I’ve Got Flag Football Plays. Now What?

20 11 2009

Question from Coach:

Thank you for your response! I just bought the 7on7 flag football playbooks from http://www.FlagFootballNinja.com. You mentioned that I should pick out five or six flag football plays to start off with.  What plays you would suggest. My flag football team has players ranging from fifth grade to twelfth grade, about 13-14 boys. I was also wondering where I could find some good drills to use for practice. Thanks for the help!
Deterimined to win.


“Without a sound strategy, an army corrodes; its warriors flutter like moths drawn to the flame.”

– Elder of Tsan


Having purchased the Ninja Package, you have already made a wise decision.  With it are over 100 plays that you now have at your fingertips, ready to deploy against an unwary opponent.  But you are right: keep it simple.  For your first game with plays, limit it to a handful.  First assess your team’s strengths (as always, depending on league rules).  But leave the Tricky Playbook out of the equation for now.  You want short passes and quick plays to work on your fundamentals and develop a rhythm on the field.

For your first game, assuming your league lets you run the ball, and you have the personnel to do it, try loading up with 4 passing plays and two running plays.   Try, “Ins and Outs”, “Hitching Post”. “Bullz Eye”, “Banana Split” and “Counter” and “Quick Pitch.”
Hitching Post Flag Football Passing Play

Hitching Post is a great place to start. It is a timing play with four different levels of routes that develop as the play progresses.  The quarterback’s first look is to the hitch (that’s the short curl by the green “Y” receiver.  He should run full speed for about 3-5 steps and then slam on the brakes and spin in towards the QB.  If run perfectly, the football leaves the hands of the QB before the receiver makes his cut, so by the time the defender knows what’s happening, it’s too late, and you’ve made a completion.  After the hitch, the QB’s  next receiver looks are: the releasing center in the left flat (the area 5-10 yards from the line of scrimmage on either side of the field), the left wideout (the receiver lined up farthest right or left of the quaterback, in this case the orange “X” receiver), and finally, the QB can always go up top if the right wideout is able to break free on the deep post route (straight and then angle towards the center of the field). Remember, like many of these plays, success will depend on practice.

As far as drills, check the Ultimate Strategy Guide you received with your purchase of theNinja Package to consider which of the fundamentals your team most needs to work on. Is it catching? Pursuing the ball and defender? Position?  For catching, a great football drill is to have a line of receivers facing the coach.  The first man in the line has to chop his feet and move towards his coach (at about jog speed).  The coach then throws the ball at the approaching player (a basketball-style chest pass is a good close-quarters delivery that sends the ball out quickly and can be aimed high, low or to either side.   Make the receivers watch the ball into their hands. A drop and they do pushups.

Another good catching drill is to have the receiver lie on his back with the coach standing over him. Coach has a football and drops it at receiver.  You can try variations on this depending on the receiver’s skill – have him close his eyes until you have let go; have him start with his hands palms down on the ground; try exerting a little force downwards on the ball.  The point of both of these flag football drills is to work on hand-eye coordination and to get the guys comfortable with catching whatever is thrown at them.

Footwork is also hugely important. Practice. Practice Practice.

I hope this helps.  Keep the Ninja informed of your progress with updates, pictures and messages.

How Do I Build a Youth Flag Football Team From the Ground Up?

13 11 2009


Nathan Lipscomb writes:

I am beginning to coach a 7-7 flag football team for a small Christian school. We don’t have a lot of natural talent to pull from, and they don’t have much background in flagfootball. We started last year and lost every game to teams who had been playing together for a long time. Where do I start with these guys to build an efficient unit.


The Ninja Speaks:

The Scramble

Fundamentals First

“From among the huddled and fearful children I will pick my few and mold my warriors.” – Blademaster of Red Mountain


Already you have taken important steps. You have formed the team, you have played and the players have experienced loss. These are important. But now it is time to take them to the next level of flag football.

To answer you fully, I will make assumptions. I will assume this is a junior high or middle school team and that you have repeat players for a couple of years at a time (rather than a new slate every season). I assume also, that you hold practices, but probably no more than 2-3 per week, and that you play weekly games (up to 8 or 10 in the regular season). Please correct any of the above.

Here are simple steps to start building a solid team:

1. Instill pride and a sense of ownership in the players. If the players don’t want it, it won’t happen. If the guys are going to be successful, this has to be their team. You are a rudder, not the sail and not the wind. A rudder is useless on a still ship. Consider a pre-season team event (an inspirational football movie, for instance) and periodic (weekly if possible) team dinners or other off-the-field activities. Don’t let them use the excuse that they can’t be successful because they are new to the game and their school is just a “small Christian school”. They most likely want to be part of a real team as much as anyone. It is largely your job to show them that the game is important, the team is important and that they can build strength together. Make each flag footbaall game feel like an NFL playoff game. Target leaders in the group, preferably leaders on and off the field, and encourage them to lead this effort.

2. Fundamentals. Stepping on the field in a game is a privilege. First, the players need to earn their stripes. Hammer the fundamentals into the players. Throwing. Catching. Running. Flag pulling. Do drills again and again. Try to make them fun or competitive drills, but (with a fresh season) before you go anywhere near plays, get them used to running around and trying the different aspects of the game. Make sure every person who is going to catch a pass knows what a route is and how to run a good one. Eyes on the ball when you catch. You’d be amazed at how much better a defense plays when everyone swarms the ball, and you don’t give up nearly as many big plays when one guy misses the flag – this is just a matter of practice and discipline, not a talent issue. These are the basics. If you’re shaky on these yourself, review the Ninja’s Ultimate Strategy Guide again.

3. Keep it simple. Especially if they don’t have much of a background in the sport or a lot of innate talent, don’t overwhelm them with scores of plays and schemes and jargon. For the first game in a season with new players, you don’t need more than 4-6 plays. You can always flip the plays and get different looks, but a team like yours with a few well-rehearsed plays will do significantly better than the same team with two dozen plays. The same thing goes for defense. Find one or two simple formations and then you can spend time giving the players reps and practicing drills so when game time arrives, they are not so frazzled by which play they are running and where they have to be.

4. Targeted Attacks A quarterback with John Elway’s arm always helps, but it sounds like the long ball may not be your best weapon. Instead, hone your short, timing routes. If run correctly, these can be absolutely devastating. The next time you watch an NFL game, pay special attention to how open the receivers are when they catch a pass. With a few exceptions, the routes they run often create just a few feet of space for the QB to deliver the ball. If your quarterback can time some hitch routes or quick slants or outs, you’ll start building momentum and rhythm that can take the team far.

5. Great Flag Football Plays. As mentioned before, there don’t have to be many weapons in the arsenal to start with, but make sure they are good. These Flag Football Plays offer a number of options for tearing down your opponent. Use them well.

Those are a few tips to get you started. If you have more questions, the doors to the Ninja’s dojo are always open. Tell your players that they can ask questions themselves as well.

Victory is yours.