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Everything posted by whiskey.alpha

  1. 7 on 7 defense are just tackle football defenses run against quick game. Rushing is probably pointless unless your league doesn't have a pass-clock (most 7/7 leagues use a 3.5 to 4 sec pass clock). Teams will just throw hot behind it. At 12-14 execution is most important (or should be) so I'd keep your schemes digestible. I suspect all teams that age have a simple base cover 2 and cover 3 concept, some will also have a quarters concept, but most will just run cover 2 man under or man free with a spy (because they're easy to install). If you're into pattern-reading, 2-Read/Blue and some of the 4-2-5 secondary concepts seem to be getting more popular, at least here in Texas. Good luck!
  2. I've been updating this thread every year since 2011 when some of my players were 4 years old. And every year they get better and better and better. Fun to watch this group and even more fun to coach. They are mix of 3rd and 4th grade.
  3. Another year almost gone. Still a work in progress, but the boys keep getting better and better. Roster is mostly 2nd / 3rd grade and two 4th grade. Since last year we've exclusively played 3/4 NFL Flag in central Texas. Enjoy.
  4. What we do: If coaches can't be on the field, we huddle near the sideline. If coaches can't be in the huddle, what we do depends on how well our team knows the playbook. If they know it cold, we usually send our QB in with a multi-play script or some simple play progressions based on what the QB is seeing. Is he reading man defense? What is the safety doing? Etc. If they're not quite there, we'd sometimes give the QB a numbered wristband and signal the plays to him from the sideline and let him call it in the huddle. But mostly we just send a player in with the play. I hate using wristbands for all players (I think it's a crutch), but I've seen other coaches combine them effectively with a passing tree. Coach might yell "Buffalo 2" from the sideline which means Buffalo formation, second play on the wristband. And the wristband would have four numbers 0-9 to indicate the routes. At the NFL Flag national championship were weren't allowed to communicate whatsoever with our players (except during a timeout). The kids had to call their own plays and even run substitutions. As a coach, it was hard not to feel intensely helpless/powerless, but it was also eye-opening to watch what a bunch of focused, well-prepared 10 year old kids could do when they had the reins. I don't mind letting my QB call the plays if I have confidence he understands why he wants to call it.
  5. Appreciate the info SMichael, but I noticed every one of your posts surreptitiously shills for the same website/company. Also, a few months ago you said you never tried the wrist bands, yet yesterday you said you've been using them for several years. I think I speak for all here when I say we don't mind hearing about great products, but we also appreciate transparency. Nothing ruins your credibility more than feigning interest in a community just to phish its members.
  6. I've coached both of my sons' 5on5 flag teams in the Austin area since 2008 (my oldest is now 11). If you are truly seeking a competitive environment for your boys, find the nearest NFL Flag league and enroll your team in their inter-league "elite" division. It's basically where all the best flag teams from Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Lake Travis, and Hyde Park enroll and play each other. We've also started enrolling our same kids in the 7on7 spring leagues at Lake Travis High School and we've beaten every team out there without mercy the last two years. It's not because they're bad teams. It's just that you can tell which teams play "neighborhood" flag leagues on a regular basis and which teams play the NFL Flag inter-leagues on a regular basis. There is a TREMENDOUS difference in speed, talent and coaching. I found out the hard way. My oldest son's last season of i9 Sports was late 2009/early 2010. We scored 320 points in 6 games that season. Well, we moved to NFL Flag the very next season and our first game was against the Ravens. I'll never forget it. They scored 28 points against us in 15 minutes and we lost by mercy-rule before the first half was over. It was very humbling. However, it was also the best thing that ever happened to us. NFL Flag has a league close to you in Steiner Ranch, although the closest of the inter-league fields is in south Austin, I believe. Contact Neighborhood Sports for more information.
  7. I know this is just a veiled-marketing post to shill for online courses, but I think the subject is an important one, even if I disagree with the premise that the 60% dropout rate is due to coaches not being trained. Like most everything, I think there are some good coaches, some bad coaches, and a whole lot of average coaches. And while it's certainly true that every coach can improve himself/herself in some respect, I think this post conveniently overlooks an enormous cultural shift that appears to have happened in the last 20-30 years. Among parents, there's a level of narcissism and "child-worship" that didn't broadly exist 30 years ago. And among kids -nearly 1/3 of whom are overweight or obese- there's a level of entitlement, self-indulgence and instant gratification that also didn't broadly exist 30 years ago. I don't know a more perfect storm for undermining the best things about coaching and youth sports than the above combination. In today's world, even Mr. Miyagi looks out his window and sees nothing but unwaxed cars. That's because Daniel-san went home to play Xbox and post selfies on Facebook. Oh no, wait. That was Mom. And it wasn't selfies she posted- it was 307 instagram photos and 47 videos of Daniel scoring touchdowns in pee wee football.
