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Everything posted by Johnp2

  1. We have two techniques when introducing new plays (and trust me, we have a lot of plays). I know I am in the vast minority here, but we go into each season with the ability to run 30-40 unique plays. Now, we might only call 15 unique plays in a game--but we are all about adding new plays to our playbook and scrapping plays that don't work. Of course--please understand that I've had the same players for 5+ seasons now (and most of them for 8+ seasons)--so it is a HUGE advantage for me as you would be impressed with how the kids are able to remember plays from season to season. Additionally, we can practice as much as we like, and sometimes have 3-4 practices per week. If I had to take on all new players--I'd probably go with 15 plays for the season. 1. First we "learn" the play. I have the players line up--WITHOUT a defense--and we walk through the play. The reason we do it without a defense is because I'm walking the players through the play--the defense will hear it and it's hard to stop kids this age from going right to where they know the play is going, which affects the offense's confidence in the play. Second, it's a distraction for the offense. While "learning" the play--we walk through it enough times to where they can implement it with zero mistakes. This usually takes about five times. 2. After we have "learned" the play--we call the defense over and execute it. Assuming the defense was with an assistant, we go right to that play. If the defense was watching us learn the play--I'll call it in the huddle a few plays later. Regardless, the intent here is to fine-tune the play. I'd say we do this 99% of the time. Sometimes it's simple adjustments to the formations, and sometimes it's having the QB pump fake in the other direction, etc. The most important thing about all of this--in my opinion--is knowing when to scrap a play. We've had plays that we worked our tail off in practice--but it simply was not effective in the game. Even if we spent half a practice learning a new play--if it does not work after two attempts in a game--I scrap it from the playbook altogether. I've seen coaches way too often get stubborn with their plays because it looked so good on paper they "know one of these times it will work." I've never been able to understand that. It's okay to have home-run type plays to simply keep the defense honest, but the intent of those low-percentage plays (IMO) is to do just that--so we use them sparingly.
  2. Makes sense--if you have not seen a problem with it but you have seen a problem with not running--then focus on whatever area you feel needs focus. For us it's just another technique that we implement, and to-date (knock on wood) we've not had it haunt us. I actually did use to coach this, but then did see it had unexpected results--for us at least. By that, with the kids focusing on using both hands, I'd see times where they could have easily obtained the flag with one hand--but they worked so hard to position themselves to get both hands on the flag---they missed altogether. Said differently, it was becoming difficult for them to learn when to use one vs when to use two. Once again--it really just depends on what areas of focus you feel your specific players need. We count flag-pulls (and tout them to the players/parents), and we also count "assists". By that, I'll let everyone know that Jacob got the flag on a specific play because Eric stayed in position and forced the ball-carrier inside, allowing his teammate to get the flag. I do absolutely agree that playing in position is most important, so perhaps another alternative is to reward both? Finally, I mentioned this on here before, but we played a team once where the coach paid his player $1.00 for every flag they pulled. I was impressed at the way his players got after it to get those flags. Something I've never done--but it was quite interesting to see.
  3. What coaching points do you institute when teaching how to pull flags? It sounds like your defense played in position--but were unable to pull the flags...is that correct? If so, think of yourself as half-way there. In other words, the first stage is to coach the kids how to give themselves (and more importantly) their teammates a chance to even go for the flag. We play 6 v 6 and implement a base 3-2-1. Even if we give up a big run, as long as my players are in position and have multiple attempts at getting the flag--I applaud them. Sometimes kids have "bad flag-pulling days", and so you have to focus on the fact they at least were properly implementing your defensive scheme (baby steps)... Regarding flag-pulling techniques: you will find a plethora of answers on here. The following is what we stress: 1. Look at the players hips (some might say belt-buckle--same concept). 2. Try to keep the ball carrier in front and pull the flag from the front. 3. If running along side of a player and you get a grip on the flag---hold on and STOP RUNNING. So often, kids are running next to the ball-carrier, they have a grip on the flag, but for whatever reason they are no in position to actually pull it. I teach when this happens to just hold tight and stop running allowing the ball-carriers momentum to release the flag. It works--I promise! ;-) One thing you'll notice I did not mention here is using two hands. Some coaches like to teach going for both flags with both hands. I'm not a big proponent of that, for the simple fact quite often players need their other arm to assist in their balance. Said differently, if a player can get one hand on the flag---go for it---as opposed with trying to get the other arm in there, which can cause a delay allowing the ball-carrier to slip away. One flag is just as good as two.
