Orange

Youth Flag Football

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did your leagues allow Shotgun and if so did you use it? How effective was it? Our league allows for it, I am trying to figure if its worth incorporating in on the plays or if its just to risky with this age group. Also I noticed in our rules we can run motions, however I think that may be to much for this age group as well. Did anyone run motions?
My league allowed shotgun snaps, I stayed away from it most of the season thinking our kids couldn't handle it. A couple of weeks before the season ended, I took my son out in our backyard and we practiced shotgun snaps until I felt he had a good grasp of the concept, then paired him up with my best QB, who had really good hands and was very coordinated. No fumbles, it worked well, but I only used those two players when trying the shotgun. We used it in our final games and the championship. It definitely buys you a little more time with the rush. If we were up and I wanted to try a mismatch throw with one of my faster players, we'd use it or a play where I had 3 players lined up way off to one side, then bring one across the middle on a slant pattern.

Regarding the motion, we were allowed to do that also. I watched the age group above ours use that very successfully with an end around type play. I stayed away from it, but my guess is it would probably work if you practiced it with one or two kids.

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One more question for anyone..... did your leagues allow Shotgun and if so did you use it? How effective was it? Our league allows for it, I am trying to figure if its worth incorporating in on the plays or if its just to risky with this age group. Also I noticed in our rules we can run motions, however I think that may be to much for this age group as well. Did anyone run motions?

That's two questions actually. :)

We took snaps under center exclusively. Only one team used shotgun against us and they fumbled the snap enough times to make me feel bad for them. It's a wasted down. Of course we had no rush so the little extra space was not a consideration. If we did have a rush I'd probably have tried to incorporate or at least experiment with it but it made no sense for us.

We could run motion also but never did so. One or two teams would run motion and it never really did much besides create confusion. It's difficult enough for them to remember all the things they have to without going in motion. It kind of looks cool but my philosophy was this: Keep things simple and do them really well; instead of doing complicated things OK.

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Also, one thing I really noticed last year about this league was most coaches would only "go to" a certain kid or two just about the entire game. Thats not my philosphy at all on things as every kid will get the ball, but I was thinking when I do see this happening that maybe I should stick one of my best defenders on that player and just have him shadowed the entire game. That might minimize the damage otherwise the kid could be doing, especially if hes involved iin 90% of the play calls. I'm sure you guys have seen this, what was your approach?

Boy, I hope you can keep your philosophy of every kid getting the ball. That is a tough challenge, because you will run into other teams who have 1 or 2 star players that seem to get the ball a lot. The temptation to do the same thing will be there, especially when the score isn't in your favor. Best suggestion is tell everyone up front what your philosophy is and do your best to adhere to it. My biggest challenge was keeping it fun for the kids. When you boil it down, the opportunities for ball touches are minimal in flag football and it's tougher when you have 10 kids on a team. Orange had a good idea of splitting up the team into two teams, one team plays offense one half, one plays defense the other half. Switch at half-time. Again, the challenge will be resisting the temptation to put certain stronger players in if things aren't going your way. You'll probably hear, "When I'm a going to get the ball?" a lot. I'll let Orange address that one.

You have to try to work it to every kid and as long as you're moving the ball with runs and short passes, everyone should be able to get it. I admit that in certain downs and situations I'll make sure to get the ball to a key player but in other situations I make sure a not so great player gets the ball. Example: Start of game, 1st down at our own 5. I'll run a play to someone I know can do well and he goes the length of the field getting stopped just short of the goal line. Now it's 1st and goal at the 2 yard line. Here's a perfect chance to let one of my kids who doesn't have the super speed or catching ability to make an easy TD. I'll call a short 2 yard drag to him and he scores and then talks about that touchdown for the rest of the season like he won the Superbowl.

As for covering their best player well, if you've read all my posts you know I'm running a zone. If their key player keeps catching the ball in my zone then yes, absolutely I'll stick a good cover guy on him man-to-man. A couple of teams continue to go to the same kids and that's easy enough to stop. Sometimes you don't even have to cover them man-to-man but simply instruct your defense to make sure you keep extra attention on them when they come into your zone.

As Coach Rob mentioned the old "When I'm a going to get the ball?" became an epidemic on our team. It was so frustrating as a coach to deal with that every huddle and on the sidelines. Some kids whined incessantly. So I instituted a rule and made it very clear that if you ask for the ball or tell me you were open or whatever, you have to sit out 2 plays. It cleared up that problem right away.

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Thanks for the responses once again guys.....

Getting ready to begin our first practice tomorrow, cant wait to get these first couple out of the way! Anyhow, I have a good idea of what I am going to cover the first practice or two, fundamentals like snapping the ball, recieving the snap, handoffs, flag pulling, route running and catching will take up most of our time. Finish off with a little scrimmaging. I'm a little nervous because I dont know any of these kids (except mine) and dont know their skills..... yet. I realize I will find these things out in due time, I just want to come as prepared and organized as possible yet not have a hectic frenzy.

