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jephil0

5-7 Year Old 5 V 5 Flag Brand New (Football) Coach!

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Hey everyone,

I am looking for any and all advice I can get on coaching this team. The short version of things is that I am an experienced Little Kickers/U6 Soccer coach but have never coached football before. 6 of my 9 players have never played football before, and seem to have NO IDEA what is going to happen in our first game this Saturday.

I've been reading the forums for some time now, and tried to to put some of what I learned into effect in our first two practices. My team has a very slim grasp of the two plays I was able to teach them. One running, one passing. Most of my first practice was spent trying to teach them the most basic parts of the game (passing, catching, hand-offs, line of scrimmage, touchdowns).

For the second practice, we spent most of the time trying to teach them the two plays and some basic defense.

Honestly, it was my intent to be an assistant coach, but in typical YMCA fashion, by virtue of saying I would help, I ended up stuck with my own team. To be honest, I am not a "football guy," so this is kind of a problem. Two of the parents have stepped up to help coach, but generally speaking, we need all the help we can get.

If you have advice on practice plans, particularly with the idea of teaching basic skills to kids with NO football experience AT ALL (they have never heard of Peyton or Eli Manning, or Joe Montana, for example) that can also be entertaining/useful for my three experienced players, I would love to hear it!

Also, I need some plays for these novice kids. So far, they are unable to grasp the concept of fakes, and barely can manage to run routes.

Thanks very much for any help you can give me!

Jonathan

p.s. This is NFL Flag, so we can send a rusher from 7 yards back, quarterback cannot run, no blocking allowed, and the center must put the ball between his legs to the quarterback (no handoffs or pitches).

p.p.s. Please keep in mind that by virtue of not being into football, I need pretty simple explanations myself! (minimal jargon/abbreviations, in other words).

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Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

First off congrats on the job coach!

The good news is you found the wealth of information on the forums and you already have assistants which means you are well ahead of the game.

I would start off carefully reading this thread there is tons of good information around structuring practice and keeping the attention of 5-7 year olds.

http://www.y-coach.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=2836

In terms of plays what whiskey.alpha mentions in that thread is pure gold:

7. On offense, keep things simple and make sure each kid has something to focus on. I've found it's hard for kids their age to visualize plays, and it's twice as hard for them to visualize plays if they're required to know them at multiple positions. It can be done, but we only practice 1 hour each week and I don't waste time trying. Consequently, I don't coach my kids to know plays. I coach them to be coachable on the field and in the huddle. The kids do this by memorizing 2 running routes and 5 points on the field relative to the LOS ("A, B, C, little A, little C"). That's it. That's the offense. I line the kids up and whisper each boy's route assignment into his ear. "Johnny -- run to A." "Billy -- run to C, then B." "Sammy - run dive 1 and take the handoff." The result is, when the ball is snapped, a visually complex play HAPPENS, although no one kid actually knows the "play." This allows us to orchestrate complex plays on the fly and confuse the holy ###### out of 5-7 year olds playing defense. It also gives me the freedom to rotate positions freely since "run to A" is easy to do from anywhere on the field. Feel free to disagree with this.

Try to keep things as simple as possible, only give them the information that they need and nothing more. Most aren't going to know the positions, so don't bother teaching it to them, just use colors to identify, have all of your plays color coded so if you show them the play they only have to worry about their "color".

Try to keep things fun, even the play terminology, I like to use video game characters and super heros to name my play assignments, as they are going to remember "spiderman" better than "end around". Don't waste time putting in a bunch of formations, just figure out where you want them to line up and stick with it. I wouldn't worry about getting too fancy about your plays, just stick with teaching them some basic running style plays, ie: end around, Dive. If they start to grasp those really well you can get more creative and throw in a reverse or something. The goal should be though that you can have a play where each kid can get the ball without having to move to a different position (which is one reason I really like end arounds).

