pcfountain

6-7 Yr Old, How To Make Practice More Organized?

11 posts in this topic

I am coaching my son's flag football team, 6-7 year olds, 8 on 8. This is my first experience coaching anything. We had our first practice today and I think it went .. OK. The kids had a lot of fun, and that's my main concern for this age group. But I would like to get things a little more organized, so when we go into a game, we can actually line up and execute a few plays.

We started with a simple snap and throw drill, which was pretty messy. I couldn't get the kids to stay in a line. So I quickly went to sharks and minnows, which was a lot better. The kids followed directions pretty well for that drill. After that, I worked on the huddle, lining them up on offense and defense, and running a few plays. Luckily one of the other dads volunteered to be my assistant coach, he took defense, I took the offense. Again, very messy. I tried "only one person talks in the huddle", kids were still yelling over each other. I tried to let most of the kids take a turn playing QB or C, but again everybody was very confused on where to line up, etc. I did have my plays printed out on paper, and showed them on a clipboard in the huddle, which helped a lot. But overall the practice was very chaotic, and there's a lot of yelling. Every kid wants to do everything on every play. We finished with choosing a team name, and the swarm drill, which was a great way to end practice.

So I need some advice from the more experienced coaches. My main problems are:

- Not sure if I should assign positions, or let the kids trade off so everyone gets a turn.

- The kids are all yelling in the huddle, "I want the ball" or "I want to be quarterback" I don't really have their attention.

- Getting them lined up for a play is difficult, they all just want to run wild. Forget actually -running- a play, as soon as the ball is snapped everybody forgets what to do and it's total chaos.

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Coach:

With respect to assigning positions. I have always played 5 on 5 and my playbook is developed so that I don’t assign a position per se, I assign each player a color. Although each color is associated with a predominant position (e.g., black is QB, Red is running back), they can change the position they line up at based on the play we are running and who is designed to get the ball. They will play that color at practices and the game that week. The kids pick it up very quickly and since the offensive is designed to get the ball to every color several different ways, they all have fun and get their touches. Parents have also been very supportive of this since all of the kids get the opportunity to run the ball and get their touches during games. I may change the color that a player will play between weeks but not during games or practices.

I make it very clear that the only one that talks in the huddle is a coach and as a standard rule that when a coach is talking that the players listen and don’t talk unless asked a question. If they do talk, ask to play a position, etc., I immediately let them know that it is not acceptable and that they will not get the ball if they continue. I also have an attention grabber if needed anytime during practice where I yell “ballgame” and they all need to yell “focus” loudly. This will stop talking and get them refocused. You need to make sure that they understand that you are in charge and not them. That doesn’t mean that you need to yell etc., just be firm and set the correct expectations and let them know if they are not meeting those expectations.

Also with respect to the huddles, in practice I expect the yellow position (center) to “call” the huddle and the players to get lined up correctly. I won’t enter the huddle to call the play until they are basically set to go and settled down (quiet). Obviously, you need to show them what to do and the first few times I give them more leeway than after several practices. I am currently coaching 1st graders and we can get in and out of the huddle very quickly now.

Could be several issues related to lining up and executing plays correctly but it all starts with focus in the huddle. How do you call your plays and let the players know what they are supposed to do? If you are expecting a kid to run an out, slant, reverse, etc. have they practiced those prior to running plays? If you look at the playbooks on this site, most are color coordinated and have the routes or assignments on them for each player. Having each kid assigned a color throughout the game/practice allows them to figure out where to set up and what to do. Not always perfect particularly with younger kids but works well. Also need to emphasize that everyone has a job each play. If you are calling plays differently, do the players know the terminology and is at the level/age they are at?

Have Fun!

Husker Fan

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6-7 is a bit older than some of these disscussions, but maybe check out this link to previous threads on coaching younger players.

Threads on Y-Coach about coaching younger players

Best advice I can give you is remember they are 6 & 7 yr olds. Get a few more parents to help in practice. Standing in lines and running boring plays over and over in practice will get frustrating quickly, you're on the right track with sharks and minnows. I wouldn't get too caught up about the kids lining up correctly everytime or if a play goes off the way it's supposed to. Chill a little bit and go with the flow out there, you'll see improvement as the season goes on.

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Not sure if I should assign positions, or let the kids trade off so everyone gets a turn.
My opinion, they all need to take turns within reason. Maybe have a parent track the number of times at QB to make sure that throughout the season, kids are getting a shot at it. Not every kid will want to play QB. I'd track ball touches with a parent also. Real touches where they receive a handoff or catch a pass. Only way I know to make sure you try your best to get everyone touches.
The kids are all yelling in the huddle, "I want the ball" or "I want to be quarterback" I don't really have their attention.
If you're tracking QB or touches, you can tell the kids before the game and explain that someone is keeping track. Could also reward them at the end of the game with a small deal for not talking in the huddle (e.g. piece of candy or gum for everyone). "If you guys don't talk in the huddle unless I ask you a question, we can run a lot more plays and EVERYONE gets more chances. But, if you guys talk in the huddle, we have less chances to run more plays and it won't be as fun"
Getting them lined up for a play is difficult, they all just want to run wild. Forget actually -running- a play, as soon as the ball is snapped everybody forgets what to do and it's total chaos.
You will have to simplify this and not worry about fancy plays right now. If you're allowed to have another person out on the field during the game, have them help line up the kids who aren't receiving the ball. We told our kids who weren't running the ball they were going to race each other down the field. The QB and other key player just need to know what to do.