Did you guys use your drawn up plays at practice? From the plays I recieved from Orange and Rob I have a handful of plays to run, but not all are ready as I am incorporating a few of my own into the "playbook". I was just going to bring my whiteboard the first few practices and draw the plays up there, then slowly introduce the "set" plays later.

Also, one thing I really noticed last year about this league was most coaches would only "go to" a certain kid or two just about the entire game. Thats not my philosphy at all on things as every kid will get the ball, but I was thinking when I do see this happening that maybe I should stick one of my best defenders on that player and just have him shadowed the entire game. That might minimize the damage otherwise the kid could be doing, especially if hes involved iin 90% of the play calls. I'm sure you guys have seen this, what was your approach?

Boy, I hope you can keep your philosophy of every kid getting the ball. That is a tough challenge, because you will run into other teams who have 1 or 2 star players that seem to get the ball a lot. The temptation to do the same thing will be there, especially when the score isn't in your favor. Best suggestion is tell everyone up front what your philosophy is and do your best to adhere to it. My biggest challenge was keeping it fun for the kids. When you boil it down, the opportunities for ball touches are minimal in flag football and it's tougher when you have 10 kids on a team. Orange had a good idea of splitting up the team into two teams, one team plays offense one half, one plays defense the other half. Switch at half-time. Again, the challenge will be resisting the temptation to put certain stronger players in if things aren't going your way. You'll probably hear, "When I'm a going to get the ball?" a lot. I'll let Orange address that one.

You have to try to work it to every kid and as long as you're moving the ball with runs and short passes, everyone should be able to get it. I admit that in certain downs and situations I'll make sure to get the ball to a key player but in other situations I make sure a not so great player gets the ball. Example: Start of game, 1st down at our own 5. I'll run a play to someone I know can do well and he goes the length of the field getting stopped just short of the goal line. Now it's 1st and goal at the 2 yard line. Here's a perfect chance to let one of my kids who doesn't have the super speed or catching ability to make an easy TD. I'll call a short 2 yard drag to him and he scores and then talks about that touchdown for the rest of the season like he won the Superbowl.

As for covering their best player well, if you've read all my posts you know I'm running a zone. If their key player keeps catching the ball in my zone then yes, absolutely I'll stick a good cover guy on him man-to-man. A couple of teams continue to go to the same kids and that's easy enough to stop. Sometimes you don't even have to cover them man-to-man but simply instruct your defense to make sure you keep extra attention on them when they come into your zone.

As Coach Rob mentioned the old "When I'm a going to get the ball?" became an epidemic on our team. It was so frustrating as a coach to deal with that every huddle and on the sidelines. Some kids whined incessantly. So I instituted a rule and made it very clear that if you ask for the ball or tell me you were open or whatever, you have to sit out 2 plays. It cleared up that problem right away.

How did not only the kids respond to that rule when you ask for the ball, but more importantly how did the parents respond?

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I used the printed sheets with the color coded positions and routes and it worked very well and I recommend it. The kids were able to quickly pick up that their position was a certain color and see what their route/assignment was. The way I call the plays is that the ball is designed to go to the last position called. So, for example, I give the first three positions the routes they are to run, then tell the QB to hand off or pass and to whom, and then tell the last player their assignment and to expect the ball. The biggest problem I have is keeping them running the routes the correct distance and not going to deep. I am sure that will come with more practice.

As with the parents and discipline, I send out a list of team rules and note that I as the head coach will determine the appropriate disciplinary actions and let them know what they can range from. As long as parents and the players are informed of the expections, the punishment is reasonable, and you are fair to all players, the vast majority of parents will accept it.

I have had kids clean up equipment after games, etc. For baseball, I told them they would miss an at-bat for certain inapproriate behavior and the behavior stopped immediately (Since batting is their favorite). So I am sure sitting out a couple plays would be effective in most cases and is not a severe punishment when you consider how many plays are run in a game.

Good luck on the first practice.

Husker Fan

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Answers to two questions:

1) During the practices I would run my set plays. Usually I'd work in key elements of it at first than run the whole thing against no defense. During scrimmages every play run was out of my play book.

2) As for the discipline, the kids understood and took it very well. They instantly shaped up and self-policed themselves. I made it a point to be very strict about it during the scrimmages and when they saw me sit a few kids out there were no more problems. When it came time for the game it was never an issue. The parents on my team are 100% behind me. But I know almost all of them socially too and the kids have played other sports together like baseball and basketball. I make sure I include the parents in all discussions about my discipline at the same time I tell my kids what I expect or any new rules.