As far as practices go, try to maximize your time, try not to let them stand around, waiting in lines is wasted time and you will quickly lose their attention. I don't spend a lot of time 'lecturing' I usually show them something then try to have them do it, most kids that age learn a lot better visually and doing it than they do by just listening to coach talk. If you can get your drills working in such a way where you can work on multiple things all of the better.

One of my favorite drills is essentially the 1 on 1 drill, where one kid is running the ball and another kid pulls his flag, its in a 10 yard by 5 yard rectangle. Defensive player wins if he gets the offensive player to stop, step out of bounds, or pulls his flag. I slowly expand this drill to a different player handing off to the runner, and then further to a player snapping to QB to hand off to running back. Essentially I have 4 players actively doing something in a drill instead of standing in line, and helps maximize their reps. I usually introduce my running plays in this manner, ie a single dive play the Runner is lining up behind the QB, whereas if I am introducing an end around the runner lines up in the wide receiver spot. You could even engage a 5th player if the play is designed to fake to one player and hand off to another.

Keep drills short, you will lose their attention if you keep them doing something longer than 10 minutes, and make sure to throw in some fun drills. a game of tag in a small area where 1-2 players are "it" and some of the ones that aren't it are carrying footballs, does a lot for helping getting them comfortable pulling flags. Another great one is Sharks and Minnows, which is the drill i would typically end up saving for end of practice as an extra motivation to get through a drill they didn't find quite as much fun.

Keep it light, have fun, and continue to read through the forums, tons of useful information here.

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Thanks for the reply! By some miracle, we won our game today! 14 to 12.

Things I noticed--we didn't have a single successful pass play. From this forum, I expected that, but it was interesting to see that you guys were definitely correct. Also, it was hard to get the kids to run their routes/do anything if they weren't the ball carrier/intended receiver on the play.

One thing that I did earlier in the week which may have helped--i sent the parents a link to a youtube video of similar aged kids playing flag football, and asked them to show it to the kids so they could get an idea of what would happen in the games. I'm going to be reading over the links you gave me.

Any other advice is always appreciated!

Jonathan

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Grats on the win! Were you able to get each kid at-least one touch, and did they have fun?

I definitely also ran into problems having them running routes when they new they weren't getting the ball. I did try explaining to them briefly why it was important for them to do their assignment (helps keep the defender away from the runner) and if they help their team mate out their team mate will help them out when they get the ball and they will be able to run farther. Seemed to help some in my case.

Ya passing at that age is difficult, putting it mildly, but not impossible. If you get time to work in a new play the center drag/QB running parallel along side. While a little difficult for them to grasp at first, is a good solid pass play that is made on the run and is pretty successful. Essentially after the center snaps the ball he takes a couple steps forward then turns right along the line of scrimage, the QB takes a couple steps back and runs parallel to the center, the pass is more of a mere toss to the center rather than a throw, but its an easy throw/easy catch, and because its on the run kids at that age have a hard time covering it (usually the defender will just trail behind). But essentially any pass plays beyond that you try initially should be short pass plays, start off with something similar to a Slant and a drag route and build off of that, short easy passes as a change of pace, but the reality of it is most of your offense is going to be running the ball.

I have some problems getting the kids to run the depth of the route that I want, what I intend to be a 3 yard route, they run in the right pattern, but its suddenly 15 yards down field :), which only way I was able to cope with that was just repetition.

Keep at it, definitely seems you are on the right path.

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I will have to check my stats. I had one of the mom's keep track of ball touches, etc.. I think a few of them got less time than the others; however, I did go ahead and address that at the end of the game, letting them know that I was aware of it and we would make sure to get them more time in the next game.

That said, I got MOST of them some good opportunities to run with the ball (not that they were able to capitalize on those, but, we tried!).

My favorite play of the game: One of my players is visually one of the weaker ones. He's one of the bigger kids, but he is over-weight, and definitely an introvert. He plays a lot of video games (he relates everything to video games in practice. "Are we going to battle another team?" Etc.). That said, he is also faster than he looks. Not one of the fastest on my team, but faster than you would expect him to be. We put him as ball carrier, ran our end around play, and it took the other team *completely* by surprise. He ran the length of the field for the touchdown.

