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Youth Flag Football

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It sounds like you have the right idea. I was lucky enough about 3 years ago to accept an invitation to listen to a sports psychologist/ writer speak about coaching kids. He pointed out all the pitfalls and problems invading kids sports and how a coach can add to that or prevent it. It really opened my eyes and changed my perspective. Now, I have to admit that I have a competitive streak so I'm constantly checking myself. But I think I do well and I make difficult choices that I'm later proud of. Example: Time left for one play and we have a long way to go. My assistant asks me if I'll sub in the one kid who can throw it far enough to possibly score. I told him no, let's try it with who's out there. I really do try to get everyone some plays and everyone on my team got a touchdown last season. Some got many more than others just because they made it happen but I got everyone in the endzone which was awesome. The one kid who is younger and not as skilled still talks about his lone touchdown as if he won the Super Bowl.

Check this out. It seems quite crazy to me. I was talking to a friend who has a kid playing flag football this fall. She said that her son who is normally a confident, decent athelete was completely distraught after practice and didn't want to go back. Apparantly they are practicing every day of the week for two weeks before the season starts for 2 hours each day! Their team is a 4-5 grade team. The coach also coaches a 6-7 grade team so he combined them into the same practice. She said he starts them with running laps which seemed ok although the laps were long. But the kicker is that whenever they miss a flag or drop a pass they run a lap. She said it's not like a lap around a basketball court either, its a full lap around the field. The coach has been putting a lot of pressure on the kids to do well. That seems so over the top that I was dumbfounded. Anyone see anything like this?

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It sounds like you have the right idea. I was lucky enough about 3 years ago to accept an invitation to listen to a sports psychologist/ writer speak about coaching kids. He pointed out all the pitfalls and problems invading kids sports and how a coach can add to that or prevent it. It really opened my eyes and changed my perspective. Now, I have to admit that I have a competitive streak so I'm constantly checking myself. But I think I do well and I make difficult choices that I'm later proud of. Example: Time left for one play and we have a long way to go. My assistant asks me if I'll sub in the one kid who can throw it far enough to possibly score. I told him no, let's try it with who's out there. I really do try to get everyone some plays and everyone on my team got a touchdown last season. Some got many more than others just because they made it happen but I got everyone in the endzone which was awesome. The one kid who is younger and not as skilled still talks about his lone touchdown as if he won the Super Bowl.

Check this out. It seems quite crazy to me. I was talking to a friend who has a kid playing flag football this fall. She said that her son who is normally a confident, decent athelete was completely distraught after practice and didn't want to go back. Apparantly they are practicing every day of the week for two weeks before the season starts for 2 hours each day! Their team is a 4-5 grade team. The coach also coaches a 6-7 grade team so he combined them into the same practice. She said he starts them with running laps which seemed ok although the laps were long. But the kicker is that whenever they miss a flag or drop a pass they run a lap. She said it's not like a lap around a basketball court either, its a full lap around the field. The coach has been putting a lot of pressure on the kids to do well. That seems so over the top that I was dumbfounded. Anyone see anything like this?

Good post! I will look to get that book off of Amazon as it sounds like a good read! I am a lot like you Orange in I have a competitive streak, however I think I really balance it out well with my kids who are 8-9 year olds. It does get hard when your in the "moment" I must admit. I've only coached 1 game so far and in that one game alone I learned a whole lot. That is my exact goal is to get every kid a TD, that would really make my season!

On your other note, I would be concerned if I was your friend as it sounds like this coach is really working his way to burning out these kids and plain making it so some of them wont want to play. Sounds like he'll definitley be the type to play only his "stars". How does he get away with practicing everyday? Our league you can only practice twice a week max! Also, in our league I believe there is some cases of stuff like that happening. To what degree's I am not sure. For instance, where we practice is where the games are held which is a big park with about 7 flag football fields. The whole park is full with other teams practicing and every team is assigned an area and date and time to practice. Well you get half the field to practice on and on Thursdays another team practices on the other half where we are, which is in our age division too (Cowboys). I hear these two coaches all practice over there yelling loud at their kids about dropping the ball or missing flags. They also make them do a lot of push ups and sit ups throughout their practice. In our first game they were playing on the same field we were going to play on, we were after their game and these coaches were out of control in my opinion, but on one particular play that stands out to me, their QB threw a pass into coverage that was almost picked, and these coaches were screaming loud "I said NO, I said NO, why are you throwing it there"! Then the coach signaled for his QB to "get over here" on the sideline. I wonder if they actually know how they look? There's another coach in our division who I know hand picks a lot of his kids. If your a parent and he knows your kid is skilled he'll immediatley start chatting it up with you and work his way in where he'll suggest you place your kid with him. You can have up to 6 requested kids and he fills those 6 spots with kids who are pretty good.

