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7On7 4Th Grade (Already Thinking About Next Year)

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I clearly have been bitten by the coaching bug, something spun me off this week thinking about coaching flag football (i think it was that I am doing some assisting in my Son's BB team). (rules of my league for those that didn't read my previous thread, QB can run, defense can Rush after 5 seconds, center cannot take handoffs, but is eligible as a receiver. Offense must line up with 4 on line of scrimmage no more/no less)

At any rate my thoughts/questions are below:

1. Kids will be older (4th grade). Thinking I might be able to increase complexity of offense a bit (few more plays, couple different formation looks).

This year only used one formation all year, as I really wanted to focus on alot of little things, and really the formation I use fits most of my needs, although in thinking about it I would love to include a 'trips' type formation:


My BASE formation (i ran this as sole formation all of last year with some good success):





What I would like to include as a Secondary Formation:





Which in reality I am just moving the FB spot to a receiver spot, wondering if it would be better to try to teach motion and maintain the single formation? It would also be nice to swap formations to have the TE on the Left side of the center, but that's a nice to have not a necessity and certainly don't want to over complicate the offense so that they struggle to line up in their correct spot.

Of course another alternative is to teach one kid that his spot is to line up in the FB spot, but when I want to go to a 'trips' set to swap out personnel, but that might start messing with my substitution packages.

Also thinking about naming terminology, all of my run plays are named after Superhero's and video game characters, was thinking of using something like: Wii, Playstation, and XBox, as formation names. Only drawback of course is the scalability, so also considering Junk Food for the formation names.

2. Naturally I don't have to teach them all at once, but presumably I will get some kids back that I coached this year and after a quick refresher should come back to them relatively quickly. One difference to next year though is that I won't be able to be in the huddle, which I plan to solve by re-using the wristbands as of last year, and just replace the top page on the QB's of what play to call in the huddle, as all of the individual responsibilities were all called out last year (with great success) and all of the positions are defined as 'colors' and not what they actually are (wristbands I have are all color coded as well in case they forget).

So essentially play call might look something like:

(formation or motion call whichever I decide) Red 7, green 1, Yellow 6, Blue Sonic, Silver 9, Orange 9 (Blue Circle will be at the end indicating who is getting the ball)

Each wristband that the players have will have a diagram describing what their role is (numbers are Route tree, Sonic is a run play) so they essentially would listen to the part they care about (the part right after their color is called) and can reference the play chart for what their responsibility is. Not too difficult for the QB either as all they will have to watch for is me holding up something that says (21), reference that 21 is the play we are running and read off the play, which of course I can change between games or at halftime to have different set of numbers associated to the plays if I am worried about the other team picking up my play call.

Thoughts around improvements for efficiency/ easier understanding?

3. The rules of the flag football league I am in allow for essentially basketball screen type blocking, defense is allowed to push blockers (within reason) basically at the shoulder level. I didn't spend much time at all covering this during this year as I had a lot of other things I wanted them to get right (handoffs, snaps, route running, where to line up etc). Also seeing how often that the players run into each other if they aren't given a task or weren't exactly sure what to do (our own players essentially tackle our runner), I felt it was best to give them a receiving assignment that might drag defenders away, especially on the teams playing man-man defense against us, and if they weren't accounting for the receivers I would do a pass play to a wide open receiver.

Curious how much time others spend on coaching up Blocking, and what do you typically teach around block shedding, without getting your kids too aggressive where it is detrimental to the sportsmanship/fun of the game.

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Love it. You're going to do great, especially with the enthusiasm you already have now. One question that would help answer some of your concerns about formations and not wanting to complicate things for the kids...how many kids are on your team? Just trying to get a feel for the number of subs, etc.

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This year i had 13 kids when I started and had one quit, so I would expect similar numbers next year (around 12).

Typically with the substitutions I would have 1/2 play offense, 1/2 play defense and swap at halftime (with a couple kids playing each way on one half).

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Sounds good, little nervous about teaching motion to 4th graders but seems like the less confusing way to go.

Mostly will keep the exact same playbook in the motion formation, although I suspect a quick pass to the FB after he has motioned (screen pass like) would be successful following a motion.

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My latest obsession on thoughts has been on play calling terminology. I like my current system around compartmentalizing the roles and responsibilities of each player in that it allows me to be flexible around changing the offense withouth having to change everything, I also like my naming convention (superheros for run plays, numbers for passing plays). With next year being my first calling plays from the sidelines though I wonder if rather than signaling the play to the QB who then repeats the play to the other plays in the huddle:


(formation or motion call whichever I decide) Red 7, green 1, Yellow 6, Blue Sonic, Silver 9, Orange 9 (Blue Circle will be at the end indicating who is getting the ball)

If it would be better to signal in the play, have all of the players see my signal, reference the play assignment on their wristband (I already have purchased from last season individual wristbands for all of the players).

IE: as a crude example if I was using numbers as my signal, could hold up the number "10", On each wristband the players would reference and only be presented with their role, ie in above example, 'Red' Player would see 10 correspond to '7', which he can then reference as a mini diagram as to what route that is if he forgot. The 'Green' player would see 10 correspond to '1' and on down the line.

This would allow for the positives of:

1. Being able to run no-huddle in practice for increased effeciency/more reps. (I can't run a no-huddle in game as the rules do not permit it).

