Orange

Youth Flag Football

440 posts in this topic

Thanks for the help.

We have practice tomorrow night and I can't wait to see how the offense reacts to the plays I have found here. I have color coded each position, and assigned a color to each player, I hope it will make it easier for the kids to understand where they need to be and where they need to be going.

A couple more questions. Our rules state that only direct handoffs behind the line of scrimmage are permitted, no pitches, but shovel passes are allowed. Can't a shovel pass be a pitch? What makes the two different?

I want this to be about the kids and hope they enjoy flag football. Myself and the other two coaches think we should have one offense and one defense and have them play that way for the whole game. I have been told by the team mom that some of the other parents are complaining that their son never got to play offense. What do you think is the best for the kids? I feel that everyone on the team plays an important role, it takes more than the offense to win a game, just like it takes more than the defense to win a game.

Like Orange...I play my guys on both defense and offense. It does keep us from being as good as the teams that only play players in certain positions. However, I feel we are a more balanced team. The sum of our parts (in some cases) will be greater than the sum of theirs - BECAUSE, I have guys who have played all positions and are confident in playing them AND they may only have two or three really good players on each side of the ball. I play guys everywhere. The kids love it and I believe it will make them better football players in the long run. It will also keep them coming back to the game because of the good experience on the team. The kid on the team that only plays defense and never gets to play offense might be turned off from football for a long time.

Just my two cents...

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Agreed---I would allow the kids to play both. I know speaking as a parent, I would question why my son does not have the opportunity to play both sides of the ball.

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These guys are right on the money. Keep it fun and make sure that EVERYONE has opportunities. At this age group it can't and shouldn't be all about winning.

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It's pretty wild to look back over all the posts in this thread. A lot of great discussions, info and learning took place over the course of two years. Already have my spring team signed up for 10-11 y/o division. Nine of my 10 players are returning from previous seasons, should be an interesting season of football.

CRob

EDIT: 5/19/09 - Ended the spring 09 reg season 6-0 (tourney in a few weeks). All the kids but one scored, several scored multiple times. All the kids received at least two ball touches per game, some more. We only allowed 24 pts all season. None of my kids talked in the huddle, not one asked when it was their turn to get the ball. Not all seasons turn out like this, but if you're a new flag coach do yourself a favor; grab some coffee and sift through this thread - you will find tons of practical info that will translate into a less frustrating first season.

Since this thread was started, we've had three 2nd place seasons and one 1st place season. Hoping to make this current 09 season another 1st place. Honestly, we didn't do it by playing our superstars all the time or having 2 hour practices three times a week. We made sure all the kids received close to equal ball touches, applied a lot of the info in this thread (and other threads on this forum), but most importantly - we didn't lose sight of the number one goal - HAVE FUN! There are a lot of wise coaches on these forums, I'm glad I listened to them.

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What an incredible wealth of information. Orange, Coach Rob, all of the other contributing coaches, Thank you. I have volunteered to be the Head Coach of our leagues innaugural Flag Football season. I have never coached at any level before. This forum has given me all of insight and direction required to get things rolling. We will be playing 8 on 8. My roster will be 18 kids. I must say prior to stumbling on to this site, I was beginning to get a little stressed. With our first practice 3 weeks away I have:

-A good idea of topics to cover during our Parents meeting.

-Solid foundation from which to base our teams philosophy and goals for the season.

-Excellent selection of beginner offensive plays to work with.

-Excellent selection of defensive schemes.

-Practice strategy and drills.

If my 7 YO is any indication of what teaching challenges and short attention spans lie ahead....I will have my work cut out.

Again. Thank you all for contributing to such an excellent forum.

Ron the rookie coach.

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Coach Rob,

I emailed you our plays. Let me know if you received them.

Great post and great stuff. I am a first timer and would be interested if you could email or pm me as well.

Thanks and happy playing..

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OFFENSE:

I'm rewriting a bunch of my plays and refocusing my offense this week. My overall philosophy is to keep the passes very short and run. That's not changing. What I need to change is to have more misdirection and incorporate some of things that worked better and some of the things that didn't work. When you drop back a 7-8 year old and have him throw downfield you get too many incompletes and interceptions. Completion percentages are too low to be worth it. Sure we'll chuck it sometimes we get a good matchup but not often.

