Thursday, November 29, 2012

Flag Football Playoff Weekend - Part 2

This update was a long time coming,  after Hurricane Sandy we were without power for a week and then clean up concerns took over and before I knew it a month had passed.  Well I finally decided to sit down and update results of our last playoff game.

The short of it was we ended up losing.   It was a good game between two quality teams, and in the end was decided by less than a touchdown.  The final score:  18-14.    It was close the entire game and we had a chance to go ahead in the end, however it was not to be.

Overall is was a good season after going 0-2, we only lost 1 game over the next month and a half.  Final record 8-3-2,  not bad for a team full of random kids who never played together before.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Flag Football Playoff Weekend - Part 1

Our local flag football team made it through 2 games this weekend to move into the next round of play-offs next week.

Our first game went really well we got off to a 19-0 start and ultimately ended winning 19-15 after giving up a late score in the last 5 minutes.   The good thing about this is, it was a very tough team that we had previous had lost to.

Our second game was a sloppy affair and we managed to win 25-19 despite mistake riddled play.    Historically my teams have all played incredibly poorly on late Sunday afternoons for some reason.  In fact our last loss was way back in September, and it was a Sunday aftertnoon game that was scheduled as make up game due to the fields flooding during a rain storm on the previous Wednesday.

I decided not to dwelll on it, after-all win is a win.  We will practice this week, and correct our mistakes and come out next Saturday and play great football.

If you want to see the drills and plays we use Youth Flag Football HQ is a great resource.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Coaches' Playbook: Trips End Around

Youth Flag Football HQ has posted my newest youth flag football play writeup. 

The Trips End Around is a really useful play but requires a good amount of practice to get it right.   Our team has scored many touch downs and first downs off this play with both running or throwing.   Make sure the runner executing the end around has some decent throwing ability too.   Once my players are comfortable with this play I let the receiver make the read to throw a pass or run.   Often the defense will move forward to pull the runners flag leaving the deep sideline uncovered.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Culture of Snacks - Part 2

In my previous post I discussed whether or not it was necessary to offer snacks to children in youth sports.  Assuming we all agree for the moment that there is no harm to offering our kids a snack at the end of play, then this begs the question of what kind of snacks should we offer?

One parent, who has a background in nutrition and athletic training, suggested avoiding sugary and processed foods in favor of healthy snacks.  This parent was particularly concerned about the link between processed foods and the rates of obesity, cancer, and other diseases.

I felt a bit remiss as a parent and a coach that I had never thought of this before.   It also made me wonder why the concept was not more prevalent in youth sports?   I was also surprised when the idea was met with disinterest and in one case out right resistance.

Obesity is a rising crisis in the country.  The USA now has one of the highest rates of obesity among all developed nations. Childhood obesity in particular is something we as parents and coaches should be concerned with.   Information of the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states that:

"Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from just one generation ago."

The CDC also makes the following suggestions for parents to help fight childhood obesity:
  • Provide more fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in fat and sugar, and prepare healthier foods at family meals.
  • Serve water instead of sugar drinks.
  • Encourage physical activity every day.
    It therefore seems counterproductive to give our players unhealthy snacks at the end of an athletic event, considering we are actually trying to promote staying active to encourage our kids to stay fit and healthy.   Also if we are going to prepare healthier options for our family meals, why not at game time too?

    Choosing to offer healthy alternatives to processed foods gets kids into healthy habits at a young age.  In doing so we help curb bad habits now, and provide our children healthy nutritional habits that will stay with them as they develop into young adults.

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Coach's Playbook: Trips Receiver Screen

    "Trips Receiver Screen" is run out of the Trips flag football formation just like my previous 2 flag football plays, "Trips Center Screen"  and "Trips Swing Pass"

    The 3 wide receivers (A, B, D)  line up to the far right near the sideline and close together (this is the same for all "Trips" formations).  The quarterback (Q) is under center (C) and the running back (R) is lined up on the opposite side from where the wide outs are lined up, 3-4 yards deep.
    At the snap of the ball the 2 wide receivers on the inside both run deep post patterns.  The center (C) will run a deep flag pattern.  These are the decoys.  The running back (R) short out pattern just beyond the line of scrimmage.  Receiver A take a small studder step forward and turns to face the quarterback.   The quarterback (Q) should pump fake toward one of the deep receivers (B, C or D) then turn quickly and throw the ball to receiver A.   Depending on the rules of your league it may be necessary for A to step forward over the line of scrimmage before the pass is thrown.

