Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays
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hawaiibball

5 And 6 Year Old Flag Football Defense

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Somehow, I'm now assistant coach to a flag football team. All 5 and 6 yo, none of them have played flag football before. We have one 1 hr practice and then our first game. Kids basically know nothing.

There is one other head coach. We talked today and agreed that we should practice actual game plays. I wanted to just teach them one side of the ball for the first game but the head coach wants to let them play both sides of the ball 1st game (no clue how we are going to pull that off).

I'm going to run the def, he's gonna run the offense. Need advice for a 1 hr practice. Here are my thoughts, (new coach).

Take 5 kids, teach them our set defense alignment (will be same all game, four on line of scrimmage, one back with ref to wait 7 sec then rush the passer if pass play). It will look like this.

X X X X

... X ...

Then I'll have a mock offense (get some parents to help) and run the ball right and left and have them practice pulling flags. Teach the one kid in the back (fastest kid) how to rush passer after 7 secs.

After 10 mins, we practice with offense.

Then swap kids (I take other coaches 5 and he takes mine). Then rinse and repeat.

I can be on the field during the game. Again, I'd like to just have them play one side of the ball 1st game, but the head coach wants them to play both sides 1st game.

Thoughts? ANY ADVICE APPRECIATED! Pract Thur, 1st game Sat.

Thanks!

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I found this thread. If want, you can ignore this post. I was going to run a 4-1 defense but it appears most are saying at least 3-2. I was thinking 4-1 cause the 1 would have to be back 7 yards to rush any passer and could cut off any wide runs. At any rate, if any comments, great. Otherwise, going based off this post.

http://www.y-coach.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=1754

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That thread gives some pretty good info. I like the idea of stacking them in a 3-2 because it gives you a little depth. They should be playing zone and focusing in on the ball, not all the action around them. Make sure your two kids in the back have some sense of reading the play and can run fast.

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Well, had 1st 1 hr practice and game in 2 days. Had the kids play 3-2, it was pretty rough. Couldn't get the kids in the front to NOT pass the los until the ball was handed off or passed. Couldn't get the outside kids to not let the runner turn the corner. Couldn't get the back 2 kids to read the ball, but they did attack the qb pretty fast.

Lots to learn, not much time. Will be interesting Sat.

Oh, and our main problem, kids don't know how to pull the flag. Did 5 mins of running at each other and practice pulling, but 80% of the time the kid running just blew past the defender. Gonna have to do LOTs of flag pulling drills. Right now, the drill is run past the defender and let them pull it =).

I just hope they have a good time Sat. They had a good time today, I think we are in the "ignorance is bliss" phase. :)

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I'm going to assume that 5-6 year olds will not throw much, and if so, not very deep. Thus I would concentrate formations geared to stop the run. Some tips that might help.

1.Ensure they watch the football. Before the play, everyone of our defenders has his eye on the football, and they continue to watch it...

2. Everyone should stay put until the ball crosses the LOS. They don't realize it, but this is keeping them in their zones. ;-) You will get killed by a speedy player turning the other direction or on a reverse if all kids give chase to the ball once it is handed off before it crosses the LOS.

3. Split your two ends out wide. When the ball is snapped, instruct them to turn and face inward toward the ball (as their eyes should be peeled on the ball anyway). If the run comes their way, teach them to keep the ball-carrier in the box. By that, the defender should not run straight in parallel with the LOS. Instead he should force the ball-carrier to turn IN and run outside the End. The LB on that side should give aid.

4. We play 6vs6, so we run a 3-2-1. If I were playing 5v5, I'd consider a 2-2-1. Split your ends wide, the LBs in and off the LOS about five yards and the safety back.

5. Put your most disciplined players at ends. Put your best athletes at LB. Position them to give support. For example, place your best LB on the same side as your weakest end.

6. Make the saftey take three steps back when the play starts. I do this with new safeties. The reason is kids have a tendency to run in toward the ball. By taking three steps backward, it offsets their initial urge to go forward. The safety should not let any players behind him as long as the ball has still not crossed the LOS.

