The Simple Playbook / by James Leath

Three things you need to know about the kids in the picture below: 1. We had 1 formation that consisted of 8 plays. 2. This picture was taken after 21-0 in the championship game, making us 8-2. 3. We had a pizza party immediately after the game and I got hugs from all the players.



My playbook is so small it fits on both sides of a 5x7 card in my back pocket. My other back pocket has a 5x7 card with the roster and notes I wrote myself for the game. I get asked a lot how I organize practice.

The following is specifically for flag-football, but I am positive you can take some ideas and use them in other sports.

◆ Everything is set up beforehand, usually with help from the parents. Parents love to participate and I have found when you include them they are more likely to have your back when a situation occurs.

◆ I ask my athletes to bring their water with them to the field. They can get water anytime they want as long as they are within a few feet of whatever drill they are in. This saves me about 10 minutes every practice.

◆ During warm ups, instead of running a lap or doing sprints, we see how fast we can run from the huddle to the line of scrimmage, run a play for 15 yards, then sprint back to the huddle. They are timed and they want to get faster. We have 8 plays so we do it 8 times. We celebrate shaving seconds off our time. Lining up fast during a game is intimidating to the other team, and parents love it.

◆ Then we move to basic skills. I have drills set up so they develop athletic ability. Catching a ball, running around a cone, decelerating, changing direction, things like that. Spend time teaching kids how to decelerate and change direction. A young athlete who can control their speed is very effective in many sports.

◆ After about 30 minutes of instruction from me and the other coaches, they get about 5 minutes to play around. This gives me and the other coaches time to discuss what we should do with the remainder of practice. This varies because of the number of coaches, the number of athletes there that night, and what part of the season we are currently in. We pull out our cards from the previous game and discuss things that need improvement.

◆ Pre-game is a lot like the first 10-20 minutes of practice. Once the game is on, it’s their show; I am just making sure they are in the right spot. How they perform is totally up to them.

We lost the championship game that year, but judging by that picture, I think they have recovered :)