Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

Flagdad

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Flagdad last won the day on July 28 2015

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  1. What mac said is pretty spot on. What I find with my younger kids is that the QBs generally do decent fakes more often than the RBs. Making them do a slightly exaggerated "alligator arms" clamp on the ball and buckling over a bit, really sells it. The way I got them excited about fakes was making "Great Fake" something I tracked on the stat sheets and made almost as big of deal about them as I did touchdowns when they helped allow one. Often the kid with the touchdown is streaking down the field I would find the kid that did the fake and shout him an attaboy first. Everyone is screaming for the TD but if a good fake helped it, you singling them out helps a lot.
  2. A few years ago, talking about Tim Tebow really got through to a few of my kids who could throw better than every other kid, but did it with bad form. There was a great ESPN sport science piece on him that I found on Youtube which detailed how much slower his release was than the average QB. At the time, he was the playoff winning QB in Denver so they end it with "Only time will tell" but I let them know that he never got a chance after that. National Championship, Playoff win, but with a form that was so bad, the NFL passed on him. It really got through to two of my kids. One of them though was like "wait a minute, so you're saying I could win a national championship throwing like this".....grrrrrr. I had to counter with, how much better could he have been if he fixed it at his age. With him out of the news for a few years now, it may not work as well.
  3. I currently coach 1st and 2nd graders in a 5v5 league and each season I will have anywhere from a couple to half my team being brand new to football. Some times I felt I didn't do a good job getting them up to speed on the basics as I focused on the majority who already knew the concepts I was reinforcing. I also saw some Dad's teaching and reinforcing some bad habits so these links help to educate them as well. It wasn't until I saw Joe Montana's throwing motion clip below that I realized how bad my own was. In one season, this old linemen increased my own accuracy with my son as well. Below are the links, followed by the instructions I give the parents. If any of you have found similar links please let me know. Effective Sprinting/Running Techniques 1) Usain Bolt (World’s Fastest Man) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QrlPmK4B94 With this clip point out that he is pumping his arms Cheek to Cheek (hands go from cheek to back pocket). If trying to catch the ball carrier, run like this. If you have the ball, you'll have it tucked in the outside arm, away from the defenders. Point out that Bolt's heels barely ever touch the ground all his power is up on his toes. Also, highlight how you never look side to side at your opponents, just forward when trying to run your fastest. Not a single person in that clip looks side to side. Also point out the guy in the back at the end of the clip, by leaning forward, instead of sprinting all the way the "goal line" he actually slows himself down. 2) Jamaal Charles (KC Chiefs Running Back and Olympic caliber sprinter) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dmfe2Y0ct3s At 20 seconds watch his first four steps. He is pumping his arms and his heels barely touch the ground, he is completely on his toes. Focus on this with a few quick rewinds of his sprint. The rest of the clips show the value of any exercises which require your brain to tell your feet where to go quickly. 3) Ladanian Tomlinson (SD Chargers All Pro RB) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItjlV-zqX1w LT is showing how to do a spin move and proper ball placement. Keep the ball in the outside arm. Set up, get your balance, cut to get the defender off balance, then accelerate out of your spin to the endzone. Make them aware that until they can do awesome spin moves in practice, they shouldn't try them in games. Effective Catching Techniques Tony Gonzalez (ATL Arguably the Best TE ever to play) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRkgGZ8-yyw Box out the defender with your body if you can. Get your hands in front Diamonds up when pass is above waist, down when below! Catch with hands when possible. Squeeze the ball with your finger tips when you catch it. Track the ball with your eyes as you tuck it in to your arms. Lastly, look for your defender and run after the catch. Dez Bryant (DAL WR) http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9798623 Every catch is with his hands, not his chest. Fingers not palms. This is really hard for young kids as their hand size and strength isn't the same as an adults. But as they move up and you play catch with them, emphasize finger tip catches. Greg Jennings (GB WR) http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7636558 Because he only uses his fingers to catch the balls he is able to catch two at once. Notice the blue areas from the sensor gloves he puts on. Almost no part of the ball touches his palms when he catches. Throwing Techniques Joe Montana 3 Time Super Bowl MVP with SF http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bFa7adgSfc&feature=fvwrel In the link above Joe Montana will tell you how he (and almost all current NFL QBs) throw the ball. Roll your hand so that your thumb points downward and you are pointing at your target to create the spiral. Keep your non throwing arm tucked close to the body. Add power to your throw by rotating your entire upper body at the waste and lastly step in to your throw.
