Jump to content


Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays
Photo
- - - - -

New Flag Football Program To Start - Calling All The Wise Ones!


  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 CoachM

CoachM

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 23 April 2009 - 08:01 PM

Hi Everyone. I spent the last few nights reading through dozens and dozens of pages of posts regarding youth flag football. I have to concur with the repetitive response that this forum is an unbelievable resource! I am humbled to be posting my first post when so many of you have offered and helped with hundreds of posts and spent so much time not only coaching the youth but then typing these valuable topics and replies. Maybe you can help us.

I (we) have a unique situation (somewhat) in that I signed my 7yr old son up for Flag football and it turns out that this is our local Y's first go at this program. On top of that, I decided to be an assistant coach to help out but found out that I am the only coach period for sixteen 6-8yr olds. I met with the Y program director and basically he and I are starting the program from scratch. Neither of us have coached youth flag football before but we both know football and I have played both flag and contact for more than a dozen years. So, I wanted to ask the question to all of you coach veterans out there - how would you setup a flag football league if you could do it from scratch? Here are our basics parameters:

1) There will only be two teams of 7-8 kids per team. There will be no score kept and since there are only 2 teams, no standings. The expectation is that we will practice one night per week and then play games against the other team. I think this is a great opportunity for each kid to play A LOT and learn each position. We will have to adjust as we go to make sure that playing the same team every week (for 7 weeks) doesn't get monotonous. However, I believe this will give us a lot of 1-on-1 time and really work on the basics over and over and over.... We just need to be creative in how we dress the same thing up.

2) Depending on how many kids show up, we can play 5 on 5, 6 on 6 or possibly 7 on 7 (which might be tough assuming a kid or 2 may not show up each weak). Thoughts?

3) The field will be 50 yards long with a 10 yard long end zone at each end and 25 yards wide (this can be adjusted so I'm interested in your thoughts). To start the first few games, the offense will start at the 5 yard line and they will have 4 plays to get over the mid field line to get a first down. If they do, they get another 4 downs to score. If they don't make it then the teams switch but start the offense always starts at the 5 yard line. Fumbles are the same as incomplete passes. Interceptions are the only way you change field position at the spot of the interceptor being tackled. Thoughts?

4) To start there will be no pass rush and the QB cannot cross the line of scrimmage. Thoughts?

5) We have vests with flags on them. Not sure if the belts can be removed with the flags like a tradional flag belt. If they cannot, these may be harder for the kids to tackle. Any experience with these?

Sorry for the long post but that is basically it. I appreciate any comments or suggestions. We want to creat a huge foundation for the fall program where we hope to get at least 6 teams to create a "real" league. Thanks a million. CoachM

TeamSnap!

#2 Orange

Orange

    MVP

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 768 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Central Florida

Posted 23 April 2009 - 08:58 PM

I have experience with both a YMCA and I-9 league. The main thing that I would recommend is that you adopt a standard set of rules. My biggest complaint with the local YMCA is that they were tweaking the rules every season from field size, to players on the field, to rush/ no-rush, 4 downs, time limits, age limits, it was always different. I think most coaches start coaching a younger level team and move up with them so they are in the league for several years. They will appreciate consistency.

All that said, I really like the I-9 rules which is very similar to the NFL flag rules. 5-on-5, rusher, qb cannot run (Rob's league is the exception), standard field sizes. The other rules the same as you mentioned. The only difference I saw was the rush and fumbles result in loss of down and spotted where it hits the ground. If I were in your situation, knowing what I know now, I'd grab a set of rules from I-9 and NFL flag and copy them for the most part. There will be a few differences here and there.

As for your current season with two teams, sure go 6-on-6 or 7-on-7 but with a bunch of teams go back to 5-on-5. And I never heard of flag vests. We use belts, the kind that the entire thing comes off. I think they are called triple threat flags. That's the best in my opinion.

It's late, I'm sure I'll think of more later.

#3 CoachM

CoachM

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 23 April 2009 - 09:17 PM

I have experience with both a YMCA and I-9 league. The main thing that I would recommend is that you adopt a standard set of rules. My biggest complaint with the local YMCA is that they were tweaking the rules every season from field size, to players on the field, to rush/ no-rush, 4 downs, time limits, age limits, it was always different. I think most coaches start coaching a younger level team and move up with them so they are in the league for several years. They will appreciate consistency.

All that said, I really like the I-9 rules which is very similar to the NFL flag rules. 5-on-5, rusher, qb cannot run (Rob's league is the exception), standard field sizes. The other rules the same as you mentioned. The only difference I saw was the rush and fumbles result in loss of down and spotted where it hits the ground. If I were in your situation, knowing what I know now, I'd grab a set of rules from I-9 and NFL flag and copy them for the most part. There will be a few differences here and there.

