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One more question, how did you teach your kids not to throw interceptions. I realize that is going to happen sometimes, but our league allows a rush from 7 yards out upon snap of the ball. I think our kids panicked a few times and threw it right to the other team.

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Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

I think playing 8 quarterbacks in one game is a HUGE mistake. If I were you, I'd stick to your best 2 and rotate in 1-2 others for some handoffs and such. You can make it such that all players will eventually get to play quarterback during the season, but rotating everyone in one game is crazy. I'd do the same thing with what I call the other critical positions, like safety and rusher. Make sure you always have someone you can rely on to cover the deep passes and make sure you have a speed guy shutting down the run and rushing the quarterback. The other kids will fill in all the other positions and believe me, they'll be fine with it. Emphasize with them how important each and every position is.

I understand what you're trying to do, work in all the players but you still need to have a chance to win. Quarterback is one of those positions that I wouldn't compromise like that. They'll probably be relieved, nobody likes throwing interceptions. If you really want to work everyone in, let them take snaps in scrimmages. Just make sure to give your main guys more reps.

As for throwing interceptions, if you keep your better quarterbacks in there you'll have less. AND, keep the passes very short. The longer the pass, the more chance for error. Our team threw exactly one interception in 8 games, and our defense intercepted the opposing teams 16 times. That disparity was created by the fact that we threw only very short passes, usually 2-3 yards. Also, we didn't have a rush in our league but still the difference between our team and the other teams were that they were attempting 10 yard passes on average and we were passing 2 yards on average. Also, when you narrow down your quarterbacks you can instruct them not to toss it up for grabs. Explain to them how to throw it away or take the sack. There was this kid on our basketball team last season. When he got surrounded by the defense he'd just throw the ball over his head in a panic. Cute and all but I'd never let him play quarterback.

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I think playing 8 quarterbacks in one game is a HUGE mistake. If I were you, I'd stick to your best 2 and rotate in 1-2 others for some handoffs and such. I understand what you're trying to do, work in all the players but you still need to have a chance to win.

That would make things a lot easier for me. I'll have to run that by our league director, the rules state that every kid plays every position. Doesn't really say you have to do that every single game though.

How'd you deal with parents thinking their kid should/could play QB?

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I think playing 8 quarterbacks in one game is a HUGE mistake. If I were you, I'd stick to your best 2 and rotate in 1-2 others for some handoffs and such. I understand what you're trying to do, work in all the players but you still need to have a chance to win.

That would make things a lot easier for me. I'll have to run that by our league director, the rules state that every kid plays every position. Doesn't really say you have to do that every single game though.

How'd you deal with parents thinking their kid should/could play QB?

No, and I'm 100% positive that the league director would not interpret it that way either. It doesn't make any sense to have 8 quarterbacks in a game. The YMCA is simply trying to make sure that you don't have teams that are so exclusive, you get 1-2 kids playing qb, or whatever. I don't think you should interpret the rule quite so literally.

As for parents wanting their kids to play qb, I cannot answer specifically for your team since I don't know the parents or the dynamics. I can tell you with my team we all know each other fairly well and have socialized and had our kids on the same teams for a while now. No one has ever attempted to mettle with my choices on positions or anything. As a matter of fact I'm consistently complimented on how well I incorporate ALL the kids into the game, getting them all the ball, making them feel important. And you know what? I play the best 2-3 kids at quarterback. When it's 4th and I need a first down I make sure my go-to guy gets the ball. On defense I play my best players at safety and make sure I balance the others so I have run stoppers where I need them. What do I do that makes all the parents happy? Their kids have fun. Our team does well. Every kid gets a couple of chances to run/ catch the ball. When I get close to the goalline and it's first and short I'll run a play or two to the kids that I know aren't as good to give them a chance to say they scored a td.

Do the parents ask you or say something? I have never had one say anything to me like that. Are you just assuming that they'll think it? Most parents are fairly intuitive. They know if their kids should be playing qb or not. If nobody says anything I'd bet it's just in your own mind.

I'm thinking you need to change things a little. You don't need to step on anyones toes or really say anything like "so-and-so is our qb from now on." Just start giving your better qbs more reps in practice. In the game it'll be natural as they take on the role. If some of the kids start asking why or when they can play, then be honest, tell them next game they can play a little. Or whatever. I'd tell them they could play some in the scrimmage. The scrimmages are like games anyway so they usually liked that as much.

