drag”, by faking one with 2-3 steps in that direction, then reversing field. Useful if you’re looking to hold a defender and give him pause while executing other routes around him, or allowing other routes to clear while you drag under. Effective against zone and man defenses.
Stop / Curl
The stop route, also known as the “curl” or “comeback” is one of the most basic flag football routes, but needs some clarification. It’s important to know exactly how deep it’s expected to be run (5, 8, 12 yards, etc), and if it’s breaking towards the quarterback or towards the sideline. Many people use similar terms with this route to mean different things, so always best to ask. If run from the center position, you typically will curl or comeback opposite of the rusher to give the quarterback a proper lane to throw.
Stop & Go
Take the stop route above, and then go, pretty simple. Great to use against aggressive man coverage defenses, and I personally love to use it in 2nd or 3rd and short situations where you might catch a defense guessing with a low risk high reward route.
Under is essentially the opposite of a shoot route, where you drag across the formation only getting 1-2 yards depth at most, typically out of or through a bunch formation where the other routes clear out and pick the defender chasing you. Best run with your quick and shifty players who can make defenders miss after the catch.
A fairly common flag football route, usually reserved for players coming out of the backfield, such as the quarterback, running back or via a fake hand-off. It’s important to always be ready for a pass while running this route as if you come open it’s usually quick, but you can also wheel up the sideline and turn the 2nd half of the route into a go, or improvise from there. Wheel routes are typically extended all the way to the sideline.