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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.
Orange already touched on this, but flooding the zone is a good way to open things up; 3 receivers way off to the left or right type of thing with the QB rolling that same direction. I also came up with some crossing route plays which worked pretty well against a zone. Grinding away with small gains is okay, then throwing in a misdirection play when you're closer to their endzone. If they send a rusher, I found that our center was usually wide open for 3-4 yrds at a pop.

CRob

EDIT: 9.14.07 After thinking about this, sometimes it boils down to the talent on your team. I'd like to convince myself that my coaching skills played a major part in our ability to score, but quite frankly, I had one heck of a QB and a couple of kids that could rock -n- roll when they had the ball.

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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?

Your age group is very young. But your format of play is similar to how we played (ie, qb cannot run, no rusher). That will give you plenty of time to let plays develop and the qb can be more relaxed. If you look at my playbook you'll see that I run pretty much 1 basic run, the end around left and right. But I also run a lot of very short passes which although not technically runs, being only a 1-2 yard pass are very similar.

I had another run that I used a lot more at the 5-6 age level that I scrapped last season. It was a simple handoff to the center. The qb would take the snap and then pretend to look to pass. Meanwhile the center would just stand there next to him. I have the receivers running routes to clear themselves out of the area. The qb would silently count to 5 and then hand to the center. It's very simple and effective at that age level.

I'd say go maybe 50-60% runs with the passes being very very short. Keep reminding your qb to take his time and let things develop. My team has maybe a 20-30% running ratio but we're playing at the 7-8 year olds and they're more capable. If you find your team doing well with the short passes do more of them.

The main thing you want is someone on your team running downfield with the ball. That's a very simple statement but bears understanding. When your guys are running with the ball you always have a chance to score or get big yards. When they drop a pass or a handoff they have zero chance. So keep things simple, having them running fast and moving towards the opponents goalline. Flags will be missed and good things will happen.

Take all snaps directly under center, never shotgun.

These kids can and will catch the little dink passes I'm talking about. Anything downfield will be hazardous.

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

Divide your kids into two groups of 4 and 3 each. Make sure you have your two best and two weakest players split on each squad. In the first half group A plays offense and group B plays defense, in the second half group B plays offense and group A plays defense. Whenever a group is on the field fill in as necessary from the group off the field making sure that everyone gets similar extra time. I just put stars next to the names when they sub in to track how many times they play with the other group. And I only sub at the beginning of a series.

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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.

I have to totally agree with Orange here as I have found out first hand in my first 2 games. The saftey position is in fact the "QB" of the defense at this age level (8-9) for flag. He has to have some football instinct, a good flag puller, able to ball hawk and be disciplined to not let WRs get behind him! It is your last line of defense, I personally tried 3-4 different kids at saftey my first 2 games hoping that one of them would really evolve into the position. Didnt have any luck though. A couple kids didnt plain get it, while I had another one who was pretty good for it, but is not quick enough to really cover. My son I thought would do great there as he's a great flag puller and is one of the quickest kids, however he hangs around the middle to much and wants to fly towards the LOS. He doesnt stay disciplined enough for Saftey and gets out of position. Hes great as my MLB because he can cover the whole field side to side, makes plays on the ball and gets flags, but for saftey he didnt stay home enough thus gave up a couple big plays biting on fakes and the such. I have the solution and that is simply I am moving one of my better offensive players to be the saftey. I actually have 2 kids for this as I will rotate them between halfs while the other will play offense. That will shore that up. Dont overlook having a good saftey though, it really is as important as finding a reliable QB.

Again for the rusher I agree he has to be a fast kid. You want to get pressure on the QB immediatley that will cause bad throws. Your rusher also should be taught to read the handoffs and end arounds and contain those when possible. My league is 5-5 with one rusher 7 yards back. I have a great kid who thats all he wants to do is rush and is great at it!! He does get tired though, so it would be a good idea to change up your rushers on different plays to keep them fresh and of course it will make the offense guess. I agree with what Orange said about your corners, I would also add to teach your corners to guard the sidelines. Teach your corners to make the runner cut back towards the middle where of course the teeth of your defense is.