  4. Congrats on the start to your season, although, we expect nothing less from you at this point. Well thanks, Rob! As you (and many other long-time coaches) on here know...it's never easy. The only way we can even compete in this league is to simply out-work other teams. It helps to have the same bunch for 5+ seasons, but I know they are all committed to working hard and they all go full-throttle on every play. I'm just glad it is paying off... We've made quite a bit of noise and I've seen parents of other teams sticking around to watch us play---as due to the size difference--it's a fun show watching my guys get after it. (Yes, I am proud.) ;-)
  5. Johnp2


    There is really not a lot you can do in my opinion. We have a player (whom I've coached 10+ seasons) that can score pretty much any time he has the ball. This is not an exaggeration. He's scored probably 25 of the last 30 times he's had the ball the past few seasons (I limit him to 2-3 carries per game). We scrimmaged a team this season against a friend of mine. For grins--I told the defense this player was getting the ball. I even walked through the play, where/when he was getting the ball, etc... and said "No tricks. Just see if you can stop him". He scored all three times I did this. Said differently, there will be athletes that stand above everyone else, and you just need to hope that the opposing coach shows some and class spreads the ball around equally. With that--the times we have played teams with the "second fastest player in the third grade" what I did was develop a defensive audible for when to watch that player. In other words, when I called this audible---ALL players were to focus on this one kid. Of course, I only call this when I am 100% sure that player was getting the ball. Having a spy doesn't work, IMO. If the kid is that good--then he is that good. All it really takes is one juke and he waves bye-bye to the spy. :-)
  6. First, this is a GREAT topic! Second, what you are doing is not so wrong... :-) The only draw-back to what you are doing is that you tune out what the defense is doing, specifically who their star player(s) are. Understand that I have (and always will) track every single play and what unfolded on that play--I encourage others to do so as it really helps in post-game review. If anyone wants an example of what I do with this data, PM me. My first 3-4 seasons coaching, I was like you--I simply watched where the ball was going. Then, I had an epiphany and figured I should pay more attention to the defense. Just like that--BAM!--I was able to determine who to avoid...and it really helped. These days, I think the trick is balance. In other words, first and foremost I want to see how my team executed. I've said it a zillion times on here--I could care less if we win--I just want us to execute. The only way (for me at least) to determine this is if I watch my players. Not the who has the ball--but my players. I still do my best to determine who the best defenders are...but when in doubt, ask your players. Not sure what age you coach, but if they are 8+...they will tell you who to watch out for. Have faith in them---it's impressive the things they see that we don't. :-)
  7. At the beginning of our season, my goal was for my team to win two games. This is because we are mostly nine year olds playing in a 10-12 league. Although we were very successful in our 8/9 league--we are not a very athletic bunch and simply won with discipline. Thus far, I'm shocked (and happy) that we are sitting at 4-1. Even in the game we lost to (who are undefeated), we were leading at half-time, and the game came down to the wire. They had some players that were literally twice as tall as some of mine. Wow! We've practiced like the dickens all season long, and gone into every game with a chip on our shoulder assuming our opponents will give us no respect because of how small/young/slow we are. What I've learned thus far is while there are teams with tremendous athletes, the level of disciplined play is very weak. We played one team that threw the ball 100% of the time and ran only TWO different plays in doing so. We are finding it's more difficult to pass this season (this is mainly because of the size difference), and consequently have shifted to run-balanced offense. There are still some very good teams on our schedule, so we will continue to respect our opponents and be ready to scratch and claw on every single play, in every single game. Regardless, I'm extremely proud of our players as we've already smashed our goal of winning only two games. I never would have guessed it... ;-)
  8. Our approach is to play the run first. There are very few balanced teams in our league, and most either throw 90% of the time, or run 90% of the time. Regadless, we teach our DEs to recognize run vs pass (for when we do play balanced teams). The general rule of thumb for us is--when a team empties its backfield, it's a certain pass, and the DEs simply become CBs and drop back into coverage. If we are playing a team that mainly throws, we still split our DEs out wide, but keep them off the line about three yards. Usually after the first quarter, we have a definite feel for our opponents' game plan, but no matter what--we don't allow ball-carriers or receivers (on short routes) get to the outside.
