Cart 0

Reader comments on Coaching Youth Flag Football

"I never did tell you about my first experience with flag football last year and the great help your book provided. We went 8-0 in eight person flag football and absolutely killed everyone with the trap play. I used fair playing time and had three different kids in the backfield for every game, so we only were able to learn and run 3 plays all year long. Next year I will put the kids where they are the most effective and then be able to learn more plays and we should have another great year." Jeff Jones, Lincoln, NE

Dear Coach Reed,

I have the Coaching youth football, GAM and Coaching Youth Flag Football books. I just finished my first season of 5 on 5 NFL flag (7, 8 and 9 yr olds) with a record of 8-0. We outscored our opponents 273-32. 20 of our opponents points came during the super bowl after we had established a 36-0 lead.

What I gained from your coaching books that helped my team become so dominant was that we did not do purely conditioning segments. We had two practices per week of 1 hr and 30 minutes. While our opponents where jogging around the practice field we were running plays full speed ( about 3 per minute) with the kids not on offense for the particular play on defense. We also did this without flags for the first hour of practice, 2 hand touch was the norm. Come game time our offense was so precise parents would come to me after games and just say "I can not believe how much you have taught my son". I had eight kids on my team. All scored TD's during the season and 7 put points on the board for us in the super bowl. My kids never got tired during any game, including one day we had only 5 players make it to a game we played against the team with the fastest boy in our division. They were spent after 40 minutes of pursuit sideline to sideline, but they were able to stay with him throughout the game. Also, we always started the game with a hurry up no huddle offense. This led to our team normally scoring within the first couple of minutes of first possession. We would go to no huddle throughout the game and just kept our opponents on their heels.

I am very exited about the upcoming tackle season. I will be the defensive coordinator for our 9-10 yr old team. I will be installing the GAM which our HC is very exited about.

Thanks for sharing your experince and insight with the rest of us!

Best Regards,

Gus Sanchez

Hi Jack,
Now I've spent two seasons trying your single wing ideas in our youth flag football league.  I'm just down the road from you in Pleasanton.
Last year I just mixed in some Single Wing plays along with the offense that I've run for the last several years which was my attempt at adapting an Urban Meyer spread offense to flag football.  I had mixed results with that and finished the season at .500.
This year I decided to heed your advice and drastically simplify my offense.  I went exclusively to my 8 man adaptation of the the Single Wing - same formation as below.  This year we went 8-1 and tied for our league championship.  I made a limit of 10 plays and tried to stick to the 'sister play' approach.  We've drilled those 10 plays over and over.  I've made a couple of adjustments during the season but used the "replacement play" approach.  Every time I add a play I pull a play out that has been unsuccessful.  This has worked well as it keeps things simple and we have a set of 10 basic plays that all have proven success.
I really achieved my best success once I became willing to repeatly run an off-tackle play until the defense adjusted. Every other team in my league runs a spread offense so everyone keeps wide containment and deep safeties.  If there is no adjustment we can run inside the containment and underneath the safeties for 5-10 yards at a clip.  I've scored on the opening drive of all but one game just by hammering it in with an off tackle play (I call it our "Power" play).  After the first TD the defense starts to adjust and then it opens up the wing reverse or my passing game.  I use your exagerated wing reverse and that really works in flag football.  We've had 3 long TD runs from that play with a wide open weakside.  You really need to be patient running off tackle to set that up though.  I made the mistake the first year of using the Single Wing to primarily try the reverse as a "home run".  I expected the defense to adjust as soon as they saw the formation.  That really doesn't happen in youth football quickly.  It seems that you have to beat the defense over the head to make them adjust.
I've made two modifications to the passing game that have become really valuable to us.  The first is a simple swing pass to our wing back.  I have the WR run a short slant across the middle and then send the wingback to the spot where the WR lined up.  I have the QB (I call my tailback QB just to keep from confusing the kids) look to the WR and then throw to the wingback.  The contain man almost always goes with the WR at least a few steps.  This leaves the wingback catching the ball at the line of scrimmage with 10 yard between him and the safety.  I don't overuse this play, but I'm average 15 yards and have broke 2 long touchdowns.   The other play that has been successful is a modified roll out pass.  I get the TE to double team block and then release off of the block to the weakside of the field.  After pounding away at the off-tackle play the safeties start cheating strongside.  Some times my TE is standing with no one within 15 yards of him.  The QB rolls right and then stops and throws back across the field.  I teach the QB to just tuck and run if the TE is not wide open.  This play is an interception if there is any kind of coverage on the TE since it's a hard pass back across the field.  My QB only went against my advice once and threw that play into coverage for our only interception of the year.
Thanks a lot for your book and for your ideas.  I've been coaching flag football for 5 years and this was my most successful year ever.  The talent leve of my team was average compared to previous seasons. Most teams don't even have a clue what we are doing.  After one of the games an opposing (losing) coach came over and asked me what decade my offense was from.  I just smiled.
Jeff May

We installed the offense into our 7 man league that doesn't allow any contact and screen blocking only.