What made it extra great was that he has divorced parents, and his dad had been very difficult as far as letting him come to the game. He told me at practice that he didn't know if he could play football (meaning at the game) because his dad sent a mean text, and then wouldn't answer, etc. He apparently had to really be insistent that he wanted to come to the game (and dad dropped him off and didn't stay for it--only mom was there). Pretty gutsy for a six year old. Anyway, I loved seeing it, because he surprised himself, and did better than he thought that he could do--seeing kids do that is always my favorite part of coaching.

And I'm hoping that dad is kicking himself for missing it, too. And if he's not--he should be.

Thanks again for the advice! I will keep reading up on the stuff here and let you all know how it is going.

Jonathan

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Will do! I'm going to be switching to the "run to A..." method this coming practice. Having the one game definitely showed me the value of having them be "coachable" from any position during the game. Now that I have a feel for how the games "flow" for this age group, I'm going to pre-plan my plays to make sure that everyone gets some time with the ball as well (I know I'll have to be flexible on this one...).

I'll let you know how it goes!

Jonathan

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Definitely not as easy as it sounds to get everyone a touch game day. Don't let up on the exchanges (handoffs center exchange) in practice, the one time you think they got it and let it slide you have 6 missed hand offs, which is 6 times where someone could have gotten someone a touch.

Pre-planning is definitely a good way to go, I typically have scripted ahead of time the first 10 or so plays that I am going to run, and have a couple "money" plays in reserve for 3rd down.

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Congrats on the football coaching gig. Some great points by macvolcan already. Sounds like you started off doing the right thing by tracking touches and being proactive about it. Definitely tough to make all things equal out there every game, but making it up the next game is the way to go.

I've found the simple things go a long way at this age, especially with younger players with little to no experience.

-Instructing players with the ball to run north/south. Running hard and fast towards the end zone works a lot better than running sideways or reversing field several times. Usually if you can get by one or two kids, you can get a nice gain.

-Instructing players to not look down until you hear the whistle. Kids have a tendency to look down to see if their flag was pulled. Running drills to get them used to feeling someone scraping for the flag is good.

-Teaching them what a fake looks like, this will pay off in spades. Rolling the shoulder, not looking back at the QB or the play.

-Getting them used to looking at the belly button when pulling flags so they don't get faked out.

-Teaching your team to swarm the runner - like a hive of angry bees.

Keep us up to date!

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Thanks for the kind words and the advice. We won our second game 28 to 24 (each team got four touchdowns--we prevented them from getting the extra point; however, we went for two every time and made it twice).

Here's what I noticed--Our kids HAD the other team. Our defense was killing them...except we couldn't get the flags pulled (this resolved itself somewhat in the second half, but we still gave up 4 touchdowns we shouldn't have). If you have specific advice for getting those flags pulled, I would love to hear it!

Also, I have a lazy player. He quits drills halfway through, doesn't listen, doesn't hustle, etc. His mother tries to get him to participate more from the sidelines, also to no avail. To be frank, doesn't sound like he probably has a very good home life. His mom told my wife at our last practice, "He's fat! He's lazy, and all he wants to do is eat frosties!" I have also never seen or heard mention of a dad. Of course, I *could* plan my practices/games "around" him, trying to minimize the damage caused by his lack of contribution, but...I'm a glutton for punishment. I really want to see him step up and surprise himself and develop some self-confidence and work ethic. (A tall order, I know). Anyway, any advice on reaching this kid is appreciated.

Finally, our game this Saturday is against the best team in our league (the Colts). The other coaches in the league hate this team/coach, because they run the score up and leave their opponents with the feeling of "going through the motions." The coach I played against this past Saturday thanked me for our good sportsmanship and then told me all about his experience with them the week before, which pretty much held up to their bad reputation. So, if you have advice on playing against this team, I would love to hear it. I have a personal interest in this game because my son's best friend is on the Colts, and one of his team-mates from his basketball team is also on the Colts. So, I don't want any bad feelings to develop over the game (probably won't happen--kids are pretty resilient, but still). Second, my soccer team has really taken a beating this year, and it's really demoralizing for the kids. Since 6 of my 9 have never played before, I want them to have a good time playing (even though I don't expect us to win).

