Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays
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Gilbert Bears

Flag Pulling

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Hey I could use some help with some flag pulling ideas. My defense has been doing pretty well with swarming to the ball and being in their proper zone but the flag pulling is been a bit rough. We do flag pulling drills and they do good with them but come game time it seems like they have forgot how to pull.

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The main thing I stress is using 2 hands and wrapping up, almost like tackling, plus we get the kids focused on the belt, not just the flags, as our belt comes off, so we rake down the waist grabbing the belt.

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Also, the ballcarrier must be stopped or at least slowed down. We practice getting your body in front of the ballcarrier and forcing him to stop, go backwards or east-west. Sometimes I would run the gauntlet flag pulling drill but without flags. Teach the defender to position himself and slide back and forth to prevent/ slow the ballcarrier from going north-south.

What you are doing by slowing the ballcarrier down is giving yourself more time to swarm and have chances to pulll flags.

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Age group?

Good suggestions from the others above. Remind them constantly to focus on the belt, not the head, legs or feet of the RB. Another thing that helped us over the years is provide an incentive for flag pulls. Try going to a few local pizza shops and ask them if they'll give you some coupons for a slice or two of pizza. They win b/c the family comes in with the coupon and if your spread that around the pizza place gets more biz. We'd have a parent track the flag pulls and hand out the certs for most flag pulls in a game.

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I have 2 teams one is 7-8 & the other 9-11. I had practice tonight and more then half the practice did nothing but flag drills, concentrating on having them get in front of the carrier and having them shuffle side to side to stay in front of the ball carrier. Also I can't tell you how many times I have enforced them watching the belly button or the flag. They do great on drills but once it comes to 5 on 5 they ignore everything from the drills. We have been doing the drills for 3 or 4 practices. Any more ideas?

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Remind the kids during the games about flag pulling.I'll never forget I had a team who never missed any pulls because we stressed how important it was during/after practice then before/during/after games.They really need to know how important it is.That is a huge key.Constantly reminding them.Remember those kids are young so it needs to be a constant reminder to them.

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In 1 on 1 flag drills I sometimes tell a kid that likes to reach or dive at ball carriers that he isnt allowed to pull a flag, i'll make him put his hands on his side and slow the runner down by getting in front of him.

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I had 6-8 year olds. I offered a Starburst for every flag pulled. At the end of the game the kids did not even care about the score. They just wanted their Starburst. Pulls went way up.

Will

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We teach to grab the flag as high as possible and not to reach, step to the flag. We played a game in the rain, last year, and we had a lot fewer flags slip out than the other team because we were grabbing higher.

We are going to grease up our flags for practice tonight....should be interesting...

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I alway stress - get in front of the runner FIRST. Then pull the flag. Getting in their way makes them slow down or even stop. Don't whiff as they run by. Mirror their position on the field and when they slow/stop, get that flag.

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We also found one of the most important factors is getting in front of the runner and using both hands. We'll even teach our kids to attempt to pull both flags. This gives them a better chance to get a flag. There is a good article here on pulling flags - how to pull a flag in flag football.

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When coaching my 6-8 year olds, I realized that many of them would be in place to make a flag grab, but the flag would seem to slip right through their hands. I attributed this to their lack of hand-eye coordination, due to their young age. Concentrate on drills at practice that not only teach them to swarm, but give them the repetitions of actually grabbing the flag. Put them all in a 10 by 10 square and make one of the them the only flag puller, while everyone else runs around juking/spinning etc. Make it a competition by seeing how many flags each person can pull in 60 seconds. There are other some other specific exercises that can be done to specifically hand-eye coordination without the flags. Not that I required the whole team to do this, but I had my son practice grabbing racquetballs in several different fashions, and I swear that his flag grabbing improved immensely.

And of course, you could always put your kids in a fenced in yard and have them chase chickens (cue the Rocky Theme) hehe.

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