We had a scrimmage against another team, 2nd place in super bowl last year, for 15 minutes we were on offense only, as that is the only side of the ball we have practiced so far. We simply marched down the field at will, they never stopped us, not every play worked as a couple boys didn't run the correct routes. But we had a ball and just like you said they felt pretty good but 21 points no interceptions no plays resulting in a loss. At the end they were even coming across a little early and we were playing our 2nd and 3rd string.

When I started reading and you had nothing specific on 7 man teams I thought I was dead meat but the philosophy was right on so I could adapt rather easily. Thank You!!! So far so good.

John, I almost feel guilty your book is excellent!!! I would be doing everything wrong if I hadn't read the book.

We are installing the defense tonight. This is a lot of fun.

[2nd email] As I said we installed the defense tonight. First we ran the three-flag drill, then the double-whistle run, double-whistle pass, and finally the three-ball. We lined up in a 3 1 3 we call it the BEAR defense. Ran some more three-ball drill.  Then we showed everyone what they were supposed to do against the sweep. We walked, trotted, then ran through it over and over again.  At the end I took our very best player and he ran a pitch out sweep like our upcoming opponent and we stopped it cold when everyone stayed in posistion. A few more reps and we will have it down.

P.S. something else happened tonight that I wasn't expecting at this level. These 7-11 year old boys came together as a team. It was very interesting to watch/feel. I believe it happened because of them having to rely on each other to do the right thing at the right time and when each did it worked. VERY COOL.

Anyway I'll keep you informed.

thanks again garyd.


I read your book on Flag Football for my youth league season and applied a lot of your principles. This is the first winning season in three years that we have had. It was tremendous experience for our players this year. We finished 4-3. Not exactly the "72" Dolphins, but considering we only won one game the prior two years, I thinks it's pretty good. We have some interesting rules like you can't run up the middle or you can't spin so that nobody gets hurt. It's very hard to teach these concepts to kids. Thanks for the Great Book.

Coach Mark Philbin, Kensington,MD "Cougars"


I own all your football books and they have helped me tremendously.
I coach 7 and 8 year olds and every book has provided me information that contributed to our teams success.

I can not begin to Thank You enough!!!


Hi Coach

Thanks for all the advice in your Coaching Youth Flag Football book. This was my first time coaching ever. We went 8-1, won our flag league champs, and outscored our opponents nearly 2-to-1. About half our points were scored by outside Sweeps and the other half were Wedge plays run after the defense began to spread out to stop the Sweep. As recommended in your book, we only used 2-3 coaches, realized that flag pulling was most important and practiced it every day 15 minutes or more, and kept the total number of offense formations to 1 and plays to 6 with exception of wedge. Our defense bent but rarely broke; we ran a 4-1-3 with the outside CB up close to the line of scrimmage in man and outside contain. This 8 man defense was slightly modified from your 9 man 4-2-3 Rover Defense shown in your book. I had the kids stay in lanes during kick offs and punts, instructed the kicker to always kick away from the return-men and to be last to the ball carrier, REPEATEDLY TOLD THE KIDS TO PICK UP THE BALL AND RUN WITH IT (no fumbles in 6-8 year old flag) and then watched all season as we prevented any long runs during opponents' returns. We on the other hand scored several touchdowns running back kickoffs and punts; their kicker would kick it directly into our return man's hands. Opposing coaches would always congratulate our tailback, but I knew from watching video that the disciplined, repetitively practiced blocking assignments as preached in your book often sprung him for his big gains. Proof, see .

Thanks again.

Gerald J Nivison, PhD

Finally came up against a team with as much speed as we have, it is a hoilday weekend, so three of my fastest kids were out of town. Score at half 6 to 6.. My tailback were trying to run to the side lines and the defense were fast enough to catch him, I keep telling him there was a hole right off tackle and to run thru it, as he could not out run them, at last he cut into the hole and went 30 yds and a TD. Ran the wing reverse twice and second team wing dropped the ball both times, the other coach picked it up and started keying on the wing, ran wing reverse fake, and went 25 yd for TD .We only play with 8 players, so I started putting wing and blocking back split way out. to one side to spread them and then run off tackle, it was fun.and a good win.