And check this out:

I'm going to coach flag football again in the winter as my son is playing soccer in the fall. I've been trying to work with the new Y sports director to make sure they have a good league. We have other options that I'm considering like I-9, CSYA and even NFL flag club. Anyhow I saw that they (the Y) have a league in the fall. They changed the format of playing 6-on-6 to 4-on-4! What the heck are they thinking? I have no idea but I hope that they change it back in the winter. 4 seems way too few, in my opinion 6 was the perfect number.

And finally, if I send my playbook to anyone, I'd appreciate that you send me yours once you modify it and let me know what works for you.

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I'll definitley send mine out to you Orange once its finally complete. Its a variation of yours, Robs and a little of my ideas sprinkled in. I just dont have it completley done, like I said above for the first few practices I'll be drawing plays up on the whiteboard, then I'll bring the playbook out.

I think I will adopt that plan on sitting a kid for 2 plays when/if they are asking for the ball in the huddles and stuff. I know its going to happen. See how it works, start it off from the first practice. Set the tone and expectations.

Lastly, I agree 4-4 is WAY to few!!! 5-5 is tough enough...... I also think 6-6 may be the perfect amount, but definitley you should try and talk them out of the 4-4 idea. Our league is the NFL Flag which of course is 5-5. Very well organized and run!

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Did you guys use your drawn up plays at practice?
I definitely used my playbook in practice during the scrimmages. Usually would talk the parents into an extra 10 minutes of practice so the kids could get a decent scrimmage at the end of practice. It allowed me to observe which plays worked best with certain kids.
How did not only the kids respond to that rule when you ask for the ball, but more importantly how did the parents respond?
I agree with Husker, laying out the rules/expectations with all the kids and parents ahead of time is a key. Football is a different animal than soccer or basketball, not as many ball touches per kid. At this age, kids want ball touches which can be difficult in football. Might have been overkill, but I had a parent track ball touches on the sidelines. During the game, I'd touch base and make changes on the fly to make sure I wasn't running the same kids over and over. I got too caught up in the game to try and remember who'd touched the ball, so having the parent track this was extremely helpful. Also tried to emphasize the importance of faking out the defense by running routes correctly or by being over dramatic on a fake handoff situation.
I'm going to coach flag football again in the winter as my son is playing soccer in the fall.
Orange? Curious if you're coaching soccer? I'm coaching soccer in the fall, then 2 seasons of b-ball in the winter, ending it with a spring flag football.

CRob

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Hi All,

First, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to coach, as well as share with others of us that are doing the same. With that said, I am coaching 5-6 year old 8 on 8 flag. (I know, I know...) Anyway, does anybody have any ideas or drills I can use to get these kids used to running full speed all the time, not slowing down, etc? Also, how do you best get them out of the huddle and to the right spot? I can physically put them there, I know, but I only have 30 seconds between plays. Anyway, thanks for any plays, advice, drills, etc. I've read all of the posts and use a lot of the drills that were provided on the links.

Coach O'Hara

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Orange? Curious if you're coaching soccer? I'm coaching soccer in the fall, then 2 seasons of b-ball in the winter, ending it with a spring flag football.

CRob

My son is going to play U9 soccer and my daughter is going to be playing U6. My intention is to be an assistant for my daughters team although I will be head coach if needed. This is her first time playing and she wants me around. My son is going to be playing with a team that has a solid dedicated coach so I can just sit back and watch although I'll make myself available to help if needed.

Hi All,

First, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to coach, as well as share with others of us that are doing the same. With that said, I am coaching 5-6 year old 8 on 8 flag. (I know, I know...) Anyway, does anybody have any ideas or drills I can use to get these kids used to running full speed all the time, not slowing down, etc? Also, how do you best get them out of the huddle and to the right spot? I can physically put them there, I know, but I only have 30 seconds between plays. Anyway, thanks for any plays, advice, drills, etc. I've read all of the posts and use a lot of the drills that were provided on the links.

Coach O'Hara

1) Getting your kids running full speed 101: This is a big thing of mine and I emphasized it at the younger level and still do today. I think you'll play how you practice so I try to get them going as fast as possible whenever running patterns, drills, plays, etc. I don't know about any drills specifically but I can tell you what I do. I get in their face, I encourage, I cajole them... all the time. Different kids react to different feedback so for some I just call them out. Others I take a knee and speak quietly with them. Others I just use encouraging words. But I can tell you this, I make them stop, turn around and re-run any drill that they don't do full speed. I have had kids run the same drill 2-3 times in a row because I didn't like the effort. They get the idea after that. Another thing you have to remember, some kids are fast, some are not so fast. Judge them on effort not on the actual speed.

