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Limited Practice Time - Flag Football


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#1 MYFFCoach

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 07:02 PM

All -

First year flag football coach for 4, 5 and 6-year olds (my team is mainly 4 and 5-year olds). We only get 1-hour of practice time before we play two games immediately after practice. I really need help with the best drills, games, etc... to teach the kids the concept of offense and defense. Our first practice and games were rough and no one had a clue even after I thought we taught them. I attempted a practice plan and followed it but didn't seem to help (I know it was only the first day but sensitive as I want the kids to learn and have fun)

I've read a ton of posts on this forum (this forum is great by the way and thank you to all who participate by answering people’s topics) so looking for your most basic advice.

THANK YOU!!!

Bob Lanham
Michigan Youth Flag Football Head Coach

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#2 Johnp2

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 08:50 AM

Bob, I would advise the following tips:

1. Put the player who has the best grasp of what's going on at QB. As you've probably figured out, if the QB misses his assignment, the play is doomed from the beginning.

2. Assign each player a primary position and keep them at that position all season. I am a proponent of this for a myriad of reasons, but the gist of it is the kids will quickly "master" that position. They learn to line up at the same spot each play, etc. Give the position names the kids can remember ("RR" for right receiver, "LR" for left receiver, etc.).

3. Design your playbook so that each position has equal number of opportunites to get the ball. You can easily create one play that simply goes to different positions. An example is "LR End-Around", "RR End-Around", etc. Again, keeping the same players at a primary position makes it easy as on "LR End-Around", for example, the LR always knows what to do.

4. Defensively, don't be afraid to implement a zone. Or at least "try" to implement a zone. ;-) I doubt the kids at this age will be disciplined enough to "stay home", but by at least attempting it you might get them to stay in position a few seconds more than if they just swarmed to the ball. This is also good coaching for when they get older.

As for practice drills, I'm not a big agility drill guy. It's difficult, at least from my experience, for kids to "learn" agility. Especially if you only have one hour of practice I would not waste it on jingle-jangle, cone shuttle, etc. At this age they are what they are.

Thus the great equalizer is the "mind". By that, work on perfecting your plays. Ensure the players are congizant of what they are doing. Also work on flag-pulling. To keep it fun, for flag pulling, try "Sharks and Minnows" (ask if you don't know what that is).

As the season progresses, do not be afraid to tweak your playbook, introduce new plays, etc. Additionally, track ball touches. One of my player's five-year old brother played flag football for the first time this season. His dad was telling me that he got the ball maybe three times the entire season. There is no excuse for that, in my opinion. Thus make it a goal to get every kid at least one touch per game--I would recommend going as far as doing a round-robin where player one gets the ball, then player two, etc. and start over at player one when all kids get a carry.

Finally, and I'm sure you know this but I will throw it out anyway, do not get caught up in wins/losses. It's easy to do, and I know sometimes coaches will base their performance on win/loss record, but at this age I would recommend putting on a good show. Said differently, what is more impressive: a coach who has one great player and wins games because he gives it to that player over and over, or a coach who has a disciplined team that execute their assignments like little professionals and play as a true team.

I hope this helps some. Please let us know how you are progressing this season, and good luck!

#3 MYFFCoach

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:00 AM

Bob, I would advise the following tips:

1. Put the player who has the best grasp of what's going on at QB. As you've probably figured out, if the QB misses his assignment, the play is doomed from the beginning.

2. Assign each player a primary position and keep them at that position all season. I am a proponent of this for a myriad of reasons, but the gist of it is the kids will quickly "master" that position. They learn to line up at the same spot each play, etc. Give the position names the kids can remember ("RR" for right receiver, "LR" for left receiver, etc.).

3. Design your playbook so that each position has equal number of opportunites to get the ball. You can easily create one play that simply goes to different positions. An example is "LR End-Around", "RR End-Around", etc. Again, keeping the same players at a primary position makes it easy as on "LR End-Around", for example, the LR always knows what to do.

4. Defensively, don't be afraid to implement a zone. Or at least "try" to implement a zone. ;-) I doubt the kids at this age will be disciplined enough to "stay home", but by at least attempting it you might get them to stay in position a few seconds more than if they just swarmed to the ball. This is also good coaching for when they get older.

As for practice drills, I'm not a big agility drill guy. It's difficult, at least from my experience, for kids to "learn" agility. Especially if you only have one hour of practice I would not waste it on jingle-jangle, cone shuttle, etc. At this age they are what they are.

Thus the great equalizer is the "mind". By that, work on perfecting your plays. Ensure the players are congizant of what they are doing. Also work on flag-pulling. To keep it fun, for flag pulling, try "Sharks and Minnows" (ask if you don't know what that is).

As the season progresses, do not be afraid to tweak your playbook, introduce new plays, etc. Additionally, track ball touches. One of my player's five-year old brother played flag football for the first time this season. His dad was telling me that he got the ball maybe three times the entire season. There is no excuse for that, in my opinion. Thus make it a goal to get every kid at least one touch per game--I would recommend going as far as doing a round-robin where player one gets the ball, then player two, etc. and start over at player one when all kids get a carry.

Finally, and I'm sure you know this but I will throw it out anyway, do not get caught up in wins/losses. It's easy to do, and I know sometimes coaches will base their performance on win/loss record, but at this age I would recommend putting on a good show. Said differently, what is more impressive: a coach who has one great player and wins games because he gives it to that player over and over, or a coach who has a disciplined team that execute their assignments like little professionals and play as a true team.

I hope this helps some. Please let us know how you are progressing this season, and good luck!