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UPDATE:

Got our first win today 18-2. They got a saftey do to a fumbled handoff in our end zone. That brings us to 1-2 now. A few things that I learned today.....

First thing is our defense came out with intensity and shut them out which was fantastic! I tinkered with the defense all week after our last loss with the advice from Husker and Orange, emphasizing positioning on flag pulling by getting in front of the ball carrier and all. Also hammering home the corners to "guard" the sidelines and force the runners in. I also kept our standard 2-2-1 zone, however I made a minor adjustment on lining up there as well.

Before I had my corners about 3 yards off the line and my MLB about 4-5, my rusher at 7 and my saftey at 8-9 yards back. What I found is my corners (albeit not the fastest) couldnt react quick enough to sweeps to their side. I now line my corners and MLB about 6 yards off the line my rusher is still at 7, while my saftey is 8-9 yards back. So in essence its like a 3-1-1 zone, but my guys are 6 yards off the ball. That helped us bigtime, especially my slower kids by reacting to the runners. Sure we gave up a few yards initially, but if you teach them to swarm and react to the BALL, the gains are very little. I had my MLB cheat towards the line a few steps before the ball was snapped too, hoping to break any short passes to the middle. This worked for us in the 5-5 format considering my teams abilities. I also solved my Free Saftey problem too by sticking one of my better players out there. Got our first INT today. Saftey is a KEY position at our age level (8-9).

On offense we are still slumping and not executing! We scored 2 times on offense (1 other score by INT return), but we probably had 2-3 other opportunities for scores. My biggest problem today was holding onto the ball, period. We had 5 fumbled handoffs, 1 fumbled QB/Center exchange and multiple dropped passes that were right in the hands! The route running was improved compared to previous weeks due to really trying to hammer that concept home this week as well, however I must admit I steered away a little recently from simple Exchange/Handoffs and it showed today! Time to bring that simple drill back to practice and for it not to leave again :) . However I am still trying to fine tune our offense to the point we are executing our plays. I am pulling my hair out trying to revamp this offense and get it going. I guess we will see...... I have a few ideas!

Again I want to say thanks to all who contribute to this thread, its such great reading and I dont mean to keep posting updates of my team, but I think by posting my "experiences" in games that it may relate and help others. Thanks again guys...... :):)

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We had our first games today in the rain. The games were actually 2 half games. I had 2 player configurations on offense (black/white) and 2 player congurations on defense (black / white). This let me focus on play calling instead of substitutions. Another GREAT idea i got from these postings. I planned to switch squads at the half. This caused some issues on the sideline with the parents but more on that later.

The first game i planned to run Blue Ghost, Green Ghost, then 2 plays out of the same formation but we passed instead of run. We scored on the first play and we rolled 28-0 by half time. The Zone D was key - particularly having a fast rusher. One of our fastest players rushed and we kept the other team going backwards most of the time. My daughter had great run thru the middle on Green Ghost and broke away down the sidelines. She stepped out of bounds at the 3 but i couldnt have been more proud of her.

The second game didnt go as well because the other team had a great player and we missed a lot of flags. He was also really good at spinning! We ended up 7-14 with our only score an interception. More flag pulling drills.....

All in all - it was a tremendous start and i owe it all to the help from Coach Rob, Orange and the rest of all of you. I kind of fell bad for the other 2 coaches in the league that havent coached before and havent found you yet.

Amazingly enough, I had a problem with a parent today. Because they missed the only pre-season practice, they didnt know about the squad plan and the Mom was really vocal about her son not getting into the game on Offense. I always setup on the opposite side of the field from the parents (mostly for player focus) and I am usually oblivious to the parents. The Mom was so vocal that my wife told her to be quiet so the rest of the parents could watch the game. After the 2nd game, I had a parents meeting and told them how it was going to work but the Mom was still fairly agitated. The Mom's kid clearly had a lot of fun and was excited to be on our team. Looks like i will need to find some Cal Ripken books to hand out next week!