I know I already posted this but I had two main qbs, one for the first half and one for the second half. One other kid always asked to play qb so I'd put him in for a series or two here and there. And I'd usually work in another for a play or two each week. So basically I had what I considered 2 starting qbs although I'd play maybe 4 in a game. I didn't get too much interest in qb otherwise and when you sat down and asked them, most of the others did not want to play it at all.

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You're spot on and I'm definitely headed in the direction of having 2-3 main QBs. No other way to do it without creating total chaos. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, it helps a lot. Two more for you?

Practices - I'm having a hard time throwing in fun stuff with only 1 hour to conduct a practice. Coaching b-ball and soccer at this age is a lot different. You're not running plays in b-ball or soccer, so it's easy to come up with fun drills/games that teach skills and even get a scrimmage in at the end of practice. Flag football is all about running plays and pulling flags. My tendency is to focus our time on things that we''ll be doing in the game like running routes, working on plays, handoffs, pitches, flag pulling and defensive strategy. How'd you keep it fun?

Runs - I notice in your plays that you didn't have a lot of runs from the backfield. Seems that it would be wise to have a player in the backfield 1/2 the time to keep the defense guessing. Run some fakes to this person, handoff every once in awhile or just have them float off to the side as a safety valve. I'm realizing that you're actually playing against the other coach who's out on the field with the defense. When we put someone in the backfield for a run, he immediately starting yelling watch the run. Thoughts?

CRob

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You're spot on and I'm definitely headed in the direction of having 2-3 main QBs. No other way to do it without creating total chaos. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, it helps a lot. Two more for you?

No problem, ask as many as you want.

Practices - I'm having a hard time throwing in fun stuff with only 1 hour to conduct a practice. Coaching b-ball and soccer at this age is a lot different. You're not running plays in b-ball or soccer, so it's easy to come up with fun drills/games that teach skills and even get a scrimmage in at the end of practice. Flag football is all about running plays and pulling flags. My tendency is to focus our time on things that we''ll be doing in the game like running routes, working on plays, handoffs, pitches, flag pulling and defensive strategy. How'd you keep it fun?

I asked my kids quite a number of times during the season what was the most fun for them during practice and they almost always said scrimmaging. One or two preferred something else but mostly they loved the scrimmage. That was great for us as I wanted us to scrimmage about 10-15 minutes or so at the end of every practice anyway.

Do you have assistants in practice? I had two although with their schedules I usually only had one show up. We'd divide the kids into smaller groups so they all got a lot more reps during the practice drills. I think this kept them more interested in the practice. Also, I think if you have a fun attitude you can make it fun for them. But I do agree that football drills at least the ones I did weren't like the fun games we'd do in soccer for instance.

Runs - I notice in your plays that you didn't have a lot of runs from the backfield. Seems that it would be wise to have a player in the backfield 1/2 the time to keep the defense guessing. Run some fakes to this person, handoff every once in awhile or just have them float off to the side as a safety valve. I'm realizing that you're actually playing against the other coach who's out on the field with the defense. When we put someone in the backfield for a run, he immediately starting yelling watch the run. Thoughts?

CRob

Actually we never lined up anyone other than the qb in the backfield. It's a matter of preference. My thought was this: Run the same formation every play without a running back. On almost every play bring a receiver on an end around faking it to him or even ignoring him on most every play. The idea is that the formation would never tip off your play. And with the receiver going into the backfield you'd never know when we'd run it to him. And here's the real kicker: When you handoff to a running back he only takes a step or two before getting the ball so he has no speed when he gets the ball. When our receiver takes the handoff he's already at close to full speed. We'd practice the exchange over and over and emphasize getting a clean handoff and making sure the kid was flying when he gets the ball making him that much harder to catch. Also, a handoff to a running back usually goes right at the middle of the defense. Our end around would bypass the center quickly and head up the sideline presumably where there are less defenders.

Every other team we played had at least one formation with kids in the backfield and only one or two ran an end around. I personally like my philosophy but other things will definitely work. The one thing I thought worked well with a kid coming out of the backfield was when they'd begin to the right and quickly cut back left or vice versa. That would usually get them extra yards as our guys would bite on the initial fake.

