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Most Rewarding Season...

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post-51709-0-63353400-1383600983_thumb.jFirst off, I want to say that I love these forums and have learned a ton from them. I appreciate everyone who has invested time to put information out there to help each of us who coach.

This is my first time posting on here but I had to just put this out there as an encouragement for coaches who have had or are having rough seasons.

Last year I coached a 5-7 year old Flag team with my youngest son and we lost one game all season and won the championship. It was a great season with some great kids. This year, I moved up and was coaching 8-10 year old Flag. I was able to have some of my kids from last year (though they were now 8 and some of the youngest in the league) as well as my two older sons who played in that older division last year and won their championship as well. In all, with 12 kids on the team, 9 of them had been involved with pretty successful seasons the year before.

As background, we play 6 on 6 Flag, similar to NFL Flag rules in our own league.

There were a number of things that happened this year to start the season, including the fact that I wasn't even planning on coaching but did it because we couldn't get enough for the number of kids we had.

The short of it is that we didn't win any of our first 5 games. I don't need to tell you how tough it was after each of those games. We were improving and we kept emphasizing to our kids that they were getting better and we had a shot to win, but just couldn't get there. We kept trying to encourage them and work on fundamentals. But it was tough, when so many hadn't experienced losses like that (and that many :).

We went on to finish our regular season 1-6-1, ending with a tie against a pretty good team. We kept telling our kids that we were on the rise and eventually we'd catch those other teams and hopefully pass them... it was a tough sell when they're sitting at 1-6-1, but the last game gave them some hope.

Well, we came into the playoffs as the #6 seed (out of 7 -- the only team we beat during the regular season). First game, we beat the #3 seeded team 14-12. Our kids were more than pumped. They were starting to believe it.

Next up, playing the #2 seed, a team that had outscored the rest of the league by a huge margin and had shut us out 18-0 when we played them before. We played tough and beat them 19-0, the first time they were even close to getting shut out all year.

Final game, #1 seed. Our third time playing them this year. They had given up the least points of any team in our league and usually kept opponents to 12 or under. We were up 20-0 at halftime and ended up hanging on to win the championship 20-14.

Needless to say, most of our league was shocked at the results and it was the most fulfilling and challenging season all wrapped into one. An amazing ending to a character-building year.

So thankful to have been a part of such an amazing season. The best part was seeing what the whole process did in the hearts of the 11 boys and 1 girl that I had the privilege of coaching. They grew so much and really rallied around each other. So special.


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Wow! Cool story. Congrats and great job of making it through the playoffs. How cool is that? Bet you guys were pumped. Huge life lessons throughout your entire season it sounds like. Got a kick out of seeing the one girl on your team. I had a girl QB for several years, one heck of a player. Also had two other girls play with us for a few seasons and both of them tore it up.

Hope you get to keep some of those kids for a few more seasons. This season can be a great reference point for you going forward in your coaching career.

Great pic!

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Thanks Rob! Yeah, the girl on our team was pretty tough and one of the most positive players on the team, even through all the losses. One of her highlights was scoring a safety in a game where we otherwise got shut out.

The team was so pumped to win. And they really did learn to believe in themselves and not judge themselves based on what they've done or what other people say. So many of them got down on themselves when they made mistakes and were able to come back and make a big play.

Unfortunately, I'll be losing my older boys and likely a few other players, but hopefully will come back with at least half of this squad.

Here's a few more pics, showing some chest bumps and kids jumping up and down at the end...




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Some great life lessons in that season for the kids. I think more than anything else, teaching life lessons has been a big reason why I keep coaching and youth sports presents those opportunities frequently.

Tough when players move on, but I always seem to find replacements. Heck, once word gets out about your season, parents will be knocking your door down.

Great photos. They definitely capture the mood.

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If I might ask, how would you rate yourself on spreading the ball around and play time in that last game?

I try all year to make sure every kid touches it every game. Then you get to the bowl game (our league does not have a tourney) and then the little devil on the shoulder starts talking me out of it. Especially if we get down early.

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As background, our league is 6 on 6 and I had 12 players. Originally, at the beginning of the season, I tried to set-up 2 squads, evenly split. We stuck with this for the first several weeks. I changed up game plans and just about everything almost every week, especially as the losses continued to pile up, but hung on to this rotation for at least those first several weeks. My main goal was to try to create the best experience for each of my players. But what I was finding was that, even though the 2-squad approach gave everyone exactly the same amount of actual playing time, it was maybe not providing each kid with the best opportunities. I eventually discovered that a different approach gave them better quality time when they were in the game.

I ended up switching over to 4 squads of 3 players, where I had one squad with my top three guys and then three other squads that were equally balanced with each other. The main squad would stay in a majority of the game. But, because these were my smartest, most athletic, and seemingly biggest threats (from the opponents standpoint), it opened things way up for the rest of my kids to have more success carrying or catching the ball, or also on defense.

I’d rotate in one of the other squads every change of possession and they knew when their squad was supposed to come in (we stayed consistent and also had a rotation list on the sideline). It kept them engaged and my defensive coach and I were able to talk to them on the sidelines about things to watch for in the game and what we were planning to do when they came in on the next possession. Having the main core in there for offense helped all our plays pan out better no matter who got the ball. I made sure that those core three blocked well and did whatever they needed to do to help our team as a whole be successful (whether or not we actually won).

I was able to stick with that same rotation and strategy from the middle of the season all the way through the championship game. And all of the kids really seemed to like how it worked. Their little squads of three became pretty tight and it really helped us.

Our league does have a 10 play minimum for each player. As well, we stress to our coaches that our league is primarily about building character and skills. We tell parents that we have instructed the coaches to spread the ball around and get all kids involved. We still keep score and obviously have wins and losses and playoffs, etc. But wins and losses (especially losses) are great character builders as well, and kids need to learn that life operates that way as well and a lot is determined by how they react to things in life.

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