As for flag pulling drills. Teach them to watch the belt buckle when pursuing to take the flag. If they are having trouble pulling the flag while running, teach them to grab it tightly, and then stop--it'll come off. A good drill is one we call "Levels of Death". Essentially place 3 sets of 2 cones about seven yards apart. Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. One defender responsible for each level. Have each player take the ball and try to make it past the levels. Bring the cones in and spread them out more depending on what you are wanting to teach.

Hope this helps some.

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Yeah, those seem like good tips. I was rethinking the 3-2 def since that practice. The middle front kid in the 3 never seemed to be in the play so I was thinking 4-1 with the two inside kids being off the los some. I'm a bit fearful of changing before game time, but maybe I try that.

The 1 in the back, the safety. Don't I want him to attack the ball right away? He's the only one that can attack the QB behind the scrimmage line, should they try to pass. I know I might give up the long play, but seems like any kid 7 yards back should take advantage of the fact that they can cross the scrimmage line at snap. THoughts?

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The 1 in the back, the safety. Don't I want him to attack the ball right away? He's the only one that can attack the QB behind the scrimmage line, should they try to pass. I know I might give up the long play, but seems like any kid 7 yards back should take advantage of the fact that they can cross the scrimmage line at snap. THoughts?

I personally use the safety as just that---our last line of defense. Of course we are in 8/9 year old league, so there is much more passing, but all it takes is a lob pass over the LBs and you most likely have given up a TD if your safety is not back there. As mentioned, I disallow my safety from allowing anyone behind him until the ball crosses the LOS. Worst case scenario is he drops deep to keep receviers running dummy routes in front of him and they hand-off. Even in this instance, the play is in front of the safety, so he can use the best angle to get the ball-carrier if he breaks free.

Regarding rushing the passer, we don't blitz a whole lot. We only do when it's third or fourth and long (>10 yards). We also have to "announce" when we are rushing, and even who the rushers are. This really puts the offense at an advantage, IMO. I would say if you like rushing your safety and being aggressive, then go for it. Find the style that works best for your team.

Let us know how your first game went. Thanks

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I just found this site, and some of you may not even coach this anymore. But JohnP2, that is great info. As soon as I read it I emailed my other coach. We have just the right mix of maniacs and level headed player for it to work.

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I gotta be honest. 5-6 year olds can play some pretty amazing football if you just give them the right tools and set a high bar, all along making sure they have fun. I've seen kids this age learn quickly and make some tremendously athletic and intelligent plays.

In terms of the best defense in a 5/5... I personally think its the V. I tried other formations and my teams always gave up 2-3 touchdowns per game. This past season we hardly gave up first downs. Obviously the V looks like a kid over Center, 2 LBs and then 2 DBs a few steps back. For it to work, you need to teach the following:

1. The kid over Center (lets just call it a NG) has to be very alert, aggressive and a great flag puller. In our league the QB can't run so our NG has to disrupt plays in the backfield as soon as they happen. He doesn't have to be a super fast kid- just alert and aggressive. Sometimes this is a good spot for a big kid who maybe lacks a lot of lateral quickness.

2. The 2 DBs can actually be weaker flag pullers provided they are good at defending the pass. Their job on runs is simple. Get up the field, cut off the runner, protect the sideline and push the runners back towards the middle of the field. I had 2 DBs play great this season and between the 2 of them combined they probably only grabbed a handful of flags. Let the LBs get the glory. :)

3. Your 2 LBs need to be both great flag pullers and very good athletes. If the play goes right, the right LB attacks and the left LB drops back to protect against misdirection. Same holds true the opposite side. (Actually, the V becomes a L when the play goes right and a backward L when the play goes left so the defense never loses contain). The one weakness of the V is a deep pass over the middle. This is where you need to be able to drop at least one of the LBs back as a safety. I typically keep the faster LB, move him to the weaker DB's side and then take the other LB and put him back 3-4 yards. Realistically, kids this age won't throw more than 15-20 yards max so that LB should still be able to run up and attack a run play.

Try it if you wish. . If you do, stick with it and you'll see the results. It takes time but once the kids get it they dominate and it usually shuts down bigger, faster kids as well. We played a great running team and a great passing team back-to-back in the playoffs and our kids allowed a total of 2 offensive touchdowns, 5 first downs and blew the teams out.

Good luck.

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