Ask The Ninja

The Ninja is wise.


12 responses

12 11 2009
Nathan Lipscomb

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.

13 11 2009
The Ninja

“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.


21 12 2009

Does the 8 on 8 playbook also come with the defensive information? Can the defensive info be purchased separtely? What kind of info is in the defensive packet. Thanks.

21 12 2009

The 8man playbook from my dojo ( does come with the Defensive Handbook (as do our other products). The handbook gives you general scheme advice as well as specific formations. Remember, one of the keys to an effective defense is to be flexible but simple. You do not need 25 formations, but rather just a handful that work. Vitaliano, from my dojo, I wishe you swift and powerful Ninja Victory.


26 03 2010

I am in a league that runs 5-on-5, no center. 98% percent of the time the defense we face is man. QB must be pressured to run. We do run the ball in our league and I have a fast powerful QB who loves to block.

I am hoping to get some plays, passing and running, to take advantage of my teams talent. I have two super quick WR/RB. I also have two huge Randy Moss like WR(6-3, 37′ inch vert).

Can you suggest some plays for me? I am also looking for a program to design plays or a blank playbook templet.

Can you help me out? We are a very good team.

26 03 2010

Check out the 5man Core 30 Playbook for starters. If your league has no center, run the center release routes from a tight end, slot back or even half back position. You can mix this up with running plays, swings, options or quick hits. With your dominant receivers, work on isolating them and giving them the jump ball, crossing them deep, and, on occasion running them off as decoys for an under play. With a tight man defense, there will be a premium on tight routes and good timing between the QB and the receivers. A well-placed ball thrown to a timing route should be unstoppable.

And this is a gift from the Ninja to you.

29 03 2010

Wow thanks for the gift. This looks great. I used four of those formations last season. I just need to figure out have to draw on the formation. Right now I am just printing them out and drawing by hand. I am looking into the playbook. I expect to buy it as the season gets closer. Does it come with a ready made wrist band format? Like an easy way to print them in the correct size?

29 03 2010

My flag football team purchased your 8on8 set and it’s absolutely been very helpful.

However, we have a dilemma that we’ve been trying to solve for a few games:

This season, some of our team’s veteran guys were replaced by more inexperienced and less physically-capable players. So now our team now has about 2-3 guys that we are having problems trying to decide where to play.

We want this to be a positive experience for everyone, so we do not want to bench any of our players or put them only on special teams, but we really do not know where to place these guys. Any ideas?

This is an 8v8 league, and we run separate offensive and defensive personnel. We run a pretty standard cover-2 zone on defense. I was thinking maybe putting these guys as WR (we normally have 4 WR), as this would still leave 2 veteran WRs. We’ve tried OL, DL, and CBs, but they’ve almost been liabilities in these positions.

Thanks for your help!

29 03 2010

Lee, the playbooks we currently offer can be resized and printed using the Adobe print menu. It allows you to print multiple pages per sheet. But we are in the process of rolling out true wrist plays for each package on the site

17 08 2010

This is my second year coaching a 9 yr old 4 on 4 flag football team and I need help. I’m looking for some basic or semi advanced plays on offense and some defensive formations. We are allowed 1 rusher on defense.
I’d also like some drills to run in practice to back up the above plays.


19 08 2010

Youth Coaching Tips

Thanks for the email. The 4on4 package we offer provides 30 core passing and running plays that include both beginner schemes and more advanced plays. The Base 10 supplements the Core 30 package with an additional core play set. The feedback we have received from other coaches has been very positive. Just remember, as you probably know it’s better to have 4-6 plays your guys know cold rather than 20 they can’t execute well. Especially for youth teams, fundamentals and simplicity are king.

Included in all purchases from our site are the Ultimate Strategy Guide. This should give you a leg up in some of the basic skill sets and coaching techniques to propel your team to the next level. As for defensive schemes, with 4man football, you options are limited. Check out our blog post that discusses this in more detail.

Also, you are about 30 days too early, but we are in the process of ramping up for the launch of our youth site, which will include coaching tips, drills, plays, strategy and more. Go ahead and purchase one of our products, and the Ninja will send you some drills and practice ideas for your team.

Best of luck Coach.


2 12 2010
Mike UK

Coach, although have coached at varisty level mainly wing T in the UK, i am this year a 1st year JV (14-16yr) coach in the UK where my son will be playing. Football orgainsed by BAFACL runs from May-September in the UK and at this age group 5on5 is full contact. To my mind this is still flag football in principal, hence i have purcahsed 5on5 offense,defense and strategy guides which i think are great by the way and will essentially be our playbook this year. I wondered if you had any tips playing the offense, implemeting your playbook with full contact in mind??

Football is alive and well on the other side of the pond.

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