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Johnp2

If You Had The Opporunity To Change One Thing About Your League....

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Yes, this is an attempt to muster up some dialogue during the off-season :-).

Another coach and I have been asked to meet with our league director to discuss any and all changes we would like to see in our league. Without going into a lot of detail, there is new leadership, and they have reached out to myself (the longest tenured coach) and another coach for our thoughts. I've stated this before, but the coaches pretty much run our league, so I think it's awesome they are being pro-active and leaning on us like this.

It got me thinking--if you were in this position, what would YOU look to change with your league?

For me I have two things: one can be enforced, and one can't.

1. Tackling when it's obvious a player is going to score a touchdown. This has become a huge problem in our league. Coaches tell their players to tackle anyone who is on his way to the end-zone. Coaches have no problem intructing this because it only helps them.

We are here in Texas, and the mindset with some coaches is "this is FOOTBALL!" While I don't mind physical play (we actually encourage it) but we play within the rules. i.e. We are more 'chippy' about--we just react to physical play. My players will not be pushed around, but we respect the game and our opponents too much to play outside the rules.

We had one coach very bad about doing this for seasons. When it got to the point there were near scuffles by the opposing parents due to his team's style of play, the other coaches got together and had him banned from the league. I've attached a pic of a good example (my player being tackled and dragged to the ground while he was about to score a TD). I blurred the faces to respect the two players (the defender was simply doing what he had been coached to do).

My thinking is this should be a judgement call for the officials, and they can call a touchdown in these instances (instead of spotting the ball at the foul). This was actually supposed to be the rule this season but with the new leadership it never got propogated to the officials. I see no problem in getting this enforced next season.

2. More engaged coaches. While I know this cannot be influenced by our league, I'd really like it if some of the coaches did not take the game so seriously. I love fraternizing with the coaches in our league. Some coaches, however, see us as the enemy and have no part of even idle chit-chat with the opposing coaches. They simply don't respect their opponents. I guess it just depends on how you view the game.

Because our league cannot punish this, these are the teams I like to put down. We don't run up the score, we just jump on them early and then take the foot off the pedal in the final 2-3 quarters. On the flip side, there are coaches in our league who have not come close to a championship, but on game day they are the happiest guys in the world. I always tell both teams during the coin toss, "This is a beautiful day for football, gentlemen. There's no other place in the world than I'd rather be right here playing football." A lot of us get together and chat after games, play golf together, and just like to talk about coaching football (as is the case with everyone on this forum).

As mentioned, this is not a huge problem in our league (like #1), but something I would like to see changed.

What would you change?

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What would you change?

This is a good question, one that should spur some good suggestions, and one that I'll forward to our league director after lots of input.

Our 6/6 league is a local YMCA league. Most teams are pre-formed, meaning we bring the list of our players. We have a maximum of 9 players we can bring, and the YMCA can randomly assign a "free agent" (a kid who wants to play, but couldn't find a team to be part of ... often a new kid in town). Most teams tend to have kids all from the same elementary school; e.g., the Pierce team, the Johnson team, two teams from Armstrong, etc...

  • Many of the changes that I'd like to see are more off the field changes: more timely scheduling of games, re-scheduling (rain makeups), posting the results/scores, ensuring at least two refs are there, games start on time, timely responses to coach's inquiries (rules questions, etc...).
  • The rules book should be complete and based on some nationally recognized flag football set of rules. I'll often have 3-4 issues during the season because of something not explicit in the rules. Plus, we actually have one rule that is "refs discretion".
  • Referees who know the YMCA flag football rules. In our first game last season, we had a ref who was actually using high school tackle rules (10 yards, 4 downs, ball crossing the goal line). I love the refs who don't mind taking 15 seconds when necessary to engage the kids in a "teaching moment". Don't just call the penalty, explain it when its obvious that the kid just doesn't know the rule.
  • I'd like to see a league tournament. The kids (and coaches) work hard each season. Get in more play. Perhaps also an off-season tournament day?
  • Our games feel like they are just too short .... four 8-minute quarters. Would like to see longer.
  • As far as actual play .... this one might sound odd, but I'd like to see the beginning of each half start with a kick-off. The kids love kicking the ball. Inject some fun.

That's mine that I can think of off-hand... what else?

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I LOVE the idea of a kick-off. Along those lines, we have two first down markers (four downs to get to each one). When a team "punts", its virtual. i.e. the ball is moved to your opponents 10 yard line. I'd like to see actual punts. As you mentioned, the kids love kicking, and you would have no shortages of kids wanting to punt--and would add another skill to your team. You can even make it optional: punt the ball (and take your chances) or move the ball to the 10 yard line.

