Touch Football: 7 Winning Tips

Touch Football: 7 Winning Tips

What’s at stake in a family, pick-up game of touch football? Usually, just bragging rights. Or, maybe the stakes are higher, e.g., who has to do the dishes after the meal. Whatever the case, it’s important to enter into the game with a plan of attack.

Here are some strategies and tactics to help your team post a “W” and enjoy the spoils that come with victory.

Playing touch football

How to Win at Backyard Touch Football

1.) Dress the part. Everyone knows that when you look good, you play good. In this case, players are outfitted with Cabin Crew jerseys from Great Lakes Clothing Company. The cotton jerseys, a collegiate take on women’s crew necks have an over-sized cut giving players plenty of room to stretch for those long passes. (Even if you don’t play football, they’re super comfy and warm). On sunny days, don’t forget to add a little eye black under the eyes. Yeah, it might reduce some glare, but more importantly, it will help intimidate your opponents.

dressing the part in pick up football
Dressing the part with Great Lakes Clothing Co.’s Cabin Crews


It's a QB game
Touch football is like the NFL: A QB game

2.) Team selection is half the battle. Lots to factor in here including: speed, size, experience, sibling rivalry, hurt feelings, and more. As with NFL games, pick-up touch football is a quarterback league. Make sure you have a QB who can throw the ball on your team. After that, as tempting as it might be to draft for speed, go for players who have some experience playing football. Things like running routes and catching the ball are difficult to teach in one session. The “best-athlete-available” direction is not a bad approach. Remember you won’t have time to administer a Wonderlic test, so try to pick players who are quick studies.

3.) Put the ball in your best player’s hands. Let your star player star! Position selection and play calling are all about trying to make sure your best player touches the ball a lot on offense. Good things happen when your best player has the ball.

4.) Creative play calling rules the day. Reverses, laterals-and-then-forward-passes, and of course, the old hook-and-ladder plays should make up at least ½ of your offensive play calling. Also, you’re doing something wrong if a stop-and-go pass route isn’t called on 2 out of 5 pass plays.

Touch Football Tips
“Button hook at the spruce tree on two”

5.) Take advantage of your field of play. Try running the curl route around the maple tree. Or, make sure your defender has to run through every puddle or slippery spot on the field. Use the imperfections of your field of play to your team’s advantage.

6.) The early, preemptive celebration. On questionable pass receptions and “did the ball cross the end zone” issues, if you’re on offense, celebrate immediately as if the ball was caught or the ball crossed the line for a TD. An early, and loud celebration dampers any protest attempts by the other team.

7.) Focus on fun. In a short time, the outcome of the game will soon be forgotten, but memories of the experience will last a long time. Let everyone have a shot at quarterback who wants to, don’t take it too seriously and cheer good play from both squads.


7 Killer Plays for Touch Football

If you’re looking for some creative plays, try some of these:

1.) The zig-zag pass route.  Have 2 players run in zig zag patterns instructing both of them that the pass might come on the zig or the zag.

2.) The crossing brush pattern.  Receiver on the left crosses to the right, and the receiver on the right crosses to the left. Both receivers nearly touch shoulders as they pass each other creating difficulties for the defenders.

It's all about teamwork
It’s all about teamwork

3.) The question mark pattern. One receiver runs the shape of a question mark.

4.) The angle shotgun. Center hikes it to receiver who is standing a foot behind the line of scrimmage. Quarterback goes out for pass – they always forget to cover the QB – and receiver tosses the touchdown pass.

5.) The Hook-and-Ladder. Receiver A runs a 10 foot button hook.  Upon pass completion, receiver A laterals the ball to teammate B who is sprinting to the goal line within lateral range.

6.) The Statue of Liberty play. Quarterback takes ball back as if to pass, and holds it there for a receiver or back to come around, take the ball and run.

7.) The Hail Mary. Everyone goes long and the QB throws it far and high. See Doug Flutie’s pass against Miami in 1984 to fine tune your approach.


Photo credits:  MJ O’Halloran & Mike O’Halloran

Don't be afraid to audible at the line
Don’t be afraid to audible at the line



  1. Just because it’s a friendly game of touch football that doesn’t mean competition goes out the window! It’s perfectly okay to want to win and to play to win, even if it is just for bragging rights. In fact, I think we all need a little more pickup touch football games where it’s just about having fun and doing the best you can without a coach screaming out every move you should make.

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