    The play is designed to catch the defender back pedaling to cover D & B as they start to pass by or moving out of position on the pump fake.    If the corner back is getting aggressive and moving up to cover A, or trying to jump the route to intercept the ball,  then you can have A run a stop&go instead.    In this case the quarterback should pump hard to A and as the defender moves up, A should sprint past and down the side line. 
    You can also use this play to set up several other options from this same formation:
    • A fast hand-off to the running back (R) 
    • Faking a hand-off to the running back then throwing deep to one of the wide outs - D, C, or B.
    • Fake to A then throw deep to D, C or B

    For more flag football plays & drills go to Youth Flag Football HQ

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    The Culture of Snacks - Part 1

    A recent debate broke out between the parents of my 5 year old's soccer team.   As the debate raged on one voice reached me clearly above the din and it asked pointedly "Why do we need to give the kids snacks anyway?".  Although its intent was to be facetious, it made me stop for a moment and think about this culture of snacks in youth sports.

    After I engaged this fellow and asked him what he meant, he recalled to me his childhood bereft of snacks.  "We were lucky to have water and orange slices"  So why is it ours kids require a snack after a 1 hour game? 

    I thought about my own 2 children,  my 5 year who gets a snack after every game and my 9 year who has since left the snack culture behind.  I realized I had lost track of when my older child stopped getting snacks at the end of a game and it peeked my curiosity as to what others thought might be the appropriate age to forgo the post game snack or if snacks were need at all.

    If we do indeed give snacks out after games, what is the benefit if any?  What about the drawbacks? Are we pre-conditioning our children in someway to bad eating habits? 

    Please tell me what you think, do our kid's need snacks after games?  If so why and at what age do you think this no longer applies?

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Coach's Playbook: Trips Swing Pass

    "Trips Swing Pass" is very similar to my previous flag football play "Trips Center Screen"  conceptually except the rolls of the center and running back are reversed. 

    The 3 wide receivers (A, B, D)  line up to the far right near the sideline and close together (this is the same for all "Trips" formations).  The quarterback (Q) is under center (C) and the running back (R) is lined up on the opposite side from where the wide outs are lined up, 3-4 yards deep.

    At the snap of the ball the 3 wide receivers all run deep post patterns.  These are the decoys.  The center (C) will hesitate for a second then run a short slant toward the opposite sideline.   The running back (R) comes behind the quarterback running parallel to the line of scrimmage.  As the running back nears the sideline, in the area that the wide receivers (A, B, D) have vacated, he should turn up field.   The quarterback (Q) should them be able to pass the ball aiming in front of the running back so that he is able to catch the pass on the run.   It takes some practice but once executed correctly the "swing pass" is a very effective toss that gets your running back outside with the ball.

    If the running back does not get open, the center (C) is the short dump off option.  
    After we call this play a few times,  I like to confuse the defense by lining in the same football formation as if we are running the same play and then using one of these 2 options instead:
    • A fast hand-off to the running back (R) 
    • Faking a hand-off to the running back then throwing deep to one of the wide outs - D, B, or A.
    You can find similar flag football plays on Youth Flag Football HQ website.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Pitfalls to avoid as parent coaches

    Here are 5 tips to help parent coaches be a better parent.

    1Do not show favoritism to your child
    This is one of the more common pitfall's that I encounter as a youth sports coach.   The best advice I can give is to create team rules and enforce team rules equally for all players.  Favoring one child above another can cause resentment and harm him or her socially.

    2.  Likewise do not be overly hard on your child.
    As a parent-coach it is easy to fall in to the trap of over-compensating for perceived favoritism by being too critical of your child.   Unnecessarily pressuring any child can result in negative outcomes, and hurt your parent-child relationship.

    3.  Do not hold you child to a higher standard then the other players
    This is much like being to hard on your child, but for a different reason.   Here the coaching parent may feel that their own child is some how a representation of his or her coaching abilities.   As a result you demand perfection while forgetting that your child is just that, a child. 

    That leads us to the next tip.

