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CoachKS
(@coachks)
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I have coached 10U and 12U in the past but this year I am moving down to the clinic level (6U) for the opportunity to coach an A team and move up with them each year but I have some questions/looking for some tips from coaches who have coached this level in the past.

I understand that these kids need to be taught from scratch and I need to spend a great deal of time on the fundamentals but here are my questions where I could really use some advice

1. During the evaluation days what drills do you run?

2. What type of offense would you recommend that is easy for them to learn but also effective? I was thinking double wing, thoughts?
Also keep in mind we can't run singlewing because the league does not allow shotgun/direct snaps at 6U

3. Any helpful tips/advice you could share?

I am up to this challenge and I want to teach and mold these kids to prepare them the best that I can so I appreciate all comments.


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mahonz
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KS

Good for you. Every Coach should experience this level once in their careers. It will teach you the true meaning of the game.

Football is a game....nothing more.

Patience. You will need boat loads of it. Everything you say they will take literally so say as little as possible but instead show them as much as possible. If you are not in shape physically....start getting there now ! When I coached 6 year olds I also coached an 8th grade team. The 8th graders were a piece of cake. The 6 year olds were not.

For example when training a DE to play contain and the TE to kick out and block that DE....they will....for 25 yards up or down field ! You MUST show them that once the TE makes his block and the RB gets past the LOS his job is done. The DE if he gets blocked and the RB does not get around him then he has done his job so now go find the football and get in on the tackle and forget about warring with that TE. If you stop short with any position on what their job is specifically all the way tot eh whistle they will take your instructions literally so be very aware of this...even if you think something is a common sense type thing....still cover it.

Cover as many rules as possible during every drill. They dont know anything so everything is new. We had our QB fumble the football on the opponents one yard line Game One. Everyone looked at the football just sitting there in the grass until both Coaches on the field for both teams yelled out FUMBLE !....so one of the DLM picked it up and ran for a TD. We lost that game by 5 points.  :'(

Defensibly play Cover 0. A FS is a waste of a Player. Play your CB's on the LOS and wide. There is no passing but every play is a sweep or turns into a sweep. Your best players....meaning the kids that best understand Geometry... should play DE and CB. A MIKE LB'r is nothing more than a kid taking up space so a good place to play your Minimum Players. If you play a team that actually runs a Dive a lot...then put a better athlete at MIKE for that game. In 8 games we saw one Team that committed to running the football in-between the Tackles. Still if you have a pretty aggressive DL they will pretty much control the Line of Scrimmage and why so many plays that are not intended to be sweeps....turn into sweeps. It takes a ton of time to get the OL going....the DL is simply playing football so the DL rules.

This is a really good reason NOT to run the DW unless you are not planning to pull anyone....or toss the football. Can they pull?... yes. Can they pull and be effective?...no. Pullers actually just get in the way. We had a few kids pull....accidentally. Goes back to the kids taking everything you say literally. Center asked if number 55 at NG was his man during the first Series of the game. Coach told him yes and thanks for asking such a great question. Then we noticed he was pulling? Then we noticed number 55 was now playing DE.  So like a good soldier the Center blew off his rules and was blocking number 55 just like Coach told him to.  🙂 Can they toss....sure but realize this....at this level the football is GOING TO BE FUMBLED by both Teams on average of every 5th -10th touch. If you toss you are amplifying the problem...and a problem that YOU CANNOT overcome. Why? If you use a K2 football it is too big for their little tiny mitten hands. The first hing you need to do is pick a Center with Piano Fingers....then a QB with Piano Fingers...then a RB with Piano Fingers. That is really teh only way you are going to protect the football more than your opponent.  Our first choice at QB fumbled so often the first few games that I actually looked at his hands to see if something was wrong. He had 10 Thumbs ! So he was replaced and the fumbles stopped....well they stopped coming as often.

So...What O to run? Nothing typical with a set name. Too much thinking.  I'd run the DW but the Spread DW and in Formation only.