Again - thank you all very much!

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UPDATE:Got our first win today 18-2. Again I want to say thanks to all who contribute to this thread, its such great reading and I dont mean to keep posting updates of my team, but I think by posting my "experiences" in games that it may relate and help others. Thanks again guys......
Vegas, congrats on the win! It's good to hear the feedback on how your team is doing.
Amazingly enough, I had a problem with a parent today. Because they missed the only pre-season practice, they didnt know about the squad plan and the Mom was really vocal about her son not getting into the game on Offense. After the 2nd game, I had a parents meeting and told them how it was going to work but the Mom was still fairly agitated. The Mom's kid clearly had a lot of fun and was excited to be on our team. Looks like i will need to find some Cal Ripken books to hand out next week!
It doesn't surprise me that someone was agitated about their kid not playing enough offense. I'm fortunate in that most of the kids/parents have been with me for several seasons now and understand my coaching philosophy. Still, I always try and throw out a one paragraph mission statement before each season starts as a reminder. Throughout the season, I engage parents in conversations before or after the game and slip in a few reminders of why we're doing this whole gig. It keeps my head in the right place as well.

CRob

EDIT: Any soccer coaches, check out the soccer thread, have a question over there.

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I had my first practice and scrimmage game on Saturday.

They don't keep score for the scrimmage games and honestly I don't have a clue how it turned out.

My kids are 4,5 and 6 year olds. They did a really nice job defensively. We gave up one long run of 30+ yards for a score. However, it was the QB who ran it and the coach was immediately told that the QB can't run in our league. They let it count since it was only a scrimmage. We actually almost picked off a pass later (the only pass they threw).

Our struggles are going to be on the offensive side (however, we did complete a pass to our center for a long touchdown - he just went up about three or four yards - turned around, was wide open and caught the pass and ran forever for the score).

In practice I worked on flag pulling, throwing the ball, center/QB exchange and ran a few plays before the game began (we practice one hour prior to our games).

Once the game got going, I could tell we didn't work on plays enough.

This week at practice I want to solely work on plays. I have used plays mostly from Orange's playbook since they are simple/basic plays. I love the misdirection in them as well.

Can someone (Orange?) offer up some advice on how to work on plays in practice?

Do you just run them over and over? How do you work on route running on plays and where they are supposed to be or go?

I have the plays printed on paper and they are stapled together. I show them the play we are going to run in the huddle, tell each player where they are going to be and what they will be doing. Then we run the play.

Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

I can tell that I have four very good players out of my seven. One is a notch below them and the other two will be a struggle.

It is going to be a fun, exciting season!

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Can someone (Orange?) offer up some advice on how to work on plays in practice?

Do you just run them over and over? How do you work on route running on plays and where they are supposed to be or go?

I have the plays printed on paper and they are stapled together. I show them the play we are going to run in the huddle, tell each player where they are going to be and what they will be doing. Then we run the play.

Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

OK, at your teams age level I'd focus on running the end around as a main play. If you get them to run it fast and have a clean exchange it will be golden. You need to practice the exchange between the qb and the runner. It's as simple as this: The qb sets up a little back from the line of scrimmage. Then line up all the other kids as the wideout. One at a time have the qb yell hike and the runner/ receiver takes off for the end around and gets the handoff. Emphasize speed and a clean exchange.

As for a full practice I like to work in elements of the plays as drills and progress through practice until you are actually running the plays at the end. Here's a little sample 60 minute offensive practice:

10 minutes flag pulling drill (THAT's right! Even in an offensive oriented practice never leave out flag pulling!!! Ask anyone who was coached kids flag football on this site and they will agree).

10 minutes passing/ catching drills. Lots of different drills but use the time to teach catching and throwing.

10 minutes solo routes. Go over basic routes. Hook, out, drag. Emphasize distance. Don't overlook routes even if you plan to run most of the time. You want the receivers to clear the defenders out of the area that the run is going so this is very important that they run the right routes. For that age level have them all line up and run the same route over and over. You can use cones to mark the distance too but take it away after they run it a few times.

