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zymurgy

First Game For 5-6 Yo - Offense Did Not Do Well

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Coaches:

I have 10 5 & 6 year olds on my team. 5 on 5, QB cannot run, with 5 yard no run zones near midfield and endzone. Have 3 plays to cross mid-field and then 3 plays to score.

We lost our first game 1-0 (6-0) and our defense was terrific (outside of the long TD run by the other team), but our offence sputtered. We practiced about 4 plays to run this week and the kids really did get them pretty well, however, the other team just lined up their 5 defenders and the only time that anyone got past the defense (on our side or theirs) was just missed flag pulls. Basically, my team got about 12 plays total for the game.

I had a lot of very angry parents after the game who told me that their kid only got one touch and that I was looking out for all of the kids instead of focusing on winning/scoring with my "A" team (we certainly have 5 dominant kids with the rest varying in ability). I will have to manage these parents to the best of my ability, but basically my four plays were:

Scissors play left and right - center snaps to QB, right or left RB fakes handoff and runs diagonally across the field and the other RB gets the ball. Problem here was that the defense just sat back and waited for the kids.

Second play was the same, but a reverse to the WR. Same result.

I had two pass plays, a center drag and a halfback swing pass. I ran two pass plays, both going incomplete.

Long story short, we crossed midfield once and never came close to the endzone. I have an extremely talented 5 kids, but cannot ignore the others. I have drawn up other plays to try, but I just don't know how to break through the defensive 5. On pass plays they just sort of hang back in the passing lanes (my kids really can't throw beyond 5 yards) and on defense they just hung back and waited for my kids to run at or near them.

Anyone have any advise on plays, drills, etc.? Play the same team on Wednesday and really want to win won for the kids.

Thanks in advance.

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I had a lot of very angry parents after the game who told me that their kid only got one touch and that I was looking out for all of the kids instead of focusing on winning/scoring with my "A" team (we certainly have 5 dominant kids with the rest varying in ability).

So the parents of some of your top players are upset because they think their sons were under-utilized, is that correct? I will assume that this is not a paid position, and that you are volunteering your time. I'd send an email to all the parents thanking them for their child's attendance in the game, and reminding them that ALL players will be given equal opportunity to succeed (instead of you relying on your "A" team). Simply let them know what you are about, and what they can expect. If they confront you later about it, I would respectfully tell them that you are sticking with your philosophy, and if they don't like it they can go to another team--or better yet start their own team. There is no excuse for a parent to get upset with a coach over 5-6 year old flag football, and you simply don't need that element on your team.

On pass plays they just sort of hang back in the passing lanes (my kids really can't throw beyond 5 yards) and on defense they just hung back and waited for my kids to run at or near them.

It sounds like you just played a disciplined defense. Throwing at this age will be challenging. Or should I say throwing and catching will be the challenge. You'll probably run across some teams who have a QB that can chunk it, but catching far passes at this age is extremely rare.

I'll advise two plays:

1. RB Counter. I-formation. Have the "fullback" execute a fake-hand off left. The RB starts left and then cuts right to take the hand-off. Have all the other players run a left slant.

2. Center Draw. Spread formation. Simply have all players run a go route, except for the Center. The QB drops back to pass, and then after a few moments, the QB hands off to the Center (when I was coaching 4-6 I coughed to signal the hand-off). The key here is for all other players run the go route three ways: fast, furious, and far. I can all but guarantee the defense will have a natural tendancy to drop back with the receivers and/or chase them. This should open up the first level for you.

Finally, after running the reverse a few times, fake the reverse. Be sure to have the ball-carrier stretch out the ball for the hand-off. I go as far as instructing the ball-carrier to hold it out the second he gets it.

Good luck!

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We played our first game today, also my first as a coach and had some similar issues. I'm going to do a separate post on my experiences. I agree with John that the center draw might work. When my son was in 5 on 5 that was a good play for him.