    4.  Leave it on the field
    Try not to bring the game home with you.  Coaching critiques belong in practices and games, not the dinner table. If your child wants to discuss something about the game, try to discuss it as his/her parent not as the coach.

    5.  Understand your child is not you.
    You child is playing, not you.  The glory days of travel soccer, HS football or state championship swimming are well behind you.  Simply put, do not be disappointed if your child does not excel in the same way you did.  Keep the focus on the child doing his or her personal best and having FUN, rather than how the child measures up to your abilities.

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Why flag football?

    As a youth sports coach one of the questions I get asked a lot is why play flag football as opposed to standard tackle football.   These types of questions generally stem from a negative stigma attached to the sport that considers flag football as recreational only (i.e. non-competitive), or worse that flag football is only a dumbed down version of standard football.  I take these types of questions as an opportunity to educate parents on the virtues of flag football.  

    Here are some of my reasons for preferring to have my child participate in flag football over tackle football:
    • Safer.   Even if you don't believe that concussions are a problem, as a parent you have to be concerned with having your developing child in scenarios where they are having constant full contact with other players.
    • Learning basic skills.  Flag players spend most of there time learning to throw, catch, run routes and defend the pass or run. A flag player will have the same or more knowledge in these areas then the average standard football player, especially considering the next point.
    • More diversity in skill positions.   Flag players are more likely to play a variety of skill positions.    In standard youth football players tend to get stuck in certain positions based on their skill set and athletic make up. For example,  a player I know recently moved to the 10-11 year old football program.  Because this player is more robust he ended up on the defensive line, this is most likely the only position he will play the entire season.
    • Co-ed friendly.  From my observations the ratio of girls to boys in flag better then most sports at the youth level.  Its not uncommon to see an all girls league or at the very least a team made up mainly female players.
     I'd also like to look at what the players will miss out on in flag football.
    • Blocking.  As most flag rules are non-contact, there is normally no blocking.
    • Tackling.  Again do to the non-contact nature, there is no tackling required.  Instead players will plug the flag from the flag belt in order to perform a "tackle". 
    For children and parents alike flag offers some great benefits in that it is less demanding time-wise, safer from injury and co-ed friendly.  At the same time flag football offers most all the necessary skills that the players need to be able to transition to standard football.  

    I fully intend to let my child "pad-up" and play standard football a few years down the road.  However, for right now we are fully enjoying flag football , confident that when it is time to transition my kids will be able step-in with little if any learning curve.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Coach's Playbook: Trips Center Screen

    "Trips Center Screen" is a play taken from my 2011 season flag football playbook.  The play is designed for 6-on-6 flag football.  "Trips" refers to the football formation the players line up in where there are triple receivers lined up wide and close together.  I have also heard this called a "bunch" formation, since the receivers are standing bunched up.

    The 3 wide receivers (A,B, D)  line up far right near the sideline and close together.  The quarterback (Q) is under center (C) and the running back (R) is lined up on the opposite side from where the wide outs are lined up, 3-4 yards deep.

    At the snap of the ball the 3 wide receivers all run deep post patterns.   These are the decoys. The center (C) will hesitate for a second then run underneath the area cleared out by the wide outs as they ran past.  If the center does not get open, the running back (R) is the dump off option.  

    After a few successful passes to the center, I like to mix it up by either handing off to the running back or pump faking to the center then throwing deep to one of the wide outs - D, B, or A.

    You can also flip this football formation so that the receivers are on the left and the running back on the right.   This will sometimes confuse a defense, who may think it's a totally different play.

    Four Tips for Coaching Kids

    I dug up this article from Feb 2011, posted over at Draft Day Suit.   It's short and to the point.

    Follow this link to read the full article:  Four tips for coaching kids sports

    Kick Off!

    The fall season is perhaps my most favorite time of the year, so for me its an apt time to "kick off" my blog. I mean there is so much to love about the fall;  cooler weather (after a sweltering summer) brings cheaper energy bills, trees changing colors, Halloween, and of course FOOTBALL! 

    Football is my favorite sport of all time, a classic battle of skill & will.  Oh how I love thee football! Let me count the ways, the NFL (Go Giants!) and College (Go Rutgers!), of course Fantasy Football (Go ME!) and last but not least is coaching a local youth flag football team.   The last will be the focus of this blog for the next 8-10 weeks, as I share my experiences and thoughts on my second season at the helm.