15 minutes routes with exchanges. Same thing as above but work in passing and handoffs. You may also work in the center/qb exchange here. I would sometimes run them like real plays without defenders and maybe just 2-3 kids running the routes.

15 minutes plays. Start at one end of the field and huddle everyone up. Show them the play just like you would during a game. Have them break the huddle, get to their spots and execute the play. Try to get into a game pace here. The only difference is there are no defenders. If you like the way the play worked move forward ten yards and run the next play. Challenge them to reach the endzone. Go through your playbook and run the plays over and over until they get a good feel for it.

One hint: Laminate or put your plays in a plastic bag. My assistant laminated my plays and I thought it was overkill until we played in the rain. My handwritten notes turned to mush in about 2 minutes but the playbook was safe. I'm not sure what we would have done if the playbook wasn't laminated.

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Do you just run them over and over? How do you work on route running on plays and where they are supposed to be or go? I have the plays printed on paper and they are stapled together. I show them the play we are going to run in the huddle, tell each player where they are going to be and what they will be doing. Then we run the play. I can tell that I have four very good players out of my seven. One is a notch below them and the other two will be a struggle.

Running routes: I played QB for this drill, had my kids run the basic routes in our plays. Had a dad helping on defense to make sure the player would go the correct distance and make the turn. Reason I played QB on this drill is to keep it moving and create some success with kids catching the ball. At your age level, making sure they run a very short route is probably the best at first.

Running plays: Agree with Orange here, run them without a defense or maybe put a dad out there. Key is repetition and really making a big deal out of it when they do something right. The 3 players that aren't quite there on the skill level, find some real basic plays for them, encourage the heck out of them when they take a clean hand off or make a short catch.

Laminating plays: I laminated my plays also, put two plays per page and double sided; not just for the rain, but they were easier to handle. Adopted Orange's kneel down holding the play up and have the kids behind you, looking over your shoulder technique, worked well. Color coded my plays in the right hand corner with red for pass and green for run. Our league has no run zones set up, it helps when flipping through the plays to indentify run or pass quickly.

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Had our first game Saturday. Used the 2 team approach and in the second half, our safeties were sucked toward the line and the bomb was open 3 times. Fortunately, they only connected one but it was enough as we lost 8-0. We will need to work on safety play this week in practice. As far as the game, besides the above the kids played great on defense and did a great job pulling flags. On offense, we just couldn't move the ball. Their defense was a 3-1(rusher)-2 and they stopped our runs (mostly end arounds) every time and right near the LOS. The short passes were open, but we weren't able to break any longs runs after the catch. I think part of the problem may have been how I set up our teams (we have 2 teams, 1 plays offense the 1st half and 1 plays defense and we switch at the half). While this made subbing seamless, it would have been just as easy to sub after every two series (1 offense and 1 defense). This is what our opponent did. The other thing they did was to stack one team with talent. Their second team was weak on offense, but had enough flag pullers on defense to keep us in check. I made my teams evenly balanced. In hindsight, if I had set my teams up the same way as our opponent, I think we would have been much better off.

Regardless, I think we will need to focus on passing plays i (and proper patterns!) next practice. Anyone have a good drill to teach kids how to play safety?

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Anyone have a good drill to teach kids how to play safety?

I didn't have any drills specific to that. We would just emphasize it over and over in scrimmages, practice and games. Personally, I found that some kids seem to get it, the hanging back thing. Others are super aggressive and wanting to fly to the ball. Those kids get sucked in and are probably better suited for linebacker. My son is a perfect example. He's very fast, arguably the best flag puller and so aggressive he is great at stopping runs and short passes. But I rarely placed him as safety because his aggressive style had him out of position too often. We were able to find 3-4 kids who fit the safety mentality and stuck with them.

