Monday, November 10, 2008

Over the Weekend

It was our last game of the flag football season on Saturday. We were slotted to play the Chargers, who we beat handily earlier in the year. As game time approached, the Chargers' coach said to me, "We're playing the Patriots instead—it's the closest game we've had all season."

The Chargers haven't won a game all year, so I understood. It also gave me a chance to prove something, even though I was afraid it might backfire.

All season I have taken a backseat to my assistant coach. I was in over my head organizationally. I had to put together the game plan, the order in which kids played and which positions, assuring opportunity at every position for each kid at least once. At first this was a strain, but by the end I had a system that worked easily.

What's been happening over the course of the season is that I would practice the kids while my assistant was at work, then on game day he would ignore everything that I had practiced the kids with and make up plays in the huddles. The kids were confused, fumbling and throwing interceptions. Not only that, but my son was losing interest in the game.

Once you relinquish authority or responsibility, it's hard to take back without causing resentment. But last weekend I did just that. And by some miracle it was accepted not only without complaint, but with support. Still, during the game I got a little friction when it came down to actual decisions.

The problem we've had all year is that the kids were doing in a game something they had never practiced. So I stuck to the basics. I designed a set of three plays that start exactly the same but with different end points. First you give the ball to a running back and have him run around the outside. Next you do the same but have the running back give the ball to the wide receiver for a reverse. Third, and this is where the money is, do exactly as in the latter case, but have the running back fake the handoff for the reverse and go.

On Saturday, when the running back did this, the defender totally bit on it and chased the receiver, leaving the running back with nothing but pasture between him and the endzone. It was pretty sweet.

On defense, I kept telling the assistant to put the fastest kids on the ends to keep the other offense from going wide on runs, forcing the opposing running back to run back into the middle of the field, right where our other kids were waiting. My assistant kept on calling my fastest kids back into a safety position, and even complained that I was taking our best players out of the play. I did the Dr. Evil "double-u, double-u, double-u dot zip it dot com!" to him. The other team only scored one time, and only then due to an illegal block that the refs didn't call.

We scored four or five times. The same team we played the week before and tied them in a shootout. I should have had the confidence to run the team like I knew it should have been run all season. We might have run the table. It was quite an accomplishment all the same. We started the season unable to execute a play, and ended on an incredibly high note, with nary a mistake made.

I'd like to take all the credit, but I can't. Even though I've been complaining about the assistant's handling of the play calling, which just wasn't his strength. In practices before the games, he came up with some drills that focused on handing the ball off on the run and pulling flags that the kids really got into and made it fun and challenging. A coach has to manage and utilize resources to maximum effect.

I can't wait for next season. The parents have been telling me that the kids had a blast this season, and all but for a few games I had perfect attendance.

Tomorrow I have to tell you about a conversation we had with our kids. The dreaded question: where to babies come from?


Alan said...

"... the defender totally bit on it and chased the receiver, leaving the running back with nothing but pasture between him and the endzone. It was pretty sweet."

So was the poetry of this paragraph! :-)

So, speed the night, Scott! I need to hear you tell us about the birds and the bees! Just embryo pictures. Seriously. I have a phobia.

Tera said...

The kids having fun is the most important aspect of all!!! :) Great!

mr. schprock said...

I think your kids should shift between the 3-4 defense and nickel package.

I have no idea what that means.

The Zombieslayer said...

Love the way you coach. I think the same thing. Keep things simple and basic for kids and run them over and over. Then in the games themselves, do exactly what you've been practicing.

I used to coach and never had more than five plays.

I haven't thought about that on D, but it completely makes sense.

Same thing with basketball. I remember the best team had a whopping 3 plays. These were 8-9 year olds, so nothing could be too complex. The same kid started out with the ball and he put his fingers up. It was either one, two, or three. They'd run the play his fingers showed and the opposition couldn't stop them.

Confusing kids is stupid and accomplishes nothing. Keep things simple.

Beth said...

Your football posts are way better than your political ones. ;)

Kathleen said...

My eyes started to glaze over with the football play talk, but since it was kids, I muddled through. If you had been talking about the Cowboys I would have bailed. ;-) I'm glad you finally found your self-confidence as a coach!

Scott said...

Alan - I guess I should go ahead and post about that now, right?

Tera - Agreed. Winning helps just a little in that department.

Mr. Schprock - There are only five kids on the field at any time, so the 3-4 is out. I think the nickel is what the assistants are basically wanting to always play, which I take to mean five defensive backs (the ones that guard wide receivers).

Zombie - I think we would make a killer coaching combo!

Kat - I hear you, sister. I feel the same way about racing posts. Would you have muddled through a post about the Lions?

Scott said...

Beth - Sorry, missed you in the group reply. I'm not sure what to say, but if I were Mr. Schprock I could have made it something damn funny.

Alan said...

Ya know ya wanna! ;-)

Kathleen said...

Nah, the NFL is the NFL...besides, who wants to read about the Lions????

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Sweet tactics! I always loved the fake hand-offs. I recommend some powerpoint presentations and some classic you-tube footage carefully selected for maximum effect.

Like 'School of Rock' - but with football.