If you want I can email you our plays which I should have later this week.

First off we line up in the same formation every play. Other teams use all kinds of formations but my team never changes. We had two wideouts, two slots a center and a qb. Many of the teams use kids in the backfield as running backs but not us. It's too easy to see the run coming. We run end arounds and delays to the center. Some will load up a side which is an obvious charade for a run to the open side, not us. We create open sides by clearing out receivers on their routes.

Our best play has been our center drag. It's very basic. The center snaps the ball and takes two steps forward and then turns 90 degrees. The qb takes the snap and begins running parallel to the line of scrimmage. The center has to keep pace with the qb. They run about 5-7 yards sideways and the qb tosses the ball to the center. It's a pass on the run but it's like a 3 yard pass so it's near impossible to miss. The center catches it on the run which is key because he takes his momentum and keeps going. The receivers on the side of the play have routes that clear them out of the area. Therefore when the center gets there he only has to beat his man in a sprint. We call this without fail on all short yardage plays.

I'm not going to go into all my plays but that illustrates how we keep it simple and easy but are very effective. We have variations off that play too like a fake end around that preceeds the center drag and a play that begins as a center drag then reverses direction with the slot receiver for a slot drag going the other way. Also, I found that teams began keying on our end around (our basic run) so I'm putting a fake end around on several other plays so the defense will have lots of things to look at.

Hey Orange,

First time coach here and I could you some guidence and help. I would be interested in any help you can provide in the way of plays. Also great reading above. Thanks for the post.

Mike

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Check out the plays in this forum and feel free to email or PM me with any questions.

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I am organizing an NFL Flag football league for 8-14 year olds. This is our second year and we have recognized a need to put together a handbook for new coaches. I especially need some coaching aids for our youngest age group (8-9 year olds), as most children have never played any type of organized football before. I am very good at logistics but have no football background so I am learning as I go. I put together a guide to basic passing routes (I'll try to attach the file) with information I found in several places. I stumbled onto this forum while searching the Internet for information and am impressed with the members’ knowledge and willingness to share it with others. I’d like to put together a basic practice plan to help new coaches get started. Lots of information has been posted here but I was wondering if anyone has put together a practice guide, including specific drills that can be easily reproduced. I can pull out information from the various postings but thought I would see if anyone has already done this. Thanks for putting together such a useful forum.

Individual_Passing_Routes.pdf

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As for ZONE, here's some reasons why I like it. The biggest reason is that all my defenders can watch the qb and the backfield. In man coverage you're turned around trying to follow your guy.

Our guys can sit back into coverage and it's easy for them to make interceptions. They're in an area and I tell them to watch the qbs eyes. 7-8 year olds DO NOT look off their receivers. We pick off 2+ passes per game and we either score on the int or get great field position. In contrast we've only had one pass picked off in 4 games (that's partly due to my offensive philosophy too). In our league when the ball turns over on downs or after a score you start at your own 5. IF you intercept you get the ball at the spot so it's a great advantage to intercept.

Against runs, your defenders are watching the backfield and can see the runs coming. I put my two lbs on the line about 5 yards left and right of the center. We stuff runs big time. Also the corners stay home so reverses and misdirection are less likely to work against us. Against a man defense a reverse is deadly because kids bite hard on it.

A good qb can pick apart a zone because there are many holes in coverage. I've only seen one 7-8 year old so far that was accurate enough that I had to switch to a partial zone-man (that was our first game). And then we still only gave up one td and picked him off 3 times.

orange what kinda zone r u running and can u show a pic

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Hey coach: this issue came up at practice last week: how are you coaching the end around hand off? is the qb handing off while moving/running, or does the qb run to a spot to stop and hand off?

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This thread has been a goldmine of info! I coach 6-7 yr olds at the local YMCA, but this is my first year where the player is the QB. 5-5 format with a 10 player roster, no rush until 5 mississippi counted by refs, and the QB can't advance until rushed. QB can roll out and bootleg, just can't go upfield until rushed.