8 vs. 8 is a bit tougher because you have more kids to try and get touches. For the life of me, I'll never figure out why leagues do this, especially with flag football and at the younger levels. 5 vs. 5 is easier to manage, imo.

I've coached quite a few seasons at this point and think I'm pretty good with kids. It takes everything I've got when dealing with 5,6,7 yr olds to make things fun, keep their attention, deal with the yelling, etc.

You can't have too many helpers during practice and if they'll let you have two coaches on the field for both O and D, I'd do it.

Remember to constantly encourage the kids, even for small deals like not talking in the huddle or just lining up correctly. Make a big deal out of things, get excited.

Hope this helps!

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Hey coaches, thanks for your suggestions. My second practice was better, I made a few changes:

- Split the team into two groups, and each coach focused with one group. The team is the Sharks, so I called our groups Fins and Teeth. Also worked this into a team cheer. The kids like that a lot.

- We just did run-thrus on offense, instead of scrimmage offense vs. defense. This helped them execute the plays, or at least all run the same direction at once. But Coach Rob is right, this is boring for some players. Some kids are just better at paying attention than others.

- We picked two QBs for each group, and assigned positions for the most part. This is the decision I have the most trouble with. In this age group, I really want all the kids to have an opportunity if they want it. But 8 on 8 is just too many kids to handle - I have to keep them in the same position, just so they know where to line up. So while I'm not thrilled about it, keeping them in assigned positions makes it organized, and easier for me to handle. Maybe we can branch out later in the season.

- Another comment on 8v8 - 3 kids must be linemen on each side. (Not spelled out exactly in the rules, but this is just the way it works.) This makes it a lot harder to get every kid touches. We also have to teach blocking, or else the play is over immediately. It's just really hard for this age group. These kids have trouble getting a clean snap, I'm concerned that most of the plays will be over before they start. I can't emphasize enough - 8v8 is not right for the young kids.

- We have one more practice today, then a long break for the labor day weekend, then our first game. I feel like we won't be ready, but I just have to remember the age group, and realize that the first couple of games will be messy. Baseball was the same way for this group. (I was not coaching but watched all the games.)

I'm having lots of fun with it, but it's a lot more preparation and work than I was ready for. I really don't care if we win, I just want my kids to learn, compete, and be able to score a few times. The first game will probably be a big relief, as I'm sure the other teams are in the same boat.

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I am coaching my son's flag football team, 6-7 year olds, 8 on 8. This is my first experience coaching anything. We had our first practice today and I think it went .. OK. The kids had a lot of fun, and that's my main concern for this age group. But I would like to get things a little more organized, so when we go into a game, we can actually line up and execute a few plays.

We started with a simple snap and throw drill, which was pretty messy. I couldn't get the kids to stay in a line. So I quickly went to sharks and minnows, which was a lot better. The kids followed directions pretty well for that drill. After that, I worked on the huddle, lining them up on offense and defense, and running a few plays. Luckily one of the other dads volunteered to be my assistant coach, he took defense, I took the offense. Again, very messy. I tried "only one person talks in the huddle", kids were still yelling over each other. I tried to let most of the kids take a turn playing QB or C, but again everybody was very confused on where to line up, etc. I did have my plays printed out on paper, and showed them on a clipboard in the huddle, which helped a lot. But overall the practice was very chaotic, and there's a lot of yelling. Every kid wants to do everything on every play. We finished with choosing a team name, and the swarm drill, which was a great way to end practice.

So I need some advice from the more experienced coaches. My main problems are:

- Not sure if I should assign positions, or let the kids trade off so everyone gets a turn.

- The kids are all yelling in the huddle, "I want the ball" or "I want to be quarterback" I don't really have their attention.

- Getting them lined up for a play is difficult, they all just want to run wild. Forget actually -running- a play, as soon as the ball is snapped everybody forgets what to do and it's total chaos.

This is my second season coaching U8 flag football. I switch positions to let the kids get as much experience as possible. I have 5 year olds on my team so they mainly play center and ends. If I build up a lead I let them run simple plays (handoff right or left) or run the extra point play. If you get a routine established for practice, the kids will eventually settle down. Hang in there, it gets better as the players gain experience.