  4. Our league requires that each coach submit a sheet to the ref and opposing coach that shows who is playing and when. I currently have 10 players in a 5v5 league. The sheet puts five kids in the first half for offense, then they rotate to being the second half defense. If I have 9 kids, the first four kids get to play one quarter each both ways. On top of that, no player can have more than 4 carriers (positive yard runs not including catches). I think in our situation this is solid advice. Until I know what my post season philosophy is, I can't expect them to understand it or be comfortable with it. If I let them know early in the season that the ball gets spread around during the season, but carries in the bowl game are rewards for hard work all season long it won't surprise anyone.
  5. When you gave your talented kids the ball for those games, did you ever have a really negative experience with the kids who got left out?
  6. I coach 5v5 1st and 2nd Graders and am torn about spreading the ball around in the post season. On One shoulder... One bowl game loss, I had my star player crying next to one of my grass pickers who I worked to get involved that game. I called a simple toss to him in the flat for a no brainer chance to catch the ball. He never turned around, and just kept running straight as the ball hit his back and fell in to the arms of their corner who ran it back for the game winning score for the final play of the game. Afterward I consoled our very competitive and hard working QB even as the other really good hearted kid, yet completely not athletic or competitive kid, asks "Did we win?". So to get the kid involved who didn't care that much, I set the hard worker up to feel like he lost us the game. On the Other Shoulder... In another season at the tournament we had a kid on our team who was two heads shorter than our next shortest kid. They kept leaving him uncovered all game, but all season in practice he rarely caught even a perfectly thrown ball. I call a pass to him and he catches it in the endzone to tie the game. The look on his face to this day is why I love coaching. In the huddle I call the same play but with a pump fake to our speedster. He catches it again for the extra point that wins it. We gave him the game ball and his mom told me he took it to bed with him for months. He now is still the smallest but a consistent scorer for his team. I don't have a problem with this during the regular season, as every kid touches the ball at least once a game. Its the post season games where it gets tough for me. Hard work all season should be rewarded yet at this age they can seem to "wake up" and suddenly "get it" at any time. Why rob them of a chance? What are your thoughts or philosophy on spreading the ball around in the regular vs post season?
  7. If I might ask, how would you rate yourself on spreading the ball around and play time in that last game? I try all year to make sure every kid touches it every game. Then you get to the bowl game (our league does not have a tourney) and then the little devil on the shoulder starts talking me out of it. Especially if we get down early.
  8. Thanks! Rob, your replies and posts helped crystalize my approach to do a few things well, vs mediocre at a lot. I've been lurking here since my second season and have learned a lot and figured It was time to give a little back. I have two seasons left before I am no longer allowed on the field with them and will have to learn how to coach from the side lines and am realizing how different the young kid game can be. Especially for new coaches. I think my favorite part of coaching kids is how much I learn each season. The kid I wrote off week one, becoming a solid player in week 5 or the brilliant play on paper that never gains a yard. However you don't start seeing these until you're no longer making up practice on the fly, or changing your offense around every time you get thumped. The sooner you get comfortable, the more fun it gets.
  9. Ask your parents first before doing anything on the internet. I had one parent who was very adamant about not having any photos of her children be on the internet.
  10. I had a kid break his arm outside of football and his cast came off week one and it was pretty much the same story as yours. I did much of what you did and think you are doing all you can. The only thing I did differently that seemed to work, is what I do with all of my lower talent players on occasion. I set up a play for them to run and stack the odds in their favor. I will put the worst 3 flag pullers on D, then have my kid who needs confidence fake the reverse to our speedster, the kids all bite, fearing our fast kid and then praise the kid for an awesome run. Maybe take them aside and say just for them to hear "Those are the kind of runs I knew you had in you. You're gonna help us win this week". The moment you see him stop being afraid, don't bring it up again until maybe the end of the year. I had one kid who waved his arms like a bird when he ran and we kept working on breaking the habit and he did. Then I brought up in practice how proud I was that he stopped doing it....and it came back again.