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Hey guys - this is an absolutely wonderful forum. I coached 6-8 yr olds last year (8 on 8, way too many!) and this year I'm coaching the same kids in ages 9-11. Anyway, used most of Orange's plays today with a bunch of my own (I'll scan 'em in and send 'em during the week), and while they worked we just couldn't move the ball deep enough against older, bigger kids to make first downs. In the second half, they beat us by simply going long and throwing over the top of my defenders (even if we were there, they were just to tall).

So, any advice as to how to best defend against older, taller kids? Just play more safeties and keep 'em in front of you? And, any strategy in terms of spreading the field on offense and getting first downs against these kids? eight on eight makes it so tough to use misdirection and get to the outside, especially against a zone. I think I ran too often on first down and became predictable. Maybe I should start the game running on first and then start mixing in fakes to keep 'em honest?

Would appreciate any thoughts you all might have, but most of all wanted to thank you for all the great insight so far.

Andy

p.s. We lost 26-0! :(

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UPDATE:

Played a great game Saturday and won it 32-7! That takes us to 2-2 for the season now and this game was by far the best the kids have played yet. Thanks to Orange, Rob, Husker and others in offering their advice for flag pulling by getting in front of the runners, it has shown great improvement! Defensivley the key really is getting the kids to swarm the ball carriers, corners to defend the sidelines by forcing the runners in and GETTING IN FRONT OF THE BALL CARRIERS. That last part is so key! You can practice lots of flag pulling drills which I have, but until I took the advice of Orange and others on not only teaching flag pulling but also teaching the kids to get in front of the runners and "rake the belt" it has shown BIG improvement!

Literally, I have been trying to teach my corners on sweeps and end arounds to basically "block" the runners the best they can by side stepping in front of them while raking at the belt. Very typical of a defender on a basketball court would do to "block" an offensive players drive to the hoop, by a blocking foul or drawing an offensive foul. Make the runner stop or slow down and change directions thus allowing other "swarming" defenders coming over to pull the flag!! Our defense is playing with more confidence and intensity now since trying to drill this concept home. I cant stress how important it is. Flag pulling is half the battle, positioning the kids by teaching them to get in front of runners is the other half. Do this and your defense will be tough.

On offense we finally got into a rythem. We had no dropped handoffs, no fumbled snaps like the last game. It was great. I ran a double end around twice in this game and it was 2-2 for TDs. Every team plays zone in our league and stays home for the most part. So what happens is we come out in a Twins Left formation. I run a simple end around one play going to the left. Then the very next play I run same formation and end around to same kid going to the same side..... however one of my WRs lined up on the left pauses on the line until the handoff is made, then comes around for the double end around and recieves the second handoff which he is now going the other direction to the right. The zone defense on the right side begins to over pursue by "swarming" biting on the first handoff, then BOOM its going the other way. This is a great play that has worked for us, but best to run it with kids who you know handle the ball well (eliminating chance of fumbles) and the second kid recieving the end around should be one of your quicker ones as with a little speed, he should get around the corner before the defenders turn their bodies to pursue the other way now!

Our passing game worked good, we overloaded one side on a lot of plays and that confused the defenders when too many WRs were running in their zones. Center and Slot drags worked great. Hooked up on a long bomb on a Streak route up the sideline too. We stall alot on extra point plays though, I have to develop a few plays specifically for this area of the field. 5 Yards out is for 1 point and pass only, while 12 Yards out is for 2 points and can be pass or run. Any suggestions on plays to use in these situations is very much appreciated!

We already played the number 1 team a couple weeks ago and lost, this week we face the number 2 team in the league now! It will be interesting to see how we fair now that we are playing alot better and together as a team than we were in the beginning of the season.

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Hey guys - this is an absolutely wonderful forum. I coached 6-8 yr olds last year (8 on 8, way too many!) and this year I'm coaching the same kids in ages 9-11. Anyway, used most of Orange's plays today with a bunch of my own (I'll scan 'em in and send 'em during the week), and while they worked we just couldn't move the ball deep enough against older, bigger kids to make first downs. In the second half, they beat us by simply going long and throwing over the top of my defenders (even if we were there, they were just to tall).