As for your current season with two teams, sure go 6-on-6 or 7-on-7 but with a bunch of teams go back to 5-on-5. And I never heard of flag vests. We use belts, the kind that the entire thing comes off. I think they are called triple threat flags. That's the best in my opinion.

It's late, I'm sure I'll think of more later.


Good point. I would expect the rules to be ironed out well before the end of this first season but I really can't control that. With only 2 teams it probably won't matter as much now but I can see consistency being an absolute necessity after this first go. I already downloaded the I-9 rules - good stuff. Thanks!

#4 Coach Rob

Coach Rob

    Ineligible Receiver

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 751 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Anything outdoors.

Posted 23 April 2009 - 11:44 PM

Not sure I'm a Wise One, maybe a Wise guy... but I'll take a crack at this.

1) There will only be two teams of 7-8 kids per team. We will have to adjust as we go to make sure that playing the same team every week (for 7 weeks) doesn't get monotonous. We just need to be creative in how we dress the same thing up.

Since you only have two teams your biggest challenge will be keeping it interesting for the kids. Any chance of recruiting some more players last minute? Is this an established Y with other programs like basketball, soccer, and baseball or is this entire Y starting from scratch? I'm guessing the football league is new and they already have other programs running.

2) Depending on how many kids show up, we can play 5 on 5, 6 on 6 or possibly 7 on 7 (which might be tough assuming a kid or 2 may not show up each weak). Thoughts?

I like 5 vs. 5. More room on the field and more ball touches.

3) The field will be 50 yards long with a 10 yard long end zone at each end and 25 yards wide (this can be adjusted so I'm interested in your thoughts). To start the first few games, the offense will start at the 5 yard line and they will have 4 plays to get over the mid field line to get a first down. If they do, they get another 4 downs to score. If they don't make it then the teams switch but start the offense always starts at the 5 yard line. Fumbles are the same as incomplete passes. Interceptions are the only way you change field position at the spot of the interceptor being tackled. Thoughts?

Monitor the field size and increase if needed depending upon what you see during the games. I'd allow interceptions to be run back; it teaches the offense to be careful when throwing and gives the defense something to celebrate.

To start there will be no pass rush and the QB cannot cross the line of scrimmage. Thoughts?

Personally, I like the rush from 7 yards out.

5) We have vests with flags on them. Not sure if the belts can be removed with the flags like a tradional flag belt. If they cannot, these may be harder for the kids to tackle. Any experience with these?

No experience with vests, normal flag belts seem to work fine.

Sorry for the long post but that is basically it. I appreciate any comments or suggestions. We want to creat a huge foundation for the fall program where we hope to get at least 6 teams to create a "real" league.

Curious if you'll have competition from other flag football programs? If I was starting a flag league, I'd have a clear mission statement/philosophy and recruit like-minded folks (e.g. coaches, parents, refs, etc.). What is going to make your flag program unique so people hear about it and want to sign up?

In any league the coaches make all the difference, hopefully you can find good ones that agree with your philosophy. I bet Orange and Rush would be willing to come out and help for an all expense paid trip.
-CRob

#5 Orange

Orange

    MVP

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 768 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Central Florida

Posted 24 April 2009 - 06:54 AM

In any league the coaches make all the difference, hopefully you can find good ones that agree with your philosophy. I bet Orange and Rush would be willing to come out and help for an all expense paid trip.

Haha, depends on the location. Seriously though, where are you located? If you were nearby I'd help.

With regards to the rush versus no rush, I can speak from experience having coached in both types of leagues. I believe that you should allow a rush. The standard is upon the snap from 7 yards back from the los. It forces the offense to execute quickly. A new team or players will be overwhelmed by the speed the rusher reaches the QB but the players and coaches will adapt. Having no rush allows too much time for the qb to sit back and just wait. It's annoying watching the defenders do a good job of covering for 3,4,5,6 seconds which seems like forever. Most no rush leagues have a 7 second or loss of down time limit to get the pass off.

Another thing your league will need is a solid set of referees. Pay a little extra to get some good ones. I've seen the Y or other leagues use teens or staff members who have neither experience, knowledge or ability to take charge. These are things a good ref should do. Actually a good ref will be a teacher also to the kids, helping them through the game with the rules not just throwing flags. You want ones that can teach, take charge and know the ages of the kids and let minor infractions slide. We had these Y refs that would call it so strict by the book and it bothered me so much. My 8 year olds would flinch over the los and jump back, not effecting the play, and get flagged. That really irked me. Again, I would raid the local I-9 or NFL flag league for them. If you play on a different day they'd probably give you some references.