I think it goes on even more than that, like I said before our league is extremely competitive with 28 teams and they keep track of standings on the website and such. My goal is to teach the kids fundamentals of the game, sportsmanship and of course to have fun! Hopefully we win a few along the way, I just want to not get too caught up in the moment during games.

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That's just plain crazy. We had a good team last season, actually we won every game. The first half of my season was tight as just about every game came down to a touchdown. Then I revamped my plays and practices and really psyched the kids up to play our best. I mean we were really primed to play the next game. You know when you get that feeling that the team is peaking and pumped to play? Well, the next team we played was very poor. I didn't know this going in because I refuse to scout the other teams (I have to fight that instinct sometimes, lol). Anyhow we were pasting this other team and I began to feel bad for them. We were playing our best and this other team was just not capable of playing that well. The kicker is that their coaches were yelling negative things to them. I almost said something to them. Towards the end I rearranged my lineup around to give them a little more of chance but I would never tell my guys to hold back or play easy.

The way my kids reacted amazed me. We won and all and it was the usual congrats, good game, etc. Then next week that team was playing the game before us. I look over and I see all my guys on the sidelines cheering wildly for them. I asked them what was going on and they said that this particular team we pasted last week had never won and they wanted them to win a game. It ended up being close but they finally won. I was very proud of my guys.

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Orange and Coach Rob, I would love to get a copy of your playbook. I will email both of you and just send what you will. Thanks.
My playbook is combined with Orange’s, he’ll send that out to you. All we ask is that you give us some feedback on which plays worked the best (including your own plays). Thanks!
The other comment I had was on the positive focus on sportsmanship from this board. The leagues (both football and baseball) in which I have coached the past few years have been far too concentrated on winning rather than having fun. I will admit that I sank to their level. The first year I coached flag, I would go home at night and have to walk around the neighborhood just to calm down from the game. Eventhough we won every game, I could not help but dwell on "what can I do better?" Needless to say very few kids touched the ball.
You've touched on an important topic for me. Emphasizing fun was easy in the beginning when my kids were younger; however, these past few seasons, I can see things starting to heat up a bit. Our last season of flag football was fantastic, interestingly enough, I, too, ended up pacing around the backyard after each game wondering if I could’ve done something better. I tracked ball touches religiously, but when push came to shove, I found myself going with the better players to help insure a win.

Fortunately, I’ve had the same core group of kids for the past 14 seasons of sports (football, soccer and basketball), along with a great group of parents who understand and support my underlying philosophy of emphasizing fun and skill development over winning. I have a great assistant coach who’s been with me for most of those seasons along with 2 other dads who act as assistants. We try and keep each other in check when it comes to getting too intense about competition. Even with all that support, walking the fine line between “having fun and still being competitive” is incredibly challenging, especially when you throw in the different skill level of each kid.

I have a few kids in my core group who aren’t the most skilled players; however, they really enjoy playing and keep coming back season after season. It’s been very cool to watch them grow and turn into decent athletes. I know there’s a time and place for healthy competition that involves scores, standings and stats; just not sure it’s at the 6-10 age level. Having said that, if a kid is ready for a competitive team and has that inner drive to work hard, I say let 'em give it a shot. My son, 8, has been in gymnastics for a few years now. A while back, he opted to try the competitive trac which involved practices every day for 3 hours and meets on the weekends that lasted 5 hours. Needless to say, he's back to a noncompetitive, two practices per week routine.

I’m currently coaching 3rd/4th grade soccer and the first thing my kids asked is when we were going to have a “parents against the kids scrimmage”. They remember beating the parents, our goofy team names and the crazy cadence cheers, not the 7-2 record. Seeing my kids run a well executed play using good fundamentals is what I enjoy the most (e.g., running the correct route, finding the open person under the basket, passing several times before scoring in soccer). I'll keep going along on this coaching ride as long as the kids keep enjoying it and I don't find myself doing the Bobby Knight shuffle.

The Cal Ripken Jr book sounds like something right up my alley, will pick up a copy. Thanks for the input.

Great board, great topics!

CRob

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Orange and Coach Rob, I would love to get a copy of your playbook. I will email both of you and just send what you will. Thanks.
My playbook is combined with Orange’s, he’ll send that out to you. All we ask is that you give us some feedback on which plays worked the best (including your own plays). Thanks!

Gentlemen,

Once again thanks for all the great info. Had our first practice Friday afternoon. Things went very well I think. Focused on footwork, hand-off and flag-pulling drills. We ended with 20 minutes of scrimmage when I realized I don't have very many plays and so I'm now a bit nervous as the 1st game is in a week. If you don't mind sending the playbook to me as well it would be very much appreciated and I of course will provide feedback on how things worked, etc.