So, any advice as to how to best defend against older, taller kids? Just play more safeties and keep 'em in front of you? And, any strategy in terms of spreading the field on offense and getting first downs against these kids? eight on eight makes it so tough to use misdirection and get to the outside, especially against a zone. I think I ran too often on first down and became predictable. Maybe I should start the game running on first and then start mixing in fakes to keep 'em honest?

Would appreciate any thoughts you all might have, but most of all wanted to thank you for all the great insight so far.

Andy

p.s. We lost 26-0! :(

8-8 sounds like a lot for this age group I agree. Not sure what type of defense you are playing (zone or man-man), however I think you need to find a VERY reliable saftey or two. If your playing a team who has a QB who could air it out with tall WRs, it might be wise to play 2 safteys back fairly deep and they need to understand the concept of not letting WRs get behind them. These kids need to have a knack of playing the ball well by judging it while in the air. Not all kids are fit to play saftey, you just have to try and figure out the ones who can best be groomed into it. It took me about 3 games (we've played 4) to find the right kids to play that position. In my opinion in my league (which is 5-5, 8-9 year olds), saftey is the most important position on defense. The problem with the kids being much taller and therefore catching passes over your defenders, I would just try and teach positioning for your safteys. Keep drilling it home. Maybe teach them to try and break up the passes as the ball touches the WRs hands, instead of all out going for the INT or jumping in front of the WR. Basically play the WR. Usually a lot of kids dont have the best concentration, so if a pass hits them in the hands and your saftey right away is there and also swipes at the ball to break it up, it may work. Gotta walk the fine line of not commiting pass interference too though. Lastly I want to ask is if you can send a rusher? In our league we can rush the QB, but have to line up 7 yards back. This is key, if you can rush, send heat after the QB just about every play..... make him throw sooner than they want and make them throw off balance therefore the pass probably will come up short.

Offensivley I am still finding my way personally especially against the zone. What I found is load up a side with 3 or heck maybe even 4 WRs in your case and flood that area with different routes gong different ways. Maybe you can have a WR coming behind underneath 5-7 yards for a drag play. I still think you have to work in misdirection too, especially for running plays. Lots of fakes works well too. I believe there are a few other coaches here who played 8-8 who may be able to better help, but I think it comes down to reading the defense and adjusting. I bet maybe the middle might be open for you too. Be patient and dont be affriad to march up the field with dinking and dunking!

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Hey guys - this is an absolutely wonderful forum. I coached 6-8 yr olds last year (8 on 8, way too many!) and this year I'm coaching the same kids in ages 9-11. Anyway, used most of Orange's plays today with a bunch of my own (I'll scan 'em in and send 'em during the week), and while they worked we just couldn't move the ball deep enough against older, bigger kids to make first downs. In the second half, they beat us by simply going long and throwing over the top of my defenders (even if we were there, they were just to tall).

So, any advice as to how to best defend against older, taller kids? Just play more safeties and keep 'em in front of you? And, any strategy in terms of spreading the field on offense and getting first downs against these kids? eight on eight makes it so tough to use misdirection and get to the outside, especially against a zone. I think I ran too often on first down and became predictable. Maybe I should start the game running on first and then start mixing in fakes to keep 'em honest?

Would appreciate any thoughts you all might have, but most of all wanted to thank you for all the great insight so far.