2) At that age, getting them to the right spot will be difficult and require a lot of adjustment on your part. They'll look at the play, agree that they know it, take two steps and then look back and say where do I go? The best way to get it done in 30 seconds is to have the play ready to call as soon as the prior play ends. Hurry everyone back to the huddle. Line everyone up behind you and hold the play facing the line of scrimmage. Point to each spot and who is to run what. Hurry them up to the line of scrimmage. Don't worry so much if some kid not involved in the play doesn't know his route. Just whisper his route to him and he'll be fine.

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Welcome Coach O'Hara!! As I myself gain more experience and learn about whats working for me out there, I'll help provide you with what I know. Orange, Rob and even Husker has helped me alot with tips in drills, plays and the such.....

On that note, we finally had our first practice! Whew..... glad that first one is out of the way! Anyhow, a few things I noticed. Flag pulling was absolutely Atrocious! Even returning kids who played last year were missing flags by taking bad angles, over pursuing and well just missing. I wasnt able to get everything worked in that I anticipated because of time restraints.

Started off with the jingle jangle drill to get warmed up about 10 min.

Went into QB/Center exchange and handoff drills with all the kids about 20 min.

Worked a little bit on route running and pass catching about 15 min.

Did a flag pulling drill. 10x10 box, one kid in the middle while another kid attempts to get by the defender for about 15 min.

Then finished up with a scrimmage for the last 10 minutes.

I just randomly selected kids to run some offensive plays while the others were on defense. I have an assistant so that was HUGE. He is coaching the defense. The kids executed the offensive plays very well I must add for the first time running them together as a team. Completed a 4 yard Center drag, had a Slot WR run a 4 yard In for a completion 2 times and even worked in a quick slant pass. Also had a few end arounds work good too. Like I said above, our flag pulling as a whole team was bad! We have to really work on that aspect. However for it being the first practice, it went well and was organized. All 10 kids I have seemed to listen pretty well, pay attention and display hard effort MOST of the time, so I am grateful for that!

One thing I want to know, is do any of you know a good way to incorporate other flag pulling drills and ways of teaching angles when pursuing the runner? I noticed alot of the kids were affraid of some contact when coming in for the flag. I bet that will change as our practices evolve. We couldnt pull flags to save our lives though, I need to find a balance to really work in flag pulling while still teaching fundamentals like catching, route running and QB/Center exchange ect. I think the scrimmage worked extremley well, I only got to run it for about 10-12 minutes though. I think getting a minimum of 20 minutes of scrimmage time is vital! So much to do with so little time to do it. We will get in 7 practices before our first game with possibly a scrimmage against another team mixed in there. In your experiences, do you think those 7 practices is pretty good for practices and reps leading up to our first game? Approximatley how many practices did it take for things to really start to fall in place and things to start running smoothly? I'm hoping by the 5th practice or so, we'll be clicking pretty well........

Thanks again guys!

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Orange? Curious if you're coaching soccer? I'm coaching soccer in the fall, then 2 seasons of b-ball in the winter, ending it with a spring flag football.

CRob

My son is going to play U9 soccer and my daughter is going to be playing U6. My intention is to be an assistant for my daughters team although I will be head coach if needed. This is her first time playing and she wants me around. My son is going to be playing with a team that has a solid dedicated coach so I can just sit back and watch although I'll make myself available to help if needed.

Hi All,

First, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to coach, as well as share with others of us that are doing the same. With that said, I am coaching 5-6 year old 8 on 8 flag. (I know, I know...) Anyway, does anybody have any ideas or drills I can use to get these kids used to running full speed all the time, not slowing down, etc? Also, how do you best get them out of the huddle and to the right spot? I can physically put them there, I know, but I only have 30 seconds between plays. Anyway, thanks for any plays, advice, drills, etc. I've read all of the posts and use a lot of the drills that were provided on the links.

Coach O'Hara

1) Getting your kids running full speed 101: This is a big thing of mine and I emphasized it at the younger level and still do today. I think you'll play how you practice so I try to get them going as fast as possible whenever running patterns, drills, plays, etc. I don't know about any drills specifically but I can tell you what I do. I get in their face, I encourage, I cajole them... all the time. Different kids react to different feedback so for some I just call them out. Others I take a knee and speak quietly with them. Others I just use encouraging words. But I can tell you this, I make them stop, turn around and re-run any drill that they don't do full speed. I have had kids run the same drill 2-3 times in a row because I didn't like the effort. They get the idea after that. Another thing you have to remember, some kids are fast, some are not so fast. Judge them on effort not on the actual speed.

2) At that age, getting them to the right spot will be difficult and require a lot of adjustment on your part. They'll look at the play, agree that they know it, take two steps and then look back and say where do I go? The best way to get it done in 30 seconds is to have the play ready to call as soon as the prior play ends. Hurry everyone back to the huddle. Line everyone up behind you and hold the play facing the line of scrimmage. Point to each spot and who is to run what. Hurry them up to the line of scrimmage. Don't worry so much if some kid not involved in the play doesn't know his route. Just whisper his route to him and he'll be fine.

