Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays
caneincgfl

Teaching The Basics - Techniques You Use

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I'm new to the forum and this is my first post. Thank you to everyone here, this is a great forum.

I am a first-time head coach for 8-9 year old 7 on 7 flag. The league is open to both boys and girls so I might have both on my team. There is a draft so I don't know my players yet.

What I am looking for is some basic pointers to give the kids on vital elements such as catching the ball, making and receiving handoffs, flag-pulling techniques, how to hold the ball while running, etc.

Can you folks share your pointers for the basic elements? Thanks.

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Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

Welcome to the forum and the head coaching realm!

You can probably google all the items you mentioned and find a ton of info, so if our answers don't satisfy, keep that in mind.

Catching the ball:

I teach my kids to catch the ball with their fingers first, not their body or hands. Reason is the ball has more chance of bouncing off body or flat hands. The receiver should give the QB a target by holding out their palms out with the index fingers and thumbs almost touching.

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We emphasize looking the ball into your hands. Have the kids line up straight across with a couple of coaches throwing ball to them. The coaches should throw the balls high, low, and to the sides. Kids should be turning their heads and actually "watching the ball into their hands".

Pair up kids about 10 yards apart, have them throw passes back and forth. Once they get comfortable, have them keep track of how many passes and see who can make the most consecutive passes with no drops in X amount of time. For the better players, walk in front of them, behind them, stand next to them and talk right in their ears about not dropping the pass. Helps their concentration.

Making and receiving handoffs:

Inside hand should be up, HB should give big enough target to receive ball but not huge. Good drill is the one above. Good handoffs come by practicing reps.

Flag pulling:

Number #1 rule, look at the belly button, not the player's head, eyes, feet, legs. We teach our players to get in front of the runner to help slow them down. Lots of drill posted on the sight regarding flag pulling drills. You'll find most coaches on here give ample time to this during a practice. Practicing swarming. Look up swarming by using search on this site.

I'm sure others will chime in as well on your questions.

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Coach Rob,

Thanks. The Google tip is a good one, too, and I can probably look at videos on YouTube.

During the early practices I want to really get the kids to be comfortable with these basics. In the last two seasons my son played, a lot of teams would waste plays with fumbled snaps and fumbled handoffs. Kids would also make tentative swipes at flags as guys streaked down the sidelines past them.

The posts here are very helpful. For example, I saw one post where it was mentioned that the team defense would drill swarming where both flags had to be pulled before the runner was down. I thought that was a good idea.

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Swarming and Gauntlet link <--- from this site. You'll hear one of the coaches say.. "No bullfighting"... which our way of telling the kids not to pull flags like a matador fighting a bull.

Yeah, the pulling both flags is a good idea. We also found some old flags and cut them in half to use in flag pulling drills.

Leap frog is a good drill for snaps. Kids in pairs, one starts as center, one as QB and they race in a relay. Set cones out for each group so they know when to switch. We used it with a shotgun snap. Center snaps to QB, QB runs past center and becomes the new center, snaps it, etc... as they work down the field based on cones you've set out. Any snaps hitting ground, team has to start over.

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Flag Pulling

I always start with 1 on 1's facing each about 8 yards apart.I have them walk through it over & over again then we jog it then we go full speed.Make flag pulling fun after they start to pick it up.You can never practice flag pulling enough.I also did monkey in the middle.Make a field about 30x30 yards.Put kids on 2 sides of the field and make them run across to the other side.Have 1 or 2 kids start in the middle & try to pull the others flags.If there flags get pulled then they join in, in the middle.Kids will love it plus its conditioning.I also do an angle flag pulling.I have 1 person run in a straight line & have the other run diagnally to catch them.Works on angle & flag pulling.

Catching

I teach the eyes & diamond.Remind kids they catch the ball with there eyes so when they are catching make sure they keep there eyes on it.I have the players face each other about 5 yards.have them put there hands out & just play catch.I also incorporate the tucking of the ball.We did this every practice for 10 mins.We would start at 5 yards & move back to about 10 then back up to 5 & then back to 10.Just to change it up.But it reiterates catching properly over & over again.

Handoffs

I teach this the real way on how to take handoffs.Now i'll admit it takes forever but its worth it because I teach them how to drop there shoulder for playaction.We will run plays and absolutely no 1 knows who has the ball lol.I love it.

Good luck.let us know if you need any more tips :)

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Flag Pulling:

A good flag pulling drill is one we call "Levels of Death". Essentially, place three pairs of cones about five yards apart. Each pair is a "level". Put on defender in each level. The players take turns trying to run through the all levels. The defenders must stay in their assigned level. After a bit, we widen it up to about 10 yards wide for each level.

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Thanks, John.

I want to really focus on flag-pulling. In my son's last two seasons, I would see many defenders in good position to make pulls who missed or made half-hearted stabs at the flag. If I can get my kids to swarm, be aggressive, and really get after flags I think that will dramatically cut down on big plays by the offense.