Andy

p.s. We lost 26-0! :(

8-8 sounds like a lot for this age group I agree. Not sure what type of defense you are playing (zone or man-man), however I think you need to find a VERY reliable saftey or two. If your playing a team who has a QB who could air it out with tall WRs, it might be wise to play 2 safteys back fairly deep and they need to understand the concept of not letting WRs get behind them. These kids need to have a knack of playing the ball well by judging it while in the air. Not all kids are fit to play saftey, you just have to try and figure out the ones who can best be groomed into it. It took me about 3 games (we've played 4) to find the right kids to play that position. In my opinion in my league (which is 5-5, 8-9 year olds), saftey is the most important position on defense. The problem with the kids being much taller and therefore catching passes over your defenders, I would just try and teach positioning for your safteys. Keep drilling it home. Maybe teach them to try and break up the passes as the ball touches the WRs hands, instead of all out going for the INT or jumping in front of the WR. Basically play the WR. Usually a lot of kids dont have the best concentration, so if a pass hits them in the hands and your saftey right away is there and also swipes at the ball to break it up, it may work. Gotta walk the fine line of not commiting pass interference too though. Lastly I want to ask is if you can send a rusher? In our league we can rush the QB, but have to line up 7 yards back. This is key, if you can rush, send heat after the QB just about every play..... make him throw sooner than they want and make them throw off balance therefore the pass probably will come up short.

Offensivley I am still finding my way personally especially against the zone. What I found is load up a side with 3 or heck maybe even 4 WRs in your case and flood that area with different routes gong different ways. Maybe you can have a WR coming behind underneath 5-7 yards for a drag play. I still think you have to work in misdirection too, especially for running plays. Lots of fakes works well too. I believe there are a few other coaches here who played 8-8 who may be able to better help, but I think it comes down to reading the defense and adjusting. I bet maybe the middle might be open for you too. Be patient and dont be affriad to march up the field with dinking and dunking!

As has been said many times in this forum, I think misdirection is the key. That goes for running and passing. On offense you may want to try plays where 4-5 wr's bunch up to one side. Have everyone run a deep slant across the field and have one wr on the other side or the center with a short delayed slant the other way. QB waits for him to clear and hopefully hits him on the run between the defenders and he might be able to break one. Plus with that many decoys the wr may end up wide open with the decoys having brought the defense with them. Also, have the qb pump fake to the opposite side every time. This works against even the best 9-11 year olds.

As far as defense, I agree with Vegas's comments to rush. If you are constantly getting beat deep because the other team is taller you will have to put your 2 best defenders deep and get a strong rush. I'm wondering if you could also try to dare the other team to run by playing more safeties (i.e., 2-1-5 defense). If they run, it would make it a more level playing field as height is then not a factor.

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thanks guys, great advice as usual. I did see that our most effective pass play was when I had three receivers on the left, the interior two ran deep patterns to draw the zone D and the outside receiver hesitated and then ran a quick slant into the open space. I'm going to try more unbalanced sets and send slot receivers into the vacated areas. As far as D, we have a rusher who rushes after a "3 mississippi" count by the ref. We've been putting our smaller players there, but i think it makes sense to put a solid athlete there to really pressure the QB. And I will definitely try to employ more safeties against bigger teams, that should have been a no-brainer and i missed it!!

Thanks again. I'll let you know how next Sunday turns out.

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I have scoured the internet for advice and have found absolutely nothing..unless I wanted to pay for something I didn't even get to preview. This thread is the best thing since sliced bread. Thanks for the all the info I was able to glean just reading this thread through. So here is my story:

Today I have my first practice for 6-7 year old flag football. I have read alot of this post and I have a plan in mind. I know this plan will fall apart but I'll do my best...should be fun. I don't know much of anything about the league and it's rules because we haven't had a coach's meeting yet..that's tomorrow. I will be sure to stop by afterwards and report my success/failure/attempt at corraling the youngsters. I'm sure it'll be alot like herding chickens...

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I have scoured the internet for advice and have found absolutely nothing..unless I wanted to pay for something I didn't even get to preview. This thread is the best thing since sliced bread. Thanks for the all the info I was able to glean just reading this thread through. So here is my story:

Today I have my first practice for 6-7 year old flag football. I have read alot of this post and I have a plan in mind. I know this plan will fall apart but I'll do my best...should be fun. I don't know much of anything about the league and it's rules because we haven't had a coach's meeting yet..that's tomorrow. I will be sure to stop by afterwards and report my success/failure/attempt at corraling the youngsters. I'm sure it'll be alot like herding chickens...

Welcome to the boards! There's a ton of info from some good coaches here. Herding chickens is a pretty accurate description; you'll be surprised how they improve as the weeks move along.