......................SE........................T..G..C..G...T................................SE
...........................................W............Q..............W

..........................................................T

Definitely foot to foot splits but the W's should be a bit wide to they can more easily block DE's ON or DOWN. The kick outs are tough. With a Wide Wing the DE's should move out with them so you are creating a nice natural alley. Remember the DC is training his DE's to play outside the end man on the OL so a "Nasty Wing" will confuse the DE's. If the DE moves out great...if he doesn't that is even better. Then i would run WEDGE to the T and a hand off SWEEP to the T and a Q KEEP SWEEP. Then I would add in W Counters.

The only Formation changes I would make is for more SWEEP POWER

......................SE........................T..G..C..G...T................................SE
.........................................................Q..............W..W

..........................................................T

or

......................SE........................T..G..C..G...T................................SE
.......................................W..W...........Q..............

..........................................................T

or

......................SE........................T..G..C..G...T................................SE
............................................W...........Q..............W..T

..........................................................

or

......................SE........................T..G..C..G...T................................SE
..........................................T..W.........Q..............W

..........................................................

Dont worry about telegraphing. Execution is key and Empty Formations actually work VERY well. Our 7 year old team ran 100% Empty the entire season and DID VERY WELL. The idea is to get around the edge or up the alley your W's should create....nothing does that better than an EMPTY formation at this level because 80% of the kids playing Defense dont under stand angles yet.

Your blocking rules are WEDGE to the Center and Severe Angle Block Left or Right. That is all you need. 

So where to put your best blockers?...Center and both SE's. If the opposing DC is smart his CB's are GOOD....so play the odds.

DO NOT GO NO HUDDLE. Go Half Huddle. I would imagine you are allowed on the field so take advantage of this so you can help the Backs. We left the OLM and the SE's on the LOS during the Huddle. Then the Coach would yell out a Color from the Huddle. Our team colors were Cardinal and White so every player wore a Cardinal sock on his Right foot and a White one on his Left foot. Looked really cool but also served a purpose. As the Coach called his play in the Huddle he would yell out a Color to the OLM and SE's. Red meant SAB Right...all they had to do was look at their socks and see Cardinal on the Right...White meant SAB Left...all they had to do was look at their socks and see White on the Left...any color other than Red or White meant WEDGE...all they had to do was look at their socks and know that they didn't wear that Color so WEDGE to the Center.

This also helped organize the flow of the game. by Huddling with as few players as possible you get plays off in a nice tempo. Plus every now and then you will have a confused Defender in your Huddle so you have to help him get to his side of the football. This worked so well  that some of other teams began to copy us and started Half Huddling during the game. Not sure if anyone ever picked up on teh Color thing but again telegraphing really does not matter. This level of play is all about organizing the Ants on the Anthill.  Whoever does this best regardless...wins.

Finally...snacks. Tell the Parents to make sure they are providing some seriously grubbin' snacks. Snackage is VERY important at this level.

My take...and good luck. I REALLY enjoyed coaching this age Group. Keep it lite and keep it real.  😉

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Football is a game....nothing more.

Mike, what's with the misinformation?  Football is life and death and we all know that.

--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
(@coachdp)
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I have coached 10U and 12U in the past but this year I am moving down to the clinic level (6U) for the opportunity to coach an A team and move up with them each year but I have some questions/looking for some tips from coaches who have coached this level in the past.

--I don't know the term "clinic level" or "A team" (unless you're referring to Mr. T and George Peppard).

I understand that these kids need to be taught from scratch and I need to spend a great deal of time on the fundamentals but here are my questions where I could really use some advice

--My approach has been to teach every player "from scratch" (regardless of age or experience).

1. During the evaluation days what drills do you run?

--We do drills that will test out their skill level for a variety of positions:  Everyone kicks, punts, deep-snaps, throws, catches and is timed in sprints.  We don't do blocking evals because in our offense, everyone has to be able to block.