2. Increased effeciency getting out of the huddle faster.

3. Less information to confuse the players.

4. Receivers running routes won't know if we are doing pass plays or run plays, which should discourage them getting off of their assignment and trying to block or standing around when they are supposed to be running a pass route to pull defender from the area.

5. Less practice time needed to practice huddling, and QB calling plays/ Less of a task to get multiple Quarterbacks Game Ready (potential to get more players rotation at QB).

Negatives of course are:

1. Potential for players to get confused if I implement the system wrong.

2. If players don't know if its pass or run they may instead of taking less plays off, may take more plays off.

3. More time managing the wristbands as each one would have to be individually customized for each position.

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I like calling in the play from sideline and having QB repeat in huddle. It's more realistic to what real football is like. It also allows the QB to emphasize the blue circle player getting ball so there's no confusion on who the primary is on each play. It sounds like the wristbands would be customized/color coded for each of the 7 potential tasks each down. The cool part about that is you can switch up the wristbands once in a while if one is more oriented towards the run than pass type thing.

I think the biggest challenge will be for the QB, since you're not in the huddle reminding them to "sell the fake" or "look left first then pass right". If the wristband for the QB had keywords to remind them of things like that, it would probably help. Not much room I imagine.

What would be kind of fun is if you could get your QB to do some Peyton Manning audibles that mean nothing. Your team knows it means nothing, but the defense would sure be trying to figure it out. We used to do that and yell out things like, "Pizza! Pizza! No delivery, no delivery!" or "Blackjet 55, Blackjet 55!" I'd even get my QB looking at specific players that weren't the "blue circle" when they said things to make the defense think they had something to do with the play. You'd hear the defense say, "Watch # 22" after my QB said something to them.

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Might be easier if I attach a PDF of a working copy of what I am talking about. Its not complete nor refined, but should serve to better illustrate what I am thinking.

Essentially from the Sideline I would be holding up 2x pictures (with Names printed out below), they will know ahead of time whether the live play will be picture 1 or picture 2 (to avoid opponent picking up on the play call), or I will simply call the name of the play as I send a player into the huddle.

So for example: I send in the 'Bowser' play,

Purple/(QB) looks and sees Bowser (circle with color of who is getting the ball)

Silver(FB) looks at his wristband and would also see 'Bowser' and he has a diagram of his portion of the play.

Red(WR) looks and sees Bowser References 9, which he has a Passing route to run

Green(center) looks and sees Bowser references 3 also a passing route

and on down the line.

In terms of Size, each Square represents each page on the wristband and there are 3 pages on each wristband, so there would be 2 pages of play diagrams and 1 page of the 'Key' to tell them what play it would be.

With my alphabet scheme of calling plays that 'limits' me to 26 plays in my gameplan at a given time, but could rotate them at halftime or between games or whatever, 26 plays/variations of plays seems more than adequate.

And to Rob's point yes I think there is room for small notes for the play, but definitely would have to be concise, also you are correct in that each wristband is a different color that matches the position that they are assigned. My thoughts around the QB repeating the play call, I agree with you that its more realistic to how they are likely to play in the future, but with the short practice time between games I want to try really focus on the stuff that they really need to know and not so much about, where they are lining up in the huddle and how to receive the play from the QB etc. Plus there is the time factor of getting in/out of the huddle. I was able to call plays pretty quickly this year in the huddle going down the line telling each kid their assignment, but with my play calling scheme (while simple for them to grasp) has a lot of verbiage and takes some time for a 9 year old to read/speak it.

I do like your idea about fake calls, the kids might have a lot of fun with that.

I definitely don't want to make the play calling to tedious or too confusing, the easier it is for the kids to grasp the plays, the less time I have to spend on that. So please keep the feedback coming.

flag football playbook.pdf

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Hopefully everyone isn't tired of me posting yet heh, but had another thought around my Formation/motion decision.

Had been doing some reading somewhere that Joe Gibbs when he was coaching Semi Pro had a system in which he had assigned each part of the field from Left to right across the line of scrimmage a number (1-9), and essentially had a formation system in which he would have a base formation/and anyone he wanted to motion or align differently he would call the letter of their Position (XYZHF) the number where they will start to align, and then the number they will motion too.

Seems fairly simple, although a tad complex for 4th graders, given that I am already numbering my route assignments, numbers seems like a bad way to go, but I could theoretically use letters and assign A-I prior to giving out the assignment on the playsheet.

In other words when I call play and they reference wristband it might display as: A-3 Meaning they line up in spot A and do a 3 route.

This would do the following:

1. Give players a point of reference on where they are supposed to line up, and given that I won't be able to be on the field with them that is a good thing.

2. Give me unbelievable flexibility in creating a wide variety of formations without adding much in the way of difficulty for the players.

I could of course be getting too creative for my own good, and adding another layer of complexity could make it even harder to pull off. I suppose if I have some players that flat out don't get it, I can more or less just keep their position static while moving some of the other players around? In testing it with some kids at the park they seemed to grasp the concept pretty quickly, maybe if I keep a cheat reference on the wristband it won't be overly complex? Naturally if I did this I wouldn't start doing motion unless/until I saw the players had this down pat, in which case I could change it on their wristband to something like:

A=>H - 3

with a reference on QB wristband that says "Motion (Color of player to go in motion), so that before he gets set for his cadence he can simply call out "(Color) Motion".


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