So, here's what I know about them. By virtue of our sons being on the same basketball team, the coach of the Colts told me all about his team. I didn't know I was going to be coaching at that time, so I don't feel too bad about having the inside scoop now. :D Anyway, he runs a 2-3 zone defense. He has a pair of twins on the team--one of whom can throw, and one of whom can catch. This team got together playing Upward Flag Football, then played again for the YMCA, and are now playing together again (our current league is a YMCA league). So this is their third season together. This is the only team in the league that is a passing team. They actually call numbered plays, which the team has memorized. The director of our league is coaching a team for the next age group up. His comment--"The Colts could beat *my* team."

My players have never seen a successful pass play, and are currently having trouble stripping flags. So far, they haven't been able to execute a pass play either. I have great receivers in practice. In the games, they can't catch for anything. Anyway, I'll take all the help I can get! I don't expect to win, but I would like it if we didn't get blown out.

Sorry for the long post. To recap:

1. My players need to be better at pulling flags. They run the player down, but can't get the flag.

2. I have a problem player. How do I reach him?

3. We are facing a very experienced team that is also capable of passing the ball, which my team have never experienced. Advice on defeating a 2-3 zone defense, is also appreciated.

Thanks!

Jonathan

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Oh, and in practice we've been doing the swarm drill from the start--they haven't so far translated that into what we do in a game. I also made "lanes" out of cones, and had a runner try to get by two defenders in his lane. This helped with them running the guy down, but they couldn't get the flags in the games.

J.

p.s. I have been reading in the defense forums, so I thought I should point out that the Colts routinely do double reverses in their practices (I have been able to see about half of a couple of them). Very complex stuff for the 5 to 7 year old age group.

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Good stuff!

Around the improving flag pulling. All I can say is continue to practice it, couple drills I really like doing:
1. Tag drill, 10 yard square with 2 kids as 'it', as soon as someones flag is pulled they are out, if they run out of bounds they are out. Last two to get 'tagged' are it next round.

2. Sharks/Minnows, around a 30x30 yard square 1 kid starts off as the Shark' and is in middle of field, rest of kids on the side are the 'minnows' as they run from one side to the other the 'shark' has to pull as many flags as he can, anyone he 'gets' is now a shark. Eventually you run back and forth and everyone slowly becomes a shark. Last one whos flag is pulled is first shark for next game.

these two have the added benifit of being fun drills, (without a doubt the favorite drills of the kids last year) as well as getting them more comfortable with pulling flags. Another note is that if you have the type of belts where you can grab the belt as well as the flag, definetly teach them to go for the belt if they can't get the flag.

3. the 3rd drill I like is the 10x5 yard 1-1 drill. I have 1 defender on one side, and a runner on the other (usually I take it to the point of having one kid snap the ball to the QB, and QB hands off to runner, so I am simultaneously working on exchanges). Defenders goal is to either stop the runner by getting in front of him, get him to run out of bounds, or to pull his flag before he goes by.

This drill isn't as much 'fun' as the other two but great for focusing on getting a lot of kids involved in the same drill and working on a lot of different things on a smaller scale than Scrimmage. Also great for getting more kids exposure to different positions (QB/Center/runner), and practicing plays quickly.

The reason I give the defender credit for getting the runner to stop is for same reason you are working on swarming, and they play well with each other.

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Around facing the team that runs up the score, first off don't put too much pressure on yourself to win. Do what you can to prepare for the game, but if it starts getting ugly, utilize it as great time to spread the ball around. Emphasize to your team to ignore the scoreboard and if they play their hearts out and everyone gets the ball, that in your eyes thats a win.

