I’ve been actively involved in the Flag Football community in North Carolina for over 6 years. In my time as a spectator, participant, and league/tournament director I’ve picked up on a lot of the things that help make a team successful. Being good at football doesn’t necessarily translate to being good at flag football. I have seen 40 year old men out-perform all-conference college players just because they were aware of the nuances of the game. 3 weeks into the season, I’ve seen a couple areas of the game teams can really improve upon. Without further ado, here we go…
10 – Communication off the Field is Key : The best teams are always the most cohesive units. Teams that just show up on Saturdays and expect to win usually don’t have as much success as teams who plan prior to the game. Whether it’s a team conference call or posting on a team’s facebook group page, communication helps win ball games. The TFFL is the only league that provides highlights of every game. For teams this means that there is a lot of quality game film to watch on your opponents. Even if you spend 5-10 minutes a week strategizing with your teammates about the upcoming game, that is better than not doing it at all.
9 – Add Motion into your Scheme : With the exception of 2-3 teams, there hasn’t been a lot of motion prior to the snap offensively. Throw your slot WR next to the QB and motion him to the slot, or put your QB at slot and motion him down to the QB position. Small adjustments like this may seem miniscule but defensively the other team will be thinking about who to match up with and not the snap of the ball. The key to adding motion is do it quickly as to not give the defense time to adjust. A lot of blown coverages come from players not knowing their assignment when motions are thrown at them.
8 – WR’s Settle in Zones : This has been one of the most frustrating things to watch from WR’s this far into the season. If the CB is playing 12 yards off you and bails at the snap, there is no reason to run a go route. Run a curl and pick up as many yards as possible. Sure catching a curl isn’t as exciting as mossing a CB 40 yards down the field but a gain of 8 yards for 4 downs will pick up the first down. If you take advantage of the cushion they’re giving you, eventually they will adjust to play up and, that is when you hit them deep!
7 – Have a Scheme : Some teams are able to draw plays up in the huddle and to an extent it works. However some teams don’t have that ability. You don’t need a huge playbook, just utilizing a route tree or having 5-6 bread & butter plays will suffice. Teams are starting to pick up on what works and what doesn’t work. Throw it on a wrist band and call the play at the line. This will get your offense more plays per game which improves your chance of lighting up the scoreboard.
6 – Pick Your Teammates Up : If your teammate gets burnt for a big touchdown, it’s easy to point out that fact and say they whiffed. They know it’s their fault, so reminding them is only going to put them in the dumps about it. Instead pick them up, and be confident they will bounce back from it the next play. This is not only a morale suggestion but one that will prevent the opposing team from seeing that weakness and taking advantage of it. If I see a CB get mossed by a WR, and that CB is still dwelling on that play, I am going to go after him until he gets taken out of the game. If they get burnt for multiple touchdowns it’s best to sub them out but if it’s just once, make sure their mind isn’t clouded by the mistake.
5 – Know the Clock : This is another big one. Be aware of the clock. If you’re down with 5 minutes to go, make sure your players are hustling to the line and getting as many snaps in as possible. This past weekend Brothers in Arms got a victory as they were up by 2 points and on 4th down instead of trying to pick up the first down, did their best to run as much time off the clock. Their 4th down play lasted 25+ seconds and burnt the entire clock out. Also if you have the lead in the last minute and your opponent doesn’t have the timeouts to stop the clock, kneel the ball. The HeadHunterz had the lead with less than a minute and “could” have squandered it with a stripped ball or bad snap. A HeadHunterz player almost forced his own QB to kneel on the last play of the game. Be smart in the last minute when it pertains to the clock.
4 – Rotate your rushers : The most difficult position to play in flag football is rusher. You have to have a non-stop motor and rush for 30-40 plays a game. For two reasons, it is very smart to rotate your rushers. For 1, you want to rotate your rushers so the blockers and QB on offense don’t get used to the same style of rush. If you have the same rushers, rushing from the same spot, the same way, the QB will know exactly when to fan out or step up. The ideal rushing situation is to have 2 rushers rushing the QB, with a 3rd rusher on the sideline who will sub out 1 of those rushers the next play. This will keep your rushers fresh and prevent your opponent from getting complacent with their blocks.
3 – Have an Athletic Center, Utilize him like a WR : We’ve seen a couple teams do this successfully and if you’re one of them, thumbs up to you. If not, you should really consider it. Unless you have a big man snapping the ball who is VERY agile (Chris Hinson of the House Dawgs is a perfect example), chances are he can’t snap the ball AND get to the rusher who is already 5 yards away from him. The Sabercats utilize Ronte Gamble as the center and he is 2nd in the league in receptions. A couple teams who have a big man at center that isn’t capable of getting to those outside blocks usually get sacked a lot. Our suggestion is to put a quicker center there, and put your big man 2-3 yards behind the line of scrimmage so he can meet that rusher before he gets a full head of steam.
2 – Know your personnel : If your #1 WR goes against the opposing teams’ best CB, chances are he won’t have as big of a game as he would against their 2nd CB. After the first possession, find out who is the better CB and move your best WR to the opposite side. Most teams are confident their best WR can outperform the other teams’ CB and sometimes this is true. However, if you can take advantage of a mis-match, you always want to exploit that. This also works while rushing. If you’re an explosive rusher, you want to alternate sides to the side of the slower/weaker blocker so that way you have a better chance at getting to the QB.
1 – Always Send at least 2 Rushers : The #1 thing I’ve picked up on is that too many teams aren’t pressuring the Quarterback. Regardless of how good of a QB you’re playing, you should always have 2 rushers coming at him. Every once in awhile throw in a 3rd rusher. The Bengals have one of the best defenses in the league and they bring 2 rushers every single play. There have been some teams that won’t send a single rusher and will play a cover 7 blanket. As out of shape as I am, if there is no rush coming at me, I could pick apart any defense. It’s just too difficult to maintain zone coverage without allowing somebody to break open if the QB has all day to make a decision. If you have a NASTY rush, combined with tip #4, you will have Quarterbacks fearing your defense.
1a – Snap the ball at 7-10 yards : The last and final tip of this article is have your QB at 7-10 yards instead of 4-5 yards. This will give them an extra second or two making throws. Traditionally QB’s in football sit at 4-5 yards but, in flag football they should take a couple extra yards. Against very athletic rushers, if you sit at 4-5 yards they are going to be in the QB’s face within 2-3 seconds. That isn’t enough time to make a decision. The further your center can accurately snap, the better it will be for your offense. **If your QB has a CANNON for an arm, you can even go 10-12 yards back if you have the center who can snap it, this really neutralizes the rush.**