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Brand Spankin new Flag coach K-2nd

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Happy to have found this place.  Just reading some of the things on the forums have been very helpful.

I'm a NEW coach for my sons K-2nd grade flag football team.  I wasn't expecting to be coach, but was handed the reigns at half time during our first game and had to go from there.  The team itself got off to a late start, the old coach perhaps wasn't fully focused on leading them, I ended up with a completely lost team and completely lost coach.  Because of this I felt I needed to start from scratch, however I may be regretting it, because the ideas I brought into week 2 were pretty ineffective to the team come our second game.  So let me ask if you can help me with a few of my problems.

1.  Formations.  Old coach had them running out of a twins on one side, single wr on the other.  No RB, shotgun.  He implemented motion to draw the ball carrier nearer.  A few problems I had week 1 was that a) the snap from center to QB was often unclean, resulting in dead plays.  Quite a few of them. b ) Not everyone understood "motion."  c)  Nobody really blocked.  Blocking is allowed in this league.  d) when motion did work, it was quite obvious who was getting the ball.

My solution, start from scratch.  To eliminate missed snaps, I brought the qb under center.  To simplify, I got rid of motion.  To get past defenders, instead of blocking I spread the wr somewhat wide to draw defenders.  To make it less obvious who was getting the ball, we used a single RB to take hand offs or have the WR come across for a sweep.

Problem.  The qb being under center did not give him enough time to receive the snap, turn and make the hand off.  The rush was too quick getting to the qb before he can get the ball off.  The qb could work on his drop backs a bit, but another element to teach in such a short period.  The WR runs also take too long to develop.  Blocking still an issue, but we are working on it.  

In the middle of the game this week we scrapped all our plays, and went on the fly, drawing them up in the huddle.  We did twins with a single rb.  Pulled the WR in tight to lay some blocks on the rushers and also give us a quicker hand off when running to those WR.

My question about formations are, is there an ideal formation/plays that keeps it simple, yet leave minimal holes for the defense to sneak by.  I also want to know, should I be running out of shotgun and using motion?

2.  Defense.  Containment is a big issue.  we were burned way too much on the outside.  One play drives, where they get to the outside and streak up the sideline for a score.  Any drills that can help with this?  We are running a 2-3.

3.  Rotation.  We have about 14 kids on the roster.  But I've only met 12 of them, the other 2 "threaten" to come on game day which I fear because the last thing I need is to have to teach football on the fly during a in game play.  Happened week one, I accepted it since it was week one, but we should be moving past that.  Also, even though we have 12 that I have met, only about 8 are regular practice attenders.  I would love to have at least 10 that came to practice regularly, that way I can use two squads, rotate the extra couple in when needed.  But I don't know who I'm going to get on any saturday, and I feel compelled to favor those that show for practice.  I also have only 3 older kids, guys that are picking up on the game much quicker.  Should I feel bad that I am playing those 3 and the regulars SIGNIFICANTLY more than the others?

4.  Play types.  Is deception more effective than blocking?  When I have a run should I be sending the WRs on routes to draw defenders or let them put their hands on the defense.  When I'm running a pass, should I do the same and just pick one route to throw to?  

I'm sure there is more.  I am just looking for some advice as new coach.

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It is always tough to be a new coach. First things first. Relax. Remember the important thing is to make sure at this age your players are having fun. Take it easy on yourself as these are 2nd Graders. You are not working with elite pro athletes here. Don't get caught up in the losing or the winning for that matter. Focus on getting them better one practice at a time. Your goal should be to make them a better team at the end of the season than they were at the beginning.

FInd help. Are there any other parents willing to step up and help?

The rules of your league are interesting with blocking being allowed and a rush. Passing is going to be difficult at this age so you need a running back. I would bring your players in for blocking add a running back and work on the quarterback/running back pitch over and over. Go to the flag football plays section and go over some of the playbooks for 5 on 5 and taking your personnel into account, take of few plays that you think will be a good fit and run them over and over and over and over again in practice. Start the process and go over how you want the play to develop one step at a time. Walk through it as many times as it takes and then go half speed and then finally fully speed. One effect way to control the learn is for you to have your players freeze on your whistle This will allow you to correct things as they happen and really help their understanding of how you want the play executed. There is no reason to work on a bunch of different formations and plays if you can't even execute one play. Don't sweat it if your plays aren't successful in game situations at first. Focus on if they are executing how they are supposed to run the play. 

I think it is a little easier to get better on defense quickly and this will at least help you stay competitive in games. Go to our flag football drills for some ideas on drills to work on. I would focus on flag pulling and swarming to the ball. I would put your fastest player at safety and keep him a little deeper until your players get a better.

Go to the next practice prepared with a game plan. 10 Min - Conditioning Drills, 20 Minutes Offensive Plays, 20 Minutes Defense, 10 Minutes Scrimmage, etc. However you want to manage it but have a plan.

You need to have a parent meeting. This should have been done before the season but obviously nothing you can do about that. If you have to do it at a game then do it before the next game. I would call all the parents before you next practice and tell them that you will be having a parent meeting and that you expect them at the next practice. Player participation is always tough at this age as the players can't drive themselves to practice.