#6 CoachM

CoachM

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 24 April 2009 - 07:47 AM

Not sure I'm a Wise One, maybe a Wise guy... but I'll take a crack at this.

1) There will only be two teams of 7-8 kids per team. We will have to adjust as we go to make sure that playing the same team every week (for 7 weeks) doesn't get monotonous. We just need to be creative in how we dress the same thing up.

Since you only have two teams your biggest challenge will be keeping it interesting for the kids. Any chance of recruiting some more players last minute? Is this an established Y with other programs like basketball, soccer, and baseball or is this entire Y starting from scratch? I'm guessing the football league is new and they already have other programs running.

2) Depending on how many kids show up, we can play 5 on 5, 6 on 6 or possibly 7 on 7 (which might be tough assuming a kid or 2 may not show up each weak). Thoughts?

I like 5 vs. 5. More room on the field and more ball touches.

3) The field will be 50 yards long with a 10 yard long end zone at each end and 25 yards wide (this can be adjusted so I'm interested in your thoughts). To start the first few games, the offense will start at the 5 yard line and they will have 4 plays to get over the mid field line to get a first down. If they do, they get another 4 downs to score. If they don't make it then the teams switch but start the offense always starts at the 5 yard line. Fumbles are the same as incomplete passes. Interceptions are the only way you change field position at the spot of the interceptor being tackled. Thoughts?

Monitor the field size and increase if needed depending upon what you see during the games. I'd allow interceptions to be run back; it teaches the offense to be careful when throwing and gives the defense something to celebrate.

To start there will be no pass rush and the QB cannot cross the line of scrimmage. Thoughts?

Personally, I like the rush from 7 yards out.

5) We have vests with flags on them. Not sure if the belts can be removed with the flags like a tradional flag belt. If they cannot, these may be harder for the kids to tackle. Any experience with these?

No experience with vests, normal flag belts seem to work fine.

Sorry for the long post but that is basically it. I appreciate any comments or suggestions. We want to creat a huge foundation for the fall program where we hope to get at least 6 teams to create a "real" league.

Curious if you'll have competition from other flag football programs? If I was starting a flag league, I'd have a clear mission statement/philosophy and recruit like-minded folks (e.g. coaches, parents, refs, etc.). What is going to make your flag program unique so people hear about it and want to sign up?

In any league the coaches make all the difference, hopefully you can find good ones that agree with your philosophy. I bet Orange and Rush would be willing to come out and help for an all expense paid trip.


Thanks for the reply. Not sure an all expense paid trip to NJ is really that enticing ( I just moved here so no ownership yet!). You are correct in that this is an established Y but new Flag "league". Yes, the fact the same 2 teams playing each other every Sunday will keep pushing us coaches to be as creative as possible. I look back when I was a kid and think about the pickup games we played with the same friends every Sunday. We had a blast so I think at this age the kids will too. It would be nice to play some new kids but we don't have that luxury. I assume that by the 3rd game or so we will be really familiar with the "other" team - especially since we will be practicing with them, too. We could practice separately but I think with only 6-7 kids at practice it will limit us in scrimmaging properly during practice. I think this is a really good opportunity for the kids but you are right, the amount of success or failure will fall on the coaches. I believe that repetition of essential skills builds a strong foundation so I think the kids will really be anchored before the league becomes larger and, unavoidably, more competitive. The other leagues in the area have 19 - 22 kids on a team, 4-5 coaches per team and are really organized, playing on a field with scoreboards, stands, concessions, PA system, etc. The other league kids only average playing about half the game and many only get a few real touches the whole season, unless they are the stars. Our field, however, is a lawn area with spray paint and cones. But, I think our advantage right now is the ability to really coach the kids, give them ALL the chance to play pretty much the whole game and really try some fun things. I'm sure we will look at some things we try and wonder what we were thinking!

I think we will institute the rush once they get to the point where they can execute the plays. If that is the first game then great.
Thanks again. Good points.

#7 CoachM

CoachM

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 24 April 2009 - 08:23 AM

In any league the coaches make all the difference, hopefully you can find good ones that agree with your philosophy. I bet Orange and Rush would be willing to come out and help for an all expense paid trip.

Haha, depends on the location. Seriously though, where are you located? If you were nearby I'd help.