Rob, question for you. Can your quarterback run? If so can he just take off or does he have to wait until he's rushed?

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Rob, question for you. Can your quarterback run? If so can he just take off or does he have to wait until he's rushed?

QB can't run and we have a potential rush coming at us from 7 yards out as soon as the ball is snapped.

Our game went well this weekend, we won 38-6. Felt bad, didn't want everyone to think I was running up the score, we chilled out in the 2nd half, but grabbed some intercepts and ran those back for scores. Can't help that.

Appreciate all the feedback, the 2 1 2 defense definitely works. The other teams look like they all play man to man, which is a big mistake.

I color coded my plays so I have Red/Yellow for more complicated pass plays, Red/Blue for the more complicated run plays. Also color coded the easy runs/passes so I can adjust on the fly depending upon who I have at QB, receiver, etc.

The end arounds worked great with my best runners. I also added a few plays for my best QB where I take a half back and tell them to float off to the side as a safety valve. That worked well when my QB got in trouble, she could dump it off to the half back.

Another play that works well for us is pitching back to the half back, having that person look like they're going to run and then pass to someone who's running a slant across the middle. Only works well with a better QB/receiver. We use the pitch on several plays so the defense isn't sure if we're going to pass or run.

You're right, throwing long passes is deadly. We intercepted two of theirs and dropped two/three more possible intercepts. I can see if you throw the short passes and then open up with a long one every once in a while, it works. Important to teach the QB not to throw into coverage, which is why that safety valve worked for us.

Thanks again for all the input, sure shortened the learning curve.

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I have found more SOLID information in this thread than I have found in three days of surfing around the web.

Long story short... I got "volunteered" to coach my sons 6-8 yo YMCA flag football team at the end of last week's practice. We have one more practice and then we start playing games.

I scoured the internet for some good info. and stumbled across this thread.

I just wanted to say HELLO, and give fair warning that I may have some questions once I figure out what the heck I'm doing.

I put together a practice plan.... but "the kid" running the league has yet to email me the rules :huh: . So I'm not sure how many I have to play, etc. etc. all I know is that I have 8 kids.

Thanks again for some GREAT information.

TJ

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I have found more SOLID information in this thread than I have found in three days of surfing around the web.

Long story short... I got "volunteered" to coach my sons 6-8 yo YMCA flag football team at the end of last week's practice. We have one more practice and then we start playing games.

I scoured the internet for some good info. and stumbled across this thread.

I just wanted to say HELLO, and give fair warning that I may have some questions once I figure out what the heck I'm doing.

I put together a practice plan.... but "the kid" running the league has yet to email me the rules :huh: . So I'm not sure how many I have to play, etc. etc. all I know is that I have 8 kids.

Thanks again for some GREAT information.

TJ

TJ -

Welcome, I've been putting the advice from Orange into practice and it definitely works. I've modified some of my plays and can tell you what works for me. Have a game tomorrow and will throw out an update.

CoachRob

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How about an update Coach Rob?

Had another good game today, we won 33 - 0. Each game gives me more info to tweak our offense and defense. The trick in flag football (at this age) is to keep the kids happy with ball touches. I've designed a few offensive plays just for my best QB, best runner and best receiver. When I allow some of the weaker QBs to play and they don't move the ball, I can go to those plays which usually work. This keeps me from constantly using my best QB over and over. So far we're having a good season.

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I have found more SOLID information in this thread than I have found in three days of surfing around the web.

Long story short... I got "volunteered" to coach my sons 6-8 yo YMCA flag football team at the end of last week's practice. We have one more practice and then we start playing games.

I scoured the internet for some good info. and stumbled across this thread.

I just wanted to say HELLO, and give fair warning that I may have some questions once I figure out what the heck I'm doing.

I put together a practice plan.... but "the kid" running the league has yet to email me the rules :huh: . So I'm not sure how many I have to play, etc. etc. all I know is that I have 8 kids.

Thanks again for some GREAT information.

TJ

Go ahead and ask away. You can PM me too if you want, I'll help you as little or as much as you want.