  9. I would definitely recommend you keep your DEs split out wide. We go as far as placing them almost a foot off of the sidelines. It's all about keeping the ball-carriers in the box to us. We have no problem giving up chunks of yards up the middle and instead focus on shutting down the big play to the outside. Your DE's don't need to be overly athletic to do this, just disciplined. I'd suggest a 3-2-1, and simply let your NT and LBs gobble up flags in the middle. Think about it in terms of the ball-carrier's mind-set. Most kids at this age have a natural tendency to use the sideline as a crutch. Once they get the ball and see a NT and LB in front of them--they immediately bounce it to the outside. However, here comes the DE running in toward the play by this point--preventing the ball-carrier from bouncing outside and the ball-carrier really has no place to go. By this point, you've slowed the play down about 2-3 seconds, which is an eternity as we know. It amazes me when I see teams run a 3-2-1 and their interior linemen are bunched up in the middle. When we see this, we runs a one-back/twins right formation, send the left receiver on a slant, pump fake to the right, and then pitch it to the RB going left. Pretty much a guaranteed TD every time. ;-)
  10. I've received a few PMs on how to get started with audibles---mainly from coaches who have a limited practice time. I figure it would be easy to respond to all, and give a quick example. Easy example to get started: 1. Many of you might find the defense leaves a huge hole in the middle of the field (i.e. the defense has a Mike LB back about 10 yards off the ball--or no Mike at all). 2. When we see this, we run a Center shuffle pass right up the middle. It's a simple play. The Center snaps the ball, runs about two yard, turns around and receives the shuffle pass from the QB (in stride)! It's one fluid motion. I have my Center and QB do it about five times at each practice to keep it sharp (you'll probably want more reps at this when they first learn it). When we run it, it's always good for at least 7-10 yards. Not a home-run play--just one to exploit an opening for a solid gain. 3. Just teach this play to your players, and then come up with a "code-word" that represents to run that play at the LOS instead of whatever was called in the huddle. 4. Go through it in practice for about 15-20 minutes and then being "testing" them. For example, call "Cowboy End-Around Fake Left" (or one of your normal plays) in the huddle, and once the players line up, yell out "Nebraska" (or whatever code word is known to run the Center Shuffle pass). After a few attempts, they will get it. I've learned the kids really love executing things to "trick the defense". 5. Using this simple audible will teach your team to begin switching the play on the fly based on your command. As they become expert it at it, you can begin calling audibles for other plays, and then even better for individual players (e.g. run a different route, fake the reverse instead of handing it off, change the QB's progression etc., etc.). Hope this helps.
  11. This is one of the best synopsis of "what we do" I've read on this forum. Exremely well put, Rob!
  12. I agree with this. We are pretty balanced (maybe 60/40 run). However, most teams in our league throw 90%+ of the time. The vast majority of those passes go incomplete or intercepted (we have four INTs through three games this season and had about 10 last season), and I'd say teams have a completion rate of maybe 20%. With the goal being to move the ball down the field and keep the opposing team's offense off the field--I've never been able to figure out why teams throw--just to throw.
  13. Although we are only allowed to rush once every four downs--we rarely do so. The reason being is in our league, the QB cannot run--unless he is blitzed. Most teams' QB are pretty athletic and we prefer to just play our game (cover the field)--making the QB beat us with his arm--not his legs. p.s. This season we've outscored our opponents 33-32. ;-) However, we are 2-1 and playing against teams that are 2-3 years older than us. Last season (when we were in 8-9 league) I think we only gave up one TD.
