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Coyote
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Greetings Coaches...

We have a Pee Wee = 7U's (2nd grade and under) division in our league.  I'm told our league originally only had 2 age groups, 3rd-4th and 5th-6th grades, but there were so many little brothers running around during practices (running around getting in mischief / playing at football w/out pads) the mom's put their collective foot down and demanded the little(r) guys get to play, too.  So... 

The Pee Wees practice same time we do, and occasionally I'll look around at what they are doing....   my heart goes out to those coaches, they have the toughest jobs in the league... some of the kids are as young as 5yrs old.  Kick over an Anthill and try to organize the ants, that's a pretty good idea of what their practices look like.... 

Anyway, outta curiosity, anyone here coach this age group?  

Whether you do or don't....  I'm curious as to what Offense you'd run and why.   What Defense?   

Anything special you'd do or not do, 

Any advice?

I'm not planning to take on that challenge, I like my age group.   But would like to tap into the collective wisdom of the group and see what shakes out.

Thanx

This topic was modified 1 year ago by Coyote

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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gumby_in_co
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Mahonz and I went from coaching a Freshman Spring team to a 2nd grade Fall team. I believe we started with 7 first graders and finished with 4. We ran a simplified version of the Wing-T that Mahonz invented called "Monster" and tried to run Beast. We absolutely could not find a shotgun snapper to save our lives, so Beast suffered accordingly.  We changed up defenses quite a bit. I think we started out running the 46 and ended up with the 335. At 2nd grade, stop the sweep and you'll beat 3/4 opponents.

It was a huge adjustment for us. We're all about "ownership", so we try to implement "football IQ" with our players. The idea is that they understand the game and make independent decisions accordingly. Bad, bad idea with 2nd graders. One day, Mahonz was working with a group on our onside kicks.  I saw his grandson chasing a rolling kick. He jumped up in the air and tried to stomp the ball with both feet, falling ass over teakettle. I immediately recognized what was going on and ran over to Mahonz. "You told him to 'jump on the ball', didn't you?"  That's exactly what happened. 

For me, coaching the younger age groups shifted my focus. I still want to win football games, but that's just not a realistic goal. So I'm much more focused on making better football players and building relationships. It's cool when a 13 year old thinks you're the best coach since Glen Scobey "Pop" Warner, but when a 6 year old thinks that, it will melt your heart.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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CoachDP
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I coached 7-9s for five years.  Not quite a 7U team, but each had plenty of 7-year-olds.  It's like any other age group in regards to boredom and keeping them busy.  The result (of boredom) just usually manifests itself differently with this group.  Too many coaches make the mistake of thinking that the kids should just blindly follow and listen.  Kids will, if you give them reason to.  But since most coaches won't given them reason, the result is organizing ants/herding cats/goat rodeo.  As a coach, you can't go out there and try to figure it out on the fly how to run a practice/keep them busy.  Unfortunately, that's what commonly happens as most of the coaches (dads) are in their first couple years of doing this, as well.  Which is why it looks like a cluster.  

You don't have to run a scheme.  You can be successful teaching a formation and fundamentals.  Block and tackle.  And if you know how to teach a scheme, I'd only teach enough to get it up and running, then go back to teach/rep the fundamentals.  Good blocking and tackling are worth more than their weight in gold and I rarely see ANY blocking; the ball-carrier simply runs for his life.  Most defenders can't tackle (at all).  I'd teach a very basic Double Wing, but that's because I know the offense.  If I didn't know a scheme, the formation of I, split backs, wishbone, double wings, etc. do not matter.  A problem in coaching appears when coaches think they want to be Bill Walsh with this age and start teaching scheme.  Can you teach it?  Sure.  But it simply isn't necessary because you won't be facing a real scheme.  So quit trying to emulate something/someone you saw on TV and give the kids and your team what they need: being kept busy in fundamental work.  You can add "flourishes" as you go through the season, but how many times have we seen coaches brag about how many plays they have, at a certain age level?  Meanwhile, their gameplay resembles the scenario above (ball-carrier takes snap/hand-off and runs for his life).  

But most coaches won't spend time on fundamentals because:

They don't know how to teach them. (They need to practice the art of instructing kids how to do something kids at that age have never done before.)

They don't know what they are. (They need to know what the fundamentals are.)

They only know a limited few. (They need to add pertinent variations to their teaching guide.)

They aren't sexy like scheme. (They'd better be, because your BEST chance of winning comes from it.)

Meanwhile fundamentals get the short shrift throughout the week, only to hear the complaints came back about it on game day: "Y'all aren't blocking!  Everyone looks scared to make a tackle."  Makes me wonder how these guys were spending their time all week.