  11. I have coached my sons 4-5 year old team all the way to his 7-9 year old team. At that age my suggestion is to practice playing the game as much as you can. If you have 10 kids, line up 5 on defense and bring 5 to the huddle on offense. Everything you "tell" them will not stick, teach through doing with as much repetition as you can. Break once in the middle for a fun drill like Flag Tag or Sharks and Minnows, then rotate your kids. If you find yourself talking for more than 10 seconds, get back to doing. Don't worry about getting blown out. The secret to coaching at that age is how many kids have played before. The new coaches get new kids, returning coaches get a 3-4 who resign up and then they can use those kids to crush you. I will also say...run first...pass second. No matter how wide open at that age or how great your QB, passing is going to hurt you as often as help you. I am not saying to give up the pass, but until you get a good running game you will be in trouble consistently. The key at that age is to get outside. These kids don't want to run in to people, so every middle run, they break outside anyway...even when the middle is wide open. I do a sweep to a wide out and give a reverse on first and second down with my slower kids to get them in the game, then third down I fake the reverse with my fastest kid. If the corner bites on the fake, only one safety has a shot at the getting him. The trick is finding two kids who will do a good fake when they aren't getting the ball. If you have a team of kids who want to do 'Ole!" flag pulls from the sides, take off flags and do a two hand drill with a cone alleyway about 6-7 feet wide and 20 feet long with 1 defenders every 3-4 feet. The defender only gets an atta boy if he gets in front of the defender and makes them change directions, then two hand touch. The carrier then tries to juke the next defender. Make a big deal about the ball carrier not being able to run in to the defender (this is a rule, but refs rarely call it). This will teach them that most of the time collisions don't happen and that getting in front before pulling flags is key. It really is. You will always have 2-3 grass pickers, slow kids or ones who aren't aggressive enough to risk getting run over. If you can get those kids to at least slow down their speedsters by getting in front and forcing a cut (preferably inside) your flag pullers will get more shots at them. When they stand planted and reach, they miss and they might as well not be there.
  12. I have had similar kids, unfortunately I don't think we have the time to really focus on corrective behavior. What I do is send out an Extra Effort email each week for the parents to go over with their kids. This allows pro athletes to coach the kids and the parents. Here is what I send to parents about proper running techniques. I instruct the parents to watch each video and then highlight the areas I cover below the links. 1) Usain Bolt (World’s Fastest Man) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QrlPmK4B94 1:14 This clip point out to your son that Usain Bolt is pumping his arms Cheek to Cheek (hands go from cheek to back pocket). Point out that his heels barely ever touch the ground and all his power is up on his toes. Also, highlight how you never look side to side at your opponents, when trying to run your fastest as looking to the sides, slows you down. 2) Jamaal Charles (KC Chiefs Running Back and Olympic caliber sprinter) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dmfe2Y0ct3s 2:58 At 20 seconds watch his first four steps. He is pumping his arms and his heels barely touch the ground, he is completely on his toes. The rest of the clips show the value of any exercises which require your brain to tell your feet where to go quickly. 3) Ladanian Tomlinson (SD Chargers All Pro RB) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItjlV-zqX1w 1:21 He is showing how to do a spin move. Keep the ball in the outside arm. Set up, get your balance, cut to get him off balance, accelerate out of your spin to the endzone
  13. I came here 7 seasons ago and through my lurking I have learned a ton. There are better threads about the Xs and Os but this one is about the bigger picture lessons I have learned coaching K-2nd 5v5 Flag. 1. If You Want to Coach, Be the Coach. If you know what kind of coach you want to be and your priorities are straight, don't let another Dad step on your toes. My son was five and I volunteered to coach his first flag football team. We started with a horribly run league, but I didn't know that then. We arrive at a pizza place, a lady stands up and in all of five minutes says "Let all the kids play. Don't curse or shout. Here's where you pick up your flags.". If this sounds like your league...get out next season (I'll explain why later). At the bottom of the folder I see that another Dad is listed as the assistant coach. I think this is great, because I am new and could use some help. The guy ends up being a running back coach for the local high school and by the end of the first practice steam