CRob

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I have scoured the internet for advice and have found absolutely nothing..unless I wanted to pay for something I didn't even get to preview. This thread is the best thing since sliced bread. Thanks for the all the info I was able to glean just reading this thread through. So here is my story:

Today I have my first practice for 6-7 year old flag football. I have read alot of this post and I have a plan in mind. I know this plan will fall apart but I'll do my best...should be fun. I don't know much of anything about the league and it's rules because we haven't had a coach's meeting yet..that's tomorrow. I will be sure to stop by afterwards and report my success/failure/attempt at corraling the youngsters. I'm sure it'll be alot like herding chickens...

I think you should raise your expectations a little. Those kids want to be like big football players, use that to your advantage. Set the bar high for them and you. Come to practice well prepared. Have an organized outline of the practice in 5-10 minute intervals. Tell them up front what you expect and that it'll be fun for everyone if they follow your rules. If you keep them moving and doing things they will be easy to "herd." Expect for them to fool around a little and make sure the practice incorporates some fun too. But don't hesitate in getting serious and down to business too.

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Well, got the first practice out of the way. I have to say that was fun. I only had two kids that were a bit rambunctious but nothing that can't be handled. By the way Orange..your advice in the last post was spot on, even though I didn't read it until just now. They were little go getters. I used some of the drills I found in this thread and kept them to 10 minute drills. By only having 5 show up (8 players total) I will be able to work everyone in without anyone getting bored. I had printed out a typed sheet of what I expected to do and got most of what I wanted. I have an assistant coach who's into it to so I think we got a good thing going. Coach's meeting is tomorrow so we'll finally get the rules & regs, jerseys and some questions answered. I'll be checking back if anyone has any advice. Thanks!

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Just played out 2nd game of the season in a very cold rain (thats Seattle for you). We were able to win 48-14. Last week was 75-18. The real challenge will come next week when we hit the other offensive powerhouse. We run Blue/Green Ghost and one of Oranges plays (Trips Right) we call Bad Dog / Good Dog very successfully. Bad Dog is a quick pass to the outside receiver, Good Dog flip to the Center. We modified Green Ghost to be a straight up the middle play and my daughter has scored every week on it. Change of pace seems to be difficult for the defense.

One thing that has also helped is flipping the play when have a play designed in the direction that because of ball spotting happens to be a short side of the field. We use a code word "Tango" to flip our formation and run the play in reverse. Blue Ghost Tango also runs the end around to players that might not recognize it.

We practice flag pulling but it seems that we have at least 3-4 times a game that the other team breaks our tackles. We played a version of Sharks and Minnows without the ball to help with swarming but it hasnt seemed to translate on the field yet. I need to go back and reread the flag pulling posts.

Thanks again for all the help. I look at the other coaches we play and almost want to tell them about this site......almost.

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Thanks again for all the help. I look at the other coaches we play and almost want to tell them about this site......almost.

LOL. I know where you are coming from. There were a few times I felt the same way. One team we beat pretty badly I felt especially sorry for as the coaches were new and didn't seem to get it. I spent 15 minutes after the game explaining our zone and the sub out patterns and such.

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ouch, two whuppings in a row! I don't think we've achieved a first down yet in our first two games. It's not the plays, it's the fact we play 8 on 8 and I've got a team full of 16 4th graders vs 5th and 6th graders. My only 6th grader was our QB and he left the team because of conflicts with travel baseball! It's been an uphill battle to say the least - too many kids, too much time in the huddle, not much fun for the boys! Gonna stick with it - practice today we're going to forgo the usual regimen of flag pulling drills, etc for intensive work on running routes and learning the plays. I'm committed to sticking with the short, quick misdirection plays we've discussed here (although I'm finding the older boys on the other teams are much better at holding their positions in the zone than my younger kids) and I remain (foolishly?) optimistic that it's going to come together tomorrow. I'll post you guys after tomorrow's game and give you the update. Thanks again for all the continued good advice - I'm all ears for anything new!

Andy

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