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I thought I'd also give you a rundown of our practice. It was schedule from 4:00 to 5:30. I got there early and set up the cones for the drills I had planned (15x15 square for backpedal, karoeke, sprint and shuffle, 5x15 rectangle (2 players at a time 5 yards apart shuffle down and back while doing shovel passes back and forth to each other, and 10x20 for the flag-pulling drill (1 defender goes through the rest of the team 1x). The kids (12 in total) kind of straggled in so I had them play flag tag in the 15x15 until all were there. The kids loved the tag games and the 10x20 which is great since it is such an important part of the game.

I then set up a drill with 4 "stations", rushers, qb/center, slot & corner, with 3 at each station. Had slot on the right and corner on the left. Drill worked like this:

- Center hikes to QB (watched for clean exchanges)

- Rusher pursues QB (watch for speed and quick reaction at snap, then pursuit after hand-off)

- Slot does end around (watch for position at snap (facing downfield and not QB, quickness at snap, clean hand-off and elusiveness versus corner)

- Corner (watch for flag-pulling technique)

I put a cone where the center was and the rusher needed to go left of the cone (this was to prevent cheating and going right for slot since they knew the play).

I also put cones about 5 yards to the left of the center and 10 yards from there to create the lane I wanted the slots to hit.

After a couple of turns, everyone was rotated until all had done each station.

Probably reads more complicated than it was. The kids pulled it off without a hitch (only 1 missed QB exchange) and it helped I had an assistant to help watch 2 of the stations. The goal with the drill is to cover many different drills at one time.

Finished off with some ad hoc scrimmage plays.

For defense, running a 2-1-1(rusher)-2 zone with the mlb back about 5-7 yards and a rusher at 10. Playing a team with average to good players and 1 allstar. Plan is to rush when the allstar is QB (or on bench) and to shadow the allstar with the rusher when he isn't. QB can't run (unless received a hand-off). Kids are 9-10 and all have played before. Any thoughts?

My concern now is training the kids to run some offensive plays. This would seem to be much more difficult than teaching defense where the focus is flag-pulling, zone maintenance and swarming. Am I missing something?

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I've had a lot of requests for the playbooks which I'm glad to share but I've simply lost track of who still needs it. Be patient and send me another PM if you want one.

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For defense, running a 2-1-1(rusher)-2 zone with the mlb back about 5-7 yards and a rusher at 10. Playing a team with average to good players and 1 allstar. Plan is to rush when the allstar is QB (or on bench) and to shadow the allstar with the rusher when he isn't. QB can't run (unless received a hand-off). Kids are 9-10 and all have played before. Any thoughts?
Sounds like you have a good practice plan. With regards to rushing, my opinion is rush all the time and maybe hold every once in a while. I found that when I didn't rush, it was too easy for the other team to find someone downfield for a long pass play. I tried different kinds of rushing, sometimes I'd send two, or send from a different angle, etc.
My concern now is training the kids to run some offensive plays. This would seem to be much more difficult than teaching defense where the focus is flag-pulling, zone maintenance and swarming. Am I missing something?
I broke up my kids in groups of 3, had some running pass routes, had some in a flag pulling drill, some on handoffs/pitches and the rest working on plays. My thinking was to break down the plays in their simplest form which was a handoff, pitch or pass. Usually didn't use a center for this drill unless the center happened to be the intended receiver. I used my actual plays, got down in a huddle formation and had the kids run several plays. Sometimes I was QB, to tell them - show them - watch them kind of thing. Repetition is the key just like the other skills. I also would use a portion of my scrimmage time to work on both running plays and defense (half throttle or at least with instruction interjected). We'd stop the play if something didn't come off right and explain the right way.

CRob

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Update:

Well we played our second game this past weekend against the #1 team in our division and lost it pretty good 32-6!! Ouch. This team had a few good kids, but had their 1 Star who scored every TD for them. (5 TDs)

This was our MAIN problem though and I encourage the newer coaches (like myself) who have been chiming in to pay attention to this next part. FLAG PULLING was the MAIN problem! We were in position every play on defense and we missed the flags. Let me tell you why we missed though. My kids are affraid of contact. Instead of getting in front of the runner while he is at full speed coming at ya, they step to the side to avoid any contact and swing at the flag with one hand. The result is the runner gives a quick hip move and remains at full speed and is gone! They were right there in position to make the pull, however instead of getting in front of the runner and get on the hip to make the pull, they would actually side step out of the way and try to get the pull with a one handed wave at the flag. That was the main problem for us and it stuck out like a sore thumb. Granted this team had some big kids and that intimdated my kids right off the bat because most of them were taller and bigger.

