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macvolcan

How Do You Get Your Offense Reps Against Man Defense?

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The concensus here is that Zone coverage for youth flag football is superior given the skillset of the players. We are also vastly stretched for practice time, leaving the option of properly teaching Zone and Man not ideal.

When scrimmaging its really easy to just throw my offense against my base defense, and in many ways I think they will get visibility of a lot they will see in games.

But reversing field my offense doesn't necessarily get an accurate representation of what they will see on game day as most of the teams in my league run a man defense, and while they will get a ton of practice against Zone, certain plays obviously work better against Zone than it does against Man. I can think of 3 possible ways to handle this problem.

1. Stop overthinking it and just run offense against base defense.

2. Talk to some coaches at different grade levels (preferably higher), and see if they are comfortable having a couple 'coordinated' practices in which we scrimage against each other.

3. Have a couple of scrimmages in which I very briefly teach players some basic man concepts (You stay with him and go where he goes) which of course comes at the sacrifice of extra drill time at where they really need it (how I will be running the defense).

Please let me know how you handle this problem.

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Personally, I like M2M defense as it forces the kids to become better players. As you mentioned though, the different athletic abilities of the players can vary widely, so most teams play zones to cover those weaknesses. We play M2M 95% of the time in basketball and occasionally play a zone. I know it makes them better players, however, teaching help-side defense in basketball seems easier to me than it is in football. I digress.

If I really thought playing against a M2M was a big factor in my team's success, I'd figure out a way to make them play against it in practice. However, I'm not sure you would need to come up with umpteen zillion plays. You're in a tough spot with limited practice time, but you either sacrifice a few other items on the list or expand your practice time somehow.

Flag football boiled down to pulling flags and running plays for me. So I tried to focus on doing a few things really well vs. having a lot of things we did with mediocrity.

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Interesting about your choice to play Man, reading through various posts in forums I had thought it was defacto that everyone on here went the 'zone' option.

I personally like Zone as the defenders are all looking at the QB's eyes and not turning their back to the play. Also the QB's I play against aren't at a stage where they can fit balls in a tight window or look off defenders. It also terrifies me that all it takes is for one player to lose his guy and its a TD. Personal preferences, but not something that really makes a great deal of difference in the end :). That being said I am reluctant to teach them both man and zone, for the same reason you mentioned above, I would rather do execution well on one than mediocre on both, and if I have no intention running man in game, then there isn't a lot of point in practicing it.

It's not so much that I have upteen zillion plays :) necessarily. The players all have 10 routes (that transfer across different positions) and they will learn and a couple of running plays per position. I also have divided the field into different sections that they can line up on. Lot of upkeep on my end, but its pretty simplistic on their end.

So main difference on running plays might be that they are 'blocking' someone (zone) instead of running a decoy route (man), which isn't a distinction I would have them make, just tell them to 'block' the first person they see, or tell them what route to run. Where I am thinking it may be a difference maker though is how the QB reads the plays on passing, its a different look when you have someone trailing behind a reciever, vs guarding space. IE: Slant route would likely be much more successful vs man than it would be against zone.

Thanks for feedback, I think I will try to reachout to another team that I won't play and see if they mind scrimmaging, or ill have a older sibling participate in a smaller drill and put them as the defender with QB throwing to them. I am ready for season to get started I think I have obsessed about every little detail that I can until I get my players.

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Don't get me wrong, I played a zone D, but if my team was going to move on and play in a competitive flag football league (tryouts) at some point, I would have played man more than zone to get them ready. You are absolutely correct about that one man getting beat. Too easy in a rec league for the opponent to pick up on a mismatch (e.g., speed, size) and exploit it.

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Your boys are old enough to know basic man coverage and zone coverage principles. You dont have to run M2M in a game, but you should occasionally run your offense against it in practice if you're seeing it.

My experience coaching young boys was opposite yours. I loved running pure zone, but no matter how hard we coached them, we found that young minds still had a tendency to peek at shiny objects in that backfield... and get beat deep. Or miss a wide open receiver.

I cured it with a simple pattern-read defense in which (i) each defender focused on only 1 key, (ii) each defender made 1 call. It worked beautifully because it directed their eyes around the field and forced them to communicate. It wasnt M2M, but it meant our boys had to learn to cover a receiver because sometimes they would have to solo him.

You will start to see a lot of M2M against older, more athletic teams. Most young QBs don't see man-covered receivers as open unless the separation is huge, and the coaches know that. But they also have the speed and athleticism to recover if something goes bad.

Once your QB gets over that hurdle, though, M2M defense is a gift if your receivers run crisp, hard routes. And if they don't, playing against man coverage will make them do it... since that's the only way to beat it.

If you don't have the numbers, you can run your offense on only the left or right side of the field and lock up defenders and receivers. We also take that as an opportunity to work with our QB on pre-snap recognition and reading the corner or LB (squat, drop).

Good luck!

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My league has "pass only" zones inside of 5 yards from a first down or a touchdown. Here is the only situation we run "man", so players see it in practice. That being said, I generally feel like zone is the toughest defense to beat, so I'm find with facing it in practice. When we see man in real games, it isn't really an adjustment. It just means the defenders have their backs to the ball and the risk is lower.

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