TIPS + TRICKS
SNACKS ON THE SIDELINES
Drink Up: Fill a glass beverage dispenser with our pomegranate drink (it'll show off the sliced fruit inside) and top off each mug with a fresh cinnamon stick.
Use Two Hands: Wrap some hearty sammies in wax or parchment paper for mess-free eating; hold the seams together with pennant toothpicks.
Crunch on This: Put quick "time-out" snacks, like popcorn or trail mix, in small lunch baggies with players' numbers on them.
SET THE SCENE
Rev Up Team Spirit Get teams to declare their mascots and colors. Supply poster board, markers, glitter and the like for players to collaborate on signs and scorecards.
Dress the Players Use fabric markers or colored tape to adorn oversize sleeveless jerseys -- they'll fit better over sweatshirts -- with players' names and numbers. For the ref: Stick vertical stripes of black duct tape on a white shirt and hand over a whistle.
Paint the Boundaries Enlist kids to outline the backyard "field" (or just end zones and hash marks) with washable paint, like Crayola Sidewalk Paint Airbrush ($13, crayolastore.com).
Make Some Noise Download free mp3s of crowd-cheering and applause sound effects to play during the game, like after touchdowns, completed passes and interceptions. Go team!
HIT THE FIELD
This ain't the NFL -- you just need to know the basics to become a backyard MVP. Michael Cihon, executive director of the United States Flag and Touch Football League, shows us how.
The Draft Have a simple competition, like throwing the farthest, to decide captains. The two winners alternate picks until everyone's on a team.
The Positions Five-player teams are the simplest for basic matches.
1. The center snaps the ball to the quarterback (and can catch it after the snap).
2. The quarterback throws the ball.
3. The right wide receiver's main job is to catch the ball on the right side of the field...
4. ...just like the left wide receiver on the opposite side.
5. The H-back goes on either side and can be a receiver or a running back in the backfield. "He's your ace in the hole," Cihon says.
1. The rusher charges at the quarterback.
2. The linebacker watches the center.
3. One cornerback watches one wide receiver...
4. ...and another cornerback watches the other.
5. The free safety follows the H-back.
Get a crash course on a typical game.
1. The quarterback has seven seconds to throw the ball.
2. Playtime is two 12-minute halves, with a two-minute halftime.
3. Teams get one time-out per half.
4. A touchdown is worth 6 points.
5. An extra point from the 3-yard line is worth 1 point, or 2 points from the 10-yard line.
6. For touch football, a play is done when the ball handler is touched with two hands.