rolls his way to being the head coach. I could have pitched a fit, but at the time, he had a routine, he seemed to know how to get things moving and he talked like my High School coach so it felt like coaching to me. As the season went on however, he would reveal himself to be everything I do not like about coaching younger kids. He was a cool guy off the field and was likely a good high school coach, but 5-6 year olds were NOT his forte. He played 5 out of our 10 kids 90% of the time. One of our grass pickers literally never got a down in 3 games. He had a curse filled altercation with the kid's Dad after one of the games when confronted by him. He tried to convince me and 3 other parents to lie about our best kids ages for the next season so they wouldn't go to the next division. His own kid, who was one of our best kids was in tears during half the practices. Our last game of the year he freaked out over a bad call a referee made stomping off to the league tent in the middle of the 2nd qrtr. I finally confronted him telling him to sit it out. He redzoned on me for a half a second where I thought I was about to have to fight a grown man in front of my kid. Then I explained to him he was hurting the team and he noticed the huddle of wide eyed kids behind me. He apologized to the team and admitted he just wasn't cut out for that age group at the end of the game. However, in the interest of not making waves, I let down my kid and all of the others who weren't playing or really even being coached that season. I felt horrible for not standing up sooner. I thought that his solid game plan and well run practices trumped what I brought to the table. What I learned is, if there is something you want to coach your kids, then be the coach. Half of your parents will want to win at all costs, I have had some tell me to NOT play their kids. The other half want their kids to have fun. If you let them "help" you, you will not know until week 2 or 3 what kind of parent they are and by then, they are a coach too. Even if you suck your first season. Suck using YOUR philosophy. YOUR plays and YOUR practices. If you have to coach with someone else, go out for a beer before week one and hash out your coaching styles. - 2. Don't Be "That Coach" Don't be "That Coach" who has one superstar that you ride all year. The only thing you are proving is that you are good at figuring out which 5-8year old is faster than the rest. Because that is pretty much all it takes. If you want to prove how good of a coach you are, score a touchdown with your grass picker. Get him in the endzone. I can remember every time I got my slower "all heart and less skill" players in to the end zone because of the smiles on their face and their parents. My third season we played for the championship against a team with a freakish athlete. They beat us 38 to 20 and he scored all their touchdowns and their extra points. He intercepted us twice and played every down of the game. Every down. One of my Dads tracking stats had them down for 22 offensive plays and this kid ran the ball 13 times and they threw to him 5 other times. What really got to me was a parent from his team after the game. He came over and shook my hand and said "I liked how you spread the ball around even when you were losing. My son hasn't touched it all year. Do you have any openings next season?". After that Dad talked to me, I realized just how crappy that coach is for his team. More than half his kids might not play football again because of how boring he made it. Just because they aren't Barry Sanders at age 6, they got snubbed by their own coach. The other kids may have grown to be- great linebackers or linemen or maybe they could have been good that year if coached up. Even if they were never going to be good at football, its exercise, team building and should be fun. "That Coach" won and his kid got to feel awesome for a couple seasons but he did at the expense of other children on his own team. Please don't be "That Coach". 3. Find a Good League The first league we tried was run out of some ladies house and she was using the league to pay her mortgage and boy did it show. One season we did not have flags for our first game and had to cancel and reschedule. The cost went up the following season,but the flags got cheap, medals and trophies went away and replaced with certificates. Some days we had 2 refs, other times 1 and never the same ones. One week we had a guy hard counting the 25 second clock (in a Kindergarten league mind you) the next we had guys letting a minute tick down. Applying for a coaching spot was clicking a check mark and getting a quick speech at the beginning of the year. When the field got rained out, you were notified with a sign at the field. None of these are horrible, but they add up, they irritate the parents, you as a coach and they will impact your ability to coach. Our final season someone broke in to the shed she kept all the gear in and she asked everyone to pay an additional 50 bucks for more jerseys which mysteriously showed up two days later, even