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Flag Play Calling

Calling Plays

The most important aspect of play calling is being sure you are keeping communication simple enough that your young players understand what is being called.  Keep it simple and appropriate for the age level your are coaching.  While middle school aged kids may understand "Trips Left 249 center 4" in time, 5-6 year olds will be baffled and will need plays to be more of the "Kevin is QB, you hand off to Marcus and Marcus you run to the right ride" variety.

Formations: How to Call a Formation

There are 3 basic formation calls (Split T, Twins, Trips). The first call made when setting a play will be the formation. Variations and adjustments to the formation can be made to both. 

Split T (one receiver on either side of the ball, split out approximately 10-12 yards from the center, with a single running back set behind the quarterback) This is a balanced formation with no strong side – therefore we will not have a call side (no right or left). The formation when set looks like the letter "T".

Trips (left or right) Three receivers go to the call side of the formation – This is a no running back

Twins (left or right) Two receivers go to the call side of the formation – single back or no back.

Calling Passing Routes

While the are 9 pass routes in the passing tree system, that is way too many for young players to remember.  Start with 2-4 pass routes.  Short pass routes are much more effective than long ones.  The Quick out, deep out, quick in, and curl (routes 1,3,4,6) are a good place to start and may even take you through the whole season.

Calling the Play

If possible, have your play drawn up on letter size paper with the formation and pass routes labeled with arrows. Take a knee with your back to the line of scrimmage and your players facing the line of scrimmage.  Show them the play diagram and get them lined up left to right while still in the huddle.  Make sure each receiver knows their pass route and the QB knows the play.  Break from the huddle and have your players stay lined up left to right as they move to the line of scrimmage. 

There will be a few constants when calling plays. 
1. You will always call the formation first, including the alignment (left or right – if  necessary). You’ll call an  alignment in an unbalanced formation (anything but a Split T – see examples below). 

2. You will always call your receiver pass routes from left to right (then your Halfback (H) route, followed by the  Center route)

Based on the passing tree routes and using our formula of calling your receiver routes from left 
to right followed by the running back route then the center route the following play would be 

If we move to a (3) receiver set, with no running back, (a trips formation or twins with a single receiver split opposite the call side), we will now have a middle, or M receiver. Our play call formula remains the same – the play call is your receivers from left to right followed by the center call (since there is no running back in these formations there are no running back calls)

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