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Congratulations, you played your first game and while you may feel that it did not go well the truth is that it did. Your team only allowed 1 TD and from your description had a chance to "win" the game. Stay positive with your message to your kids, kids can sense any negativity. At practice stress what went well and pick out ONE thing to really work on improving each week.

Stick to your guns, you are absolutely correct with your philosophy to involve all the kids in the game by getting them touches. Either resend an email to your parents our hold a short meeting with the parents at practice restating your philosophy about getting everyone on the team involved.

One of the great things about flag football is this may be the only chance these kids get to run with the ball. Soon some of them may transition to tackle football and the less athletic will be tagged as lineman. Keep getting them the ball. One of my highlights coaching was seeing my son score his 1st TD, followed by me posting on Facebook that my son Jackson is now the all time Hampton Family TD leader (I was one of those un-athletic linemen).

This is my 2nd season coaching this same age group as you are (same rules), I learned a lot last year (last year did not go well for me)and you are going to learn a lot this year (assuming from your post that this is your 1st year w/ this age).

I would ask this question: Are your kids running hard when they get the ball? This seems basic but with most things in life it is the basics that matter. With 5 & 6 Year Olds, I have seen a lot of timid runners (stopping, changing direction, dance, etc). TD's in Flag Football at this level generally come on long plays that involve one missed flag pull. I am always stressing to my players (at practice, prior to the game, on the sidelines, and at halftime) that when you get the ball, you run hard. Stress that it is okay to get your flag pulled (Not every play can be a TD). Keep moving forward toward that end zone. Hustle, Hustle, Hustle. Remind your players that you may only get the ball once, and at the most twice so make the most of your chance. RUN HARD.

If they are not, then I would stress this at your next practice, if they are continue to stress it.

I think your plays are fine. Scissor play works nicely at this level, but the ball carry needs to hit the "hole hard". Is your WR always running the End Around Route as well, ? If he is not I would always have him running the End Around route.

Once you get your RBs going hard on your dive play, that will set up your End Around. The key to the End Around is your Backs need to sell their FAKES. By sell, I mean they need to RUN HARD, without the ball and when they do you need to praise them (more so than when they score TDs). All it takes is for the Defense to take 1 step toward the Dive and then you can get your WR some space on the outside. 1 thing to consider, it sounds like on your End Around play you are faking to the left and the right. May want to consider eliminating your fake to the End Around side, you want the Defense only concentrating on the misdirection.

Once again, stress to your WR to run hard with the ball moving up field.

You can always add more plays, but you need to decide what your main plays are and get your kids to execute them before moving on. Misdirection works well at this level, I think you have a set of plays that can work. Good Luck, and continue to share the ball and stress the team.

Another thing, try and get your weaker players the ball on 1st down, save your better plays for 2nd and 3rd down.

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RoyalFlush--that was VERY well stated. I also agree it's a good strategy to get your lesser-skilled players the ball on first and second down and go with your top athletes to get the first down as needed.

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zymurgy -

Your post is a good reminder why coaches should communicate their philosophy clearly before the season begins. Not picking on you at all, just a good example of why it is important.

5 & 6 yr olds? That should sum it up right there. Seriously. People get way too wrapped up in this rec stuff especially with younger kids. Blows me away.

It's already been said, but if your philosophy is to make sure your kids get equal touches and playing time, then you'll have to remind the parents. I'd be an angry parent if my kid was considered "B team" caliber and didn't get touches for the sake of a win.

Last year when I had a 4-6 yr old team, one play that worked was teaching kids how to fake receiving a handoff. We worked on what that looked like. Told them to be actors. We'd have a kid stand right next to the QB, have QB hand to them, another player would be off to the right like a WR back from the los. We'd fake a handoff to that player and let the kid with the ball run like the wind. Usually all it took to bust out a good run. Any fakes or misdirection at this age level seem to work well. Watch out for collisions on those reverses and fake reverses. Not a pretty scene.

EDIT: After re-reading this, wanted to make sure you understood my frustration was with the parents on your team, not you.

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