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rawbar

First Time Coach - 0-3 Start - Could Use Some Advice

8 posts in this topic

I'm a first time coach, never played football, but spent this summer reading up a lot including much of this site. I also spent some $$ on 'headache offense' and Jonathan helped me get started with a playbook.

I've also taken some plays from opponents that I found worked well against us. I think I have a good mix of plays, some to play against a man defense, some for zone.

But we are three weeks in and I feel like I've hit a wall and I'm not sure what to do. My problem is this.

We have 10 players on the team, we play 5v5 NFL flag football rules. Of the 10, I have three people that are good offensively.

- The "Team 1 " QB (my son, he played QB last year for a different coach) who is small but very fast, smart but has a max accurate range of about 12-14 yards,

- one really big/tall kid who can catch VERY well but is slow, and

- one kid who is the smallest on the team but is REALLY FAST, agile and catches well. He also hates playing offense which is too bad because he's my best offensive player.

All three of these kids are on "TEAM 1".

BTW all my kids are short with the exception of the one guy I mentioned, and we're very often outmatched in height and speed and throwing range. We got mercied last week playing against last years superbowl champs who were all as tall or taller than my tallest guy and 7 of 10 were as fast or faster than my fastest. They also had 6 returning players who have a lot of experience working together.

Then we have defense. I have two really good kids here, which are the same two I mention above. I have a few others that are reasonably decent at pulling flags but they are all slow (like, really slow) and less agile. If someone gets past them, it's almost always up to my safety to chase them down. I try very hard to get them to push the ball carrier into the middle, but it's still a work in progress. So I split up the two good kids between the two defense teams and they both play safety and are generally the ones making most of the stops. We'll play a mix of zone and man. I have an asst coach working defense which has been a big help.

My game this week went like this.....

TEAM 1 plays about 20 of the first 30 minutes, we're up by 20 at half. Most of the TDs are made by the super fast kid, they can't stop the guy. But by the 2nd half, the two really good kids are starting to get pretty tired as they're running all over the place on defense. By 40 minutes in we're up by 10, by 50 we're down by 1 and at the end we lose by 15. My best kid was hurt at about 50 minutes (falling on his own flag belt), took a 5 minute break then just kind of gave up.

TEAM 2 unfortunately hurts us more than helps us. I would like to make something of them, but with one hour a week to practice, there isn't a ton of opportunity. I thought about taking my son out of QB and moving him to the other team as a receiver, but then he'd be even more tired running all the time on offense and defense. I also don't have any good candidates for QB to replace him (I have a couple of plays where he isn't QB and gets to run or throw).

I blame myself in a lot of respects, I suspect a good coach would be able to make a competitive team out of whatever hand they are dealt. My lack of experience doesn't help. Obviously it's not fair for three kids to carry the whole team, it's a lot to put on them and I also need to be fair to the rest of the kids and let them play too. It just hurts me to see a few guys bust their butts, get us up by 20 points then just watch as we fall apart, and I hear them talk about it ("there goes our shot at the playoffs").

I keep things positive with everybody and point out all the things we're doing right as well as working on things that we're doing wrong, but inside I feel like I've let these kids down.

Any thoughts, ideas, would be greatly appreciated.

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Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

I have coached 9 seasons with i9 Sports flag football. I have been in your shoes. A few years ago I had a rag-tag team of 7 players, only one real "stand-out" player. We lost our first two games because of our lack of effective defense and flag pulling. My assistant coach and I drilled it into the kid's heads that defense was going to make the difference and we only need one touchdown to win if our defense is strong. We went on to win the rest of our games and the championship that season. The last game went into triple overtime and we won with a goal line stand where we did not allow the other team to score in the end.

So my advice to you is work on your defense, make the focus of your practice DEFENSE. Drills for flag-pulling and how to swarm the ball. The first guy to the ball carrier is the one who should slow them down, and make it possible for the team to get the flag. Eyes on the belt buckle/hips.

You have shown that you can put points on the board, now get your defense in shape. My kids this season are 4-0, we have only allowed 3 TD's and have 9 interceptions. There are only 3 teams in our division, one of those teams has yet to score a single TD on us. I tell my kids every Sunday "Defense is going to win this game for us today." We have 4 defensive TD's this season.

I praise my kids more for their defensive efforts than their offensive efforts. The first thing I look at on our stat sheet is "pulls". If a kid doesn't have one yet at halftime we talk about why that is and sometimes it is just the fact that they did not have a good chance, or that their teammate got it first, even though they were there too... lot's of discussion about this so they know that is what we as coaches want them to excel at more than anything else in games. Every kid should have at least one flag pull per game. The good ones will get 4 or more.

