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How to best utilize young players with no prior football experience?

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Hi All, I am new to this form, so I apologize if this is a question that has already been discussed. In short, I coach a youth flag football team (ages 9-11 years old) that consists of 9 players in total. We play 5 on 5 games that consist of 40 minutes. Substitutions occur every 5 minutes, in which I am required to clear my entire bench. All players must play a minimum of 20 minutes.

That being said, I am struggling to find a solution to a major dilemma that has been our Achilles heel this season. We have 8 solid players with prior football experience and that understand the game, however, we have 1 player that has never played football EVER. Moreover, his parents have forced him to sign up and play, and the kid shows no interest in what is going on in practice/games. As much as I try to pull him aside and explain things 1-1 with him, nothing seems to work. He can't catch, doesn't understand how to play defense, and is timid every time he steps on to the field. Given that I have to sub every 5 minutes, he is a major liability to both our offense/defense and teams are starting to figure out how they can exploit his weakness. 

I currently have him as a designated rusher on defense, as he cannot grasp the concept of man or zone D, and I am honestly clueless as to where I can put him on the offense since he is essentially a non-factor. Does anyone have any advice or experience working with 1 player who is significantly inferior to the rest of the team, and if so, what are some ideal defensive/offensive sets in which I can limit the liability he creates. Please note I am not putting this kid down and am his biggest proponent, yet nothing is working and we keep loosing to team we should beat as a result. I look forward to hearing your feedback!!!

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Hey coach,

Sorry for the late response. To busy at work and haven't looked at the forums for awhile. I think we have all run into some variance of your situation and it can be difficult when the kid doesn't really have an interest in playing but that is youth sports and in the bigger picture winning and losing isn't that big of a deal at that age.

My only advise would be to keep looking for an area that he can have some small successes at. Spend as much time as you can in practice making it simple for him in regards to what you want him to do. On Defense it's pretty easy. Rush the pass and go get the ball.

Offense is a different matter as teams will quickly figure out they don't have to worry about him. My only thought is that you throw it to him once in a while even if it's low or way over his head just to keep teams a little honest and make him think that he at least has to be ready as the ball may be coming to him.

I would love to hear how things worked out for you.


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