2. What type of offense would you recommend that is easy for them to learn but also effective? I was thinking double wing, thoughts?

--You'll get no argument from me on that.  At that age group, I wouldn't think twice about running it from a 2-point stance, but you may have some goofy league rules that try to dictate that your team is just as limited as everyone else's.

Also keep in mind we can't run singlewing because the league does not allow shotgun/direct snaps at 6U

--See?

3. Any helpful tips/advice you could share?

I am up to this challenge and I want to teach and mold these kids to prepare them the best that I can so I appreciate all comments.

--If it's tackle ball, I'd focus on the same thing I've always focused on (mind you, the youngest age level I've coached is 7-9):  PAIN (Physicality, Aggression, Intensity Now).

--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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coacho
(@coacho)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 659
 

Coach,

I never coached this level of player until I had the opportunity this spring. I taught the linemen this sequence: Cadence, stance, and starts. Kids will learn what we want them to learn. Just teach it systematically and they will learn it systematically. Next we taught the Reach Blocking with a constant, " Reaching Rt, What foot do you step with?, What shoulder do you hit with? and Where do we work?. All the players would respond with the correct answers. It really was exciting to see the kids progress during the camps. Good luck and be patient!


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mahonz
(@mahonz)
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Mike, what's with the misinformation?  Football is life and death and we all know that.

--Dave

😀

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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mahonz
(@mahonz)
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Dave makes an excellent point about the 2 point stance. This is HUGE at the is level. HUGE !

We decided to take the plunge and go 2 point with the 6 year olds. That was 4 years ago and we have not use a 3 point stance since....3 playoff runs....one Championship.

Dont be fooled by the nay sayers. I believe....and this is ESPECIALLY true with the little guys....the 2 point stance creates better blockers faster. Couple of reasons. You spend VERY little time managing a 2 point stance throughout the season giving you more time to teach the really important stuff. They are naturally quicker off the football once you fix any false stepping which is the only issue I have come across with the 2 point stance. Horizontal Mats at their heels during Drills fixes this. 

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Dave makes an excellent point about the 2 point stance. This is HUGE at the is level. HUGE !

We decided to take the plunge and go 2 point with the 6 year olds. That was 4 years ago and we have not use a 3 point stance since....3 playoff runs....one Championship.

Dont be fooled by the nay sayers. I believe....and this is ESPECIALLY true with the little guys....the 2 point stance creates better blockers faster. Couple of reasons. You spend VERY little time managing a 2 point stance throughout the season giving you more time to teach the really important stuff. They are naturally quicker off the football once you fix any false stepping which is the only issue I have come across with the 2 point stance. Horizontal Mats at their heels during Drills fixes this.

Mike,  your check is in the mail.

--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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mahonz
(@mahonz)
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Mike,  your check is in the mail.

--Dave

Dave

We are very grateful too you for this no doubt. When I saw your DW team doing this on film many years ago I thought.....hmmmmm. I had flashbacks of all the truly ugly 3 point stances my kids have managed over the years. Plus I like my OT's in the 2 for pass pro so no more telegraphing.

With our Spring Team we are using 3 foot splits on our Power side of the OL. These are 4th graders. I am convinced that this would not be working for us if we were in a 3 point stance. Im thinking one more game and we can go to 4 feet. Our blocking rules say that we need to be MAX horizontal splits. We have had very few plays blow up for a loss which is a bit of surprise. This is a total experiment for us. 

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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We are very grateful too you for this no doubt. When I saw your DW team doing this on film many years ago I thought.....hmmmmm. I had flashbacks of all the truly ugly 3 point stances my kids have managed over the years. Plus I like my OT's in the 2 for pass pro so no more telegraphing.

--First, you start out by doing something smart, like this ^

--And then you go and do something like that v

With our Spring Team we are using 3 foot splits on our Power side of the OL. These are 4th graders. I am convinced that this would not be working for us if we were in a 3 point stance. Im thinking one more game and we can go to 4 feet. Our blocking rules say that we need to be MAX horizontal splits. We have had very few plays blow up for a loss which is a bit of surprise. This is a total experiment for us.