That's a great point about getting them to re-do it. One thing I noticed too is that the kids love to look at me or the other coaches to see if we are watching them instead of running full-bore through the end of the drill. Another quick question- do you use the whistle often, or do you lay off it? I've been hesitant to use it too much, but I also want to get them used to going full speed until the whistle blows.

I like the idea of having the play ready, and I've taken the ones that have been sent to me and have somebody working to add in some circles (I'm 8 on 8) so that i can blow them up and get them ready. We had a quick scrimmage last night and it became apparent that we need to spend some time Thursday working on the exchange.

Anyway, thanks everybody for your comments and advice, I really appreciate it.

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One thing I want to know, is do any of you know a good way to incorporate other flag pulling drills and ways of teaching angles when pursuing the runner? I noticed alot of the kids were affraid of some contact when coming in for the flag. I bet that will change as our practices evolve. We couldnt pull flags to save our lives though
1) Flag Pulling - This will be the key to your success, imo. We made a channel using cones and put two kids in the channel one up front and one in back as flag pullers. The channel was maybe 10ft wide and 20 yards long. Had a runner who tried to make it through the channel while staying within the cones. We adjusted the width of the channel depending upon how the flag pulling was going. Point of this drill was to create some success with flag pulling by making it hard on the runner and easier on the flag pullers.

>>> SWARMING - Orange was big on this and it worked for us. Use a drill where the kids have to swarm the ball carrier (see previous posts).

>>>Teach the kids to look at the belly button area, not the head, legs, etc.

>>>Teach staying on your feet - kids love to leap and dive to make it look good.

>>>Teach slowing the runner down, getting in front of the runner.

In the end, you'll find that some kids are flag pullers (more agressive/quicker) and some aren't (they run along or after everyone else).

We will get in 7 practices before our first game with possibly a scrimmage against another team mixed in there. In your experiences, do you think those 7 practices is pretty good for practices and reps leading up to our first game? Approximatley how many practices did it take for things to really start to fall in place and things to start running smoothly? I'm hoping by the 5th practice or so, we'll be clicking pretty well........Thanks again guys!
You should be fine, usually you only have 1 or 2 practices before the first game. At this age keeping it simple is important. I found that after each game or scrimmage, it became more apparent what needed to be worked on. Kids love scrimmages, so I'm with you on maximizing that time. I'm a big advocate of using games instead of drills at this age. Here are a few ideas:

1) Using that channel drill above, make teams and give the defense points for stopping - offense points for getting through. We also used the cones as boundaries for the channel, the offensive kids would see how many cones they could pass in the channel.

2) Use a snapping drill where the center and QB play a form of leap frog. I think it was on that Reebok site, the center snaps to QB, QB runs in front of center - becomes the new center and snaps, relay type thing.

3) Handoffs, we'd have two kids behind each other facing two kids about 5 yards apart, that was one team. We'd have another team setup next to them with the same formation. We'd have them run a relay type handoff race, run and handoff to your teamate in front of you and get behind the next guy in line, etc. How many handoffs could they do without fumbling. We'd look for proper form, where they placed the ball, etc.

4) Routes - we'd run a game where you have 3-4 kids running routes. You give each kid X amount of points for each pass they caught. We'd reinforce proper route running and catching techniques. You'll find that a simple 3 yard out becomes a 10 yard slant. At the end of that drill, we'd let them do a long fly pattern for 100 pts if caught.

5) Who's afraid of the big bad ______? Whatever your team name is, fill in the blank. We'd line up the kids at one end of a marked off area, all of them had balls and flags. Two coaches in the middle and on the whistle, the kids try to make it to the other end without having their flag pulled. As the flags are pulled those kids are in the middle trying to pull flags. It can get a bit funky as the runners become less and less, but it can also be a good game to teach the swarming technique.

CRob

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7 practices before the first game are a lot of practices. You should be fine. As Coach Rob said most teams get 2 maybe.

As for flag pulling use the channel as described by Coach Rob. I do the same thing. I have all the kids line up with flags on and footballs in their hands at one end. At the other end is the defender. One at a time they run through the channel and the defender has to pull flags. I stand behind the defender and critique/ compliment/ suggest almost every time someone goes. I'm obsessive over this drill and flag pulling in general. Once the line is completed the defender gets in line with the rest and I pull out another kid to play defender. Everyone play defender at least once and sometimes twice. And I try to get the defender back into position rapidly so there is little time between runners. It's kind of like a rapid fire succession of runners but I make sure the defender is set first.