So, good luck and have fun at all costs. I have had more losing seasons than winning seasons, so I know what you are going through. With youth sports we have to remember that we are shaping these kids for the future, more than anything else, teach them respect, humility, and sportsmanship. Those attributes will help them a whole lot more than a winning record or a trophy.

Coach Andy

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Rawbar,

Andy Y is spot on. It sounds like your offense can get the job done and score some points. Figure out what kind of changes you can make on defense, focus on the fundamentals and spend most of your time working on making your defense better.

Don't panic and don't get discouraged. You have to remember that you are a new team and your going to take your lumps just most of us have at one time or another. I disagree with you in that you could be the greatest coach in the world and if you run into a team with better athletes, who is well coached and who have been playing together for awhile you are going to have a tough time of it.

Try to forget about the outcome of the game. Your focus should be on improving every week. If you see that then you are succeeding.

Take a look at your youth flag football drills to get some ideas of what you might want to work on in practice

Good luck coach. Keep us posted on how it's going.

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Andy has some great points. What's that saying? "Offense wins games, but defense wins championships." As a side note, I used to coach against Andy and saw his team during the first few seasons. Very cool to see how far they've come.

Not sure if this is allowed, but do you have any flexibility in subbing? As long as the kids are getting good playing time, I'd tend to shore up the weaknesses during certain crucial points of a series of downs.

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Thanks for all the advice. I just saw the responses tonight, we have been doing a lot of defense drills, it is a huge problem and I guess I'm seeing some slight improvements, but nothing significant. I've been trying to get it into their heads to go for both flags, to slow down the ball carrier to give time for others to arrive, stay in front of him, don't let people get to the outside. I will check out the drills above for sure because the ones I've been doing (Gauntlet and a couple of others) don't seem to be helping much.

We're 0-5 now. 3 games left. We came really close last game, playing another 0-4 team that had been scoring 10 points per game on average where we'd been scoring 33 on average. Really highlights there just how bad our defense is... 33 points a game and we're getting mercied. This last game we were down by 20, came back to tie it up, then threw an interception on our own 10 yard line and they ran it back for a TD with very little time left. Again a VERY high scoring game, I think it was 56-48. Looking at our stats, we're giving up an average of 53 points per game. OUCH.

You guys have it right, need to stop practicing our playbook and focus 100% on defense. We can score. We just can't stop the other team from scoring.

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Not sure what age group we're talking here, but I'd offer out incentive for the next 3 games. Nothing too crazy, but if you can give out something to the two top flag pullers each game? I'd also come up with a number of flag pulls for all 3 games. Let's say you think they can get 15 per game, I'd say if they could get 60 cumulative flags pulls at the end of the 3rd game, the whole team gets a prize of some sort. Could go to a local pizza place and see if they'd be willing to give you a a few pizza's at a discount or something. Food for thought. Pun intended.

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These kids are 9 and 10. I actually did create an incentive program... then I read the above post :). I gave all the kids NFL sticker books and for each flag pulled in a game (or interception or batting down a pass) they earn a point. Then at the end of the season, they get packs of NFL stickers for their books based on points.

We played our 7th game on Saturday against the #1 team, we got mercied again so we're 0-7 now with one game left, but we did better than everybody expected us to do. Scored more points than the other team allows on average and we weren't mercied until about 40 minutes in (and ended up scoring another two touchdowns after the mercy). But again I already knew we can score, it just came down to defense. I think our defense was somewhat better than usual and one kid who I knew had potential really stepped up to beat out our usual top defenders and made more pulls than anyone (he made 8. #2 and #3 were both 6). I overheard some parents talking on the sideline saying (wow, maybe the sticker thing actually DOES work!)

Our last game is this weekend against a 1-6 team (who gives up far fewer points on defense than we do). Last practice is today. Hopefully we can pull off a win. Just one win, that's all I want to be able to give these kids this season.

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Hey, sounds like you made some improvements, that huge. It's not all about the wins and losses. Our flag team also played basketball and we ended up in some pretty competitive leagues. We were getting crushed because other teams were using full court presses. For one entire league season, I used it just to learn how to break a press and by the end of that season, we're were experts at breaking presses (which paid off in future leagues). Our record didn't reflect it, but the kids sure knew how to break a press.

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