though 3 seasons prior they were always a week or two behind shipping them. In short, it was shady, run poorly and parent irritation at the league spills on to you. Contrast that with i9 and it is night and day. The refs and opposing coaches have your play time rotation so that every kid gets in every game. Their website alone will save you a ton of work as a coach. I have always had two refs, usually one of four whom I know how they call the game and can adjust accordingly. They robo call you and your team first thing in the morning when weather cancels a game too. They give you medals to had out each week to a kid for a sportsmanship award, which is a great way to motivate the kids who don't score or get the game winning flag pull. A good league eliminates most of the stuff you can't control as a coach, leaving you to worry about your team and your team alone. 4. Set Your Practice Days and Location on Day One When you first contact parents have a brief statement about what kind of coach you intend to be, let them know your practice times and location and then ask them if this will work for them. If you say to a group "Where should we practice?" like I did once, you will have a parent who instantly chooses a time and place convenient for them. Another parent will resent that and put forward one that works for them. None of them are committing as much time as you, so don't feel bad for laying claim to a time and location convenient for you. If some parent has a hard conflict they will let you know and if enough do, then reschedule the time or location at that point. Look around and pick a central location to the team prior to talking to them. Try to pick a field that has access to lights and a bathroom. During the fall, the spots just outside the outfield of softball or baseball leagues are lit up and great finds. If you find one with a nearby play structure for the siblings, jackpot. 5. Get Parents Involved Right Away. If you wait to get parents involved they will assume you don't want them or don't need them. If you ask for volunteers without specific roles, they may be afraid you are asking for more than you are and decline, or worse, assume you don't know what you are doing and insert themselves. On the first practice, pass your roster around and tell them you've assigned snack for each week in the order on the roster and let them swap dates amongst themselves. Ask for one or two Dads to track stats so that you can make sure the playing time and touches are as fair as possible (Do not attempt to track stats yourself). Ask if a parent wants to volunteer to organize getting names on jerseys silk screened or to plan an end of season party. Some parents will leap at the chance, others will run away, but it puts some of the success of the season on their shoulders not just yours. If you asked for someone to step up, they can't blame you when it doesn't get done. If you bring parents on to the field, have a specific job for them. Put them in a box until you know them. Place them by your corners and have them coach up containment during runs and how to play the pass. Have another work on your blitzers. Have another focus on "alligator arms" for proper hand offs. If you just say "Help me on defense", congrats you have a new defensive coordinator who could end up being "That Guy". 6. Have a Parent Track Stats I love stats as they help you on several levels. Stats help motivate kids, inform the parents and keep honest as a coach. Many parents watch only their kids and not the whole team during the games and have tunnel vision because of it. The parents who have the super star athletes love seeing how well their kid is doing. Seeing one kid with 7 touches week three and another with 0 will wake up your coaching as well. Seeing that one kid scores 75% of the time he gets it, will make the parent of a kid with 4 touches and 0 scores understand why his kid isn't leading getting more. On the stat sheets I always include a few stats like Hustle, Hurries, Sportsmanship, Swarming which I use to quickly pad a few of the under performing kids stats. I still let the stars stand out, but you should always have something to praise at this age. One season stats revealed that one kid was our best receiver during the games but I didn't see it until I saw the paper. Seeing your kids with 0 flag pulls lets you know who needs work. The best part is, if other parents are tracking the stats, parents can't blame you for unequal praise. Each season I grab some images from Google to match our team name then print out a half sheet of paper with the logo and their name and laminate it. Then at the end of the game I give out stickers for the tally marks on the stat sheets. The idea being like the college and high school teams that put the stickers on their helmet. Its a pain but the kids eat it up and I have yet to have even my worst grass picker be bummed out because he doesn't have the number of stickers our stars do. These kids know the star player earned them, but I stress the team aspect and that make sure even the worst player has a few