An alternate to that is to do the same thing with the following exception: the defender does not pull anyones flag, he merely has to place his body between the runner and the end of the channel. That way they learn to use their body to position themselves in front of the runner and physically block him from moving forward. That's an important skill in flag pulling often overlooked. If the defender can stop or even slow down the runner it becomes easier for him (and the other pursuing defenders) to pull flags. Make sure they sidestep quickly and get in front just as you would if you were blocking someone out in basketball.

The added side benefit of both those flag pulling drills is that the runners learn how to better avoid getting their flags pulled. So it helps the offense too. That's why I have them carry footballs with them when they run it so they can learn. I even make them carry it properly with the end tucked under their armpit. I went so far as to make them run a short sprint if they carried the ball wrong.

Another thing on flag pulling is to rake at the belt as it is much more stationary then the flags which tend to whip around in the air. The belt detaches just as easily. Someone said to make sure the kdis keep their feet too and I agree. They like to dive but thats not good because when you miss you don't get a second chance.

SWARM, SWARM, SWARM. Practice it, teach it, drill it. In scrimmages sometimes I'll forget about the play and just watch for stragglers who do not swarm. I call them out on the spot and then watch them all the time. Those that swarm well I compliment over and over. I'm obsessive about swarming. If one kid misses (and they will) you need 5 others right there ready to pull.

And finally on whistles, I think thats a personal thing. I brought one to each of my first days of practice and ended up never using it. I do use a kind of barking shout though during drills to make them start and stop. Like in the channel drill described above, I shout GO! for each kids turn. The whistle thing I wasn't in to.

I'll emphasize this last point which I already made. I make it a point to compliment and critique my players all during practice and during the scrimmages on a lot of the finer things. From running full speed to flag pulling, positioning, catching, etc. I stress proper execution on all these things I consider the basics.

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One thing I want to know, is do any of you know a good way to incorporate other flag pulling drills and ways of teaching angles when pursuing the runner? I noticed alot of the kids were affraid of some contact when coming in for the flag. I bet that will change as our practices evolve. We couldnt pull flags to save our lives though
1) Flag Pulling - This will be the key to your success, imo. We made a channel using cones and put two kids in the channel one up front and one in back as flag pullers. The channel was maybe 10ft wide and 20 yards long. Had a runner who tried to make it through the channel while staying within the cones. We adjusted the width of the channel depending upon how the flag pulling was going. Point of this drill was to create some success with flag pulling by making it hard on the runner and easier on the flag pullers.

>>> SWARMING - Orange was big on this and it worked for us. Use a drill where the kids have to swarm the ball carrier (see previous posts).

>>>Teach the kids to look at the belly button area, not the head, legs, etc.

>>>Teach staying on your feet - kids love to leap and dive to make it look good.

>>>Teach slowing the runner down, getting in front of the runner.

In the end, you'll find that some kids are flag pullers (more agressive/quicker) and some aren't (they run along or after everyone else).

We will get in 7 practices before our first game with possibly a scrimmage against another team mixed in there. In your experiences, do you think those 7 practices is pretty good for practices and reps leading up to our first game? Approximatley how many practices did it take for things to really start to fall in place and things to start running smoothly? I'm hoping by the 5th practice or so, we'll be clicking pretty well........Thanks again guys!
You should be fine, usually you only have 1 or 2 practices before the first game. At this age keeping it simple is important. I found that after each game or scrimmage, it became more apparent what needed to be worked on. Kids love scrimmages, so I'm with you on maximizing that time. I'm a big advocate of using games instead of drills at this age. Here are a few ideas:

1) Using that channel drill above, make teams and give the defense points for stopping - offense points for getting through. We also used the cones as boundaries for the channel, the offensive kids would see how many cones they could pass in the channel.

2) Use a snapping drill where the center and QB play a form of leap frog. I think it was on that Reebok site, the center snaps to QB, QB runs in front of center - becomes the new center and snaps, relay type thing.

3) Handoffs, we'd have two kids behind each other facing two kids about 5 yards apart, that was one team. We'd have another team setup next to them with the same formation. We'd have them run a relay type handoff race, run and handoff to your teamate in front of you and get behind the next guy in line, etc. How many handoffs could they do without fumbling. We'd look for proper form, where they placed the ball, etc.

4) Routes - we'd run a game where you have 3-4 kids running routes. You give each kid X amount of points for each pass they caught. We'd reinforce proper route running and catching techniques. You'll find that a simple 3 yard out becomes a 10 yard slant. At the end of that drill, we'd let them do a long fly pattern for 100 pts if caught.

5) Who's afraid of the big bad ______? Whatever your team name is, fill in the blank. We'd line up the kids at one end of a marked off area, all of them had balls and flags. Two coaches in the middle and on the whistle, the kids try to make it to the other end without having their flag pulled. As the flags are pulled those kids are in the middle trying to pull flags. It can get a bit funky as the runners become less and less, but it can also be a good game to teach the swarming technique.