You could even come up with an alternative goal, I think there was a post somewhere by Coach Rob that talks about one of his basketball teams he coached in which he told them that if they passed 100 times in a game that they would get a special prize. On the scoreboard they got creamed, but when they hit that 100x passes you would think they just won the championship.

Strategy wise, generally with Zones, the strength of course is that all of the players are watching the QB and can react faster, this of course can work against them if you get them used to seeing one thing then do misdirection to another. If you do an end around or a reverse, what may have a lot of success is a fake handoff around the reverse/endaround. I like these a lot better than a double reverse, which in my mind is the coach getting a little too fancy for his own good. I would spend some time in practice showing them what a reverse might look like, and to have the rusher and the defenders in the middle being more aggressive and the guys on the outside 'containing' and trying to push the play inside where he has help.

There is only so much you can get done in a couple practices, and I am sure I am giving you plenty to consider before your next game, but another thing that could help is to spend a bit more time teaching them to react to plays, get them to try to communicate, yell 'pass', 'run', 'reverse' as they see it, attack against the run, back pedal and watch QB eyes on pass. (also kind of fits into the 'swarming' drill.)

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Around the 'lazy' player, couple thoughts come to mind.

1. I would talk to him and find out if he is enjoying anything about what you are doing. Not every kid is going to like football, and if he is having a miserable experience it may be time to have a serious discussion with his Mom about whether he should continue or not.

2. If there are some things he enjoys, perhaps there is a way to work him into your gameplan where he can contribute without worrying if he is going to take every play off. Center comes to mind, granted it limits what you can do with the position, but if he knows how critical his position is, and how important it is for him to get the snap off correctly (even if he doesn't run anywhere else) he is doing something he can take pride in, while at the same time not having to run all over the place (which may be what is discouraging him).

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If you have specific advice for getting those flags pulled, I would love to hear it!

It's tough with limited time in practice, but the more you practice, the better they will get. Carve out a good chunk of time for flag pulling this next practice. Maybe see if you can start 20 minutes earlier. You could also offer a "prize" if the entire team gets X amount of flag pulls in your next game. If you have a local pizza or ice cream shop, see if they'd be willing to give you some coupons for a free slice or cone. Great way to get them more biz and get your kids some incentive.

Also, I have a lazy player. He quits drills halfway through, doesn't listen, doesn't hustle, etc. His mother tries to get him to participate more from the sidelines, also to no avail. To be frank, doesn't sound like he probably has a very good home life. Anyway, any advice on reaching this kid is appreciated.

Sad deal, sounds like he needs a lot more support at home. Catch him doing something right and make a big deal out of it. You're not doing him any favors (or your team) if you're too soft on him though. These situations come with the territory when coaching rec teams. I certainly wouldn't let it affect the rest of your team. If he doesn't want to participate in some drills, he sits. I wouldn't let it disrupt your practice.

Finally, our game this Saturday is against the best team in our league (the Colts). The other coaches in the league hate this team/coach, because they run the score up and leave their opponents with the feeling of "going through the motions." The coach I played against this past Saturday thanked me for our good sportsmanship and then told me all about his experience with them the week before, which pretty much held up to their bad reputation. So, if you have advice on playing against this team, I would love to hear it.

Control what you can control. You can't control the other coach, the other players, the officials, the weather, etc. You can control how you conduct yourself on the field, your players, your plays, and your parents. Playing better teams makes you better. I wouldn't take this game too seriously, it's 5-7 y/o's. Prepare your kids (and parents - they will need to kick in with some extra encouragement) so they know this is a good team. Pick two things you want them to work on in the game (e.g. not stopping until they hear the whistle, swarming, pulling X amount of flags, etc.) and focus on that.

I have a personal interest in this game because my son's best friend is on the Colts, and one of his team-mates from his basketball team is also on the Colts.

Keyword = game. Trust me, 10 minutes after the game ends, kids will be messing around with each other like the game never happened. Relax and have some fun.

We are facing a very experienced team that is also capable of passing the ball, which my team have never experienced. Advice on defeating a 2-3 zone defense, is also appreciated.