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Thought I would do an update on my progress and give some more commentary. We have now played most of the season, 5 of 7 games. We have lost every game, and really are not very competitive. I'm not worried about the wins and losses, but I feel bad for the kids. Most of them have tried really hard and have good attitudes. I would like them to experience winning at least one game before the season ends. We have some pretty good players, so I feel like we should be more competitive.

I think the biggest problem is the fact that I am the only coach about half the time. My assistant coach has been very helpful when he's there, but he can't make it to all of the practices and games. I've asked around with some of the other parents, but no one else has shown interest in helping out. I've also noticed that the best teams we've played have 3 or 4 coaches. This makes perfect sense, of course, it's tough to keep 16 kids organized by yourself (or even with 2 coaches.) I want to do more 1-on-1 teaching for the individual positions, but with only 1 or 2 coaches, we can't split up into more focused groups. To keep everyone engaged in practice, I either have to run basic drills (flag pulling, etc) or just scrimmage offense vs. defense. With only one coach, scrimmaging is tough. I spend all my time just getting them lined up ... we run maybe 10 plays in 30 minutes, and most of those are messy at best.

Now don't get me wrong, the kids ARE getting better as the season goes along. We can line up quickly in the game and run plays most of the time. Our QB throws a nice ball, and can throw pretty well under pressure. Our defense has also improved a lot. But as the other teams get better at pulling flags, our offense has ground to a halt. I was encouraged earlier in the season, I think it was the 3rd game where we scored 3 TD's. But in the last two games we have been shut out. We don't really have good coordination between the players, because we practice only one hour per week, and our practice time is on Monday, so the kids have 5 days before a Saturday game to forget everything.

Anyway, if you've read this far, I'll try to give some tips to other coaches that may find themselves in a similar age group and number of players. Talk to the parents, try to get as much help as you can. With 3 or more coaches, you can have a much more organized practice that goes according to plan. Keep the offense really simple. We line up trips every time, and either do a run play or pass play. I tell the QB in the huddle exactly who to hand or pass the ball to. Work on snapping the ball and pulling flags from day one, and emphasize these in every practice. Assign the C and QB positions, and let those kids know it's their job for the entire season. The other positions can be swapped out more, so the kids all get a chance to carry the ball. Work on a clean huddle - one person talks, no one begs for the ball, and ready-break. Learn all the kids names as soon as possible. Bring masking tape and a sharpie to the first practice, tape each kid's name to the front of their jersey. Do this for a few practices until you get the names down. This also helps the kids get to know each other. And have some fun - let the kids choose their team name, make up a cheer, sign up parents to bring a snack and drink after each game.

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I don't really have their attention.

I have coached numerous sports for kids in this age range and it is difficult to get their attention. I use hand clapping... When the kids start talking over others, playing around, not gather where they should or just are generally not paying attention I start clapping hard and fast claps... Kids that still aren't listening are told to sit out the next drill, although I have only had to do that twice over the years and one of those was my own son, lol

I went to a cub scout meeting when my son first joined and was watching the leaders try to organize the kids for a game... It was chaos!! The leaders were holding up bunny ears to trying to get the kids to listen... After a minute or so I started clapping and barking out orders... The kids were lined up in no time

So I have found this to be a good technique for me... Of course you have to have a voice that can bark over your claps :D

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I hear you guys on this thread. The kids at this age don't really pay attention to whats being taught. You as a coach can't really bark at them, because of the close watchful eye of their parents. I know you're the coach and it is at your discretion on how you coach these little guys, but you still have that sense that the parents might have a say or two after the practice.

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hey coach, i have coached for four years now two 5 year old teams and then 6 year olds and seven year olds this year, I have found that being to nice causes alot of confussion which cuts down on teaching fundamentals like trying to let everyone run the ball to early in the season find your five lineman and send them with your assistant and have him set the ball center sets first then guards toes on center heels and then tackles toes on guards heels get them use to doing this every play keeping them out of huddle get them set fast and try only having your three backs huddle so only three kids need to know plays to start build that consistency first, run your play and then countdown from five after ball is set if line does not get set send them for a lap they'll learn and the same five count should get the three backs huddled. we call our plays by using there first name and play motion, example john 38 sweep right this lets them learn play action and knowing who does it and direction and they will quickly learn normal play calling. Good Luck.

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A couple of things..

- Keep them busy! - I dont spend more than 15 minures at a time on anything, I might run the same drill twice but i'll run other drills before going back to it. I rotate drills every 10-15 minutes no matter what, it keeps them on their toes and focused.

- HELPers - You can never have enough, just make sure they are all on the same page. Alot of time parents are affraid to step up because they dont want you to feel like they are stepping on on your toes.

- Split Squad - Split squad is AWESOME, if you have the numbers and the helpers split squad is the way to go. The kids get double the reps, practice is far more efficient and you can always run squad vs squad drills/competitions.

Lastly - Browse the site, This site covers anything and everything you may run into in any situation, There are thousands of collective years of coaching expierence here.

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