I already had the misdirection thing down since coaching 4-5 yr olds to do double reverses last year. I was concerned about coaching kids to throw deep, so I was glad to see Orange's philosophy on center drags and other 1-2 yard outs. When I couple misdirections with opposite side drags, we've been quite successful so far. We won out first game 27-13 and our 2nd game this past weekend 58-19. I felt bad after hearing the score because I don't keep count and I'd never intentionally run up the score, but our drive were either 1 or 2 plays before we scored. Even scored on an old school Statue of Liberty play - not the cool fake pass turn handoff like Boise State, I'm talking 1920's with leather helmets arm behind head handoff LOL. I set that play up with a RB running right as if for a pitch and the right side receiver coming left on an end around. He grabbed the ball out of the QBs hand at full speed, and the defense didn't even react to him until he was about 5 yards down the field. That was an easy score.

I did get greedy when we were up 14-7 and had one of our best passers go deep to our fastest receiver. Considering we never practiced that play, he threw to the middle of the field into coverage was was picked. We won't be doing that again anytime soon!

I went with a 2-2-1 zone: 2 defensive ends about 1-2 yards on either side of the ball who slide with the ball, 2 corners outside the ends about 2 yards deep who stay at home in case of misdirection and back up 3 yards for passes, and one safety about 8 yards deep who mirrors the QB/ball. I don't rush the QB, even when the ref gets to 5. I prefer my players to stay at home and watch for misdirection. Most times they are doing handoffs or quick passes before the ref gets to 5 anyway. I do plan to send in a blind-side end if the QB is dancing around looking for someone by yelling "FIRE". Just haven't had to use it yet. Nobody's scored on us with a "great play" that caught us off guard, they've scored when a flag was missed near the line of scrimmage and they snuck down the line. Otherwise, those swarm drills have helped the players shut down the run and few passes we've seen. We intercepted 2 passes last weekend, one happening at the goal line and he ran back for a TD!

I do have a question, how do you guys handle kids that are constantly touching, picking, and even tackling others during practice? I want to sit them in front of a fence as if in time out, but I don't know if that would be appropriate or not. The parents rave about how well we coach and how the kids love us. However, it really frustrates me to have to stop practice to manage these 2-3 kids and get back into the groove again. I feel like we lose momentum and focus. Any advice would be greatly appreciated it.

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I do have a question, how do you guys handle kids that are constantly touching, picking, and even tackling others during practice? I want to sit them in front of a fence as if in time out, but I don't know if that would be appropriate or not. The parents rave about how well we coach and how the kids love us. However, it really frustrates me to have to stop practice to manage these 2-3 kids and get back into the groove again. I feel like we lose momentum and focus. Any advice would be greatly appreciated it.
6-7 y/o's can be a handful. Suggestions:

1) separate the ones that are making trouble so they're not in the same group

2) keep the practice moving so they don't have idle time.

3) challenge the ones who are making trouble with harder drills

4) if you scrimmage (kids love that), tell everyone at beginning of practice that kids goofing around won't be able to participate in the scrimmage.

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I do have a question, how do you guys handle kids that are constantly touching, picking, and even tackling others during practice? I want to sit them in front of a fence as if in time out, but I don't know if that would be appropriate or not. The parents rave about how well we coach and how the kids love us. However, it really frustrates me to have to stop practice to manage these 2-3 kids and get back into the groove again. I feel like we lose momentum and focus. Any advice would be greatly appreciated it.
6-7 y/o's can be a handful. Suggestions:

1) separate the ones that are making trouble so they're not in the same group

2) keep the practice moving so they don't have idle time.

3) challenge the ones who are making trouble with harder drills

4) if you scrimmage (kids love that), tell everyone at beginning of practice that kids goofing around won't be able to participate in the scrimmage.

Thank you! I will try that during practice tomorrow. Seriously, I've only read through page 9 or 10 of this discussion and I already have gleamed so much knowledge from you guys. Only 19 more pages to go LOL

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I wanted to weigh in here myself:

I am 2nd year dad, and a first year Coach for background. I have a 10-12 5 on 5 team with two great throwers and everyone can catch most of the time.

