There are many ways to win in this sport, but flag football play calling is an extremely important aspect of the game that separates the good teams and players from the great. This is part of a four part series where we will discuss game planning, adjustments, deception and execution specifically for the 5 on 5 flag football format, but these principles will be just as applicable for 4 on 4, 7 on 7, 8 on 8 or any other format out there.
Part 1: Gameplanning
Have a Good Arsenal of Plays
There’s a reason why swiss army knives have been so popular for such a long time; they’re convenient, multi-purpose and they fit in your pocket. This is how you want to build your flag football playbook. Every play has a purpose, whether it be a man killer, zone beater, goal line finisher or third-and-long prayer, the more options you have the better off you’ll be. If you don’t have plays yet or you’re looking to add to your arsenal you can check out our proven plays here. There are plays for short yardage, long distance and goal line situations. There are plays for 4on4, 5on5, 7on7 8on8 and other formats. There are plays for man and zone defenses. Learning your playbook and figuring out how and when to use each play will make a big difference in the success of your team. Just having a good playbook is most likely not going to push you into the elite echelon of flag football teams across the nation, but it’ll definitely put you one step closer.
When you have years of experience you may be able to recall every flag football play in every key situation, but until then it’s a good idea to have some sort of reference to remind you when you need it. Most leagues don’t allow or encourage pockets, so this might kill my analogy a bit, but the most common way to keep your plays handy on the field is to use a wrist coach and print out or draw your plays on a notecard to keep on your wrist throughout the game.
Know your Teams Strengths and Weaknesses
Now that you have an understanding of the plays you want to use, it’s important to understand the players on your team and what their capabilities are. Each player is different, and while you can expect them all to be able to do the same thing and get the same results, the simple fact is they won’t and you’ll be better off if you use your gameplan to play to their strengths. Timing has a big role in flag football just as it does in tackle football, and speed has alot to do with the timing of the quarterback and when to make his throw, when his receiver will make his cut, and where to place the ball on deeper routes down the field.
For many players, speed may not be their biggest asset, but having another player who can effectively throw the football in hand-off/throwback situations, guys with good size you can use in jump ball situations, players who can pitch the ball very well and other strengths are all things you want to keep in consideration when making your game plan and calling plays. With the right flag football playbook used correctly, and the ability to deliver the ball relatively accurately, you should be able to score on anyone.
Know your Opponents Strengths and Weaknesses
There are very few teams in the entire country, if any, that don’t have a single weakness on their team. Figure out the weakness in your opponent, exploit that weakness, and profit. Most teams really prefer to play defense in a set scheme, whether it be straight man, or a variety of zones depending on the format including single or multiple safeties, rushers or linebackers. If you can pinpoint what type of defense you’re up against, and strategize against it, you can be successful if you execute properly.
It sounds simple, but if the defense is in a zone, flood it. If they man up, use crossing routes, misdirection and pick plays. The only defense that can’t be beat is the one that has the ability and wherewithal to man up against your team across the board with a rusher that you can’t get by and defenders that you’re receivers can’t beat with any combination of routes and the best flag football plays. It can’t be beat, but it also doesn’t exist, so keep your head up, refine your flag football playbook, coach your players, and you’ll see progress in your team.