If you have a couple of players capable of rushing to put pressure on their QB, that is one thing that could help against a passing team. Set up a 2-3 zone in practice with some older siblings and let your kids play against it. If you give them a picture of what they are facing and run through some scenarios, it won't be as much of a surprise on Sat. Run some double reverses in practice at half speed against your defense. Run some passing plays against them.

This game will be a good life lesson for your kids. Sometimes you come up against tough situations in life. Maybe it's a tough teacher, a math test, or a physical challenge. Tell your kids you expect them to give you 100% on the field, nothing less. If they end that game and gave you 100%, they can be proud.

You have what you have talent wise at this point. Keep tracking the touches, encourage the kids, and be thankful you have the opportunity to coach. This game will be a blip on the radar screen a month from now.

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Good advice and wise words from you both. Thanks very much! I do tend to take these things too seriously--*probably* because I got volunteered and am not really a football guy. Soccer I'm pretty casual about, but I am an experienced coach there. Other than backyard football, I have never played, so it's all new to me. I guess what I am saying is that I get hung up because I don't want the kids to have to deal with the repercussions of my own perceived short-comings. So thanks for the much-needed perspective!

For practice we're going to work hard on flag pulling and see if we can get one of Orange's Center Drag plays to work. So far, I haven't been able to get the Quarterback (no matter who is in the position) to move after they get the ball--this makes the pass too long for the QB to do a great throw and/or the center to catch it. However, I'm going to add a "letter spot" and try it with "take the snap then run to Q" and see if that works.

I will keep you posted.

J.

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Well, we got stomped to pieces. However, I did the "Starburst for pulled flags" thing, and the kids still had a great time and never gave up through the whole game. There were some issues with the game, but I don't know if they're worth bringing up.

Short version--it had rained, and the field was a swamp. We ended up with a super puddle being the unofficial blocker for both teams. We had new referees (not the usual guys), and they weren't very good. The other team scored two touchdowns because their players went out of bounds and the referee didn't call it. "You didn't see that?" "I can't see everything from where I am." Along those same lines, in our league, only the kid with the ball can run for the offensive team. The other team's players ran with the ball carrier, basically flanking him so our players couldn't get to him to pull flags. Referees did nothing about this. Other team did flag guarding (also not allowed), and for lack of a better term, "shoulder slams." When they would go for flags, their kids would make sure to bump our players hard with their shoulders, usually physically knocking them out of bounds.

That said, we still would have lost, as we weren't able to score against them. I have had a problem player who has been very difficult in practices--his lack of knowing what to do (due to being disruptive/not participating in practice) cost us several touchdowns. I would love to just not play him, but our league rules are that everyone gets (approximately) equal time.

Anyway, thanks for the advice. Hopefully I can turn things around in practice tomorrow. We should be able to beat the team we play on Saturday (who we played for our first game) pretty soundly, assuming we can work out the bugs exposed by this last week's game.

Jonathan

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First, sounds like they had fun, which is the number 1 goal, and accomplishing that in a butt whippin isn't always easy, so well done.

Around the side stuff, it can be difficult when stuff isn't called for sure, but sometimes that's just the nature of what happens with volunteer refs. Doesn't sound like it was necessarily bad intent by the other team (atleast by your description), meaning that doesn't sound like there was too much in the way of player safety concerns?

Can you go into more details around the problem player? Is this the same player as the 'lazy' player or a different problem entirely?

Also I wouldn't take the next week lightly, just because you beat a team early in the season doesn't mean that they won't play better the next time you play them. Also sometimes your players know that you beat them last time and don't play as hard or focus, keep hammering in on the fundamental stuff (exchanges, flag pulling etc)

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Player safety--ultimately, it was fine. The problem with the refs were that they were just very casual. Although, in our league, it's volunteer coaches, the refs get paid! But, one was clearly a high schooler, and the other wasn't much older. The usual referee is probably in his early fifties, and the other one is at least in his twenties. So when I saw how young they were, I wasn't too surprised by the lack of hustle on the part of last week's refs. It usually goes that way with the soccer referees too. That said, even the parents on the other team were telling the refs their own players were out of bounds.