I know we have talked about flag pulling in great length here in this thread and its importance and trust me I have spent about 25-30 minutes every practice devoted to Flag Pulling. I realize its importance, heck about half my practices have been for Flag Pulling. I run a 10x10 flag pulling box and I also run another drill that I believe TX Coach posted up with the 5 cones set out. In practice we seem to do well too. The one area I didnt tend too (which is my fault) was teaching the kids to GET IN FRONT OF EVERY RUNNER ON THEIR HIP. I have instructed the kids to do so, but not at length like it needs to be. Teaching them that they must impede the runner and at the least make him cut towards the middle of the field where your teammates are if you did miss the flag. So for the newer coaches here reading and asking advice, flag pulling is very key, but you MUST also teach the kids to get in front of every runner on their hip and just plain dont be affraid of a little contact. Contact will be made it is football. Granted the offensive player cannot run you over, thats a penalty! But get in there on their hip and get that flag! This is so very key, especially when you play a team with a pretty big player who is quick! Kids will get Intimidated. Obviously I will be really focusing on thius aspect. Does anybody have any suggestions on good ways of teaching this to the kids? Maybe drills you run or ways of explaining it so 8-9 year olds get it?

On offense we had our problems too, the main problem was again route running. I always drill running routes at full speed and not stopping, however we get into the game and we seem to forget. Most I can do is just keep teaching and drilling home proper route running. The team we played was also very good at flag pulling, they played a confusing defense at first. They lined everyone up 10 yards back and then a few kids would creep up a few yards jumping at the line like they were blitzing before the ball was snapped. They played back like this giving us a lot of underneath stuff, but they reacted very quick to the ball and got the flag right away. By having every player lined up about 8-10 yards back, they sent a different rusher everytime too.

Anyhow, back to the drawing board for us. 0-2 start, but it'll get better and the kids seem to be having fun! Sorry for the long post too and I appreciate everyones insight and opinions! Thanks in advance!

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Hey guys this is my first post I just found this site yesterday. I have coached full contact little league football for many years but this is my first go around at flag. Everyone's post have been very helpfull so far as for me to try to develop a game plan I appreciate everyone's input. Tonight is our first real practice and we only have 2 practices before our first game so this should be a great experience. I would also like to get a copy of that play book just to see if I am on the right track of where I am going with things if at all possible. I also am willing to share any information that anyone else might need.

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Vegas Coach,

Perhaps your team could benefit from a variation of the flag pulling drill that I ran during practice. I would set up the box/ rectangle and line up the kids who would try to cross the line versus the defender. The variation is that I would tell the defender that he was not to pull flags. Instead he was to position himself in front of the runner to slow him down, make him stop and change direction. I teach them lateral movement and body positioning similar to boxing out in basketball. If the defender could make the ball carrier slow down significantly or stop then he won that point. I would run them through that almost as often as I ran the regular flag pulling drill.

I also like to teach them to pull at the belt and not the actual flags. The belt is a much more stationary target as the flags can fly around they you're running.

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Vegas and others:

I have run the same drill that Orange talks about. Probably picked it up from Orange on an earlier post. It is a good drill and teaches angle of attack and positioning.

So far this season we are 1-1-1 and each game we have played dramatically different style offenses. The last team we faced operated only out of the shotgun and after a handoff had the running back throwing the ball fairly frequently, once for a long TD. Defensively, we have gone to a "nose guard" and four DBs at the 7 yard rush line. Typically I put one of my best defenders at the nose to stop or disrupt runs early. My fastest guys I use at the corners and I have been rushing my slowest guys most of the time. Doesn't get there the quickest but does get pressure on the QB.

On offense my team and our opponents struggle to move the ball consistently. A combined total of 6 TDs scored by all teams in last 2 games. With the DBs playing deep and staying home, it is diffcult to throw deep and running plays are picking up small gains unless there is a missed flag. The drag plays have been the most effective throughout the season. Reverses have had limited success. Keep tinkering with plays and sequencing to be more productive. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

In our league, it is 5 on 5, 3rd and 4th graders, no pitches allowed, all can rush on the handoff.

Husker

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I found this site last night and this is the best stuff out there! I REALLY appreciate the tips Orange and Coach Rob have shared. You guys really have a tight game plan.

I am coaching my daughter's 5v5 flag football team and tonight was our first practice. I have coached 15+ soccer teams, a few basketball teams but i didnt know what i was going to do until i found this site. I hadnt planned on coaching but the team didnt have one so i got recruited.

We are playing 10-11 year olds mostly boys (i think i have the only 2 girls). QB cant run past LOS. We are a new league and i only have 6 kids. Tonight, i installed the 2-1-2 zone defense and setup Blue Ghost and Green Ghost out of a shotgun. I was also able to install the "Dont tell me you were open" rule.

Sunday is our first game but we have a practice 1 hour before - any advise and helpful hints would be appreciated.

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Vegas and others:

I have run the same drill that Orange talks about. Probably picked it up from Orange on an earlier post. It is a good drill and teaches angle of attack and positioning.