With regards to the rush versus no rush, I can speak from experience having coached in both types of leagues. I believe that you should allow a rush. The standard is upon the snap from 7 yards back from the los. It forces the offense to execute quickly. A new team or players will be overwhelmed by the speed the rusher reaches the QB but the players and coaches will adapt. Having no rush allows too much time for the qb to sit back and just wait. It's annoying watching the defenders do a good job of covering for 3,4,5,6 seconds which seems like forever. Most no rush leagues have a 7 second or loss of down time limit to get the pass off.

Another thing your league will need is a solid set of referees. Pay a little extra to get some good ones. I've seen the Y or other leagues use teens or staff members who have neither experience, knowledge or ability to take charge. These are things a good ref should do. Actually a good ref will be a teacher also to the kids, helping them through the game with the rules not just throwing flags. You want ones that can teach, take charge and know the ages of the kids and let minor infractions slide. We had these Y refs that would call it so strict by the book and it bothered me so much. My 8 year olds would flinch over the los and jump back, not effecting the play, and get flagged. That really irked me. Again, I would raid the local I-9 or NFL flag league for them. If you play on a different day they'd probably give you some references.


I think all expenses paid wouldn't be enough to entice you to NJ! I agree with both. The toughest point will be the refs. Not sure it is in their plans to hire them but if us coaches have to do both it will take away either from the coaching or the officiating. My kids soccer league (non-Y) did the coach-ref combo and it worked OK but football is a different beast and should have separate refs. I will have to look into it.

#8 Coach Rob

Coach Rob

    Ineligible Receiver

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 751 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Anything outdoors.

Posted 25 April 2009 - 12:51 PM

I look back when I was a kid and think about the pickup games we played with the same friends every Sunday. We had a blast so I think at this age the kids will too.

You make a good point about the pickup games. Kids at the younger ages just want to get out and play. With your setup, the kids should get tons of ball touches while learning the basics.

The other leagues in the area have 19 - 22 kids on a team, 4-5 coaches per team and are really organized, playing on a field with scoreboards, stands, concessions, PA system, etc. The other league kids only average playing about half the game and many only get a few real touches the whole season, unless they are the stars. Our field, however, is a lawn area with spray paint and cones. But, I think our advantage right now is the ability to really coach the kids, give them ALL the chance to play pretty much the whole game and really try some fun things. I'm sure we will look at some things we try and wonder what we were thinking!

I think this is a HUGE selling point. 19-22 kids on a team is ridiculous, especially for flag football at the younger levels. Selling the ball touch part and snagging some coaches who get that this whole gig is about fun and allowing the kids to receive multiple ball touches should give you an advantage over the other leagues. A few ideas for down the road when your league is cranking up for the fall and I'll shut up.

1) I'd have the league director out during the practices learning the kids names and definitely at the games, roaming around thanking the parents for participating. Had a league director for the Y do this when my son was younger and the parents loved him. He knew the kids names, gave them high fives, listened/talked to the parents and they signed up in droves.

2) Sell the ball touches and fun. I don't think people realize how different football can be, especially if you get 7 vs. 7 or 8 vs. 8 leagues. With soccer and basketball you have a better chance of touching the ball. In football, unless you track the ball touches somehow, it's easy to run those better kids every time.

3) I'd stick with 5 vs. 5 and also try to keep the teams at 10 kids and under.

4) Sell the ball touch aspect. In fact, I'd remind the coaches that your league has an unwritten rule to get every kid 2 ball touches per game. No one is watching, not mandatory, but remind them in meetings, e-mails and have the refs mention it before the game starts. Have each team pick a parent volunteer to track the touches each game.

Good luck! Sounds like you have a great opportunity.

CRob
-CRob

#9 Johnp2

Johnp2

    MVP

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 818 posts

Posted 25 April 2009 - 04:35 PM

Have you considered how to handle "blocking" if at all? If I were fortunate enough to be starting a league, it is something I would give serious consideration. Especially if you will be playing 7 vs. 7 or 8 vs. 8 (having one ball carrier go up against eight defenders is nearly impossible.

The benefit is it gives those players who do not have the ball something to do. If your concerned about the physicality of it, perhaps implementing guidelines such as the players must keep their hands on their sides or something. Or they are allowed to set up picks like in basketball. Something other than just standing there or running dummy routes.

Regarding the pass rush, I like the way our league does it. You get one blitz every four downs, and up to two players can rush from five yards out. The defense must also announce they are blitzing, and who it is that will be rushing.

I echo others' sentiment regarding the officials. Nothing can ruin a game/season than having poor officials.

Good luck---I hope you guys have a lot of success!

#10 CoachM

CoachM

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 26 April 2009 - 06:45 AM

Have you considered how to handle "blocking" if at all? If I were fortunate enough to be starting a league, it is something I would give serious consideration. Especially if you will be playing 7 vs. 7 or 8 vs. 8 (having one ball carrier go up against eight defenders is nearly impossible.