Lazy player--Something has happened with him... He was at practice 30 minutes early (brought by his great uncle), and he was a whole different kid. And since he was there so early, I got to do a lot of one on one time with him. He's still not the best player, but he's actually trying really hard now. I suspect that his uncle is trying to take more of an interest (he seems much more positive--doesn't tear him down the way the mom does), and that has helped a lot.

Problem player--The problem player...I can't quite figure him out. He has apparently played soccer since he was two, and is really great at it (per the parents). However, he wanted to switch to football at the last second, so they did. His dad is really easy going (played football in high school apparently), I'm not sure what's up with Mom. When Dad is there, he's basically fine, but the last two practices, mom brought him, and he starts out refusing to practice, and she makes a big scene with him, and then he sulks through everything (making it difficult for me), so when it comes game time, he doesn't really understand how the plays work, he botches the hand-offs, tries to take the ball when it isn't his turn, etc. My best guess is that he has probably always been the best player on his soccer team, and is used to just taking the ball and doing everything, and can't figure out why he can't do that here. But I don't know. Generally, I don't like to reward bad behavior, but I played him a lot more than usual in this last game in hopes of integrating him into the team a little better. I will find out in practice this afternoon if it actually worked.

Next game--You're absolutely right. Getting cocky is a bad idea! I guess I should put it this way--I feel confident that we will have a better game this time, as the first time we played them, 6 of the 9 players had never played football and had little to no idea what to do in a game.

As always, any and all advice is appreciated!

Jonathan

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Officials - Sounds like you know the drill, expect the refs not to catch all the calls. Still, it can be frustrating when officials don't catch calls, especially at crucial times. Best advice I can give you is be respectful to them as a coach, even if they blow the calls. My parents and players also know to respect the officials (no yelling at them). On the flip side, I see nothing wrong with calmly asking an official a question or for clarification. "Could you watch #22, he's holding my guy on the line?" or "My #14 couldn't pull the flag because the opposing player was running beside the runner, isn't there a rule about that?" If I feel like someone is going to get hurt, I'll jump in right away, again in a respectful way.

Problem Player - Boy, that's a tough one as I'm sure you want to help this kid. However, I personally wouldn't sacrifice ball touches for my other players because of him. Players need to respect the coach and their teammates. Have you tried a team speech about respecting the coaches and teammates? Maybe painting a picture of what that looks like (e.g. 100% on every play, listening, no talking, etc.)? In the end, again, I wouldn't let the player disrupt the experience for the players who aren't being a problem. I know the league has requirements about play time, but I think that's more along the lines of kids sitting out for long periods of time. If he's still acting out, I'd make sure he was on the field in places where the least damage could occur.

On a side note: This is a good example of the importance of having a code of ethics/expectations for the players and parents to sign at the beginning of the season. One set for the players and another for the parents. Just because they sign it, doesn't mean everyone will follow it. At least you have a reference point if you need to remind folks at a later date.

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That's funny that you used that example of the offensive player running alongside the ball carrier! That happened in our last game (the other team scored a touchdown because of it), and again in the game we played this past Saturday. However, I took your advice and got it resolved. We had an issue of flag guarding by the other team as well--also resolved. So, thanks for that advice especially!

Oh! And we won our game! The problem player was absent, which was kind of good, in that our practice got rained out, so I wasn't able to work with him the way that I wanted to. Our game was pretty sloppy, honestly. But, it did the trick.

Any advice on dealing with parents of players who are divorced? I have had this on every team I have ever coached--one parent signs the kid up, the other parent won't bring him/her on "their" weekend. If you go back to post #5 of this thread--the problem is with the same player/his dad. Obviously, I don't penalize the player because his dad won't bring him, but I wonder if I should ask for contact info for the dad and just tell him that his son is a part of our team and that we need him to be there. Or, do you think that would just cause more trouble for my player? How would you guys handle it? Tell him to be there when he can, or potentially contact the father?

