Three Flag Tag Games to Help Your Kids Burn Some Energy

Do your kids need to burn off some extra energy?

Are you tired of prepping for hours for a game?

Flag tag is the cure for overactive kids and time-crunched parents.

Set-up is fast. It makes exercise exciting.

Best of all, it’s FREE.

In this article, I’ll teach you how to play flag tag in three different ways.

Each is quick and simple, so you can go outside with your kids and get to the fun.

Flag tag game for kids: how to play flag tag in three different ways. Each is quick and simple, so you can go outside with your kids and get to the fun.

Why Flag Tag?

Kids need to be active 60 minutes every day. Video games, TV and the i’s (Phone, Pad or Pod) just don’t cut it.

Flag tag is fun fitness for ages 5 and up and can be played with a group of 2, 22 or 202. There’s no time limit. Play rain or shine. You can set up in as little as 2 minutes.

As a P.E. teacher, I discovered kids love games where they get to run around. They love the thrill of the chase.

Kids especially love it when the chase involves “getting” mom, dad or the teacher, so play the game along with the kids! It’s great exercise and fun for adults, too.

full speed chase

Barefoot is optional. It’s just how they prefer it.

There are many versions of the basic game of tag. Flag tag features a handkerchief or bandanna hanging from the players’ waists, which opponents must capture. The goal of flag tag is to avoid having your flag pulled.

There are two jobs: runner and tagger. The tagger tries to steal the runner’s flag.

There are three variations to the game (see below).

First, let’s look at what you need to start playing flag tag.

You Will Need

  • 1 Bandanna for each player in the game (If you don’t have bandannas, you can use hand towels, small t-shirts, or any other fabric)
  • Drinking water (hydration is very important during physical activity)

Preparation Time

2 minutes (grab bandannas and water and find space)

Activity Time

15 minutes+ (take water breaks every 5 minutes or so depending on the temperature outside)


Backyard, local park, ball field or gymnasium (check any space for objects or obstacles that would make it unsafe)

Size of Space Recommendations

  • 30 ft. x 30 ft. (9m x 9m) for 2-6 players
  • 40 ft. x 40 ft. (12m x 12m) for 6-10 players
  • 60 ft. x 60 ft. (18m x 18m) for 10-20 players

Flag Tag Fundamentals

Designate one person to be the tagger. This person DOES NOT need a flag. Give all other players a flag and have them tuck it in their belt or waistband on their hip.

Each runner must keep his or her flag visible and grabable. Knee-length works well.

Tell the players they may not “flag-guard.” Flag-guarding is where you hold or cover the flag during play.


Example of a knee length flag (good) and of “flag guarding” (bad).

Make sure everyone knows the boundaries for the game (out-of-bounds, obstacles to avoid). Remind everyone to watch out for people to avoid collisions.


pulling flag

I call this grab “The Half-Superman.”

Now that you’re ready to go, let’s look at the three variations of flag tag.

#1: Tag and Trade

In this variation of flag tag, one tagger chases all runners.

When the tagger pulls a runner’s flag, that person becomes the new tagger.

In this dynamic game where roles are always changing, you need to be on your toes or you’ll soon find yourself without a clue—or a flag.

successful steal

So proud! Now quick—tuck the flag in and RUN!

Tag and trade is fantastic because everyone is always involved. There are no outs. No penalties. No hurt feelings or exclusion. Everyone always has a job.

#2: All for One

The set-up, flags and rules are the same as tag and trade. The only difference comes when a player’s flag is pulled.

If a runner’s flag is pulled, that individual joins the tagger instead of switching jobs. Now there are two taggers and one fewer runner.

Continue this process until there’s only one runner left.

The last runner standing is the first tagger for the next game.

tagging strategy

I can’t tell if his plan is to get caught or if it’s a ploy to draw her in and escape at the last second.

All for one usually ends up being All for mom or dad. As hard as it may be, Mr. or Ms. Ultra-competitive, you should let them win at least once. It will boost their self-esteem and make them want to keep playing. Tagging you also provides great stories for them to share with friends.

Don’t think they talk about that? Trust me, they do. I know. I’m a teacher.

#3: Team Flag Tag

Team flag tag is for the more competitive bunch. Girls vs. boys. Parents vs. preteens. You decide the teams, but speed and skill will decide who reigns supreme.

Note: This variation requires each team to have similar flags (e.g., red flags vs. blue flags).

two flags

If two different-colored flags are not an option, you can use shirt color or gender to divide the teams.

For team flag tag, every single person needs a flag. Everyone is a runner AND a tagger. The object of the game is to pull the other team’s flags without having your flag pulled.

If your flag is pulled you’re out. Use that opportunity to get a drink of water.

When all the flags from one team are pulled, you have a WINNER.

Hydrate, make trades if needed, flag-up and begin again.

Some Final Thoughts

Flag tag is a fun, free and fitness-oriented way to get the whole family together. As you can see by the smiles, we really enjoyed playing. I hope you enjoy flag tag and add it to your family’s repertoire.

What do you think? Does your family have a favorite fitness activity like flag tag? Share your fitness activity and photos of your family playing in the comment section below.

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About the Author, Jon Kidwell

Jon Kidwell is the founder of Finding Fit, a company focused on empowering people to lose weight and maintain healthy lifestyles. Learn more at Other posts by »

  • Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Jon! We’re planning to play these at our next Cub Scout meeting. Their neckerchiefs will be the perfect flags.

  • Guest

    You’re welcome! It was my pleasure to write it. I love the neckerchiefs as the flags! Such a great idea!

  • Jon Kidwell

    You’re welcome! It was my pleasure to write it. I love the neckerchiefs as flags! Such a great idea!

  • Beth Kimberly

    Great games!

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