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TJ -

Welcome, I've been putting the advice from Orange into practice and it definitely works. I've modified some of my plays and can tell you what works for me. Have a game tomorrow and will throw out an update.

CoachRob

I'm expecting a full report from CoachRob on all the things that work, what are your best plays, how you run your defense, etc. How do the kids handle the rush? How does the zone defense work for you? Is anyone else running zone? I'd love to see your playbook if you can email it to me.

I'm very excited that your team is doing so well. Hopefully I contributed to that to a certain extent.

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Well, I had my first practice (the team's 2nd). And that is all we get because games start next Tuesday.

It was a borderline DISASTER! I had a good plan in place; 10 minutes of warm-ups, 15 minutes of flag-pulling drills, etc, etc.

Well "the kid" that coached them last week (he is actually one of the refs and that is why he can't coach the season) thought he would be nice and help me out since I was completely new to this whole coaching thing. I should have told him right away that I am a FOOTBALL FREAK, I over analyze EVERYTHING I do, and that I have 4 BOYS at home.

Anyway.... back to the disaster.

"The Kid" flat out tells me that to win this league, just find your fastest kid and feed him the ball. And that you will only throw about 4-5 times per game. I should have told him, "Thanks, but NO THANKS" right then. But I'm trying to be polite since he is trying to help. We do about 5 minutes of stretches, and he immediately puts them into an offensive formation, and starts doing run right... run left... run right... run left. I was trying to teach some of the blocking techniques for the line, trying to teach a proper hand-off, but "The Kid" was more worried about him finding open field and running as fast as he could. And it just went on too long. Some of the boys were getting bored... you could tell.

So I stepped in and finally got them into a defensive formation, and tried teaching them some ZONE concepts. I was impressed with how well they responded to the zone. "The KID" thought I was crazy, but within minutes, they were "containing" the run, and passing off coverage and I crossed the zones. Like I said, I was impressed with how quick the picked it up.

Next thing I know there is only 10 minutes left, and we haven't run a single pass play, and haven't run a single "practice" drill. So I weighed my options, and could tell I was losing he kid's attention, so I went with a flag pulling drill. Basically, a flag football version of tag. (The whole team on a line, one player in the middle, blow the whistle, everyone runs to the other line, player has to try and get as many flags as he can, any flags he gets, that player joins him in the middle until only one kid remains.) THEY HAD A BLAST! And the whole time I'm teaching them how to stop the runner with there body vs. the bull-fighter technique. VERY PRODUCTIVE

I hope I'm not boring you with this recount of our practice, but just thought I would share my WAR STORY.

Game 1 should be very interesting. Because, even though we didn't practice that way... I am still going to rotate people through different positions. I just COMPLETELY disagree with they way "The Kid" would have managed a game.

Wish me luck!

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Good luck! Report in about how you did.

I'd consider the first couple of practices and game water under the bridge. First thing you need to do is dismiss your "assistant coach." Take control over the practices, you know what to do. Drill the flag pulling and zone defense concepts and you'll be a very tough team. It sounds like you have a plan for the offense too but if you want my suggestions or even want to see the plays I ran let me know and I can email them to you. As for the kids suggestion about running most of the time, that's probably not too bad of an idea but I really like the very short passes too. Misdirection, misdirection, misdirection on offense will make you a juggernaught.

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I'm expecting a full report from CoachRob on all the things that work, what are your best plays, how you run your defense, etc. How do the kids handle the rush? How does the zone defense work for you? Is anyone else running zone? I'd love to see your playbook if you can email it to me.

Another win today, 27-8. The kids are starting to gel as a team and I'm seeing which plays work the best. You're right, the misdirection plays and small pass plays are an essential part of moving the ball forward. I run a few bigger pass plays after sucking in their team with a formation that looks like a run. I'll e-mail my plays this week. A lot of them are the same as you gave me with a few varations on the theme.

We run a 2 1 2 zone and it works great. We usually send a rusher, but sometimes we'll hold. We also do what we call a power rush. When the ball is snapped, we take our two front kids and pull them back and, the two back kids come rushing in. We leave the normal rusher out, so in effect we have 3 deep and two rushing. Haven't noticed anyone else running a 2 1 2 zone. The 2 1 2 works great for us. In the last 4 games, our PAG is 9 pts. Our PAG would be lower, but I made the mistake during our first game of allowing everyone to play QB which resulted in several interceptions.