  14. George, it really does put teams at a huge advantage when you keep the same players together. We've had 99% of our team for 5 seasons, and about 80% for 7+ seasons. What this means is when we walk on to the field for our first practice--the players already know what to do. This affords us the extra time to fine-tune existing plays, and even add additional, "fancy" plays ;-). Right now we roll into games with 30+ plays we can execute no problem---but it does take many seasons to get there. Even this season, we are playing in 10-12, but I elected to return all the same players so we are six nine-year olds and five 10 year olds...and have been very successful in this league (even to my surprise). Do what you can to return as many players as you can. Even if they are not athletic (my team is not that athletic) you will notice a huge difference after a few seasons. Sounds like you did all the right things, and because of that most parents will want their sons to play for you again. If there are some who are concerned about the win/loss record--you are better off without them. Don't let the record get you down---it's very rare for a first year coach to have much success (at least from my experience). Good luck with basketball. I will be a first time b-ball coach coming up so am prepped to take my lumps. Of course I am bringing my entire football team on to play--but I have no idea how they will do in basketball. ;-)
  15. I wanted to highlight what JohnP said. This is so important. Plays do not need to be overly fancy. More important is execution. Find some base plays and practice the heck out of them. Practice and make perfect the intricate parts and the plays will be successful. That's just it. When you find a play that has marginal success--beat the heck out of it. On the simply play I uploaded, every single player has an important role. To fine tune that basic play: 1. Timing, timing, timing. Your RB might be faster than your MR. Position the players so that they will cross in front of the QB at the same time running full-speed (i.e. RB is out wider). It takes us about 20-25 times at practice (just doing it over and over) to get the proper alignment down--and now the MR and RB know to count x steps from the C so they ALWAYS cross in front of the QB at the same second going full-speed. 2. The RB (who doesn't get the ball) tucks and acts like he has the ball once he crosses the QB. 3. The receivers run their routes hard! They turn back to the QB and raise their hands up after four steps (which is before the hand-off) and then continue their route screaming the QBs name. The idea here is to make the defender think it is a pass play, glance at the QB, and then go back to worrying about the WR. 4. The QB steps back to throw and using his peripheal vision sticks the ball out at the last second for the hand off. 5. After QB hands off, he rolls out to his LEFT acting like he is tucking the ball to throw. This is a very simply play, and as you can see some of these "little things" might not directly affect the play--but I always tell the kids there will be one or more players completely confused by what we are doing with their subtle moves. Our goal on every single play is to cause "mass confusion" on the defense's part. The entire idea is to simply take one play--perfect it--and then begin working on the next play. Finally--ensure that EVERY position plays a key role in EVERY play. Instead of kids who don't have the ball simply running around--I've always found giving them a purpose that will enhance the overall execution of the play makes all the difference in the world.
  16. See...this is what I like to hear about. I guarantee you in our league, had there been a point of contention like this, 90% of the coaches in our league would be ranting and raving the entire game. When I see a coach whine in our games, I always step on the gas a little more to (frankly) shut them up so they can take their beating like a man and not point to one play that cost them the game. I understand a lot of times it's because our team is smaller and slower (and they get a little embarrassed). In most games once we get up two TDs I take the foot off the pedal (sorry for the race car idioms), but when I see a coach refuse to accept an official's call--I have little mercy for them. So...congrats to you and the other coach for agreeing to disagree and moving on.
  17. It is a very easy play (and effective). In the event your C is not a fast player---consider the way I modified it (or even if he is fast). Try these three plays in a row in your next game and tell us how you do: 1. Run the base "C End-Around" (just like in the video) (Run a few more plays and then run #1 again) 2. Next, run the same play, but reverse it to a WR split out wide. NOTE: Make sure the WR does not start running for the reverse until the C had the ball. 3. Next, run the same play as #2, but this time FAKE the reverse. Make sure your C holds the ball out before the fake to really sell it. If executed correctly--you are sure to get at least 10-15 yards on #2, #3, or (hopefully) both!
  18. To answer your question--no I have never overhauled our playbook in mid-season, but all 10 seasons I have tweaked it throughout the season (and do to this day). Remember, having a good QB is moot unless you have players that can catch it consistently. We watched a team yesterday whose QB could sling it--but no one could catch it. I just don't get that. They went three and out on the four offensive series I watched. With that--certainly scrap the plays that are not working, fine-tune the plays that are working, and experiment with things you see during the game. Some of our best plays have come by "accident"...meaning in a game if something went wrong, I could see how that can be morphed into a cognizant play to execute. For us it is ALL about mis-direction...getting the defense to move one way and then hitting them in the opposite direction. Also remember to mix it up. In any game we might run 15 unique run plays--but only 3-4 of those go to our RB. However, don't let being 0-3 ruin your confidence. Sometimes you will simply be outmatched. To that end... I'll leave you with an easy play that we've had success with the past five seasons. As you can see it is very basic...but needs to be executed correctly. In this example, the RB and MR run parallel to the LOS (with the RB on the outside and MR on the inside). The QB holds the ball out and the MR gets it. The KEY is that when the ball is handed off the RB and MR should both be right in front of the QB. It just takes timing to get down, but it works well against man defense. Hope this helps some!