So far this season we are 1-1-1 and each game we have played dramatically different style offenses. The last team we faced operated only out of the shotgun and after a handoff had the running back throwing the ball fairly frequently, once for a long TD. Defensively, we have gone to a "nose guard" and four DBs at the 7 yard rush line. Typically I put one of my best defenders at the nose to stop or disrupt runs early. My fastest guys I use at the corners and I have been rushing my slowest guys most of the time. Doesn't get there the quickest but does get pressure on the QB.

On offense my team and our opponents struggle to move the ball consistently. A combined total of 6 TDs scored by all teams in last 2 games. With the DBs playing deep and staying home, it is diffcult to throw deep and running plays are picking up small gains unless there is a missed flag. The drag plays have been the most effective throughout the season. Reverses have had limited success. Keep tinkering with plays and sequencing to be more productive. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

In our league, it is 5 on 5, 3rd and 4th graders, no pitches allowed, all can rush on the handoff.

Husker

Thanks for the heads up! Yesterday we practiced and I installed that exact drill, however I left the flag belts on. Maybe next practice I'll take them off that way they can focus on strictly positioning. The drill seemed to have helped alot though. I lined my kids up about 7 yards back so they would get a good running start and I even told my kids to run right at the defender in the box full speed, no slowing down or stopping, full steam ahead,then make a cut right before they get to him. The kids responded well and got the point of hanging in there and getting the flag. I was encouraged!

One other point I forgot to make is finding a very reliable free saftey. I have been in search for the perfect clog for this position and it has been a weakness. I have tried a few kids there. It hasnt worked out and am now forced to play a combination of 2 different kids at that spot, which by the way are 2 of my best offensive players as well. But I will have to rotate them every other series or so with each other in order to solidify that spot. Free Saftey is a very very important position and after 2 games I realize not every kid can grasp the responsibility that comes with it. They are the last line of defense and need to understand angles of pursuit, good flag pulling skills and react to the ball when its in the air. Stay discilplined. I think with hammering home positioning on flag pulling and having a much more reliable player at Free, our defense will improve. Now to the offense........

Husker:

I've only had 2 games thus far in my first year coaching Flag, my offense has sputtered as well scoring 3 TDs in 2 games. So I may not be the best to answer your offensive questions at this point. However one thing I am picking up on is number 1: Pick out a few plays (like 5 or so) and practice those plays to perfection! I really mean perfect them, so your kids know exactly where they are going, what their responsibilities are and they basically can become your bread and butter. I have tried to call many different plays every snap, however I am tuning it down now and focusing on 5 pass plays or so that we will perfect. I'll still have a few other options, but these 5 will be staples and if teams arent stopping them I'll run them over and over. The key though is to have your team know these plays to perfection because every practice you are practicing them. Now, the type of plays I see working in my league have been the center drag routes, quick WR screen type of passes and the infamous WR end around Pass. Also, send out 2 or more WRs in an area to clear out the defenders and have another WR trail behind, usually always open. The key is make the defender who mind you is only 8-9 years old get confused on who to cover. If your only sending 1 kid to certain areas and he's also the primary target, the defender has it easy because I am sure he is taught to cover his "area" and having only 1 WR to watch is easier to grasp. Oh every team I have seen in my league plays some variation of Zone defense too. Now when you overload an area or side with WRs crossing up or what not, the defender almost always gets confused and trails a certain player thus getting out of position. It happens everytime, I have been tweaking my plays every week now because I am noticing whats working and whats not working. Once I get a grasp on that my play book will be done.

As for running plays, I like the end arounds a lot, the one thing I see in my league though is the opposition plays Zone and for the most part have been taught well. They line their kids up 5-7 yards back and sit in their zones. On end arounds we get that initial 5 yards however because they are sitting back 5-7 yards in their zones, they are able to react to the sweeps better. Of course you have to still pull the flags at that point, but they have been in position for the most part to do so. I ran a double reverse last game at the end and it worked great! The kids were expecting my normal end around to the left, then boom hit them with another handoff on the reverse going the the other way. They totally over pursued and Big yardage was gained. With sprinkling in a double reverse or having that threat of a possible double reverse, I think it will make the defense pause for that split second that you need. Of course you must practice it because there is an added handoff in the play and you dont want to risk fumbling. I had my better ball handlers perform this play. I also am exploring adding a HB/WR pass play. Other teams have been running these versus us and they get our kids out of position every play. Might be something to run 2 times a game to catch them off guard. That may help opening up running lanes too with a threat of a pass after the handoff.

Sorry such a long post, but those are just a few of my observations from my limited experience in my league. I am sure Orange, Rob and/or others can elaborate much more. Look forward to hearing it as this is an area my team is trying to improve on as well......