I would tell parents what you expect. You are not about winning and losing you are about teaching your players life skills. COMMITMENT, Teamwork, time management, attitude, sportsmanship, etc. I would tell them that they can't learn anything if they don't show up to practice and that it is unacceptable. Tell them that not only is it unfair to the rest of the team it is unfair to their child. I always relate it to school. Would they let their child miss school everyday and then have them show up on test day and expect them to pass the test?

You of course are going to have some parent(s) that don't care and you will have to deal with it. You have to decide playing time as it's your team but I don't think it is fair to your players who show up to be penalized by those who can't commit. 

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First off, Thanks for the reply Hollad.

I apologize for the delayed response, but wanted to give an update.  We had a set of games this weekend, two a day.  The players that showed up to the game were the ones that showed up to practice.  I think the players and parents that want to play are they ones settling in.  I don't think I'll have problems here, but have addressed it with the families that the more involved the kids are in practice the more involved they will be in the game.  Seems to be a good understanding there.

The games themselves were a pretty big mess.  We were pushed around by bigger and faster boys.I might even say they got away with a lot of illegal rushes and holding, possibly because the more experienced coaches know what they can get away with with the volunteer High School refs they have.  But we still want to play our game, but unfortunately it was no where near good enough.

I know we are out there to have fun, but even our smallest kid knows when we are getting a beat down.  And it's hard for them to have fun when our offense can barely get the ball to the ball carrier before the qb having their flag pulled, or the opposing offenses printing down the sideline every single play.

I'd still like to see if there is any input on effective formations that can be useful in this age group with a rush and blocking allowed.  Should I go shotgun.  SHould I run an empty backfield?  Should I play everyone close to Center for maximum blocking opportunities, or should I spread them out to spread the defense?

I will say the opposing defense ran a 4-1 zone, often sending 2 downlinemen to rush.  WE could barely get the ball out of the QBs hands.  

On our defense I want to run a 3-2.  1 rusher, 2 safeties.  I need the safeties to be our faster mature players because with the way the opposition breaks for the sideline and down the field, I need someone to run them down.  I'd like to put them on the line, but the team has issues "swarming" and even though they are better players, the big kids do not do well 1 on 1.  As safeties they swarm better than the little ones.

Had practice a day ago, worked on teaching the to stay home.  Stay in their zone.  I don't know if I should tell them to wait until the carrier crosses the LOS, ideally I want them to swarm when he does, but they aren't getting there quick enough, so the runner ends up having way too much space to fly up field.


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I know this stinks for you but don't get discouraged. Most youth coaches have been through what you are going through right now. It will get better. You have to figure out your personnel. Who is your fastest runner. Can anyone throw the ball, can anyone catch the ball. Can your bigger players understand the blocking concepts that you are trying to teach them? These are all things you need to figure out. Figure out what you have and then develop a play based on what your team can execute. Go over and over the play until you all can run it perfectly and then develop another play and do it over and over again.

There are no shotcuts and it will take time but you all can improve. Forget about the score and the loses. Focus on the little things and trying to improve your team.


In regards to defense I would go with a 2-3 or 3-2 but make sure your players line up wide and stay home. Work on flag pulling, team pursuit and swarming to the ball over and over again. Fit and freeze works. Take your fastest runner and have them head for the sidelines over and over and have your defense pursue the flag.



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Thanks again for the input.


A little update...It turns out I wasn't struggling as much as I thought.  Just a bit of growing pains and frustration over the excelled progress other teams seemed to have over my guys.  But after complaints by other coaches and parents, the league did in fact discover a few teams breaking the age rules by having Older players participate in this league.  Those teams were forced to get rid of those players of course, but the difference in competition is night and day.  Now I understand I am right where I should be with my team.  The league overall has a healthier vibe, and the kids are also enjoying and learning more.

After a few games and practices we now know our players strong suits.  Although we are rotating all players to have a hand at all positions, we do have a core rotation with kids playing mostly at where they excel.  We do have one solid QB, several solid runners.  A couple decent pass catchers.  Though not many of them really grasps the routes, aside from  the QB whom seem like understands the plays best.  probably why he has come around as the better QB.

Because of this I have kept the offense relatively simple and it has helped a lot.  First off, moved the QB into a shotgun (more pistol) to allow for the play to develop before the rush comes in.  PLaced the RB right next to the QB so as to minimize twisting and turning on simple handoffs.  Same with Reverses coming off the WOs.  Simple handoffs.  The simplifying has allowed the kids to really just get the play off, the rest is up to the athlete to finish it off.   Offense is doing well.  WEll enough that I will need ti impliment a few more pass plays...just need simple ones.

Defense is doing OK, but one thing they need help with is containment.  are there any drills to teach the defenders from letting the ball carriers take the sideline all the way to the endzone.  We instill in their minds to force the in because that's where the rest of your team is to help...I just don't have a great drill that puts that in action.


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