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I LOVE the idea of a kick-off. Along those lines, we have two first down markers (four downs to get to each one). When a team "punts", its virtual. i.e. the ball is moved to your opponents 10 yard line. I'd like to see actual punts. As you mentioned, the kids love kicking, and you would have no shortages of kids wanting to punt--and would add another skill to your team. You can even make it optional: punt the ball (and take your chances) or move the ball to the 10 yard line.

I wouldn't do it every time. Just kickoffs. There is too much risk of head injury in flag football with the kids diving for the ball. But if there was a way to safely manage it, why not? Perhaps on a punt, there is no return. The ball is placed where it hits the turf. While I'd love to see kickoffs and punts, there would have to be rules in place for safety.

On another topic, we only have three downs to get to the first down line. If we don't make it in three, we are forced to do a "virtual punt", which is the 4th down; i.e., a 15-yard step-off. We should at least have the option to "go for it" or have the 15-yard virtual punt.

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I love the fact we get to "go for it" (first downs). It really does add another element to the game. In our last play-off game (against the greatest team I've ever seen), I warned my DC that "I'm not punting in this game--we have nothing to lose." Of course once we ended up with fourth and 20 in our end of the field--I retracted. Ha!

I agree with the injury factor, and actually do like the idea to disallow players to return kicks/punts. I would like to see no returns. Wherever the ball comes to a stop (or goes out of bounds) that is the spot. If it goes into/past the end-zone, then the offense starts at the 10. In fact, although I did not denote that as something I'll request during my meeting--I will bring that up. We are 10-12 league, and most of the kids are capable of kicking/punting (and I imagine some could even 'coffin corner' punt).

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In one of our leagues, the teams can punt or throw the ball. The offensive players have to take a knee and they have to snap it to the kicker and they can kick it or throw it. If the other team catches it, the spot is where it is caught. If it is not caught, the ball is placed at the spot of touching the ground. You dont have the run back, but, you still have the fun of the kick.

This is a under 8 league and most kids cant really throw or kick that far. Last fall when we played, I never punted, but when our defense held theirs, we usually ended up with great field position.

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Several things I would like to see changed:

  • We play in an nfl flag league here in Texas. Great league, but I miss not being able to pitch the ball (all handoffs have to be direct handoffs). I'd love the opportunity to pitch it on the run or do lateral, hook and ladder plays etc. Just would make the game more fun I thik.
  • One big problem I've seen is coaches cheating. To the point where parents running the chains are intimidated to call a player on their team out of bounds when they clearly were out. Same for TD calls. I think this goeas along with taking the game way too seriously.
  • Lastly, coahes cheating by subbing in players on their teams who are not registered. I have seen this in at least 3 games I've coached. Last winter we played a team during the regular season and beat them 32-7. During the playoof the same team (who had lost all of their games), all of a sudden had a phenomenal player who I found out was not even registered on their team after the game. Unbelievable!!

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YMCA rec league K-1 (5,6,7)5 on 5.

1.) Elimination of "no run zone" at this level. Out of a 10 team league you might have 3 teams that can pass effectively and 2 that can attempt to pass. 1/2 the teams can not be expected to complete a pass in such a tight window. If it is not eliminated I would like to see a rule that would allow a team to take a 10 or 15 yard NO LOSS OF DOWN penalty to back them up out of the no-run zone. For Year End Tourney play, keep the NO RUN ZONE.

2.) NO LOSS OF DOWN on fumbled C/QB exchanges. See to many of these and honestly using the typical 1 hour of practice a week who wants to devout the amount of time necessary to eliminate these. Practicing C-QB exchanges is not fun for 5 and 6 year olds. The game should be as fun as possible to encourage participation.

3.) Rule knowledgeable referees, seriously the rules are 3 pages long. Also this goes for all youth sports, officials who hustle during the games to get into position to see the play. You are not an oak tree.

4.) Weekly communication/encouragement from league officials to coaches. The only time I here from the director shouldn't be the kickoff meeting. Build a program by engaging your coaches (VOLUNTEERS). Solicate feedback and provide encouragement.

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1. Tackling when it's obvious a player is going to score a touchdown. This has become a huge problem in our league. Coaches tell their players to tackle anyone who is on his way to the end-zone. Coaches have no problem intructing this because it only helps them.

We had one coach very bad about doing this for seasons. When it got to the point there were near scuffles by the opposing parents due to his team's style of play, the other coaches got together and had him banned from the league. I've attached a pic of a good example (my player being tackled and dragged to the ground while he was about to score a TD). I blurred the faces to respect the two players (the defender was simply doing what he had been coached to do).