  8. Very impressed with my little guys after this last season. It was their third season doing some form of quick game. Roster is two 1st graders, three 2nd graders, and two 3rd graders. They exclusively pass the ball unless the QB recognizes man coverage.
  9. I agree to a point. Personally, I don't think 8-10 year old boys are the best candidates to make decisions about what's in their best interest or what they (truly) want. Sure, it might be true in a kid's mind that doing Thing "A" gives him pleasure and doing Thing "B" doesn't. But that information is of limited value. Most boys can't see beyond how they feel right now. They're also prone to associating displeasure with structure and frustration. At some level, all boys are Huck Finn, and unless they're naturally competitive, they'll never see the value in "wax on, wax off". I remember my oldest son telling me how much he hated lacrosse (during the summer) but then telling me how it was his favorite sport (during the season). And if you asked him in Fall, his favorite sport was tackle football. Point is- if I left the decisions up to him, he would have made them emotionally and skipped out on a sport he truly loves. I cant tell you how many naturally athletic kids I see turn away from football around 3rd and 4th grade grade -not because their coaches are jerks- but because they grew up dominating their peers and being self-indulgent and they never developed a work ethic. No one forced them to do the stuff that wasn't fun and taught them how to experience success on a small level. Then, one day, they started getting caught from behind and not scoring touchdowns every possession and they became frustrated. Moreover, their confidence and enthusiasm were now way, way down because -for years- they associated pleasure with something that no longer existed. All this doesn't mean coaches need to be more like Marv Marinovich. I just think it's easy to get lost trying to make "fun" the center of the universe. If a kid quits playing basketball because his coach makes him play it with his left hand, sports will never be anything more than a casual indulgence for him. And that's okay. But let's be clear - that kid doesn't need a coach, he needs a chaperon. And it's probably the wrong decision to force him to do it. I see my role as helping kids see beyond what's fun about sports. Because fun is short-lived and momentary. Fun is easily obtained. A kid doesn't need a coach to have fun. A kid will find fun just fine on his own. I want my kids to value the contest, challenge, and camaraderie of sports. I want them to know what it means to set goals and achieve them... to have success... to want to work hard when the payoff isn't instant or obvious. Those are things from which kids can draw deep satisfaction - an altogether different kind of pleasure, but one that is longer-lasting and harder to achieve than "fun". Whether you keep your "wax on, wax off" drills fun or not, keep your player motivated by not letting long periods pass between his frustration and the payoff. Keep goals small and make sure success is clearly defined. If you've done it right, one day his dad will be awakened by a thud-thud-thud in the driveway and he'll look outside and see his son dribbling with his let hand without being asked.
  10. In my experience, a young kid with a good arm stands out and makes parents "ooh" and "aah" until about 6th grade. After 6th grade, a good arm takes a backseat to good footwork and good decision-making, both of which are helped by good work ethic. So much about the QB position is tied to the feet. That said, footwork is arguably dead last on the list of things a 10-year old kid wants to do, and that's where a good coach can make a difference. Good luck.
  11. Two 6 and 7 year old boys running Air Raid this fall:
  12. A few comments, since I know something about biomechanics and speed/agility programming. If you’re coaching it in a group setting, you’re wasting your time. If you’re coaching it in a group setting to 9 and 10 year olds, you’re really wasting your time. I’m not saying such training has no value, but the bottom line is improving the rate of force development in young kids is an “in for a dime, in for a dollar” type proposition. It takes a LOT of time, effort, repetition, and individual instruction to yield meaningful results. And chances are, since you’ve got limited time to practice during the week, you’re not doing it near enough and/or with near the individual supervision required for it to yield meaningful value across the entire team. If anyone tells you different, be skeptical about their aptitude as a true strength and conditioning coach when it comes to young children. Bottom line is speed is the product of physical factors AND execution. And execution is far easier to coach in a group setting when you have limited time, and it yields faster, more meaningful results. You’ll never take a bunch of 9 year olds who run a 6.0 forty-yard dash and turn them into a bunch of 5.3 kids through casual speed training. But you can probably achieve that same relative difference on the football field with good play execution, proper stemming and starts, etc. Remember there is an opportunity cost to everything you do. If you spend your time doing X, the price is that you are NOT doing Y. Your response might be to therefore do some X and some Y, but, like cazador said: to each his own. Personally, I love watching opposing coaches spend time doing things other than working on their plays and play mechanics. Candidly, I think that’s a big reason we’re going to the NFL flag national championship this year and they aren’t. Good luck in whatever you decide.