CRob

Hey Rob, when you run your drill where 3-4 kids are running routes, do you have another kid throwing the ball or do you have a coach tossing it to them? I still dont have a QB after only 1 practice, lol however each kid wants to play QB. I also like your flag pulling drill idea, we did the exact thing except with only one player in the middle as the defensive player. I will try it with two, that way we will stress flag pulling that much more.

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All of this has been great guys, thanks a ton. One of the drills that I've used in each practice so far is what I always called the 4 cone drill when I played, but the website called jingle-jangle. I'm surprised at how many kids don't understand how to break down in front of a runner and keep their feet moving, not to mention how to shuffle to one side or another. Proper footwork is something I want to stress, but do y'all think that is too much to ask of a 5-6 year old? Should I be happy with them just getting in front of the ball carrier and counting on my swarm to then contain?

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All of this has been great guys, thanks a ton. One of the drills that I've used in each practice so far is what I always called the 4 cone drill when I played, but the website called jingle-jangle. I'm surprised at how many kids don't understand how to break down in front of a runner and keep their feet moving, not to mention how to shuffle to one side or another. Proper footwork is something I want to stress, but do y'all think that is too much to ask of a 5-6 year old? Should I be happy with them just getting in front of the ball carrier and counting on my swarm to then contain?

The kids will play up to your expectations. Keep stressing the proper footwork but be realistic with what they can accomplish. Some will get it some will not. You don't want to frustrate the ones who cannot get it but at the same time you want the ones who can, to understand it and improve. Be flexible and understanding but keep trying.

Vegas Coach:

Get your kids throwing the ball in drills as soon as possible. At the 5-7 year old level and coach qback I did most of the throwing. At the 7-8 year old level where it was kid quarterback I had the kids throwing pretty much all the time. There are a few times when you want to show them something specific but my philosophy is that they have to learn to throw and it helps to see what the quarterbacks are capable of. Rotate them around and you'll start to see who the better ones are eventually. Don't settle on one, get at least 3 that are all capable.

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Hey Rob, when you run your drill where 3-4 kids are running routes, do you have another kid throwing the ball or do you have a coach tossing it to them? I still dont have a QB after only 1 practice, lol however each kid wants to play QB. I also like your flag pulling drill idea, we did the exact thing except with only one player in the middle as the defensive player. I will try it with two, that way we will stress flag pulling that much more.
I took on the role of QB in that drill, wanted to make sure the kids had a lot of success in running the route and catching the ball. Had another drill where I'd let my QBs throw the ball. Didn't get real fancy on running several types of routes, I was more interested in making sure they understood what 2-3 yards out meant and watching the ball into their hands. Can't tell you how many times my better players would take off downfield without making sure they'd caught the ball first. The short passes are the most successful in games so that's what we practiced. However, the kids love to run those long fly patterns, towards the end of the drill we'd air out a few. The drill moved quickly, as one kid caught the ball, he/she would come around to the outside and the next kid would take off. Need several footballs handy. Looking to build confidence with this drill.

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Again I just want to say this thread has helped my learning curve immensly with my first year coaching! Thanks again guys!!!

I'm trying to find our QB and I have went through all the kids throwing and the such, so I have a pretty good idea of how the kids throw and react. Theres 2 kids that stand out throwing it and show their awarness, while I have a 3rd kid who I think can be decent as well, but is really raw and will need some coaching up for a few more practices! One of the problems is the 2 kids who set themselves apart throwing the ball are also 2 of my most athletic kids running with the ball, pulling flags and catching it on the team! QB I know is VERY important, however I was interested to hear if your QBs were also one of your best kids overall? I want my QB to be smart and a care taker, however I am wondering how to balance it out with taking one of my more athletic kids who can run and catch and stick them playing QB because they seem to understand that position. That in turn obviously would mean they would be excluded from running and recieving. QB cannot run. I'm definitley adopting short route running with drags, outs and slants. So was your QBs also one of the best 2-3 best players overall on the team?

Also, after 2 practices I am getting hit with a couple kids in particular always asking for the ball, to play offense and to QB! Might have to have that talk before next practice and lay some rules out about asking for that stuff in the huddles and middle of practice...... :blink:

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So was your QBs also one of the best 2-3 best players overall on the team?

Yes, my two main quarterbacks were two of the best players on the team. Definitely. I'd play one each half. During the half they were not playing qback they'd be on defense. But my substitution pattern allowed me to get them in for a few plays on offense as a receiver each half and I'd try to get them the ball a few times. Also, I had two main quarterbacks but I had a few others who could do the basics. I'd sub them later in the half which would free up my main qbacks to get another chance or two.