--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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DL
 DL
(@daniel-lyons)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 4984
 

2. What type of offense would you recommend that is easy for them to learn but also effective? I was thinking double wing, thoughts?

If you are going to move up with them I would run a very basic version of whatever you plan to run in the future so it's easier for any returning players.

I have followed a few players up through the years, but with our levels and weight system the teams have a lot of turnover year to year with a lot of different personnel.

You really just need an inside and outside play and a counter.  3 plays.  That's all I would do.  By 3rd game or so I would probably put in a pass for kicks and giggles.


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DumCoach
(@dumcoach)
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Posts: 8620
 

I have coached 10U and 12U in the past but this year I am moving down to the clinic level (6U) for the opportunity to coach an A team and move up with them each year but I have some questions/looking for some tips from coaches who have coached this level in the past.

Lots of good advice here so far.

I understand that these kids need to be taught from scratch and I need to spend a great deal of time on the fundamentals but here are my questions where I could really use some advice

Yes.  They basically need to know what a fumble is, that they have four tries for a first down (and what a first down is), and be able to understand a chain crew for how far the the first down is.  Six's can play an entire game and not know who won until told afterwards.

1. During the evaluation days what drills do you run?

You'll see see one or two standouts but most 6's are very similar (so much so that 6 year old girls can play fine with 6 year old boys).

You don't say whether it's your own team evaluation drills or tryouts but I'll assume its your own. Line up your team in a defined, safe area about 5 yards apart in full battle gear.  Like this:
-----------------------------
|          X1    O            |
|          X      O            |
|          X      O            | 
|          X4    O            |
-----------------------------
It's X's versus O's.  There are rope or cone finish lines behind each player line (say 10 yards behind).  The X's try and run through the O's to get to the  finish line without running out of bounds.  O's tackle them.  They are told to try for the player opposite them first but to tackle anyone they can second.  Anyone tackled becomes a blocker on the next run (I'd put colored hats on blockers).  Any X that makes it to the finish line gets to run  back again through the O's again.  The first X to reach the finish line is always the winner.  Second and third did not win even though they get to run again (You want to encourage getting their first or they'll run around in circles like "keep away".).  Make a big deal over the winner, especially how he did it.

After three tries, the O's go over to offense and the X's defense (The third try usually has few runners and lots of blockers).

This drill is really popular with the kids (Even a kid who got his finger "Owied" and cries will want to go back in again.).  And you can run this drill a lot first time.  A lot of stuff is going on in their little heads.  Kids naturally run as a bunch and seldom have a clue of running the outside edge because to run there is to separate from the mob.  So you look to see who learns to run the "sideline" first to score.    A sideline runner is a good candidate for a sweep running back or a sideline defender on kickoff.  But keep playing the game because you'll keep learning more about them.  The better tacklers will start to zero in on the best runners to "keep them from winning" (You're finding your linebackers.) on the second run.  Kids who run all three races without tackling anyone will start to also zero in on one particular person they can tackle on the next first race and go straight for him.  They have found the one person who is their natural match up whom they can successfully practice on.    Keep these natural match ups going in your other drills.  When you see a natural match up, line them up opposite of each other in this one.  Keep running the contest.  They will start to cease mob thinking.  More kids will start to separate from the mob.  For example,  X1 above, in trying to score, may run down to X4 and then sweep to score.  You've just found a kid who runs a natural reverse and can also pull from backside to play side (The X's and O's are already in his head).  These kids are all producing themselves and you haven't done a thing.  One kid might follow behind the mob, let them all be tackled, and then burst through from behind.  He runs wedge.  It's already in his head.