  13. Don't waste your time. Speed and agility are the product of mechanics, biochemistry and effort. You might can get a kid to give more effort, but it takes a lot of time and repetition to retrain neuromotor patterns. Instead, spend your time improving your players 'game' speed with execution, execution, execution. Mike Leach says it best: Crisp execution makes slow kids faster in the same way hesitation makes fast kids slow. You'll probably never get a slow kid to outrun a fast DB on go-routes, but you can work on play familiarity, stemming, blowing off the line, eliminating false stepping, etc.
  14. Your boys are old enough to know basic man coverage and zone coverage principles. You dont have to run M2M in a game, but you should occasionally run your offense against it in practice if you're seeing it. My experience coaching young boys was opposite yours. I loved running pure zone, but no matter how hard we coached them, we found that young minds still had a tendency to peek at shiny objects in that backfield... and get beat deep. Or miss a wide open receiver. I cured it with a simple pattern-read defense in which (i) each defender focused on only 1 key, (ii) each defender made 1 call. It worked beautifully because it directed their eyes around the field and forced them to communicate. It wasnt M2M, but it meant our boys had to learn to cover a receiver because sometimes they would have to solo him. You will start to see a lot of M2M against older, more athletic teams. Most young QBs don't see man-covered receivers as open unless the separation is huge, and the coaches know that. But they also have the speed and athleticism to recover if something goes bad. Once your QB gets over that hurdle, though, M2M defense is a gift if your receivers run crisp, hard routes. And if they don't, playing against man coverage will make them do it... since that's the only way to beat it. If you don't have the numbers, you can run your offense on only the left or right side of the field and lock up defenders and receivers. We also take that as an opportunity to work with our QB on pre-snap recognition and reading the corner or LB (squat, drop). Good luck!
  15. Another school year gone for the ATX Falcons. We played three seasons of 5/6 and 5/6 Elite and generally maintained a 70/30 split of 4th/5th grade. Giving up two birthdays at this level was much more challenging than previous years. Our boys hadn't ever seen 12 y/o speed (or acne). It was a great experience for them. Every game was a dogfight. Every game, they had to be salty. In the end, they won a championship, lost a championship, and played their guts out just to go 4-4 in the spring. https://vimeo.com/67629520
  16. No one defensive scheme is good against everything. 5x5 flag football is an offensive game (assuming the coaches know what they're doing). Consequently, a part of coaching defense against good offensive teams has to include taking chances. And by chances I don't mean taking unnecessary risks. I'm talking about stuff like deciding whether to send a rusher into the strength of a formation or the QB's throwing hand (if they're different). Whether to abandon a flat in order to press the middle. Etc. Against a good team, sometimes you just have to guess. Hopefully you guess right more than you do wrong. Quick throws will neutralize a 10 yd rush and make it basically 4 on 5. However, if we see a lot of quick throws to the outside, occasionally we'll send a rusher off that corner and leak a defender from someplace near the middle/LOS into the flat on that side. The rusher isn't bringing a ton of pressure, but most QB's have tunnel vision when he's in their line of sight. And while they absolutely see the hole he's leaving on his side, they don't always see the defender flying into it from underneath. Pick. Most good QBs (and good offensive schemes) are 100% about timing -- they read either Rush or no-Rush. We stunt and do what we can to disrupt that, including delaying rushes, especially against teams that like to strike to one side. Occasionally we'll line up two underneath defenders at rush depth (one on each side + a middle linebacker up near the LOS). Mike drops down the middle and the two other defenders read their keys as they leak up into their zones. The QB reads "No rush" and settles, but all were doing is taking a mississippi or two to see which flat the offense is attacking. If they strike quick, we have an extra tackler at depth. If not, our free defender takes off after the QB, who, because he was settled, is now more apt to rush his throw at a point in a receiver's route he's not used to throwing. It takes some practice, but consider teaching your kids how to banjo against bunch formations (basically zone for 5 yards, then man). A majority of trips formations will do one of two things (i) set up the weak side, or (ii) wash out the strong side only to leak a receiver back to it. A banjo call can be very deceptive if your defense shows man, but your playside corner checks off the split receiver at the last second and stays home. We get a lot of takeaways disguising corner responsibilities, especially against stuff where the QB rolls to his side with a dragging center or some sort of out pattern to that side. At the end of the day, Belichek is probably right when he says defensive scheme is less important than execution (and the talent you have on the field!). But if your team is anything like ours, your kids play up against good teams and down against bad teams. And against a good QB, they're going to get gashed and make mistakes. Just tell them to (i) make 'em big, and (ii) make 'em going forwards, not backwards. Good luck.