Last two games this weekend, scored 14 TDs to !, even the refs. were coming up and saying awesome
team, they should be playing tackle now.
I would like to take just a few minutes of your time, I am 64 yrs old, have my own business, played Texas high school football in top classification, we went to quarter finals, receieved scholorship to SMU, had ankle operation and that ended my playing. Coached 4th grade team in the 19 70s won city championship ran single wing. Now I have another son who is 8 yrs old who plays tailback ,my grandson plays wing. I had a great high school coach who was before his time in football thinking, after saying I would coach these boys, I ordered your book and many of your thoughts and ideals brought back that coach. So I had a good group of kids and parents who would listen and go along with your ideals and followed my instructions. The team was head and shoulders above any team in town. The other coaches who had teams seem to use what they see every Sunday afternoon on TV, The no huddle, no snap count, 5 basic plays and making them run them over and over till they could do them perfectly, gave these boys a real love of the game, and they and their parents all came up and said they both had really learned something. So I will be ordering some more of your books as we go into 11 man tackle next year, and I can't wait.. Thanks for your help and your emails as they meant a lot to me. Sincerely Joe Davidson, Amarillo, Texas Southern League Champions 8 wins 0 losses..............................................

Joe Davidson, Amarillo,Tx

Ron Gillis of Mims, FL sent me a newspaper story about his team. I was headlined, “T’ville Bears go 12-0, win Super Bowl title.” Gillis said, “Thanks for your Coaching Youth Flag Football. Your book was a really big help.”

Summer before last Tom Talley and I took your seminar down near Disneyland and we each bought your book, "Coaching Youth Flag Football." This year we are co-coaches for our 6th grade 8-man flag team at Laurel Hall School in North Hollywood, California.
We've put into practice so many of the things you teach in that book. Some we've adapted, such our 3-4-1 defense that uses elements of gap-air-mirror and does the rest with superior recognition and speed. But mostly, we followed your advice on everything from player selection to the emphasis we put on blocking schemes at the beginning of the season.
We just finished playing our final game of the regular season, beating our arch-nemesis J. T. Dye 40 to 0. Tomorrow we go into the first playoff game these kids have ever experienced. And we fully expect to go all the way to the championship.
This season, we’ve outscored our opponents 208 to 61. We’ve had two shutouts. But the best thing is that this team is now 6-1 after two previous seasons with only one win, total. Now, we hear that “Laurel Hall is rolling over its competition.” Our kids, who used to be ashamed of their teams are now walking quite a bit taller. The point here is the coaches and the players are the same as the ones who lost steadily for two years. The difference is this year we went through your book, threw out all of our old “way we did it in high school and college” stuff and broke the game down to what works with 11 and 12 year old kids playing flag.
The results have been awesome.
As our school relies on volunteer coaches (4th up to 6th grade) to play schools with full-time coaching staff, the PE department has asked that I write a manual for parents who volunteer to coach. I’m going to give them my plays, practice schedules, insights and pointers. Most of all, I’m going to tell them to buy a copy of “Coaching Youth Flag
Thanks again for making this complex sport work successfully for our kids. They have certainly thrived with your guidance.
- Mike Kirby <>

“John, I've enjoyed your books so much. The single wing rules! I have enjoyed visiting with my father and step father on their memories about the single wing. Undefeated and unscored on last year, flag and tackle. I coach a 5th and 6th grade tackle team, and a 6-9 year old flag team. Love your books and credit you for increasing my focus on the contrarian approch, kicking game skills. I recently reordered Coaching youth football becase I gave my younger brother my "2nd edition". 3rd edition just arrived and I saw the Coaching youth flag football and must have it. Thanks again.” Terry Adams
“I received your book yesterday, I spent the remainder of the day and evening pouring over it. You have a lot of sound strategies that I hope to incorporate into my 2 teams. Thanks for the very informative book.”Joe Holt
“Thank you for your help. And thanks for putting together Coaching Youth Flag Football. It’s a fun, informative and I recommend it for anyone planning to coach youth flag football. (There's an unsolicited testimonial if I’ve ever heard one.) Thanks, Bill Evashwick, West Toluca Lake, CA
"Your book on flag has been incredibly useful." Mike Kirby, Valley Village, CA