Just to let you know what I have seen last year my son's coach used the same lineup (positions) on every play. Yep, every play... it was a T, 2 wr one on each sideline, the center a wr on his immediate right, then the QB. We always ran a wildcat, with both ouside wr coming back to the QB, one in front and one in back of the QB. Each play "number" would tell each and every player who was to get the ball.

1----23----4

-----5

1 and 4 are wr, 2 is the Center, 3 is basically a FB, and 5 is the QB

So if you call play 1

1 and 4 do a double end around

where 4 goes in fron of the QB as a fake handoff, and

1 goes behind QB and receives the handoff, the remaining players 2 and 3 go deep to pull defense away from the los.

if we call a 23, 2 and 3 do a long and a short straight up pass pattern and 1 and 4 still do a double fake handoff. We also called a 14 which is a 1 and 4 are hot receivers and 23 go very deep to pull defense way back.

Do any of you longtime coaches have any opinons on this, I like it, because after my first practice, the next practice we could let everyone be QB and they could call their own plays and we then focused on coaching the defense.

Thanxs

John

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Do any of you longtime coaches have any opinons on this, I like it, because after my first practice, the next practice we could let everyone be QB and they could call their own plays and we then focused on coaching the defense.
Sounds like most of your kids can step up and be utilized, so this system would work imo. I'll throw out some pro's and con's:

Pro's: Kids have more control, get to call their own plays, multiple kids get a chance to play QB, same formation = less of a learning curve for kids, possibility for audibles at los.

Con's: Kids might have more fun with different formations/plays once in a while, same formation might result in defense figuring out plays

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I have taken some of the drills provided on this thread and organized them for easier use (let me know your thoughts). I will continue to add drills as I have time and let me know if there are any specific ones that you would like to see added.

Youth Flag Football Drills

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I wrote this article a few years ago for a friend of mine who runs a youth program in Florida. I just came acrossed it and thought this would be the appropriate time/forum to share it.

by Schann Holladay, director of Y-Coach.com

Having coached youth sports for the last 10 years I have seen all kinds of coaches - good and bad. Who am I to pass judgment on their abilities? I am certainly not the best coach in the world and I will freely admit that I have picked up many an idea from other coaches. As with all coaches and people in general, I do the best that I can with the talent that God gave me. I have my own agenda good or bad and I move forward, sometimes with great results and sometimes with embarrassing results. But in the end, they still call me coach.

We talk so much about winning and losing, but is that really all there is to sports? In any competition there is always a measurable outcome - winner and loser. Let's be honest here, we are all competitive creatures, we compete for jobs, grades, our own beloved professional sports teams, in our homes and on our highways. But, is winning and losing all there is to youth sports? If we can't win should we even bother to play? I for one have missed that simple point for along time - without a loser there could not be a winner! That is to say, without a loser we could not experience that wonderful moment - that thrilling moment of knowing you did your best and your best was better than anyone else's. That's why we play and coach the games - for those few moments when everything comes together and we know that we have given it our best. It is through hardships, through overcoming obstacles, through enduring despite difficulties that make winning so enjoyable. Isn't this what builds character? Isn't that exactly what we want to instill in our youth?

I started off in youth coaching as an assistant coach on my daughter's softball team. I played sports throughout high school so I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the various fundamentals of the sports my children were playing. I didn't like being an assistant coach and I thought I could do better and that I knew more than the head coach. It wasn't that he was doing a bad job, I just thought I could do things better. I didn't complain and talk bad about the head coach, I just decided that I wasn't just going to be an assistant coach any longer; I was going to be the head coach.

You may be thinking by now, that I am not a very good person. You would probably be right. For as the prophet Isaiah said, "Our good deeds are stained with self-interest and our demands for justice are mixed with lust for vengeance." So, I won't lie and say that the reason that I started coaching youth sports was all about the kids and giving back to the community. My selfish reasons for coaching have changed dramatically over the years, from wanting to show that I am a better coach to understanding that the kids have much more to teach me than I could ever hope to teach them.

So, what does it take to be a successful coach?