The benefit is it gives those players who do not have the ball something to do. If your concerned about the physicality of it, perhaps implementing guidelines such as the players must keep their hands on their sides or something. Or they are allowed to set up picks like in basketball. Something other than just standing there or running dummy routes.

Regarding the pass rush, I like the way our league does it. You get one blitz every four downs, and up to two players can rush from five yards out. The defense must also announce they are blitzing, and who it is that will be rushing.

I echo others' sentiment regarding the officials. Nothing can ruin a game/season than having poor officials.

Good luck---I hope you guys have a lot of success!


Thanks John and CRob. Excellent stuff. CRob you are right, if we can keep the teams small and give the kids a LOT of playing time then that is our advantage. And, the Y director will have a huge impact on the success.

I also agree that we need to coach "blocking" as it relates to this age. I think your pick idea is pretty close to what will happen (intentional or not). I was going to see how that goes. Looks like we will be playing 5 on 5 with 1 sub. The one thing is with such a few amount of kids is I don't want them to get tired (or more likely bored) running dummy routes every play. The one challenge we will have is if the kids are playing basically every play then we really need to mix it up or I will have a lot of kids quickly wondering why they are funning full speed every play when they know they aren't getting the ball. It will be a good lesson for them.

First practice is today- supposed to be 90 degrees! The other coach isn't available for 2 weeks so it is just me! Thanks for everyone's input - advice.

#11 Johnp2

Johnp2

    MVP

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 818 posts

Posted 26 April 2009 - 10:14 AM

The one challenge we will have is if the kids are playing basically every play then we really need to mix it up or I will have a lot of kids quickly wondering why they are funning full speed every play when they know they aren't getting the ball.


That's pretty much it. We put a lot of emphasis on "non-ball carriers" to ensure they have something to focus on. On any given play, I try to drive home to the kids that each one has a key responsibility to make the play a success. Whether it is taking a "fake hand-off", blocking, running a dummy route, etc.

If I have a player run a dummy route, I explain to him exactly why he is doing it. I make sure he knows his job is really sell the fact he is going to catch the ball and ensure he suckers the defenders around them into it as well. I'll even go as far to have him start screaming, "I'm open!". With respect to blocking, we do a lot of influence blocking, and on quite a few plays I have lineman pull. Even if they don't end up blocking anyone, it still aids in confusing the defense when they see all the movement from the players--and more importantly, gives my players something to "do" when they don't have the ball. Of course, I coach 8 vs. 8, so the touches are limited---meaning I stress the other areas of the game.

One final thought. You mentioned that there will only be two teams in this league and you won't be keeping score/standings. Of course you know the parents (and even some players) will. You might be thinking of what to do if one of the teams is dominant over the other. Hopefully it won't turn out like that, but it very well could. I have a friend who coached basketball in a two-team league, and while they did not keep score, one of the teams would usually make 90% more baskets than the other. ;-) He was on the "losing" end of that, and because he had to face the same team that dominated their team each game, he said it became frustrating for everyone. I'm not sure what can be done about it, but just something to think about in the event this is the case.

#12 CoachM

CoachM

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 27 April 2009 - 08:23 AM

To all: What size football do you guys use/recommend? Again, ages 6-8. Does anyone know when the size changes based upon age group? - Thanks!

#13 Orange

Orange

    MVP

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 768 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Central Florida

Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:24 AM

8 & younger - pee wee size
12 & younger - junior size
Over 12 youth size.

I've attached a copy of our local I-9 rules. They are pretty standard and cover most things from gameplay to equipment. Check it out.

Attached Files



#14 Texas_D_Coach

Texas_D_Coach

    MVP

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 325 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Central Texas

Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:32 AM

8 & younger - pee wee size
12 & younger - junior size
Over 12 youth size.

I've attached a copy of our local I-9 rules. They are pretty standard and cover most things from gameplay to equipment. Check it out.

In our NFL flag league we use:
Football Size: Pre K/K (Nerf (soft ball)), 1st/2nd Grade (NFL Peewee), 3rd/4th Grade (Peewee or Junior), 5th-9th Grade (NFL Junior)

Also here's a link to the official nfl flag rules:
http://flag.nflyouth...ule Book v2.pdf

#15 Johnp2

Johnp2

    MVP

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 818 posts

Posted 27 April 2009 - 04:13 PM

We switched last season (7-9) from a pee-wee to a junior size (which is a pretty big jump). If your age groups cross over, I recommend going with the smaller size---especially if you are advocating plenty of passing plays.