Why I Love (And Hate) 7 on 7Erick Streelman
It’s Spring and that means it’s passing league season. Now, as a passing game guy and air raid enthusiast, I happen to love 7 on 7. But, there are also some inherent flaws with this part of the season that really irk me. So, in reflection of our first 7 on 7 passing tournament of the Spring, I just thought I would offer some reflections.
Let’s start with what is great about 7 on 7. First, If you are a spread offense guy, 7 on 7 really is the basis of your offense. It’s how we think. We look at coverage. We find holes. We assess match-ups. If you have not read my post on game planning, definitely click here and check them out. But, the basic summary is that I game plan based on the passing game. I always start with what works against the predominant coverages of my opponent. My philosophy is that if you can force 6 defenders to completely commit to stopping the passing game the running game will be there all night.
The second positive about 7 on 7 is something we talk about all the time. Reps reps reps. Passing tournaments especially maximize reps. We played in our first tournament yesterday and we probably ran 150 offensive plays over the course of the day. That’s a lot of reps. We know that kids learn by doing. So, the more reps we can get, the better will be come fall. (There is a point where you can run too many reps…I will get to that later).
The third positive is competition. Let’s face it, most of our scout teams cannot provide the look that we need on a day to day basis to actually force our starters to compete every single play. Most of our best players have to play both ways and our second team guys just don’t have the athleticism to challenge the starting group. Not to mention that fact that working out all spring and summer and only running plays against ourselves can get pretty boring and pretty mundane. Competition is fun!
The fourth positive of 7 on 7 is that it gives you a chance to evaluate your guys in a situation that really doesn’t matter. I mean, we all want to win our 7 on 7 tournament. But, in the great scheme of high school football, it doesn’t matter at all. Who cares who wins the local passing tournament on July 12th? So, it is a great chance to rotate quarterbacks, move guys around, try new things, and give your young guys a chance to get on the field. I love that.
With all that said, as you are planning your spring and summer schedule, I think we should discuss a couple things that we should all try to avoid and point out a few flaws in the world of 7 on 7.
First, most tournaments are way too long. I’ll use our tournament yesterday as an example. We had pool play in the morning, which was 4 30 minute games. Then we had tournament play, which was an 8 or 12 team single elimination tournament, depending upon your bracket. In other words, the champion and runner up played 7 30 minute games. That’s 3.5 hours of 7 on 7 in one day. During the season, we do about an hour per week. I love reps, but at some point it becomes dangerous. Kids run too much. Injuries become more likely…dehydration, cramps, heat exhaustion, pulled muscles, etc. Not to mention the fact that by the time we get to game 3 or 4, our reps aren’t full speed. Even if we rotate our guys, 70% reps don’t do much for the timing and rhythm of our offense.
Second, it’s not real football. Yes, it’s a challenge. And, yes we have to learn to overcome the defense that we are given. But, how many times have you seen a Mike backer get to 22 yards deep in a high school game? How many times do outside backers really wall off slot receivers out by the hash marks? How many times have you seen a real defense sit in cover 2 man and fully commit 7 guys to the pass every single play? Yet, all of these are staples of 7 on 7. If teams lined up on Friday night the way they do in 7 on 7, we would run the ball for 400 yards.
Finally, it’s a little too physical for my taste. It’s not even the bumping or the hand fighting. I get nervous about kids laying out for balls over the middle or jumping and falling back and banging their heads. Football was designed to played with helmets and pads. And, when you take them away but still ask kids to compete, it gets a little too dangerous. The point of Spring and Summer is to get ready for the fall. You can’t do that if your players injured.
Overall, I still love 7 on 7, but if I were you I would adopt these two simple tips as you head into your summer schedule.
First, if your roster is thin, avoid the big tournaments. I know they are tempting and I know they are flashy. But, you will keep your team healthier and get more accomplished with 1 on 1 games. Call a few of your local schools and invite them over for an hour. It will be much more productive.
Second, get your kids some of those martial arts style helmets. I know they are dorky, but kids will play harder and stay safer if their heads are protected.
Thanks again for reading guys. Have a great week and keep chucking it!