This should be an ejection (IMO).

1.) It's dangerous. There is a reason why they put helmets on tackle football players and why we don't see rugby leagues for elementary aged children.

2.) It is not in the spirit of the rules...similar to a blatant handball in soccer (sorry to use a soccer reference) where a player would receive a red card.

3.) After the 1st offense the player/team should receive a warning. 2nd Offense ejection of the player and coach and a meeting between coach and director. If it is deemed the player was instructed to tackle....see you later coach, it is Texas after all and I'm sure there are plenty of tackle programs in need of an assistant.

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This should be an ejection (IMO).

Thanks for everyone's feedback thus far. I've still not met with the director, but plan to this week.

RoyalFlush: I agree with an ejection. The worst aspect of this is how blantant it can be. The one coach I mentioned would actually applaud his player after a 'desperation' tackle and scream out loud "That's what I'm talking about! Do what you gotta do. All day!. Some of his team's parents would even yell "Heads up play, Billy! Good penalty!" As I mentioned, at least the other coaches raised enough stink we were able to get him banned from the league--so the good guys eventually won, and hopefully it served as a message. However, there is still not an official 'rule' on it yet, which I'm hoping to get implemented: officials discretion if he wants to award TD or not.

Texas D: That is odd they don't allow you to pitch the ball. I wonder what the intent is for the rule? I'd say at least half of our running plays involves a pitch. They are even good for fakes. We have a formation where two players are a yard back from the LOS, flanking both sides of the QB. We'll pitch it left three out of five plays, and then run a play where we quickly fake the pitch to the left and then pitch it right to a speedy player. It's pretty simple, but I'm always amazed at how easy it is to condition a defense like that. They lean in the direction where we faked giving the ball-carrier a good 3-5 step start before the defense can retain their balance. It's also amazing that you have coaches subbing in ringers. While I know for a fact we've faced players that were older than our league allows (we don't check birth certificates) I'm not aware of seeing players who aren't even registered take the field. Wow!

RoyalFlush: I've never understood the "no run zone". I know what it is, just don't get it. Especially (as you mentioned) with younger kids--it can be difficult to pass/catch. I also agree with engaging the coaches. I think I'm fortunate with our league since they are always very open to coaches' suggestions. In fact, a lot of times if a coach proposes a rule, and the majority of the coaches agree to it, it is implemented.

George: I agree you guys should have a tournament. Ironically, I've heard rumors our league is considering doing away with our tournament due to the 'intesity' of some of the coaches when it comes to this. I will fight hard to keep our tournament, as my thinking is just because some coaches cannot handle themselves properly does not mean everyone else has to suffer. Also 8-minute quarters does seem too short. We play 12-minute quarters, which I assume is pretty standard.

Thanks again for everyone's feedback. I'd like to hear more!

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I'm involved in two leagues, a 5 on 5 NFL league and a 7 on 7 park league. Here are some comments:

1. With regard to both leagues I would like to see better fellowship between the coaches before and after games. It sets a good example for the kids and would promote better relationships in the leagues. A lot of us coach year after year but don't know each other. We played in the league championship last year and I thought about inviting the other team to our party (whether we won or lost) but I didn't do it. If we are in that position again, I'm thinking of trying to do that. I know the kids would get along great. I would feel more comfortable about it if the other coaches weren't strangers.

I also think the leagues should try to emphasize more kids getting the ball, as opposed to just saying kids will play. In both my leagues most teams get the ball to two or three guys tops. It has to be emphasized by the leagues since many coaches will do whatever they think it takes to win or don't know any better.

2. With regard to the 5 on 5 league I would change our rules so we can pitch the ball and so we could have passes completed behind the line of scrimmage. We have a rule where no pass can be completed unless it is beyond the line of scrimmage. We lost at least 5 really good plays where the officials called this on us and we lost out on a good result. I don't see any sense in the rule at all. I like the idea of kicking with ball spotted at the catch or where it bounces. Currently we don't have kicks in 5 on 5. Finally, I would like to see us able to go for it on 4th down and if you don't make it the other team gets the ball at that spot rather than them having to start on offense at the 5 yard line.

3. With regard to the 7 on 7 league, we have punting and kickoffs. However, we also have returns. I always instruct my kickers to kick out of bounds because a returner at this age (7-9) is too dangerous to try and contain if he has a 10 yard or so headstart before we can get to him. At the end of our year last year one parent asked me why we always kicked out of bounds and I said "you didn't see any touchdowns against us on returns, right?" I like the idea of kicks and punts but with no returns. My guys are a little frustrated with kicking out of bounds but they got less frustrated as they saw other teams get burned on this and after we returned some kicks.