  19. If any of you coaches are looking for a really sneaky play below is one the team we played did against us today. Fortunately it did not work because the official got confused and blew his whistle but it is 100% legit (at least in our league). This is also a play better suited for teams that play with six or more. Dislaimer: I personally would never run this play--but here it is: 1. We play 6vs6, one coach allowed on the field--only three players must be on LOS. 2. The team went to their offensive huddle, four of the players (C, QB, and two RBs) casually walked back to the of line while the others(along with their coach) stayed in the huddle talking. They had done this a few times before-to set us up. 3. Of course my defense was talking to each other, waiting for them to break their huddle. 4. The next thing we know they snapped the ball--silent count--and took off. All this while the coach and the rest of the players were in the huddle. Wow.
  20. While we've only played one game---I've watched a few games in our new 10-12 division, and noticed that a lot of defenses switch defense (man or zone) throughout the game. Consequently (and because my players are always up for new challenges) this season we are going to begin learning how to adjust. For most of our passing plays, we are sending a man in motion (this will tell us man or zone). In our first game we did this, with the sole purpose of the players to learn what they are facing. They would yell "man" or "zone" after the player went in motion (they passed with flying colors!) ;-) Now--we are going to the next level and either calling an audible for a play geared toward man or zone. We've been calling audibles for about three seasons now, so they are fine there. Additionally, if we still like our play and don't audible--I'm working with our primary and secondary receiver to "shake-n-bake" a little on their routes to gain separation on man--and to find the opening/seam and sit in it the defense is in zone. This is the best way I can think of to combat hybrid defenses that switch on the fly. Curious if any of you coaches work with your offenses (post-huddle) on learning how to adjust based on the coverage--and if so, what you do? Thanks
  21. It's true the ball does not need to be snapped between the legs. It's the motion of the ball that makes it borderline legal. Regardless, I am okay with it. We have executed the "wrong ball" play (although we call it "I forgot the play") twice. Once many seasons ago against a good friend of mine on the last play (we were down by 2 or 3 TDs) and made a nice gain. The second time was three seasons ago. The ref got confused and blew the whistle as my player was scoring--even though I told one of the officials before the play what we were doing. Ugh!
  22. I imagine most of you have seen this trick play that has been all over the news. Personally, I don't think it is that creative--but it is hilarious how the d-line just watches him walk past them. I don't think this is a legal play, myself. I say this because I played Center for many, many seasons, and I always knew the rule to be that the ball must go backward and up--NOT up and then backward. Said differently, the Center cannot "lift" the ball (although it is close in this case. I could be wrong, however, and I'm sure every league has its own rules on the matter (if they even exist). Regardless, I think the officials did the right thing by NOT blowing the whistle. I imagine they huddled after the play and deemed it legal. Thoughts? p.s. I am of the mindset this is not unsportsman-like. Now, if the team who pulled this off was winning by a large margin--that is a different story. This is middle school football, however--and I remember middle school football being as cut-throat as HS football.
  23. Congrats on your team's effort (the older team)! That's what it's all about--playing with heart. Whether the team wins or losses, a coach always knows what sort of effort they put in, so I'm glad they made you proud and it sounds like you have a group to build on. We have a BIG game this Saturday against our divison's best team. We are 1-0 this season (and frankly my players have been spoiled on winning the past few seasons). They realize what they are up against. Just like every game I've coached them over the years--we are not going in to win. Instead, all we do is focus on executing our assignments to perfection, play with emotion, and let the rest take care of itself.
  24. We don't have "no rush zones", but I think we need to work on (stopping extra-points). Our defense is designed to stop the big play, thus we like to give up 2-4 yards up front and then swarm. Obviously with XP attempts this can be a problem (our XPs are five yards). Last season I think we gave up only three TDs on defense for the season, but I'm pretty sure all three XPs were converted. In our first game this season, we gave up two TDs, but were able to stop both XPs. One we intercepted in the end zone, and on the other one the ball carrier dove across the goal line (which is a penalty). We play Zone on XPs, mainly because we never play M2M, so the players are not accustomed to playing M2M. What we are looking to do this season is play a 2-2-2 on XP, cheating the LBs up close (our base is 3-2-1).
  25. We've run it a few times as well, and had mixed results. We've been more effective when we go on "Down". In our case it seems to lull the defense a little (have no idea why). I agree with Rob that a hurry-up can be considered somewhat sketchy in a rec league. Although our defense can handle a hurry-up, I get little disappointed when I see a team do this, as he mentioned there are other teams that can't handle it due to being new. Personally, I always wait unil the defense is lined up before asking my QB to being his cadence. But no, I see no problem with running a silent count. If anything it will be a good coaching point for the defensive coach to go over with his kids.
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