First and foremost I have come to the conclusion that you have to be strong. You have to be strong in your commitment to fundamentals and your responsibility to the team as a whole. As a coach you have a responsibility to yourself, your own child, the entire organization, all the players on the team and their parents. You have a responsibility to make sure that all of your players learn the fundamentals of the game and get opportunities to develop those fundamentals. You will have parents that will sell-out their own children so that they can be a part of a winning team. You will have parents who will be upset because they think there child is the star and is not being treated as the star. You will have parents who don't understand that their child has a commitment to the team to show up for practice everyday and on time. You will have parents who will want to educate you on how to coach the team or their own child. You will have parents who think it's all about fun and socializing. You will have parents who think it's all about winning. In essence you will have a little bit of everything thrown at you. If you're not strong and committed to your principles you won't have a team you will have a group of individuals who get together a couple of times a week and play a sport.

You have to be a great communicator. You have to be willing to communicate up front with your players and their parents and let them know what you stand for, what is expected of them and what is expected of the team and then stick with it. Zero tolerance! This sounds harsh but in all fairness you have a big responsibility. If you are willing to take on this responsibility it is only reasonable that you can expect your player's and their parents to keep their end of the bargain. You still need to be willing to listen to your players and their parents and keep an open mind about their concerns. Encourage your players to speak directly with you, let the parents know that they can help their child take responsibility by talking directly to the coach, not having their parent talk for them.

You must have a positive attitude and coach accordingly. When I first became a youth coach I was pretty confident in my knowledge and understanding of coaching. (How little I knew). I tried to coach as I had been coached. I yelled and screamed at my young players and demanded perfection. I have slowly learned that being positive works much better than screaming. When I quit looking for the negative and started looking for the positive in my players and started communicating with them about the positive parts of their games, I was amazed at the change in effort and confidence that I began to see. Now, don't get me wrong, there are still times when I have to give negative feedback because you have to keep it honest, but I make sure that I give more positives than negatives when providing feedback to my players. Your attitude is the key to getting your player's and their parents to follow your principles and philosophy. When everything else is equal or if there is any doubt, will you as a coach not pick the player with the better attitude? As a player would you not work harder for a coach with a great attitude?

You must be willing to learn new techniques and study the game to become a better coach. Let's face it, at all levels there is always someone out there who is a better athlete, better coach, better whatever. Don't be afraid to ask questions and learn from someone else. As a coach, no matter how long you have been at it, you will always make mistakes, learn from your mistakes. Don't get caught up in winning and losing. This is a part of athletics, but it's not the central focus. Don't get me wrong here; I am not one of those people who are going to try to convince you that competition is bad for our young people. What I am saying is that you could be the best coach in the world, if you don't have the athletes you aren't going to win, because you don't play the game. Keep the focus on learning the fundamentals and playing together as a team. You don't accomplish this by giving your less accomplished athletes less and less opportunities. Yes, at the club level and the high school and college level this is how it works, but don't give up on an 8 year old because he/she doesn't yet have the skills and abilities that some teammates may already possess.

You need to be organized and focused. You need to know exactly what you want to accomplish before you ever get to the field or gym. You should know what skills you are going to work on and for how long. Delegate some of the responsibility to your assistant coaches, if you have communicated well what you want to accomplish, your assistants can run the drills without you standing over their shoulders. This will allow you to accomplish much more in a shorter period of time.

You must be the first to demonstrate good sportsmanship. Honor the game with integrity. Respect the rules, opponents, officials and traditions of the game. Keep a low profile during the game and allow the kids to be the center of attention.

Finally, focus on defense and fundamentals. Don't get caught up in focusing on a couple of better than average players and having everything revolve around the exceptional talent that you may find. Work on fundamentals with all of your players and teach them good solid defensive principles. Offense may be fun and exciting, but defense will win you games and anyone can be taught to play good defense pretty quickly.

Update

I wish I had dated this article but I think I wrote it 6 or 7 years ago. I haven't done a lot of coaching in the last few years but I run into former players all the time and you know what? They still call me coach. Remember what a positive impact you can have on these young men and women.

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I'd like to start off by saying that these forums are a life saver to me and have already helped me out immensely and will continue to provide guidance for me throughout this upcomming season. Rob and Orange, i've downloaded both of your playbooks so please feel free to ignore my request to have you guys email them to me, they look great and I am currently trying to modify some plays to fit my personl, once i'm done I will be sure to upload my modified version in the playbooks thread...thanks alot!