  17. Appreciate the comments, although I could probably cut an equally long video of things that made me wanna throw my clipboard during the season! Haha
  18. Like I said, I'm probably in the minority. I don't view "fun" and "structure" as two things in tension that need to be balanced. Football is a game, and games are fun. But even a funhouse has concrete under it. As a coach or volunteer coach, my first responsibility is to the collective experience of the team. And for better or worse, Playground Etiquette 101 is part of any group activity, even at age 5. If a 6 year old isn't having fun because his i9 coach thinks he's grooming the '85 Bears, that's the coach's fault. If a 6 year old isn't having fun because acting out and being disruptive aren't tolerated, that's not the coach's fault. That's not even the kid's fault. That's Dad's fault. If a 6 year old is acting out and being disruptive, and (volunteer) coach never visits with Dad about it and/or doesn't ask Dad for air cover during the other 167 hours in the week, that's coach's fault. As someone once said: There's no such thing as bad dog; there are only bad owners. 6 year old kids are gonna mess up constantly. But having structure isn't the same as maintaining discipline. At the end of the season, I may or may not have a "disciplined" team. But it isn't about discipline. It's about confidence. It's about having a shared experience. It's about having goals that 6 year old kids can visualize, and, more importantly, are within their power to achieve (since not everyone that age can catch and score touchdowns). Each season my parting words to parents are always the same: -- Thanks for sharing your Saturdays with me and my sons. -- I hope your child enjoyed the out of the season. - I hope your child learned something from me and the other coaches about competition, teamwork, and the game of football. (In that order.)
  19. I started coaching pee wee football in 2008. I have some very specific thoughts about tactical team management for 5-7 year olds, although probably not shared by everyone for that age group. 1. Coaching young boys is no different than training dogs. You need structure, you need consistency, you need patience. I stress fun, but my kids learn very early on that having fun as a team is different than horsing around and being silly. They raise their hands and line up and conform every day in the school cafeteria. No reason they can't do same on the field. I don't let little things slip: - players must take their mouthpieces out before speaking to me or asking a question - players must listen and make eye contact when I'm speaking (or a teammate is speaking) - players may not talk over another player or coach - I don't accept head-nodding or "yeah" as acceptable responses to a question - etc You don't have to holler. If you're consistent, you hardly even have to raise your voice. Just don't be afraid to call out a player who isn't conforming. If your'e speaking to the team and Johnny is looking down and digging in the dirt -- stop talking and look at him. The silence is deafening. He'll notice, turn red, and you'll continue on without ever saying a word about it. If you're consistent, moments like that are opportunities, not frustrations. 2. Keeping young minds engaged is the hardest part about coaching 5-7 year olds. Some boys will tend to watch birds or play in the dirt whenever it's not their turn to carry the ball. Call them out if they do, but be fair to them by stacking the deck in their favor. Make sure everyone has a "job" if they're on the field. No responsibilities = lots of standing around = things quickly turn into "Lord of the Flies." 3. Get an assistant coach. It will help with #1 and #2. Have someone help you run practices and manage the sidelines during a game (substitutions, decorum, etc.). 4. Further to #2 and #3, separate the team and run smaller practices (e.g., 2+ concurrent drills). Maximize involvement and minimize standing around. Most young kids also have a hard time learning things in the abstract. So the more you can do to create muscle memory, the better. 5. Minimize unnecessary variables and focus on doing a handful of small things well. This may mean rotating certain positions less frequently early on, especially at QB and center. However, good ball exchanges will go a long way to reducing their learning curves. It will also help you maximize ball distribution to 10+ kids. I also do things like call "Ready" and "GO!" instead of letting my 5 y/o QB do it. Basically, I try to take the reins on anything that commands their attention if it will help with consistency. 