--Dave

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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32wedge
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I coached a 6U team.  I tried to teach an overly complicated scheme and we were awful.  Then I threw all my great ideals out the window, lined up in a double tight, balanced line, full house Power T formation all the time and ran 3 plays: sweep right, sweep left and FB dive.  We got real good.  Work on ball security, ball security and then ball security.  If your ball security is good, you can introduce the concept of blocking and how blocking is different from tackling.  Teach your runners which end zone they should run to and explain that they might have to run to a different end zone in the second half.

Stay real basic on defense.  6-2 is usually good.  Spend most of your time on tackling, pursuit angles, and stripping the ball.  If you can contain the outside runs you will be a tough team to beat.

My killers:

 


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @32wedge

Work on ball security, ball security and then ball security.  If your ball security is good, you can introduce the concept of blocking and how blocking is different from tackling. 

--Exactly.  And most coaches (regardless of level) spend only a minimal amount of time on ball security.  At an age where the ball is on the ground 4-14 times per game, being the team that doesn't beat itself is the EASIEST way to victory.

Spend most of your time on tackling, pursuit angles, and stripping the ball.  If you can contain the outside runs you will be a tough team to beat.

--When you contain, you take away the #1 play of virtually every 8U offense on the planet.

--Dave 

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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terrypjohnson
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I coached 8U and Flag (supposed to be 6U but it was basically my son and a bunch of 4-year olds). I had a blast and was really sad when the season ended. Was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I agree with CoachDP and 32Wedge. Work on the basics. Those will ultimately determine your success.

Here's a few tidbits that worked for me at 8U:

1) I've run mostly Single Wing and Beast. This year, I'm going to run the double wing out of the shotgun. For the most part, I keep it simple, Power, Counter, Blast, and Sweep. I run them over and over and over, so that the kids don't forget.

2) On defense, I've run the Wide Tackle 6 and Killer Bee. I had more success with the Killer Bee, but they're both solid defenses.

3) And CoachDP taught me this -- stress physical play during EVERY SINGLE DRILL. I didn't do this perfectly last year, but the more I stressed physical play, the better the results on the field. As the season wore on, the kids had so much fun doing eye-openers that they actually begged their parents to let me extended practices by 15 minutes, so that they could "call out" a teammate at the end. We allowed a total of six points over the last four games.

Truth be told, I enjoy coaching at this level. I hope they'll let me continue to do after my kids grow up!

Coach Terry

Fight 'em until Hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice -- Dutch Meyer


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @coyote

Anyway, outta curiosity, anyone here coach this age group?

IIRC, Mahonz did fairly recently.

I don't have any advice that could rightly be considered news, but here goes:

Don't warm them up at all.  That'd just bore them and get them focusing on the wrong things.

Do everything in full pads.

Spend at least 60% of your time on defense.

Don't put much effort into tackling form.  Focus on getting bodies to the ball on defense.  Think pursuit, not tackling.  Practice pursuit angles.  Don't work at all on beating blocks.

Once you get bodies to the ball on defense, tackle the ball, not so much the runner.  You may get slow whistles, you may get fast ones, be prepared to take advantage of the slow ones.

Make holes in a 0-splits O-line by crabbing or shoeshining across 2 or more of them, then blitz thru the opening.  Work on plays like that to keep the ball from getting out of the backfield, and then pursue to the sideline if it does.

Practice plenty of recovering balls on the ground.  Throw in an extra "loose ball" any time in any drill, even if there's already another ball on the ground.

On offense, the only work I'd do on "ball security" would be how to hold it and to remember not to use that shoulder to impact opponents.

The offense formation I'd use would be a dual T or Wyatt wildcat, with 2 quarterbacks each positioned to be able to reach for a hand-to-hands snap.  One gets the ball, the other fakes.  All plays would be keepers, with an occasional forward pass.  Don't work on passing or receiving form, though.

Track block everything.  Use some field landmark so they don't have to remember left and right.

If you can manage a wedge, do it.

Just concentrate on kicking the ball off far enough to be legal, then recover it whether kicking or receiving.

This post was modified 1 year ago 2 times by Bob Goodman

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Coyote
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Thanx Coaches. 

Appreciate your time and wisdom.   

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @terrypjohnson

Work on the basics. Those will ultimately determine your success.

The problem with getting other coaches to believe this is when you're just repping "the basics," you're not impressing anyone with your NFL Gus Malzahn RPO West Coast offense coaching skills.  

On the flip side, there're those who believe that "because of the age group," that they're limited to just blocking who's ever in from of you, or simply "running the ball to daylight."  And thus, won't teach anything.  