You will also see their natural psychology to "run with the pack" (mob mentality).  If one O takes off to tackle X1 and five or six others do too, it allows all the other X's to score and can get the one hammered (Which is why he becomes a blocker next so they can't do it to him again.).  This is going to go on with some until you stop it.  But look for the ones who don't join the mob.  These are your independent thinkers or what the rest of us call DE's and safeties.  Identify the mob thinkers.  They are your wedge blockers.  At this point, put an end to gang tackles by telling them never to run by one un-tackled player to get another. 

You'll want to correct kids but, at first, don't do it.  Delay.  You're slowing down the fun so just watch and take notes - Who has speed, who has moves, who has smarts, who is aggressive, who isn't, who has the pack mentality, and who doesn't.  Meanwhile, they're having a blast.  Then watch one player, three times in a row.  The first time, think of the advice you'd give him but don't actually give it.  Second and third time, watch to see if that advice would actually work.  If you're sure it will, then give it to the player.  Give it fast and in no more than two sentences.  If you're unsure of the advice working, DON'T GIVE IT.  If what you say works, they not only get better but want to hear what you say again.  Giving advice that does't work teaches them you're someone to be ignored.  So be very careful what you say and how you say it.  It has to work.

This game can go on forever.  For example, you can also watch the blockers. The blockers will again act in the same predictable mentality as before.  They will either bunch together (five block one) or constantly pick the same kid to block (their match up).  But some will independently pick targets and these are your down field blockers (the mob blockers are your double teams.).  Once they're identified, now you can introduce coaching to the blockers.  For all blockers, it's the same first instruction.  Never run by an unblocked defender.   And, in this game, they can apply it.  Next, get rid of Clips and Holds.  Again, you can apply it.  In both cases you can't possibly coach the wrong thing.  Meanwhile, they're still having a blast. OK.  You've got the blockers hitting first guy and hitting him legally.  The next step is to teach them to hit someone from the side, never head on.  Block half the man and not all the man.  So now they're looking for someone to knock for a loop while still not running by an unblocked defender.  They're looking for PANCAKES and they're only in their first live drill.

The kids that get knocked for a loop will cry and run to find mom.  Mom should be told to tell him to go back in when he's ready and tell him then to knock the guy for a loop that hit them.  You can see their eyes while standing next to mom as they wipe their tears looking for the guy that did it.  Next play, he's headed out to get him and he's MAD.

Some kids just look to clock others and make them cry.  It's rare but those kids you turn into referees to watch for holding and clips.  They have figured out how to do it.  You just want to make sure they do it legal in a game and making them refs teaches them that.  And getting them out of the game cuts your injuries. 

And the game still isn't over.  Now teach the kids being blocked how to shed blocks.  The madness and mayhem goes on but they're still learning and still having a blast.

And you're still not done.  Teach those who consistently become runners how to stiff arm. You're basically orchestrating a kickoff return that looks like a ballroom brawl but it's actually an organized classroom.         

You'll find offense and defenses change pretty quickly, every three tries, which corresponds to three downs of offense and then punt. 

Notice the three things I did.

1) I created a realistic, fun situation
2) I introduced self learning
3) I gave the injured incentive to come back in and "get the guy that got them"
4) I got rid of bullies
5) I broke up their natural "mob" mentality without saying a word
6) I introduced blocking, penalties, stiff arming, shedding, sideline running, wedge running, and match ups.
7) I found those that naturally pull and those that naturally double team.
8) I have found my best runners and my best "open field" tacklers.

I did this and I never introduced a football.  I did that on purpose.  A football to little kids is like string to kittens.  They've got to chase it.  That encourages the "mob pursuit" mentality.  We don't want that.  If you want to introduce a ball, give every runner one who makes it to the "goal line" for the return run.

SAFETY:  You are going to have kids in tears on this drill.  But you should not even have to hand out a band-aide. It's not cuts and bruises you're worried about.  It's knees and ankles when somebody gets rolled up from the side.  This comes from too many players in too small an area.  So you would not run 26 kids, 13 on each side, in this drill in a confined area .  Take the width of your drill area, divide by 2 and add 1 to get the number of players.  In a 14 yard wide drill area that's 8 players per side.  Start them lined up evenly spaced apart  (They'll be over a yard apart).