6. Make a big deal about defense. Chasing things and catching them is in the DNA of little boys. However, your defensive instruction will be harder for them to visualize than offense, which only really requires that your players be able to trace a treasure map with their feet. About half your boys will chase, but not engage, the ball carrier when they get close to him. I usually have no problem getting every kid in the endzone during the season, but it's sometimes a struggle to get every kid at least one flag-pull at that age. But if you can get them fired up about it, suddenly you have something they can focus on and enjoy when it's NOT their turn to carry the ball. And that's a real victory at this age. It can also be a real alpha builder. I can't tell you how many times confidence on defense turned a total paste-eater on our team into a difference maker. 7. On offense, keep things simple and make sure each kid has something to focus on. I've found it's hard for kids their age to visualize plays, and it's twice as hard for them to visualize plays if they're required to know them at multiple positions. It can be done, but we only practice 1 hour each week and I don't waste time trying. Consequently, I don't coach my kids to know plays. I coach them to be coachable on the field and in the huddle. The kids do this by memorizing 2 running routes and 5 points on the field relative to the LOS ("A, B, C, little A, little C"). That's it. That's the offense. I line the kids up and whisper each boy's route assignment into his ear. "Johnny -- run to A." "Billy -- run to C, then B." "Sammy - run dive 1 and take the handoff." The result is, when the ball is snapped, a visually complex play HAPPENS, although no one kid actually knows the "play." This allows us to orchestrate complex plays on the fly and confuse the holy ###### out of 5-7 year olds playing defense. It also gives me the freedom to rotate positions freely since "run to A" is easy to do from anywhere on the field. Feel free to disagree with this.
  20. Another year gone. Time for another ATX Falcons flag football yearbook (3m 21s). It's amazing how much our core group has developed since summer 2011. http://youtu.be/daeHitsAvgc
  21. Thanks. We played a season at Murchison a few years ago, but that was as far north as we've been. Last several seasons we've played 3/4 or 3/4/5 in South Austin, Westlake, Regents, etc. We've got a pretty solid pee wee team shaping up in i9 south (4 & 5 y/o). They're moving to NFL in Spring. You can tell the boys all have older brothers. Lots of fun. (3m 01s):
  22. Personally, I love seeing a defense set up a kid up at nose who crosses into our backfield on a handoff. Especially if we own the speed mismatch (as suggested by the original poster). Once the defender is in the same east-west plane as our tailback, he’s beat. At best he can chase, and we’ll always win the footrace to open space. Then the burden is on another defender to step up and make a play. On the other hand, what gives us fits are disciplined defenders/LBs who actually move up and down the LOS. They hawk the runner and never let themselves get pulled flat with the tailback (unless it’s in front of him or within flag-pulling range). Best case, it gives the slower defender a chance since he can get a pursuit angle on the speedier ball carrier. Worst case, it slows down the run or makes the tailback commit to hauling ass to one side of the field.
  23. What age group? A few random thoughts: - Once the ball is handed off there is no 7 second clock. - On occasion I'll put a blitz on someone other than the QB. - We teach our defenders closest to the LOS to be patient. If they get too aggressive, they'll get pulled flat with the ball carrier, and get beat. - Young defenders will tend to over-pursue a fast tailback. Watch kids taking big steps at close range and getting caught. Close distance with big steps, break down when near the ball. - We teach first man to the ball to get in front, slow the runner; the rest contain. Watch corners leaking into the middle and getting beat outside. We teach our corners that they don't need to pull flags as much as they need to herd runners back inside. - As far as scheme, in the past I've run something like a Cover 3 with a LB defending one of the flats (usually strong) and a corner blitz from the other side. More often than not, it shrunk the field and one herded the runner to the other. I've also occasionally deepened up defenders to ensure they have better angles to the ball carrier, and contain him underneath. Goal was to give up yards, but not touchdowns. Your mileage may vary. Good luck!
  24. ATX Falcons have a new video. Something to get the kids fired up: (1m 40s) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of82M4_6Xxw
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