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Insights from John Mills-Hearne

John Mills-Hearne is the coach of Whoopdiddy!, who won the competitive leagues in FXA twice in the last year.  He’s played on X-rated aka Weapons XR where he won both the B and C IFFL league. 


Some insights to building a flag football team.

Firstly – you are probably going to recruit friends, family and co-workers to join your team. Its going to be a rough first two seasons, but a time will come when you will have to decide where you want to take your team. If your goal is to have fun no matter the outcome the decisions are easy. However, if you want to be competitive and elite then you are going to have to cut your friends, your family and co-workers. Yes it is awkward, but it’s your job and necessary if you want to win.

My team is competitive, we are not elite and I do not recruit players. In essence we are a fine balance of competitive with friends.

The reason I do not recruit is because I believe that unity and vision is the foundation of my team. Everyone on the team has some connection, all of us have played with someone on the team before. None of us are stars, there are teams with NFL, D1-D3 and HS resume players – that isn’t us. My #1 receiver did not play any organized sports, I played HS catholic soccer, my QB – HS catholic football, one of my starting OL – HS catholic bench warming baseball. We are more than just a team, we are a family.

We all seek the same goal, we all understand our roles and that no one is bigger than the team including myself.

Structure, consistency and responsibility are critical.

All players know the route tree, all players know the defense formations and audibles. We have offensive and defensive field captains who will make the calls on the field, we have offensive and defensive captains on the sideline who are in charge of personnel (subbing in WR and DL).

We do not play the blame game. Which is the unraveling of many great teams, teams that have focused on recruiting the best available players, have a great team that can destroy any team when in sync, but when their backs are against the ropes its a whole different ball game. They start calling each other out and the lesser more put together team pulls through.

Offense/Defense philosophy – patience, no need to go for the big play, wait for mistakes. Play smart, watch the clock, do not be afraid to punt or kick a field goal. 50% of all games are decided by a kick.

Leadership – Make the call and stick by it. Choose respected players to lead. Know your limitations. Don’t play favorites. Every decision ask yourself, is this in the best interest of the team. There will be a time you need to bench yourself!