Jonathan

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Oh! And we won our game!

Any advice on dealing with parents of players who are divorced? I have had this on every team I have ever coached--one parent signs the kid up, the other parent won't bring him/her on "their" weekend. If you go back to post #5 of this thread--the problem is with the same player/his dad. Obviously, I don't penalize the player because his dad won't bring him, but I wonder if I should ask for contact info for the dad and just tell him that his son is a part of our team and that we need him to be there. Or, do you think that would just cause more trouble for my player? How would you guys handle it? Tell him to be there when he can, or potentially contact the father?

Jonathan

Congrats on the win!

Tough deal when you run into divorced parents who won't work together on these deals.

My advice:

-Don't get involved in any personal conversations with either parent about the other parent if possible.

-I would get the contact info of the dad and send reminders about practices/games.

After that, there's not much else you can do. These are adults and they should be acting like it. Sad as the kid is the one who is really affected in all of this.

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Here is a question regarding counting ball touches--if you have a player as center or quarterback, are you counting that as a touch as well, or only attempts to catch/carry for yardage?

J.

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I really try to get everyone hand-offs or receptions to count as a "touch". I don't count playing the center position as getting touches. The QB position is questionable. They touch the ball a lot, however, every kid wants that chance to run or catch and make a TD. If you have one or two kids playing QB more than the others, I'd still try and sneak in a few touches for them, but since they play QB, I'd make sure the others got their touches first.

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That makes sense.

You have any advice on getting the parents to show up early so the team can warm up? Our practice got rained out last week, and I was at the field about 45 minutes early this past Saturday. Most of the team got there so close to starting time that I was wondering if we were going to have enough players to be able to play!

Due to scheduling weirdness, we have another game today (so still no practice until Thursday) at 5:30 pm, which is a HORRIBLE time for people being able to get there. I have pretty much begged and pleaded the team to get there early today if at all possible, but we'll see how it goes. Any other advice you can think of before today's game? (It's also picture day, which in soccer is traditionally one of THE WORST game days...)

Jonathan

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Since the game is today, you'll have to go with the flow at this point. The other team is probably in the same boat. If you can text them, shoot one out 2 hours before game time reminding them to show up at X time. For regular practices, I scheduled the start times 15 min early knowing full well people would still show up 15 min late.

EDIT: I misread your question. You were talking about getting parents/kids to show up early for games. Establish a time and give yourself a cushion knowing parents will show up after your requested time. Keep in mind you're dealing with parents that might not view this through the eyes of a coach. You want to get them warmed up and go over a few things, they might be dealing with 3 other things before heading to the football field. Another note for the team welcome letter before the season starts. You could explain your reasoning behind wanting players to arrive early before games at the beginning of the season. The pressure comes when a parent shows up late and all the other kids are already there.

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The other team WAS in the same boat. Up until about 5 minutes before our delayed game time, they only had four players.

A few of our kids did show up early, but due to weather, we basically couldn't warm up! Our game ended up pushed back 30 minutes due to thunderstorms, but we had a GREAT GAME. The best we've done yet. It was like by virtue of having to wait around an hour, the "problem" kids had enough time to get it out of their system!

Both of the players who have been difficult before were GREAT on defense! And my son threw the first completed pass we've had all season. By league rules, you MUST pass within 5 yards of the mid-field line or the endzone. We were INCHES over the orange (passing zone) line, so we had to pass. Our receiver caught it, was so surprised that he initially started to run the wrong way, then hooked back and ran it in for a touchdown!

We won 26 to 6.

Funny anecdote--Apparently, the "lazy" player from before is nicknamed "Booty." He was doing GREAT pulling flags in the game, and his mom started to cheer for him (which I was really glad of--given her previous comments). My daughter is four years old. So, every time my player did anything good, his mom would cheer, "Go Booty!" At which time my daughter would giggle and say (*every* time), "She said booty..."

J.

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