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I experienced a midseason slump and then when I refocused my offense was a lot better. Keys were focusing on route running especially shortening them up.

I was thinking how I'd handle a zone defense and this is what I came up with. Overload the side. Place all 3 receivers on the right and then roll your qb to that side. You'll have 3 receivers over there plus the center coming across. Draw up some patterns where they really stretch the zone over there. Have one go deep, another goes maybe 5 yards but all the way towards the sideline. The other goes maybe 5 yards but more towards the middle and then the center drags across the zone short. The corner on that side will have to choose and the safety will have to follow the deep route. My preference would be the receiver 5 yards close to the sideline and the center is your safety valve. If you can teach the deep receiver to run a flag route that would be a good one too.

The zone will have to shift over to cover everything. When that happens you can use the same formation then run a center drag left.

I even have a few plays drawn up for the zone overload I'm talking about. Shoot me an email and I'll send them to you if you want.

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I have to thank Orange and CoachRob for all your posts in this forum. I had my first practice last night for my 5-7 yrs flag football team. I was the only dad that showed up at the parent meeting and our team was the only one needing a coach - I won by default. I have to say I was extremely nervous before reading through this thread the last couple of days. I helped coached t-ball and football is by far my favorite sport but I had no clue where to start with the kids on flag football. I used your info and put together a little practice schedule. I went great and we all had a blast.

A couple of the drills went a little long so I didn't have as much time to work on formations and plays as I would have liked. We have a practice Thurs. and a game on Sat. So next practice will be a lot of working on plays and defense - thanks again for everybody's input on this thread. Also thanks to you all I have figured out how I am going to divided the kids up and rotate them for the game on Sat.

Any good ideas on plays for 5-7 yrs, 6 on 6? Many(pretty much all) of the kids have not played before.

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I have to thank Orange and CoachRob for all your posts in this forum. I had my first practice last night for my 5-7 yrs flag football team. I was the only dad that showed up at the parent meeting and our team was the only one needing a coach - I won by default. I have to say I was extremely nervous before reading through this thread the last couple of days. I helped coached t-ball and football is by far my favorite sport but I had no clue where to start with the kids on flag football. I used your info and put together a little practice schedule. I went great and we all had a blast.

A couple of the drills went a little long so I didn't have as much time to work on formations and plays as I would have liked. We have a practice Thurs. and a game on Sat. So next practice will be a lot of working on plays and defense - thanks again for everybody's input on this thread. Also thanks to you all I have figured out how I am going to divided the kids up and rotate them for the game on Sat.

Any good ideas on plays for 5-7 yrs, 6 on 6? Many(pretty much all) of the kids have not played before.

Your story sounds exactly like mine. I was volunteered myself. I followed the recommendations given in these posts and have had success. We had two practices per week for about two weeks now we are in two games per week. I thought I could play without practices, wrong. The first game the kids dominated then second , played to a tie, but not the same team. They forgot positions, plays, but most importantly, their flag pulling was terrible. You must practice it. Most of the kids (especially those who really struggle) love it when they get a flag, it as good as a touchdown. I have also learned that I can simply draw up a play in the huddle with 3 or 4 of my players, but the more I do that , the more the other kids become confused and especially distracted. If they do not comprehend the play, they feel left out even if it is a touchdown, they start their own "fun", which isn't good. Fake pitch left fake, lateral pass to right receiver drawn up in the huddle (I have 7 yr olds who did it), in the short run looks great, but in the long run creates havoc. As to plays. I run basic QB sweep R/L, then run reverses off of that and add fake reverses. These are easy enough as long as you have some fast players. I loved the drag plays recommended by Orange and Rob, but the defense in my league is set back 5 yards so that play is difficult. If you can run it, do it. All of my kids, no matter their athletic ability, could do it when I tried it. I also run dives, fakes off of that and I am adding pitches. Pass plays, most in my league send everyone 5-10 yards down the field (all players are eligible) and tell the QB t throw to one named player over the middle, there is so much confusion and the distance is so short, as long as the QB can single out the player he/she is supposed to throw to, the pass can be completed. Most of all, I've learned in these two first games, that my team could go undefeated. We are not supposed to keep score, but everyone does and the opposing coach tonight was whispering to his players to stop the pass to this guy or watch the reverse when you can easily call out the other team's plays as a coach just on the alignment and often the expression on the kids' faces. I have a kid on my team that has scored on the first play from scrimmage the past two games. By the time the other teams recognize his speed, he is gone. They tried to load up on the outside and I sent him off tackle for a 60 yard score. He can score at will. It ended there. Like I said, I have 3-4 boys who want to compete and win, but 5 others who are happy just to run around. After the game, the kids that wanted to win, were running around playing tag with the kids who wanted to just run around anyway--happy as can be. I realized, they all mostly just want to run, so I'm just going to let them do it. It's tough with some of the coaches who just want the V. But if the V. for my boys is scoring a TD, or grabbing a flag or playing tag, who cares. Long winded, but just measure success on smiles and how each one improves on their game, especially their confidence.