 

Pick a simple blocking scheme (SAB, TKO, Part, etc.) and find a wide variety of ways to teach your block, your footwork, your hand-placement, your body lean...

Focus on keeping the ball (we use bad pitch/bad hand-off drills) and taking away the ball drills.

Teach physicality and aggression (i.e., effort).

Teach ball-carriers to run through the pile, not away from it.

Teach contain defenders how to maintain leverage and tackle in the open field.

Any number of simple, misdirection plays will usually result in a touchdown.  Use that on offense and teach your defense how to leverage, contain and stay home (i.e., don't chase the string).

When you teach a kid how to spell, they'll be confident in the Spelling Bee.

--Dave

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
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Another thing to remember about the offensive style of play at this age:  Most successful series are: scrum, fumble, penalty, big-play-to-the-outside touchdown.  Fumble, penalty, scrum, big play to the outside touchdown.  Penalty, scrum, fumble, big-play-to-the-outside touchdown.

Since there's nothing to fear from either the penalty, the fumble, or the scrum, you really only need to concern yourself with your defense preventing The Big Play (whether it's sweep-by-design or the broken play.  At this age, the broken play is just as much of a scoring threat as is the sweep-by-design).  

For those who coach at the entry-level age group, look at your vids and see how many touchdowns came from 10+ play possessions with touchdowns occurring from inside the 10-yard line, as opposed to how many were of the big-play-to-the-outside variety. 

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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32wedge
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This is my 2nd team ages 7/8 and the earliest film of my teams.  Proves a 17 play drive that takes a quarter and a half of time off the clock is possible with little guys.  😆

 


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Coyote
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Posted by: @coachdp

ost successful series are: scrum, fumble, penalty, big-play-to-the-outside touchdown.

Yep, that's about what I see when I watch their games... 

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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Coyote
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Posted by: @bob-goodman

dual T or Wyatt wildcat, with 2 quarterbacks each positioned to be able to reach for a hand-to-hands snap.

Hi Bob,

I googled this  ...   For the 7U's - it's intriguing, might just play with it w/ my kids, as a change-up.  

Thanx

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @coyote
Posted by: @bob-goodman

dual T or Wyatt wildcat, with 2 quarterbacks each positioned to be able to reach for a hand-to-hands snap.

Hi Bob,

I googled this  ...   For the 7U's - it's intriguing, might just play with it w/ my kids, as a change-up.  

Thanx

I'm not saying you should implement the entirety of a Wyatt wildcat, but just anything that has that dual T aspect.  You wind up with either of 2 players in the formation who look like they might have the ball, and that's important with 7Us because handoffs tend to be clunky and un-deceptive: the ballcarrier and ballcarrier-to-be meeting, usually facing each other (whether they should or not), stopping and exchanging the ball.  And I wouldn't toss it either.

So just snap (either hand-to-hands or the short toss Wyatt implemented, backs side-by-side with hands a couple feet from the snapper's crotch) and go in two directions, with whoever actually has the ball keeping it.  If you do it hand-to-hands, only one of the backs can break the plane of the snapper's waist while waiting, so it's best if they both thrust their hands forward to meet the ball just as the snap motion starts, except one of them is actually meeting the ball in the snapper's crotch and the other is just putting his hands onto the snapper's butt.

If it was me and succeeded in teaching a wedge (Calande/rugby-set-scrum style, shoulder into butt), I would have 3 blocking schemes: track left (field landmark on that side) with a back engaging the EMLOS that the line's leaving alone, track right (mirrored), and wedge.  Pass play would be wedge-and-freeze.  The back who seems to have nothing to do on the other side of the track scheme would just fill in on that edge of the track.

If I really didn't think the kids were getting the wedge, then I'd just go with the left and right track blocking in games.

 

Sorry, I meant the above in regard to a 7U team, not necessarily to whomever else Coyote's coaching.  Nothing wrong with a full implementation of double T or Wyatt wildcat for more sophisticated kids, just dumbing it down for 7Us.

 

This post was modified 1 year ago 2 times by Bob Goodman

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terrypjohnson
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Sadly, my league -- and the GRPA for that matter -- has rules against doing some of these things. For example, you can't do a direct snap to any other than the quarterback. That means no FB Wedge (which you couldn't do anyway because it's an A Gap run), no side-saddle T, and no Single Wing where the halfback is on the left leg of the center and quarterback on the right leg. I'm surprised that I didn't get a flag for the guard reverse that I ran. Perhaps there's a good reason for this rule, but I never figured out what that might be.

Fight 'em until Hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice -- Dutch Meyer


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