I'm very excited that your team is doing so well. Hopefully I contributed to that to a certain extent.

You definitely contributed in a huge way by reducing my learning curve before I even played the first game. Still struggling with making sure all the kids get enough pass receptions and rushing attempts. Trying to keep stats on the sidelines so I can rotate the kids who haven't touched the ball. It's tough thought, when you're in the "heat of battle", it's easy to let your best QB and best receiver hook up a lot or allow your fastest runner to rock. I'm still learning. Really appreciate all your help. I'll e-mail the plays with a few notes.

CoachRob

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Orange.... Thaks for the plays.

Had our first game Tuesday, and I was able to manipulate an extra 1/2 hour before the game so we could practice a little bit (it was picture day, and I made sure that our team lined up first so we ran some plays while the other teams were waiting in line. biggrin.gif )

We did lose 13-0.

Our QBs ended up panicking right at the snap and "invented" plays A LOT!

I did get your plays in time and was able to teach them the end arounds before game time and that seemed to be the only way we moved the ball. Overall it wasn't that bad. If I could just get the QBs to run the plays.

The defense worked great. Both scores were on huge runs due to missed tackles. Other than those two plays... we shut them down very well.

I wish it wasn't 7 on 7. Too many kids on the field.

SIDE STORY (which you guys may find comical)

Had a kid show up 10 minutes late FOR THEM GAME. And he missed the only practice that I was in charge of. The organizer tells me that I have to rotate him in. Of course I will.

So I get him in there just before the half, and the "ref" tells me I have to play him the whole second have.... No Problem. So I stick him on the O-line for a while just to see what he's like....

Well he has NO CONCEPT of football whatsoever. But after a few plays, I try and get him involved. I ask, "do you want to run the ball?" Of course he says yes, so I tell everyone to get into our regular formation, switch him to RB and tell him to just take the handoff and run right.

He's all set, ref blows the whistle, and JUST before the snap he turns to me and says, "What's a handoff?" blink.gif

Overall all the kids had a good time, the weather was beautiful, the parents had fun... and that's the whole point!

More updates to come.

TJ

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Overall all the kids had a good time, the weather was beautiful, the parents had fun... and that's the whole point!

You're spot on with that last statement, I have to remind myself constantly of those very facts. Funny story about the "handoff", those are the kinds of things that keep this whole thing fun.

I have a kid on the team who is younger than everyone else. I bring him in for extra points quite a bit and during the last game he was supposed to take a straight handoff. He took off flying past the QB before he had time to even turn around, the QB stands there baffled, the kid runs out about 5 yards and does a big loop coming back to get the handoff and ends up making the extra point.

It's all about the smiles at this age and should be as we get older.

Btw, Orange has some of my plays, feel free to ask him for those.

CoachRob

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Hey guys, been watching your posts and you all have some very good information. Last year was first year as assistant coach for flag football 4-6 y/o and next year the HC wants me to be the OC. Came up with some solid running plays, but don't have much passing, our QB's are probably going to be around 5, but our returning RB's are 6 going on 7 during the fall season. Yes the end around is the best play to score, but we had some big OL last year(no weight limit on line) and did run 5-6 TD's inside, played 8 on 8. Also misdirection on busted plays are usually the plays that score. Best advice, put your stud DL on the ends and make sure they know contain and force action to the inside. Any other advice I can give just let me know and would appreciate any in return. Always looking to learn more about the game of football and cannot wait til Sept for kickoff. My son played for the YMCA this spring, but was not as competative as rec league was.

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...

Our QBs ended up panicking right at the snap and "invented" plays A LOT!

...

It's all about repetition. After they do it over and over again they'll be ok. They should practice the snap and same play again and again in succession until they have it down. Even our best two guys would forget a play here and there halfway through the season. But towards the end and many repetitions, they always got it without problems.

I did get your plays in time and was able to teach them the end arounds before game time and that seemed to be the only way we moved the ball. Overall it wasn't that bad. If I could just get the QBs to run the plays.

Love the end around. Once that thing gets cranking, my other plays that fake it and end up going the other way are aweseome.