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The site administrator is going to make our playbooks accessible somehow. That will make it easier on me because the number of requests has been quite high. Plus I don't want anyone to think I've forgotten about them as I really haven't kept good track of who I've sent it to and who I haven't. I estimate I've sent it to 12-15 people already. So if I forgot or haven't sent it yet, wait for the system admin to make it available.

Modified Post - S.Holladay 09/13/07 - Added Links to Playbooks

Orange Playbook - PDF File will automatically open up.

Coach Rob Playbook - Zip file with 13 word documents. You will be asked if you want to download.

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For defense, running a 2-1-1(rusher)-2 zone with the mlb back about 5-7 yards and a rusher at 10. Playing a team with average to good players and 1 allstar. Plan is to rush when the allstar is QB (or on bench) and to shadow the allstar with the rusher when he isn't. QB can't run (unless received a hand-off). Kids are 9-10 and all have played before. Any thoughts?
Sounds like you have a good practice plan. With regards to rushing, my opinion is rush all the time and maybe hold every once in a while. I found that when I didn't rush, it was too easy for the other team to find someone downfield for a long pass play. I tried different kinds of rushing, sometimes I'd send two, or send from a different angle, etc.
My concern now is training the kids to run some offensive plays. This would seem to be much more difficult than teaching defense where the focus is flag-pulling, zone maintenance and swarming. Am I missing something?
I broke up my kids in groups of 3, had some running pass routes, had some in a flag pulling drill, some on handoffs/pitches and the rest working on plays. My thinking was to break down the plays in their simplest form which was a handoff, pitch or pass. Usually didn't use a center for this drill unless the center happened to be the intended receiver. I used my actual plays, got down in a huddle formation and had the kids run several plays. Sometimes I was QB, to tell them - show them - watch them kind of thing. Repetition is the key just like the other skills. I also would use a portion of my scrimmage time to work on both running plays and defense (half throttle or at least with instruction interjected). We'd stop the play if something didn't come off right and explain the right way.

CRob

Thanks for the ideas. I have 12 kids, so will be using someone's advice of having 2 teams where 1 plays offense and 1 plays defense and we switch at the half (it's a 6x6 league with 9-10 year olds). All the kids seem to be great kids which makes everything easier. One potential issue on defense is I have 2 big kids (1 on each team) that are not quite as mobile as the rest of the team. I am trying to figure out the best position for them on defense. At first, I was thinking safety as that would give them more time to get to where they need to be and it puts some burden on the offense to make and catch a deeper pass, but they also serve as the last line of defense. So now I am thinking I will have them as rushers. While this would slow down the rush, it would keep the rest of the field covered by the faster kids. Anyone agree or have a better idea?

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Thanks for the ideas. I have 12 kids, so will be using someone's advice of having 2 teams where 1 plays offense and 1 plays defense and we switch at the half (it's a 6x6 league with 9-10 year olds). All the kids seem to be great kids which makes everything easier. One potential issue on defense is I have 2 big kids (1 on each team) that are not quite as mobile as the rest of the team. I am trying to figure out the best position for them on defense. At first, I was thinking safety as that would give them more time to get to where they need to be and it puts some burden on the offense to make and catch a deeper pass, but they also serve as the last line of defense. So now I am thinking I will have them as rushers. While this would slow down the rush, it would keep the rest of the field covered by the faster kids. Anyone agree or have a better idea?

Your safety should be your best player not your slowest. And you want your rusher to be very fast too. I'm a big fan of placing an extreme amount of pressure on the qb and having a rusher on him asap certainly does that. If I were you I'd stick the slower kid on one of the corners. Keep an eye over there and if the other team seems to be running at him a lot flip him from left to right so that they can't get the matchup every time. With 6 defenders you can rush 1 fast guy, play two excellent safeties, 1 middle linebacker and 2 corners.

I had 6 kids and this is the thought process of how I'd come up with my defense. 2 safeties who are fast and "football" smart who can follow the play and not let kids behind them. 1 rusher who is fast and tenacious. Football smarts is not as important as speed here. 1 mlb who is football smart and can go sideline to sideline fast. I like my most reliable flag puller here. 2 corners who can more or less stay home. I don't mind getting beat as much on the corners as the mlb can help as well as the safeties.

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Orange

New to this site and board. Looked around for days for information and no success. Then, I stumbled across this thread and I feel I am ready for the start of the season!!

This is my first time to coach flag football. I will be coaching 4, 5, and 6 year olds. It is 5 on 5 with only a 7 player roster. The QB can't run and we can't rush him.