My league and situation - My league is 5-7 year olds, 6 on 6, no rushing the QB, QB cant run past the los unless another player has posessed the ball, QB also only has 5 seconds to throw the ball or the play is dead. Also I have to have both 4 offensive players on the los and on def I have to have 4 players on the los and NO kid can carry the ball more than 2 times in every 4 downs .I have 10 kids on my team and have 3 weeks to prepare from my first game.

A couple of things...

- I have already had one practice, a last minute one I threw together to allow the parents and kids to meet each other and my coaching staff . We did some basic drills (throwing, drilled and taught them routes, qb/rb exchange, lateral movement, pursuit and finished with sharks and minnow (no flags...just got the flags yesterday)

- My next practive I plan to start with a jog and then move into some of the flag pulling drills i've seen in this thread, I will work sharks and minnows in somewhere and also work on qb/center exchange.

- So...I was wondering how do you actually begin play installation? Might be a stupid question but on I really dont feel confident about attempting until I heard from someone thats done it. I have decided to number my positions rather than color code them so I thought I might number cones accordingly and place the cones in formation and work each kid at each cone until I felt they knew what was going on. I figure once we cycled through the cones a couple of times somewhat smoothly we do game situation (against only 4 kids and 2 parents at saftey) until it looked respectasble...any suggestions?

- Defense - I have to have 4 on the los so I was thinking about playing 2 safteys in zone...I'm not sure if this will work and how do I teach zone? Was also thinking I should put my athletes at saftey but then read that alot of teams were putting one at nose...?

Discipline - I thought I had this one handled, I passed out a "coaching philosiphy" letter to parents letting them know about me, my expectations for them (attendance and so on), my rules for the kids (hitting, kicking spitting...ect), proper apparel and all that good stuff...But 5 minutes after handing it out I have one kid smacking another, I quickly broke it up and pulled the kid aside and noticed that it wasnt just a behavioral issue but that he was autistic (confirmed later by a mutual friend). So I guess my question is how to deal with him? I cannot really make him run because he wouldnt do it but I honestly dont see him fitting into to team in any type of playing capacity. I'm not being mean, just saying he appears to have a severe form of it and seems to be incapable of understanding what he's doing wrong....how would you address this?

Thanks in advance for any help, I am goin crazy over here trying to figure this all out, I know it's not always about winning but i'm not looking forward to addressing the team after a loss caused by my failure as a coach. I tend to get too into things so trust me i'll contribute all I can in the future.

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Discipline - I thought I had this one handled, I passed out a "coaching philosiphy" letter to parents letting them know about me, my expectations for them (attendance and so on), my rules for the kids (hitting, kicking spitting...ect), proper apparel and all that good stuff...But 5 minutes after handing it out I have one kid smacking another, I quickly broke it up and pulled the kid aside and noticed that it wasnt just a behavioral issue but that he was autistic (confirmed later by a mutual friend). So I guess my question is how to deal with him? I cannot really make him run because he wouldnt do it but I honestly dont see him fitting into to team in any type of playing capacity. I'm not being mean, just saying he appears to have a severe form of it and seems to be incapable of understanding what he's doing wrong....how would you address this?

Thanks in advance for any help, I am goin crazy over here trying to figure this all out, I know it's not always about winning but i'm not looking forward to addressing the team after a loss caused by my failure as a coach. I tend to get too into things so trust me i'll contribute all I can in the future.

My 2 cents KWILSON are:

Make sure you have his parent (mom or dad) assist during practices and games. It is regrettable that they didn't come to you before practice and explain the situation up front, but you have to do your best to teach the game of football to the whole team, and so it would be unfair to the rest to let his issue detract from their experience.

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The dad is more than willing to lend a hand, he is damn near coaching him 1 on 1 due to the fact that the kids cant keep his hands off the other players and the parents are fed up. He seems to do well in the activities that are a little more fun such as sharks and minnows and another similar drill I created, I think I may have a meeting with the commisioner of the league, the kids parents and myself to discuss "realistic expectations" for him. I'm in no way gonna take the easy road and tell the parents he cant be a part of the team, just want them to realize that the team comes first and I have 9 other kids that should be able to come to a practive without getting hit and spit on .Maybe i'll even coach him 1 on 1 at reciever after practice so we can work him into the games...I'll just see how it goes, for all I know this could be the first time he's been placed in a team enviorment, he could begin to thrive in a practice or two.