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Rob made a great point about looking at the belly button (I really just tell my players to watch the ball-carrier's hips). Other things I've learned about flag-pullin' throughout the years: Sometimes players will try to go for the flag and run along the with the ball-carrier if he is unable to pull it. I explain to my players once they have their hand on the flag, if their body is in an awkward position and unable to pull---to just stop (holding the flag).

Years ago (and I believe I posted a thread about this) there was a coach in our league who paid his players $1.00 for every flag they got. While it's something I doubt I would ever do--his players got after it!

As we know, some kids are just natural at it, and some are not. I usually challenge each player before each game to get me x number of flags. For some players I might challenge them to just get one flag, and some it might be up to five flags. I really believe a big part of it for kids this age is their mental approach to the game.

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Years ago (and I believe I posted a thread about this) there was a coach in our league who paid his players $1.00 for every flag they got. While it's something I doubt I would ever do--his players got after it!
Know we had a discussion about paying for flag pulls. I definitely gave out prizes (at the younger levels) for certain games if our team pulled X amount of flags during specific games, even something special for the top flag puller that game.

Here's the paying for flag pulls discussion

Here's another link with some good drill suggestions

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Handoffs

I teach this the real way on how to take handoffs.Now i'll admit it takes forever but its worth it because I teach them how to drop there shoulder for playaction.We will run plays and absolutely no 1 knows who has the ball lol.I love it.

Good luck.let us know if you need any more tips :)

Where can I find this drill? I want to practice handoffs as we are doing a wildcat based offense and would LOVE to have this drill!

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Handoffs

I teach this the real way on how to take handoffs.Now i'll admit it takes forever but its worth it because I teach them how to drop there shoulder for playaction.We will run plays and absolutely no 1 knows who has the ball lol.I love it.

Good luck.let us know if you need any more tips :)

Where can I find this drill? I want to practice handoffs as we are doing a wildcat based offense and would LOVE to have this drill!

We practice dropping the shoulder by lining the kids up facing the QB and RB. QB excutes a smaller version of an end around exchange (QB tells the RB ahead of time if the handoff is fake or real). We use a smaller nerf ball for this drill. Once the exchange or fake happens, we have the QB turn away from the line of kids as well as the RB dropping the shoulder and running a few yards to the side and stopping. Kids in the line have to shout out who they think has the ball. Everyone gets a turn at both positions.

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Thinking back over the seasons, probably one of the best things I taught my players is how to properly catch the ball. And what I emphasize is simple yet so important! Two things, catch with your hands out, away from your body AND watch the ball all the way into your hands. The second point is so crucial I cannot say it enough. WATCH THE BALL ALL THE WAY INTO YOUR HANDS. When we practice catching I overemphasize watching the ball into your hands to the point that I ask the players to stare at the ball for a full second after they catch it (during practice of course).

I want this to be second nature for them. So even when they warm up I stress this technique. Just watch your players warming up and you'll see most of them do it lazily, looking up as soon as the ball gets there. Jump on them each and every practice. It should look a little ridiculous but the lesson is very important.

Watching the ball all the way into their hands is the kind of skill that they can carry with them in many different sports. Baseball is a good example not just with catching the ball but also with hitting the ball. A good hitter will be so locked in to the ball with his eyes. And so on. Flag football is a fine sport but I love the skills like this that make the kids good all around athletes.

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WATCH THE BALL ALL THE WAY INTO YOUR HANDS. When we practice catching I overemphasize watching the ball into your hands to the point that I ask the players to stare at the ball for a full second after they catch it (during practice of course).
Yep, that's why we have the coaches throw balls low, high, and to the sides, and then watch for the kid's heads to turn and stay there. Some of the older kids put their hands where the ball is thrown, but their head doesn't turn to look at the ball (over confident). Simple concept, often overlooked though.

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WATCH THE BALL ALL THE WAY INTO YOUR HANDS. When we practice catching I overemphasize watching the ball into your hands to the point that I ask the players to stare at the ball for a full second after they catch it (during practice of course).
Yep, that's why we have the coaches throw balls low, high, and to the sides, and then watch for the kid's heads to turn and stay there. Some of the older kids put their hands where the ball is thrown, but their head doesn't turn to look at the ball (over confident). Simple concept, often overlooked though.

Ditto for Orange and Rob's responses. Having the kids watch the ball into their hands will turn them into night/day receivers. Monitoring and coaching where the head moves during the catch is genius! Honestly, I've never tried that. I spend a lot of my time pin-pointing where the pass should go (high/low etc.) that this season one of my goals will be to better coach the players to fine-tune their receiving skills and I LOVE this drill!

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I will let you know how it goes as the season starts.

My league has a draft so this week before the draft we had two days of evals. The league director runs the kids through different drills and the coaches all watch with their clipboards and figure out who they will draft. My kid's skill is catching balls since we have been doing it from the time he was little but even he took his eye off one and it boinked off his shoulder. A lot of kids were letting the ball get into their body or looking away at the last minute or were afraid of the ball. I agree that this is a great area to focus on.

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