Most of what I had heard prior to this thread was that you run most of the time (say 70%). Then, when I see your playbook it has only 4 running plays out of your 16. They basically come from two formations. I also like the idea of the formations looking the same. It is easier for the kids to remember where we will be lining up for each play and it looks the same to the defense. Also, you can do multiple things from this formation.

What should the ratio of run vs pass be (what is yours)?

Also, do you think this age group will be able to run and complete the pass plays?

I am going to put to use almost everything you have suggested. I love the zone defense concept AND learning to pull the flag and slow the runner down are very, very important. You have to be able to stop the other team.

Our first practice is Saturday morning for one hour and then our first game.

I plan on working on flag pulling, center/QB exchange, having them throw one on one with one another, working on a couple of plays and hopefully scrimmage for a few minutes (I only have seven guys, so this might be a little difficult but at least they can get a feel on how we need to run the plays in live action).

Thanks for everything you have posted previously, I feel like I am ready to take this on now whereas before I found this thread I was a little overwhelmed.

One other thing......how would you substitute in this format?

My goal is for each kid to have FUN, score a TD, play QB and learn fundamentals of flag football.

Thanks again!!

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I have coached 5-8 league the past two years and we ran 99 % of the time because kids that age are very poor passers and even if you did have someone who could throw, they can't catch.

The key to kids that age (and to youth flag in general) is misdirection. Most of the time they can not see the reverses and misdirections develop like we can. So they just run, run, run after the ball and when it goes the other way, oops there it goes.

So what I feel you need to work on is handoffs at full speed. That way everykid knows how to hand it off and to recieve it. So you can run the reverses. We have two lines and they just run back and forth, in a sort of relay race, handing the ball off.

On defense, you shoud try your best to show the kids what those reverses are going to look like. Like I said, we (and I mean the whole league) rarely passed the ball, so we did not worry about pass defense. Never even mentioned zone, man to man, etc. If they did have a guy who could pass and one who could catch, I just told one of the corners to watch him. That guy was also their best runner, so if he lined up as a wide reciever, well it was kind of obvious what was coming.

Since there was very little passing we essentially lined up in a 4 or 5 man front with one or two safeties/linebackers. The only thing I stressed was that the two outside defensive players had to keep containment. They were slow to react and that also helped them recognize a pass.

Does your league allow the offense to screen block on the runs? If so, you need to let the kids get a taste of that before game time. Let them learn how to run around the blocks to get to the flags.

Other than that, learn pull flags.

One more thing. With 4, 5, and 6 year olds, you will spend most your time trying to keep their attention. The goal is for them to enjoy the game and want to keep playing. I would put in about 3 run plays each way (total of 6 plays) and then just spend most of the practice letting them scrimmage using those plays.

That way it is fun for them and you wont go crazy. Trust me it is like herding cats at that age.

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Been busy with my soccer team, caught up on a few posts here, very cool to see all the new coaches on board. Thought I'd throw in my 2 cents on a couple of recent posts.

We are playing 10-11 year olds mostly boys (i think i have the only 2 girls). Tonight, i installed the 2-1-2 zone defense and setup Blue Ghost and Green Ghost out of a shotgun. I was also able to install the "Dont tell me you were open" rule. Sunday is our first game but we have a practice 1 hour before - any advise and helpful hints would be appreciated.
Sounds like you're on the right track. Btw, my only girl on the team was our best QB and overall best player. Blue Ghost/Green Ghost worked very well for my team. Tell your kids not to look down to see if someone pulled their flag, tell them to keep running until they hear a whistle. Regarding flag pulling, I agree with Orange, pull the belt if you can. We taught scraping across the belt, if you get too polite about just pulling the flag, you'll have a ton of missed pulls.
Also, do you think this age group will be able to run and complete the pass plays? One other thing......how would you substitute in this format? My goal is for each kid to have FUN, score a TD, play QB and learn fundamentals of flag football.
At age 4,5,6 you'll probably have a wide variety of skill levels. Should be able to see some success with very short passes like a center drag. I'd have an assistant coach or parent track the subs with a simple sheet to mark how much each player has played. With 7 kids, maybe you send in 1-2 every 2 or 3 plays. Regarding every kid playing QB, I'd tend to stick with 2 main QBs for the simple reason that it allows for more overall success. Not necessarily the winning aspect, but more success for the other kids to get clean handoffs and passes.
I have 2 big kids (1 on each team) that are not quite as mobile as the rest of the team. So now I am thinking I will have them as rushers. While this would slow down the rush, it would keep the rest of the field covered by the faster kids. Anyone agree or have a better idea?
I think it's important to have someone who is fast as your rusher most of the time. The quicker you can put pressure on their QB, the better. I'd put those kids on the front line.

CRob

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