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The dad is more than willing to lend a hand, he is damn near coaching him 1 on 1 due to the fact that the kids cant keep his hands off the other players and the parents are fed up. He seems to do well in the activities that are a little more fun such as sharks and minnows and another similar drill I created, I think I may have a meeting with the commisioner of the league, the kids parents and myself to discuss "realistic expectations" for him. I'm in no way gonna take the easy road and tell the parents he cant be a part of the team, just want them to realize that the team comes first and I have 9 other kids that should be able to come to a practive without getting hit and spit on .Maybe i'll even coach him 1 on 1 at reciever after practice so we can work him into the games...I'll just see how it goes, for all I know this could be the first time he's been placed in a team enviorment, he could begin to thrive in a practice or two.

I am new to posting, but have spent the last few days at lunch, starting with 2007 and reading up the present. I want to specifically reply to this post first. I have a 6-year old daughter with Down syndrome and so I am very familiar with some of the challenges. Down syndrome is far different than autism, which has a wide spectrum of disabilities. However, I want to convey some suggestions. First off, embrace the fact that you are making a difference and impacting this young boy's life. Help the Dad where you can. He knows the situation. He is doing his best. He is out there. The Dad will take his cues from you in practice. If you want everyone to run some specific drill, he's going to run it out with his son. Meet with the Dad for lunch or coffee. Explain your naivety about autism disorders and learn about it. Nowadays, 1 in 100 have some measure of autism and 1 of 800 have Down syndrome. You don't need to meet with the league commissioner. Here's the words for you to begin with the Dad: "Hi, how are you? Look, I just don't know anything about autism. I know that disabilities range all over the place, but that's all I know. Give me the cliff notes, so that I can make this the best experience for your son and for our football team".

If all of your kids are from the same elementary school, as mine are, meet privately with the school counselor, and learn more, not necessarily about this specific kid, but do use his name, so that the counselor can frame her response. It's only 30 minutes out of your life and will help tremendously.

If *any* of the other parents get mad upset about having a special needs child on the team, you need to clearly put those parents in their place. Perhaps they need to find another team.

Depending on your specific situation, and the degree of autism, you might consider an email to the opposition coach ahead of time, or 20-seconds ahead of the game with the ref as well. Any opposition coach should welcome the kid's Dad on the field to help him play if necessary.

As far as plays, consider something like this: shotgun snap to QB, who immediately hands off to the kid who is lined up in the backfield. QB pats him on the back and points to where to run.

Just remember that the Dad just wants the same thing for his boy as the rest of you have. It won't hurt you to go the extra step for this kid. His Dad deals with it and worries about his son 24/7.

Good luck.

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- So...I was wondering how do you actually begin play installation? Might be a stupid question but on I really dont feel confident about attempting until I heard from someone thats done it. I have decided to number my positions rather than color code them so I thought I might number cones accordingly and place the cones in formation and work each kid at each cone until I felt they knew what was going on. I figure once we cycled through the cones a couple of times somewhat smoothly we do game situation (against only 4 kids and 2 parents at saftey) until it looked respectasble...any suggestions?

I think when I coached 5-6 year olds, we had maybe three formations (spread, pro, and I). If you think about it, only two players change where they line up in each of these formations.

Next, break your objective into two categories: 1-Learning plays, and 2-Practicing plays.

Learning plays:

When I teach my players a new play, I ensure they DO NOT have a defense facing them. Instead I'll put six kids on the LOS, with all other kids watching. I then walk through the play and have the kids run it a few times (once again, not facing a defense). I'll then switch the other kids in and have them walk through it. The reason you don't want them facing a defense is because the best way (IMO) to teach a new play is to be on the LOS and walk them through it. With the defense there, they will know exactly what it is an shut it down--thus stripping any and all confidence about the play from the offensive players.