to be proud of. 7. Define Your Standards and Punishments On Day One The sooner you define your standards, the sooner they will meet them. No talking in the huddle. How to address you or other coaches. Taking a knee when addressing them. No horsing around during water breaks. No flag pulling while in lines or huddles. Figure out what will happen when they break these rules and be consistent. Consistent. Consistent. My punishment is running around a backstop about 100 feet away. Some coaches do pushups or sprints. Keep in mind these are boys who spent all day not moving at school, so don't be a drill sergeant, but if practice is being interrupted, have a quick punishment that gives the kid a few seconds to feel a little embarrassed but not shamed. Also try to say why they are in trouble loud enough for the parents to hear. Only the worst parents will have a problem with you equitably and humanely disciplining their kid. Some parents sign their kids up specifically to get some discipline. None of them signed up to hear a grown man humiliate, scream at or berate their child. 8: Keep Your First Practices Basic When coaching young kids you will always have kids who are new to the sport. Some who have played, will forget half of what they learned or your terminology may be different than their last coach. Define Offense and Defense. Make sure they can all snap the ball properly. Tell them what the Endzone and line of scrimmage is. Show them alligator arms for hand offs. Walkthrough a proper throwing motion. Make sure they can all snap the ball properly. I said that last one twice because it will break your soul when some kid gets over the ball and says hike himself and long snaps it in to the end zone on week three. Also make sure you update your terminology. I spent an entire season saying "Carry the football like a loaf of bread". Week 7 I saw a blank look and asked who knew what a "loaf" was. None of them could. Facepalm Coach. 9: Practice Plays Not Drills From age 5-9 I would stress that almost 100% of your practice time needs to be spent running plays or drills that simulate pieces of plays you need to work on. If you can have a full defense against a full offense, do it. If not, short the defense one week, offense the next. The reason is that if concepts like containment, or pressure on the QB or the value of a good fake can not be explained to most kids this age ESPECIALLY if they are new to football. They need to be burnt around the corner, see their good QB put up a rainbow pick with a blitzer coming in or get caught standing still with a good fake before they get it. The most I would do with drills are sprints, not for conditioning (you will never have enough time at this age for conditioning) but to teach technique and I use a ball and a hard count to teach reaction at snap. I have a snap, then hand off and run between a gauntlet of defenders to focus snaps, hand offs and flag pulling. Then mix it up with a pass and run through defenders. 10: Run First. Pass Second Until you hit 3rd and 4th grade a consistent passing game is a vaguely close promise land that all coaches and virtually every parent, believe is just over the horizon. Don't get me wrong, you need to pass or those No Run zones will murder your team. I am simply saying that you need to get your running game going first. In 7 seasons I had a freakish QB in two seasons, but only one kid could catch his balls. One season I had four who could catch but the only kid who could throw would only throw to the person I said to watch for, regardless of how covered he was. Even smart QBs just huck the ball in the air when blitzed effectively. Work on your running game, get a few easily completed short passes to the flats and over the middle (depending on where their defense's holes are) and save the bombs. Now if you have a QB and 2-3 who can catch and run smart routes, you're going to be first or second in your league because everyone else is running and opposing defenses will not be sucking up every play. Around age 9 and 10 the kids get disciplined on Defense and running starts to get hard, but this is because they are starting to grasp big picture concepts. This is when they are able to really grasp route running versus just doing what is on the wipe board regardless of where the defender is. 11. Coach Football Maybe this should have been number one, but you are a football coach, so coach football. Just because you devised a wacky rule bending play that works, doesn't mean you're coaching good football. By 3rd - 4th grade, your muddle huddle or not having a WR report to the huddle will get crushed hard. All the time your team spent practicing it, is keeping them from learning real football plays and skills. Statue of Liberty, Hook and Ladder or a Flea Flicker are not the type of plays I am talking about here. If you're designing a play to trick 5-8 year olds, remember that tricking them is not difficult. The target of your trickery are people who believe that fairies pay them for old teeth. Be a good coach and practice good football they can learn from.