The defense worked great. Both scores were on huge runs due to missed tackles. Other than those two plays... we shut them down very well.

At any level of flag football, missed flags are the biggest things that results in scores. I'd say that's even moreso at this level of play. That's why I stress no less than 15 minutes of flag pulling drills at this point in your season.

I wish it wasn't 7 on 7. Too many kids on the field.

I agree, we had 6 which I think is the perfect number. Rob's league plays 5 which I think is too few.

He's all set, ref blows the whistle, and JUST before the snap he turns to me and says, "What's a handoff?" :blink:

That's funny but typical. I can't tell you how many times something similar like that happened to me. Last week I was coaching first base and I was standing by the other teams dugout. Their kids were taking the field and their coach tells the kid that he's going to play center field. He yells, "yeah! I'm center field!!!" He runs about 10 yards, stops, looks around then heads back to the dugout. He then says, "coach, where is center field?"

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Hey guys, been watching your posts and you all have some very good information. Last year was first year as assistant coach for flag football 4-6 y/o and next year the HC wants me to be the OC. Came up with some solid running plays, but don't have much passing, our QB's are probably going to be around 5, but our returning RB's are 6 going on 7 during the fall season.

Orange gave me some great pass play ideas; his philosphy of using the short pass has been our biggest success. I used his plays and tweaked them a bit, hit me with a PM and your e-mail address, I'll send them along.

CoachRob

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Hey guys, been watching your posts and you all have some very good information. Last year was first year as assistant coach for flag football 4-6 y/o and next year the HC wants me to be the OC. Came up with some solid running plays, but don't have much passing, our QB's are probably going to be around 5, but our returning RB's are 6 going on 7 during the fall season.

Orange gave me some great pass play ideas; his philosphy of using the short pass has been our biggest success. I used his plays and tweaked them a bit, hit me with a PM and your e-mail address, I'll send them along.

CoachRob

Right, keep the passes very short, 2-3 yards. You get your receiver isolated by moving the qb down the line of scrimmage with the receiver running in tandem. I teach them to "push" the ball to the receiver. The "push" is like a shuffle pass not an overhand throw. One of my assistants tried to show them to spin the ball but that's definitely not it either. The ball will have a little natural spin (end over end) but you certainly don't try to spin it. The shuffle should be firm and go right into the receivers hands. I'd say it's a medium strength pass, less than an overhand throw and more than an underhand toss. The qb will be holding the ball in front of him below his chin and push it towards the receiver. A pass like that is no good beyond a few yards anyway.

It has the following advantages:

it's almost intercept-proof

very easy to catch

the throw is not difficult even on the run

receiver catches it on the run and continues momentum downfield

Of course we throw regular passes too but those are much less often and usually only after we've sucked the defense in with all our short passes and runs. Pocket passing is just a bad idea at this young age level.

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Whew! Had an intense game today against the #2 team, we won 42-37. Rained pretty hard throughout most of the game which added a whole different twist on things. We couldn't pull a flag to save our lives today, they'd run someone to the outside, we'd turn them in and 3 of our players would miss an easy tackle which would turn into a TD. Missed flag pulls and missed opportunities for intercepts allowed them to put up some numbers.

They threw more long passes which seemed to confuse our DBs. The 2 1 2 works okay on short passes or runs, but I could see them stacking two receivers on one side and getting behind our DB. Might have to modify the 2 1 2 if we end up playing these guys in the finals.

A few times when we rushed the 1 from our 2 1 2, it left the middle open, so they'd throw it to their center going on a small slant up the middle. We did the same thing to them. Kinda hard to cover the middle if you send a rusher from the middle. Maybe I tell one of the DBs to cover the middle if they can anticipate a pass to the center.

With the steady rain and cold weather we had, I'd say our kids played really well.

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Playbook -

Wondering how you organized your playbook? I laminated all my plays and had them bound with a spiral ring, they're divided into RUN, PASS and SPECIAL. My SPECIAL section has a few trick plays used with the more skilled players.

The problem I run into out on the field is we have 30 seconds to call a play. Flipping around in a notebook or shuffling plays gets a bit hectic. It helped to have the notebook yesterday as I could do a quick read on their defense and flip to a play that stayed away from their strong LB or DB.

CoachRob

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