Practicing plays:

Once they have their new plays down fairly well--then impose a defense on them (and simply call the play in the huddle). This is where you can begin to fine-tune the plays. I'd wager every veteran coach on here will tell you that the most important thing you can do is fine-tune your plays. Once you are practicing them against a defense, you should see a myriad of "little things" that each offensive player needs to do. In fact, quite often once I see how a new play works against a defense, I have no problem saying, "You know, let's change this. Joey, I'd like you to run a Medium In instead of a Deep In." I firmly believe the key to offensive success in 10u flag football, is the little things.

Finally, it's practice plays, practice plays, and then practice plays. That is the only way to do it, in my opinion. A few seasons ago, I told my team at practice, "Practicing plays is fun." They all kind of looked at me like, "Oh yea, sure." I told them, "No-no. Maybe not at practice, but at the games. When you guys go out there and drill the defense, your gonna be like, 'Yep, I'm having some fun now!'" ;-)

Discipline - I thought I had this one handled, I passed out a "coaching philosiphy" letter to parents letting them know about me, my expectations for them (attendance and so on), my rules for the kids (hitting, kicking spitting...ect), proper apparel and all that good stuff...But 5 minutes after handing it out I have one kid smacking another, I quickly broke it up and pulled the kid aside and noticed that it wasnt just a behavioral issue but that he was autistic (confirmed later by a mutual friend). So I guess my question is how to deal with him? I cannot really make him run because he wouldnt do it but I honestly dont see him fitting into to team in any type of playing capacity. I'm not being mean, just saying he appears to have a severe form of it and seems to be incapable of understanding what he's doing wrong....how would you address this?

This is a tough one. Years ago, I had a player who was a major disruption. I mean major. Would not take the field, screamed at everyone (including me), and simply just stood there and cried and refused to do ANYTHING. I spoke with his parents and they stated that he had "behavioral problems" but I don't believe it was a medical condition--he was not segmented in school or anything. Long story short, I ended up having to remove him from my team. This was simply because he did not want to play, and once his parents (who wanted him to play) realized that I could not physically pick him up and put him on the field--they agreed to withdraw him from the league--with a full refund.

With that said, if this is truly a kid with special needs, AND he wants to play, then I would embrace it. Talk with your team about it--encourage them to embrace him as well. I believe George had a great suggestion of also emailing the opposing coach to keep him in the loop.

Good luck and please let us know how you are progressing!

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The dad is more than willing to lend a hand, he is damn near coaching him 1 on 1 due to the fact that the kids cant keep his hands off the other players and the parents are fed up. He seems to do well in the activities that are a little more fun such as sharks and minnows and another similar drill I created, I think I may have a meeting with the commisioner of the league, the kids parents and myself to discuss "realistic expectations" for him. I'm in no way gonna take the easy road and tell the parents he cant be a part of the team, just want them to realize that the team comes first and I have 9 other kids that should be able to come to a practive without getting hit and spit on .Maybe i'll even coach him 1 on 1 at reciever after practice so we can work him into the games...I'll just see how it goes, for all I know this could be the first time he's been placed in a team enviorment, he could begin to thrive in a practice or two.

KWilson,

Good for you. I know as the head coach you have a lot on your plate. You want to be fair to everyone and you have more than one person to worry about, but I really think this could be a great opportunity for everyone involved; you the coach, the parents and your players, to grow and learn what youth sports are really about.

We are talking about 5 - 7 year olds here. This will not make or break anyones future NFL career. What it will do is teach everyone that at the end of the day there is more to life than winning or losing. All of our young people need to learn to take the focus off of themselves and focus on helping others. I think as the leader, once everyone sees that you are committed to making this work, everyone for the most part will fall in and support this 100%. For the few that don't let them move elsewhere as those are the ones your going to have trouble with year after year anyway.

I have to be honest that I never had the opportunity to coach a child with special needs so I can't speak from experience. If there are any of you out there who have some experience with this please put your two cents in on your experiences with what worked and didn't.

This made me think of the story that I posted along time ago about a school in Brooklyn, New York called Crush.

Check it out as I think we can all learn a thing or two about God's Perfection.

Where is God's Perfection?

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