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Best Offensive Routes To Run For Man And Zone Defenses


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#1 A Name Already In Use

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 12:11 PM

I have a 5 on 5, Ages 8-9 Flag Football team. Our league has a mixture of coaches running man and zone defenses. In your opinion, what is the best routes to run against either of these defenses and why? Also, I have a sample passing tree but really don't know what to tell the kids to run (in steps) for a route. For example, how many steps constitutes a Post vs. a Slant before they make their break?

Thanks in advance!
5 on 5, velcro flag, 5 second delay rush, boys & girls ages 8-9...Alpharetta, GA


#2 Coaches Chair

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 02:17 PM

There's really no best routes to run versus man or zone defences. What you run will be based on the personnel that you have and the down and distance your facing.Usually the rule of thumb versus zone and man defence is to try and take advantage of what they present to you. For example, versus zone defence have your players run routes where they "sit down" between the zones of the defence. Basically, find the openings in the zone, stop, and let your QB throw to you as you sit in an open spot. Versus man coverage you get your players to "run away" from their defender, outrun them, get them chasing, and give them the ball. Most teams who face man coverage will try to isolate their best receiver with a defender and get him to use his athletic ability to beat the defender. So to sum it up: " sit down" versus zone and "run away" vs man!

#3 Coach Rob

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 02:21 PM

I don't have specific routes for zone vs. m2m defenses, my style is more watching how the defense reacts to a previous play and looking for exploits. For example, I will send someone on a dummy route while running an end around the opposite way. If I see that player was wide open, we'll run the same play with a fake end around and throw to him.

With regards to how many steps before breaking, depends upon your rushing situation, QB, and whether or not you use shotgun or direct. If the rusher can come in upon snap, you won't have a lot of time to run routes. If your QB is quick and mobile it obviously buys your receiver more time. In our league, the QB has a rusher in their face most of the time, so we use a shotgun while trying to execute quickly. Play action works well for us regardless of the defense we're facing.
-CRob

#4 Orange

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 07:14 PM

I don't know about specific routes but you will attack the two defenses differently. We're mostly facing zones and I've written lots of threads on how to attack certain types of zones, 2-1-2, 1-1-3, etc. Against man I try to isolate a player. There are lots of ways to do it but here are two simple examples.

Example 1: Trips left. All the players on the left run something where they stay over there. Your center fakes left and runs to the right. The QB flips him a short pass. If your center can beat just that one defender it's an easy long gain.

Example 2: Lets use the center again. Trips right but they all line up close to the center. At the snap the three kids on the right slant hard across the middle. The center delays for a second and then runs underneath the 3 cutters to the right. The QB fakes a pass to the left and then throws it right.

Here is a video of my team running the trips left center out play against a man defense. I apologize for the audio, my friend gets very excited watching us play. Notice the way my QB rolls a little with the center. It's my old center drag play!
Old Center Drag

Here is a similar isolation play to the center. This one failed because the QB held the ball too long and then tried to throw to the deeper receiver. The center was open and he was supposed to hit him.
Ctr Out Failed

This is another simple isolation play to the slot receiver. Same concept though, just beat your defender and catch the ball. If you look closely you'll see that the slot guy runs underneath the centers cut to get some space, that's part of the play.
Slot Iso

#5 A Name Already In Use

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 09:23 PM

Perfect, thanks guys! Thanks Chair, that simple rule is something I will implement next game. I have yet to face a man, but its coming in the next few games and that will help...I think for me as a coach I need to start watching the other side a bit more when I do the play calling as you have mentioned, Rob. I seem to get so caught up in how my team is performing with a certain play series that I am missing how the defense reacts to some degree. Thanks, Orange...I am going to draft a variant on some plays I had that were working in the opposite direction...now that I see the play in action I realize that Trips left had everyone (including center) going left for some reason....geez!

Thanks Again!
5 on 5, velcro flag, 5 second delay rush, boys & girls ages 8-9...Alpharetta, GA

#6 Orange

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 10:53 AM

Thanks, Orange...I am going to draft a variant on some plays I had that were working in the opposite direction...now that I see the play in action I realize that Trips left had everyone (including center) going left for some reason....geez!

That play is specifically meant to isolate the one player against a man coverage. The trips moves 3 defenders out of the play entirely. The rusher can be a factor but basically it's one on one, center versus his defender. In that play the center is my son and he's got quick feet and good hands so I knew he could beat his defender. If I were facing a zone defense I wouldn't run this play (not like this anyway).

#7 Coach Rob

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 02:46 PM

Guess I really wasn't thinking about this, we do run a trips formation against zones. Our receivers line up near the sidelines, one receiver usually runs a hook and go with pump from our QB, one runs a crossing route and the other one runs a short hook as the safety valve. The center runs a flag pattern opposite of the trips. QB rolls hard to the trips side upon snap (shotgun).

Most teams will shift their zone over to cover the trips formation, even then it's a mismatch of 3 vs. 2. I tell our QB to throw it away if no one is open, but the short hook pattern usually results in 5-10 yards. Sometimes I'll run that play 3 times in a row changing the routes looking for exploits. A few short passes to the short hook can suck a safety in leaving the hook and go pattern open for a potential big gain. I'm going to add a twins formation this year bringing a third receiver in motion to form the trips.

Don't know if Orange mentioned it, but he came up with a QB switch play that works great against a m2m. Shotgun snap, bring a slot in motion to come under center and take direct snap. Take fake QB left, have direct snap QB look right and throw back to fake QB. Sometimes there is a mismatch with two covering the new QB leaving the fake QB open.
-CRob

#8 Johnp2

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 04:25 PM

Also, I have a sample passing tree but really don't know what to tell the kids to run (in steps) for a route. For example, how many steps constitutes a Post vs. a Slant before they make their break?


I teach the passing tree to my players, and we run routes at least once per practice (and the kids just LOVE running their routes) :-) I'm kidding, as there is usually a unified moan when I say, "line it up horizontally", but they ALL know their routes to precision I am proud to say.

When I design a passing play, the most important thing to me is to always have a primary and secondary receiver clearly noted. On some plays I have a third receiver, but I like quick-strike passing plays and sometimes going three deep in progression gives the defense an advantage at this age, in my opnion. I encourage my son to make his pass within three seconds of the ball being snapped. At first he would sometimes look off his primary too quickly and check-down (especially if the primary was still running his route), but I would rather him be too cautious than too careless.

I do everything I can to isolate the primary receiver in space, and use the secondary receiver as a check-down. All other players are simply running their routes to take their man out of the play. You would be surprised how many defenders at this age will drop back 30+ yards following a receiver (like an eight year old can throw it that far).

I personally find Outs and Drag routes the most effective at this age. The former seems to work better for us against zone and the latter against man--but we will still run all routes against any type defense (as there are a multitude of other variables involved).

Coach's Chair made a valid point about "sitting in an open spot." A lot of times kids don't necessarily know when to STOP their routes, and not many kids 8-9 can catch on the run.

I do have a few option routes I give to my more advanced receivers, but I provide clear direction on which route to run based on the coverage.

Finally, regarding how many steps to take---when I first started coaching 5-7 year olds, I I gave them guidelines (i.e. 10 steps for a medium out, etc.) but this was mainly because they were all new to running routes. The downside is they started to concentrate more on counting steps as oppossed with getting open. Once they learned their routes, I began teaching them when to cut based on what they saw on the field.