Injuries are a function of TIME:  a MOB drill run 30 minutes has twice the chance of producing an injury of the same drill run for 15 minutes.  To play this game for a prolonged period of time bumps your injury odds. Injuries are also a function of impact.  You cannot play this game with 12's because they generate too much impact.  Little tiny kids can play this game but big kids can't.  So use common sense.  If you can see from watching the drill the potential for injury, either remove the offending player, reduce the number of participants, or end the game.  Any game is safe until it's not.  But you'll will usually get warning signs (Someone getting up limping or helmets hitting helmets).  End it on any warning signs. 

Mob Drills are not weekly drills:  A weekly drill limits participation numbers and area size to where there is no chance of injury at all and that's how a true practice is run.  I wouldn't run this game more than twice, only after they can safely tackle, and then never again.  But it includes all the basics and is nor more dangerous than an actual football game.           

 

"Football is for the kids - But let's win anyway."


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RoyalFlush18
(@royalflush18)
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Just finished a season of 5/6 - I'm still a bit tired.

I'll add a couple of things

1.) Form Running - About the 3rd Game I'm out on the field thinking geeze we just don't get to the ball very fast on Defense. I'd did a bit of form running (Nose to Hip Pocket) early in the season but had slacked off stressing it. Next practice I'm watching us go through Dynamic Warm Ups and then it hits me nobody knows how to run or they have forgotten it since I'm not stressing it. Stress it often, every DW period. Slow down, taking an extra 5 to 10 minutes to stress to them the concepts, watch them individually and just run them a bit (attempting to wear them down a bit before any install concepts is key as well, you don't want them @ 100% capacity when trying to explain concepts). We should have done way more. I would emphasize this over all other skills at this age.

2.) To add to Mahonz fumble story. 1st game our BB fumbles it right to our pulling guard who stares at it on the ground for a couple of seconds, then picks it up and hands it back to the BB (which was his brother, sure that never has happened at home).

3.) We went Cisar Direct Snap - 2 Yards Deep and Crouched. Lost 1 fumble all year long (Cost us a game).

4.) Anything other than Foot 2 Foot Splits last about 2 series, unless you are really stubborn.

5.) I would disagree on not using a FS - We started out w/o one (putting or fastest player @ MIKE, mistake, they just can't see through the trash to find the ball). We moved him back to 8 yards and then to 12 yards eventually, they can see back there. DL/DE kill the plays @ LOS or backfield. When they break it is nice to have a player back there to clean up.

6.) Take your practice plans and then cut them in half, and then again. Especially when school starts, they will be off for about 2 weeks (falling asleep in the car on the way to practice etc).

7.) I used color scheme for backs, saying QB, FB, WB, BB can confuse them. So Example: BLUE WEDGE, GREEN POWER, RED COUNTER, etc. rather than QB POWER or 16 POWER.

Mostly have fun, seeing them understand the game, start to care about the score, seeing a CB make an open field tackle for the first time in game 7 is rewarding or in the final game watching your Defense shift to the strong side of the formation (w/o you picking one up and moving him) feels very good. They are also good friends now that have played other sports together.


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mahonz
(@mahonz)
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Posts: 23170
 

Royal

I think I lost 30 pounds that season.  🙂

Bummer KS cant go DS. Under Center is a bear. A SW type of O would be my first and only choice. We figured that out pretty quickly.

Good call in the MIKE. Its kinda nutty that the most ferocious Defensive Position is pretty much ineffective at this level.

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 9631
 

Line up your team in a defined, safe area about 5 yards apart in full battle gear.  Like this: [etc.]

With a great game like that, who needs football?  it's a little like kabady-kabady without the breath holding.

Seriously, although I know you intended it for evaluation & coaching purposes, from the description it looks like a great substitute for football for young kids.  I could see instituting this without pads at day camps, picnics, play school, etc.


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