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I'm definitley adopting short route running with drags, outs and slants. So was your QBs also one of the best 2-3 best players overall on the team?
My QBs were my best all around players. Ran into my main QB getting tired of playing QB and wanting to run or catch once in a while, which we worked out. My main QB could pretty much run any play in our playbook relatively easy, my 2nd QB could do most of the plays and the others were good for a handoff or maybe a short pass. Not sure if you have a rush, but that cured most of my other kids from wanting to play QB, they couldn't hang with the pressure. On our 3rd/4th QBs, I'd try to put them in on running plays only, too easy to panic and throw an interception.
QB cannot run
The way around the "QB cannot run" is to run plays where the ball is pitched to the QB. Not sure if you're allowed to pitch or not, but that worked well with our team - giving our QB an option to run or pass. I'd work with a few kids specifically on pitching correctly and use them on plays where I needed the ball to get to our QB via a pitch.

CRob

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Hey coaches,

I'm a rookie coach in Flag Football. I'm coaching 7 on 7 for 12-13 year old boys.

Anyone have any good plays and drills they would like to share with me, that have been successful for you.

Any info would be very appreciated!

Thanks in advance

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Coach Rob and others:

For 5 on 5 flag, what were your top 2 or 3 most successful plays?

Husker Fan

We had 6-on-6 but here's what worked for us best:

1) End around run. Your wideout comes around full speed and takes the handoff. He flies around and turns the corner. The receivers on the side he runs to have all run patterns that clear the defense out. Best run play we had. Even when the defense saw it coming a missed flag or two would mean a long gain. The key to this play working well is the exchange between qb and wideout has to be sharp and the wideout has to be full speed. If he's slowing down or stopping to get the handoff then you've lost the edge. I practice the exchange emphasizing the speed.

2) Center drag. This simple play was an easy, no, automatic 3-4 yards. It was my guaranteed short yardage call and never failed. And it would break for longer gains too with missed flags. A key yo this play is to run parallel to the line of scrimmage maybe 6-7 yards. They are going to want to throw it right away, thats not good because you want separation from the defenders in the middle. Kids at this age follow behind in man-to-man so the defender has no chance of breaking up the pass if you allow it time to develop. I told both players that the qb leads and the center has to keep up with him. It's one step and turn, not a long pass. The qb merely flips the ball to him, with what I call a shuffle pass.

3) Fake end around center or slot drag. Once we ran the end around a few times we'd fake it and then quickly do a drag in the other direction. The effect of the fake was so great that 9 times out of 10 the receiver would be WIDE OPEN. He literally had one half of the field to himself. The qback would run down the line of scrimmage maybe 6-7 yards, make a simple 3 yard pass and then it was off to the races. Best play we had and we'd run it out of various formations too. I believe misdirection is so important to a good play but setting it up with a few end arounds is definitely key.

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For 5 on 5 flag, what were your top 2 or 3 most successful plays?
#1) Was our blue ghost/green ghost combo. Blue Ghost was a hand off on an end around. Had a slot line up next to our center on the left side, both the center and slot ran slants off to the right. The wide receiver was placed all the way out to the right and we had another player line up behind the QB as a tailback. The tailback was far enough back to allow the receiver to come through for the end around. The tailback didn't move, just stayed put. Right after that play we'd run Green Ghost. Same formation, except this time we had the slot and center run slants to the left. Receiver came around for a fake end around and the tailback would start right to receive a pitch. Usually, with the slot and center running routes to the left and our wide out coming from right to left, it cleared the right side of the field for our tailback who could take off down the sidelines. We ran varations off the fake end around, where the center would run an out to the right or a slot was coming across the middle the opposite way of the end around.

#2 Pitch to QB, center slant. We'd run a formation of two players lined up just right of the center, have a backup QB, then place our reg QB off to the right in the backfield. Backup QB pitches it to reg QB who takes off running behind the 3 players. Right after that, we'd run the same formation, same play. This time our reg QB acted like they were going to run, then pass to our center who'd run a slant pattern off to the left a bit.

#3) Same as Orange here, in fact, this was his play that I used over and over. We'd line 3 receivers out wide left. QB would take snap and look as if to pass left, then come back right following the center who ran a quick 3 yard out pattern for a short pass. We tried to get the center to take a quick step left, then start back right along the line of scrimmage.

#4) If the other team plays a 2 1 2 zone with a rusher, have a play to spread out your receivers two on left, one on the right. Have the center run past the rusher, QB dinks it over the middle where the rusher leaves a hole.

We were most successful at running two back to back plays with the same formation, but with different intent on the 2nd play. We tried to suck them into thinking we were running the same play twice. Misdirection works well. Funny thing though, sometimes the straight hand offs or short passes turned out to be huge gainers because of missed flags. Tell those kids not to look down to see if their flag is pulled, look straight ahead and keep running until the ref has to tackle you! ;)

CRob

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