AWESOME advice and thank you. I love the idea of having the kids play the same position and simply rotating the plays around so they all get a chance to run with the ball. I do have to rotate three kids in each play but I can figure that out. I am lucky as the 4-year old on our team doesn't want to run with the ball so there is our center ;). Our league does not allow QB's to run with the ball so I'll have to rotate that out as well. I am just sensitive that all the kids have fun and learn a thing or two...to your point, I could care less how many touchdowns we get or if we win or lose.

Thanks Johnp2!!!!

#4 Coach Rob

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 12:31 PM

You might be a 4,5, or 6 yr old flag football coach if...

..."No, run the other way! The OTHER way!" is a common phrase on the field.

..."Don't stop until you hear the whistle" is interpreted as, "I'm going to run through the parents on the sidelines, into the parking lot, and keep going until my legs give out".

..."pull the flag" means, pull the nearest flag to you, even if they're on your team.

...picking the grass out of your mouthpiece takes precedence over all other activities on the field.

...one of your players falls down, others must fall down too, preferably on top of everyone else.

...once you've fallen down, roll over and look up at the sky for a while, take time to notice the different animal shapes in the clouds.

...you have a spy player who has the ability to blend in with the other team's huddle.

...your players have trouble remembering their own names once they hit the field. The louder you yell their name, the less they seem to remember it.

...your misdirection fake reverse/reverse plays end up with a collision and two kids lying on the ground crying until they notice the animal shapes in the clouds.

If any of these ring true, you're probably a 4-5 yr old flag football coach. The best remedy is making sure all the kids get plenty of ball touches during practice and actual games (even if they say they don't want to run with the ball). Make sure your practices are FUN, incorporating "games" that teach concepts. Keep the practice moving, avoid having them standing in lines. Parents are your friends during practice, ask for their help.

When you find yourself keeping the stronger kids in longer, running your best player(s) over and over, getting upset over a call by the refs, the kids just aren't getting your double whammy special fake reverse play, etc., etc., review the "you might be a.." list again to remind yourself what it's like to be a 4/5 yr old.
-CRob

#5 Texas_D_Coach

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 11:21 AM

You might be a 4-5 yr old flag football coach if...

..."No, run the other way! The OTHER way!" is a common phrase on the field.

..."Don't stop until you hear the whistle" is interpreted as, "I'm going to run through the parents on the sidelines, into the parking lot, and keep going until my legs give out".

..."pull the flag" means, pull the nearest flag to you, even if they're on your team.

...picking the grass out of your mouthpiece takes precedence over all other activities on the field.

...one of your players falls down, others must fall down too, preferably on top of everyone else.

...once you've fallen down, roll over and look up at the sky for a while, take time to notice the different animal shapes in the clouds.

...you have a spy player who has the ability to blend in with the other team's huddle.

...your players have trouble remembering their own names once they hit the field. The louder you yell their name, the less they seem to remember it.

If any of these ring true, you're probably a 4-5 yr old flag football coach. The best remedy is making sure all the kids get plenty of ball touches during practice and actual games (even if they say they don't want to run with the ball). Make sure your practices are FUN, incorporating "games" that teach concepts. Keep the practice moving, avoid having them standing in lines. Parents are your friends during practice, ask for their help.

When you find yourself keeping the stronger kids in longer, running your best player(s) over and over, getting upset over a call by the refs, the kids just aren't getting your double whammy special fake reverse play, etc., etc., review the "you might be a.." list again to remind yourself what it's like to be a 4/5 yr old.


HA!! That is hilarious Rob!!

I am just going to add to John and Rob;s post a little bit.

At this age, keep it as absolutely simple as possible.Remember at this age, the simplest of fakes and misdirection will work like a charm.

During practice, practice plays as amuch as possible, and hopefully you have an assistant who can work on defense at the same time. Having kids stand around with the limited amount of time you have is not good. You have to keep the kids busy enough so they do not have time to horseplay around.

Try to have a really fun (but short) warmup drill (maybe an organized game of chase or something), and at the end of practice (which is usually where I would run sharks and minnows), the kids love that.

Also don't worry much about passing the ball too much at this age. You probably only need 2 or 3 very short pass plays like Orange's drag plays.

Have fun!!

#6 plmqwk

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 06:48 AM

Hey I want to add, I would encourage the child that does not want to run with the ball to do so. Get him to do it just once, then just once more. His confidence in himself will grow through the process and is instrumental in a childs growth in LIFE! We sometimes are asked to do things we dont want to do, and without a little risk there is NO reward. Keep encouraging him to try. Thats what this is all about. I remember one of my kids last year would have stayed in a corner the first day if there was one. By the last game he caught a ball and ran for a touchdown. His whole demeanor was transformed in a few short weeks. Now thats a success story of monster importance. Its why I do it!!

#7 Thunder

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 04:26 PM

If you have noticed. 1 HR practices actually become 45 min practices by the time all the players arrive and are ready to go. The first thing I do is add 15 min to my practice time. Then you have built in time for late arrivals, some warm up and setting up a field if needed. If someone is on your practice spot just get started wherever you can. As far as drills. Agility drills isn't really benficial only 1 day a week for anyone. You really need to spend time having fun and teaching basic stuff they will need to compete. I do like making a box area and putting 1 to 2 defenders inside then having ball carriers try to make a touchdown. You can really coach them 1:1 this way. Focusing on trying to stop or slow the ball down instead of just swiping at the flags on a player running full speed. The most popular drill is playing full length of field SHARK. I always finish practice this way, they get conditioning, practice flag pulling and leave VERY happy.

Hope that helps