4. Tackling: I would really go hard after the league director to get this banned. It is dangerous to kids with no pads and helmets. I agree with the ejection and give them a touchdown penalty ideas. A league could get sued if someone really got hurt and the league was seen as winking at that sort of thing. It's also terrible sportsmanship.

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I'd agree with getting rid of the no-run zone. It's just confusing to everyone. The refs don't always know where it is; the coaches don't; and the kids don't understand why they have a no-run zone, but the Dallas Cowboys (or other pro and college) don't have one.

We haven't seen the egregious tackling that y'all describe. However, we do have the defense get in front of the runner and pull both flags. This can look like a tackle if the runner doesn't juke out of the way. In basketball parlance, the defense takes a charge.

I can't imagine an offensive playbook without pitching. I can't see any risk as long as it is behind the line of scrimmage.

The kicking discussion here is interesting. With the proper safety rules, clearly, kicking and punting could be implemented. It might even be fun to include field goals (with a smaller goal), but maybe only in a tournament.

A rule that I'd like to see changed is the definition of a touchdown. In our YMCA league the kid's foot has to cross the goal line. I've seen many times where the kid stretches the ball to cross the goal line. It's what the kid has learned and seen on TV. So change the rule and give him/her the TD for the effort.

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However, we do have the defense get in front of the runner and pull both flags. This can look like a tackle if the runner doesn't juke out of the way.

This is type of clean, physical football I like to see. We see a lot of teams do this. Of course I tell my players to just keep running (but don't drop a shoulder). This usually plays itself out among the individual players and how physical they want to be--but again within the rules.

We also have a lot of "pull-and-grabs". I've attached a pic I found where this happened. Ironically, I know the defender grabbing my player in this picture. He's a great kid. My own son tried this technique a few years ago, and I nipped it pretty quickly. I think kids will try to do what they can until coached otherwise. :-) Coach long enough and you will see many players get "pantsed" (as my players call it). I can forgive a coach for allowing this, just not the full on diving for the legs or horse collar tackle.

Also agree that when the ball crosses the line before flag pull--that is a TD. I believe you coach in Texas, so certainly your league should know that all-level football rule. :-)

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Coach long enough and you will see many players get "pantsed" (as my players call it). I can forgive a coach for allowing this, just not the full on diving for the legs or horse collar tackle.

One of my first posts in this forum was about one of my kids who got full-on pantsed ... tidy-whities pointing to the sky. He hopped up, pulled up his pants, and laughed all the way back to the huddle. Of course that was on top of his nice 20-yard gain. We've taught our kids to rake their hands down and pull the flag, but its ok if you end up with the belt or the kids pants. Just no full-arm tackling.

On another topic, I've got two kids who are pretty aggressive about trying to strip the ball from the runner while on defense. Neither has actually done it yet, but they are trying. I'm not sure how the refs would call it if they actually pulled the ball free.

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One thing I'd change is the ball touches. Don't know how, but I'd require someone to track it on each team plus have the refs remind the coaches before the game and at half-time. Wouldn't want to get all legalistic, but I think this is the great equalizer in rec flag football leagues. It's too tempting to allow your "core group" to get more touches if a game is close. Similar to the topic Schann brought up about using all players during crucial moments of a game.

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One thing I'd change is the ball touches. Don't know how, but I'd require someone to track it on each team plus have the refs remind the coaches before the game and at half-time.

Rob, this is probably the biggest issue in rec ball. You know how I combat this? I'll make veiled comments on the field. If I see a coach giving it to his best player(s) early in the game, I'll start shouting to my defense (so that the coach and all parents can hear) something like "Watch #9! They like giving it to him a lot!" If there is a player on the other team I know who has not been involved, I'll say something like, "Noah--when are they going to give you the ball?" I think that pointing it out publicly like this allows you to say to the parents "Why is your coach giving it to his best player over and over and just using your kids to run dummy routes?"

Only once (this past season) have I had someone respond. After a team gave it to their best player five out their first six plays I said "Watch #11--we now know who their guy is." One of the parents said, "We have lot's of 'guys' on our team." I responded, "I'm sorry--I did not mean any disrepect. It's just that he's getting the ball on almost every play so want my players to be ready for it." That player then got the ball the next two plays I could see those parents actually became a little embarrassed at their coach. They probably never thought much of it before---but seeing that someone else notices it, and does not play that way, probably put things into perspective for them.

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