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Flag Football Plays: 5 'Must Have Plays' for your Playbook
When I first joined a flag football league, I was expecting it to be just like a game of pick-up basketball at the gym. I quickly learned that it was a lot more competitive than that and if we wanted to have any chance of winning, we needed a playbook.
I did a quick google search for flag football plays and found tons of complex formations and complicated strategy. It took me a while to find some simple plays for a team just starting out. You can find hundreds of plays to add to your arsenal, but how do you know which ones will work?
Here's my list of the top five flag football plays you must have in your playbook. (I've also provided a legend to help you make sense of the figures.) If you mix these plays with some traditional passing plays, you'll be able to keep the defense off balance and hopefully win some games.
1. Sweep Right
In a sweep to the right, the offense lines up in a 2RB formation, where a receiver (Z) acts as the second running back. The tailback (T) crosses in front of the quarterback (Q) and rushes to the right. The other running back (Z) also runs right, acting as the pitch man for "T". After the handoff, "Q" runs to the left, staying behind "T" in case a cross-field lateral is necessary. (Alternatively, "Q" can follow "T" on his left side as another pitch man, but on a small field, this can clog things up.)
Both receivers (X and Y) block the cornerback lined up opposite them. The right guard (G) will block the defensive end opposite him. (Assuming the defensive end on the left rushes, he will be out of the play.) The center (C) will pull behind "G" and cut off the middle linebacker. This leaves only the two safeties unblocked, and with good speed and timely pitches, the play can be very successful.
2. Option Right
In a QB option to the right, the offense lines up in a 2RB formation, where a receiver (Z) acts as the second running back. The quarterback (Q) takes the snap and rushes right, reading the defense to find the first hole. "Z" is the pitch man, and will float right with "Q". If "Q" can't find a hole, he pitches it to "Z".
The blocking scheme for the guard, center and receivers is the same as on a sweep play. However, because this play is slower to develop than the sweep, the tailback (T) must block the weak side defensive end. This play is not as fast as the sweep, so it typically won't garner big yardage. It can be very useful in short yardage situations, though.
3. O-line Out
In O-line out, the offense lines up in a 1RB formation, with a slot receiver on the left. The guard (G) will block the right defensive end for a split second and then run an out pattern to the right. Receiver "X" will run a post pattern, bringing the cornerback to the middle of the field, and keeping the attention of the free safety. The tailback (T) will block the left defensive end, and then go to the middle of the field just past the line of scrimmage. If the middle linebacker goes with "G", then "T" should be open over the middle.
Receiver "Y" runs a go route to take the left cornerback out of the play. Receiver "Z" runs a 5-10 yard hook. That should draw the strong safety out of the play, but if not, then "Z" could also be open. The center is in pass protection, blocking the right defensive end once the guard has released.
This play is a good asset because it has many options. If the guard is covered, you have one-on-one coverage on the left side. Also, after the quarterback throws the pass to "G", he can follow the pass and "G" can lateral right back to "Q" and surprise the defense.
4. Hook and Ladder
In a hook and ladder, the offense lines up in a 1RB formation with a slot receiver (Z) on the left. The strong side receiver (Y) will run a button hook pattern about 7-10 yards deep. Meanwhile, "Z" runs a wheel route to the left of "Y". The quarterback (Q) passes to "Y" who draws in the cornerback and strong safety. Before he's tackled, "Y" laterals the ball to "Z".
The center and guard will be in pass protection, blocking their respective defensive ends. The tailback (T) runs a route to the middle-right side of the field, drawing the linebacker away from the hook and ladder. The weak side receiver (X) can run a go route to draw the attention of the free safety for a moment.
It's nothing revolutionary, but in an amateur flag football league against an average defense, the hook and ladder can be run multiple times in a game with great results. Timing is everything, though. The ball has to be thrown on a dime to "Y", and "Z" has to be in just the right spot to get the pitch in stride.
5. The "Tebow"
In the "Tebow", the offense lines up in a spread formation, with two receivers on each side and no running back. The quarterback (Q) takes the snap and fakes a dive up the middle. Meanwhile, the center (C) blocks the left defensive end for a split second and then runs to the middle of the field behind the linebacker. By this point, the linebacker should be coming up to tackle "Q", leaving the middle of the field open. "Q" makes the jump pass made famous by Tim Tebow to "C".
The guard will block the right defensive end. Receivers "X" and "Y" will run stop routes into the endzone to keep the cornerbacks away from the play. Receivers "T" and "Z" will run corner patterns to draw the safeties away from the play. If a safety comes up to cover "C", it will leave "T" or "Z" open and the quarterback must read that. If the middle linebacker doesn't come up and, instead, covers "C", then the quarterback can run behind the guard.
This play is designed for very short yardage situations. It develops very quickly, and the most important factor is the quarterback being able to read the defense and know whether to keep the ball or thow it.