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Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays
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Advice On How To Call Plays From Sideline

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I've coached flag football for 3-4 seasons at the age 4-6 year old level with my two boys. After two years trying out tackle, my 10 year old now is going back to flag football. The big change since I last coach with him is that we're no longer allowed on the field or in the huddle. I have plenty of plays and drills to use but looking for advice as to how you guys send in your plays. Do you run players on/off each play? Do you use wrist bands? Do you call the play on a white board and hold it up? Wide open to suggestions. My concern is the kids understanding the play call and all assignments. It's not like tackle where they mainly occupied the same position for a series or the entire game. In our league we track touches which means the boys have to rotate positions. QB is the only position I somewhat limit.

Appreciate any advice


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What we do:

If coaches can't be on the field, we huddle near the sideline.

If coaches can't be in the huddle, what we do depends on how well our team knows the playbook. If they know it cold, we usually send our QB in with a multi-play script or some simple play progressions based on what the QB is seeing. Is he reading man defense? What is the safety doing? Etc. If they're not quite there, we'd sometimes give the QB a numbered wristband and signal the plays to him from the sideline and let him call it in the huddle. But mostly we just send a player in with the play.

I hate using wristbands for all players (I think it's a crutch), but I've seen other coaches combine them effectively with a passing tree. Coach might yell "Buffalo 2" from the sideline which means Buffalo formation, second play on the wristband. And the wristband would have four numbers 0-9 to indicate the routes.

At the NFL Flag national championship were weren't allowed to communicate whatsoever with our players (except during a timeout). The kids had to call their own plays and even run substitutions. As a coach, it was hard not to feel intensely helpless/powerless, but it was also eye-opening to watch what a bunch of focused, well-prepared 10 year old kids could do when they had the reins.

I don't mind letting my QB call the plays if I have confidence he understands why he wants to call it.

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horstada    0

My kids have wrist coaches with plays numbered from 1 to 10. I call out three numbers. The kids add up the last two numbers to come up with the play. So play 5 can be 314 or 823 or a number of different combinations.

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macvolcan    0

I personally use a wrist-coach for every player (I personally use the X100 colored wristbands, and each position is taught as a color instead of the position name ie: QB=Purple) that has a look up sheet from A-Z and 2 or 4 columns of colors. (so either 52 or 104 combinations depending on which I am going with, which really is way more than I need) that compartmentalizes each assignment. Last page of the 3 page wristband I have a compartmentalized diagram of what their assignment is (route number and run plays they have for their position). I just yell in the combination, on the 2 column sheets (for younger teams) I have an alphabet of superhero characters and 2 colors, I just yell out the name and color IE: "Batman Blue". For the 4 column sheet I have just the letters and kids know just to go off of first letter, IE: Apple Blue and Alligator Blue are the same play.

I mainly do this for a couple reasons: 1. I have very limited actual practice time with kids before games start. 2. I like to be able to move them around for the experience. 3. in practices I have them run no huddle to maximize the number of reps they get, and I really prefer to not have the defense know what the play is coming. 4. I am always trying to tinker and I can do this without having the kids relearn the playbook, I can just adjust a couple assignments or where I want a couple kids to line up. It works great for my purposes, but I also find its a lot of upkeep, given a couple practices my defense starts to memorize some of the call sheet or they start trying to guess my plays and I end up needing to change it up or I see them start cheating on their assignments. Disadvantages though are like Whiskey mentioned it is a bit of a crutch as kids become very dependent on it, it is a lot of upkeep, and if you mess something up on the playsheet before a game you are kind of stuck with it, not to mention if you don't laminate the sheets prior to putting them in the wristband you get some of the ink rub off on the plastic and is a pain to clean.


f you don't want to go that route, a Singular wristband is a nice option and put it on the QB, have them quickly huddle and you yell in the number of play, QB finds play and rattles off assignments, label your run plays something fun or have kids name them and they will remember them better. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you don't like the wristband route I think you go with a more traditional route of rotating players in with the play while simplifying the verbiage, cutting significantly down the fat on the playbook and increase the memorization.

Hope that helps and good luck.

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