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COACHDOUG

1st Year Flag Football Coach

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hey guys, first year coach on flag football, grades 3 thru 4, whole different world, ive been coaching my son in baseball since 3 1/2 years old thru 8 years old.

thanks in advance guys!!

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Hey Doug,

Welcome to this forum. Last season was my first in football (although like you I had coached other sports prior). It IS a different world.

My #1 piece of advice: make sure you get buy in from the parents (on day one) regarding practice (meaning that they show up). You will probably find--as I did--that other teams in your league have probably been playing together for many seasons, which will put you at a disadvantage. I found TEAM execution outweighs individual athletic prowress. Just my two cents. Feel free to ask anything specific that you think someone can help you with here---and I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice, and of course let us all know how you are progressing.

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hey guys, first year coach on flag football, grades 3 thru 4, whole different world, ive been coaching my son in baseball since 3 1/2 years old thru 8 years old.

thanks in advance guys!!

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This is also my first year of coaching 2/3 grade flag 5 on 5. I have coached baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball and I can say this is much different. My best advice is make sure you explain to your kids why you running drill A or drill B, why you are having them fake a handoff, the reason for the reverse etc. The kids will do whatever you tell to do usually with no questions asked, but when I actually spent time explaining to them why they are doing it the execution became much better almost immediately.

Basic advice I know, but as first time coaches we sometimes get caught up in having the kids execute with out them knowing why.

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I think its a great idea keeping the amount of plays to a minimum and worry about good execution on those plays. I would just add to really work and pay attention to the simple fundamentals such as QB/C exchanges, handoffs and defensive positioning and lanes. Flag pulling is definitley an area where you want to spend some time on as well, because missed flags usually is the reason why touchdowns are scored. You'll find some kids pull flags like machines and really take pride in doing so, while others are average and others just seem to be not as aggresive at going after them. Figure out who are your flag machines....... also dont forget at this young of an age, we're here to teach and show the kids how to execute. Just barking orders or telling them directions for a play, drill ect sometimes isnt enough. I found they catch on more when my assistant and I actually demostrate the drill or action we're asking of them!

Dont forget to give out lots of praise as well..... we all love to hear we're doing a great job!!!

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My best advice is make sure you explain to your kids why you running drill A or drill B, why you are having them fake a handoff, the reason for the reverse etc. The kids will do whatever you tell to do usually with no questions asked, but when I actually spent time explaining to them why they are doing it the execution became much better almost immediately.

I think this is very sound advice. Giving them a reason to think about WHY they are doing something really helps them focus and be creative.

Regarding keeping the playbook small and allowing all players to play each position, I actually took the exact opposite approach (but in a way it is similar--I will explain). This is certainly not to discredit any one way of doing things, as each situation is different.

My approach was to challenge the kids (k-2nd) with a semi-complex playbook. By the time the season ended, we were rolling with about 20 plays. I also gave each player a primary position. Some things to note. A lot of the plays were the same, just to a different player. For example, our End Around was geared toward four different positions---same play, just a different player getting the ball (thus that is four plays there). I geared my playbook to where each position had a minimum of two plays where that player got the ball. This allowed equal touches---AND more importantly gave the kids ownership for their position. It also kept the defense guessing somewhat, as instead of giving the ball to the RB most of the running plays (and rotating kids at RB), they never knew if the RG would be the one taking the reverse, the shuffle pass was going to the C, etc. In fact, I would say our LG probably got more touches than our RB. Thus if you go this route, make sure you relay this to the player/parents up front. In other words, tell them don't be discouraged if they are not the RB, as every player on the team is a RB/WR/Blocker---they just line up in a different position.

In the end it is pretty much all the same. Instead of a player remembering five plays at eight different positions, they remember 20 plays at a single position. It allowed us to really mix things up, and challenged the kids with learning a lot of different things.

Finally, if you do go this route, make sure that you give ownership to each player on each play. In other words, if a player's responsibility on a play is to fake a hand-off, make sure that you make a big deal out of it. If a lineman is to pull, make sure that you really watch him in practice on that play and praise him for doing it well, or working with him if he doesn't. Stress how every player on every play has a critical role, and the play will not work unless they execute the best they can. This will keep all the players focused, knowing that they are not merely a decoy while someone else gets the ball.

Again, there is no right or wrong way to handle it (as long as the kids have fun). I'm just offering a different approach that worked very well for me last season. Thanks!

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hey guys, first year coach on flag football, grades 3 thru 4, whole different world, ive been coaching my son in baseball since 3 1/2 years old thru 8 years old. thanks in advance guys!!

Definitely take some time to search the thread rushbuster suggested, tons of info and q & a type stuff in there. All kinds of small things you can do to make your first yr better, but I'll go with one of my pet peeves. Keep it FUN and make sure the kids get lots of ball touches. The biggest challenge in flag football is balancing ball touches with winning/scoring. You'll be tempted to run your best players for the sake of scoring, winning, etc. especially when (not if) you run into that team that plays their best players the entire game. I have a parent volunteer keep track of ball touches during a game and we try to make adjustments on the fly to help achieve this goal.

Good luck!

CRob

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Keep it FUN and make sure the kids get lots of ball touches. The biggest challenge in flag football is balancing ball touches with winning/scoring.

Absolutely! The "win at all costs" mentality will come soon enough for these kids. Right now your goal should be to ensure the player who can barely take a hand-off in his first game is scoring TDs by the end of the season. There are a lot of "dark horses" out there, and this is the age where they deserve to be given an equal chance, which will only help them on the next level. If they don't make the cut later (when it really counts), then at least they will know they were given a fair shake early on.

I hate to get on my soap box about this a lot, but it is important. The challenge here should not be winning, but instead, it should winning as a TEAM. When you have accomplished that---then you have done your job as well as it can be done. You will definetely take your lumps early in the season, but at least when Mrs. Smith talks to her family/friends after a game and they ask how little Johnny did, she can talk about what he experienced on the football field--good or bad. Take a chance with every player, promote a team environment, instill football passion within the kids, and then roll with that when it comes to the win/loss column. It makes the winning that much sweeter---I promise. :-)

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