For Rookies

This page is intended to assist active players and captains.

Tips for Players from Players

  • Take responsibility. As members of the GAA, we must take some responsibility for its well being. I can understand that as the desire to win increases, so does the emotional level out on the field; but we must keep in focus that we are out there playing a game. We have not come together to intentionally hurt one another, to fight amongst ourselves, or insult each other on or off the field. We have banded together because each and every one of us loves the game: that includes directors, game officials, scorekeepers, and players.
  • Respect everybody, including the staff. Where would this league be without the refs to officiate games, or directors to recruit teams and make sure we have a field to play on every season? Where would the focus of our games be if we had to keep track of the scoring ourselves? Everybody involved is an integral part of the GFFL and plays an important role.
  • The GFFL is a Privilege. More important than money, my teammates and I have invested our sweat and blood to the GFFL and committed ourselves to its well being and continued growth. I consider it a privelege, not my right, to play each Sunday. Although I cannot speak for all members, I know that most of us involved with the GFFL feel the way I do. However, if as an existing member you do not, than I believe this League will do better without you.

Rulebook Interpretations:

  • Holding – Why do I get called for holding every game? It is illegal for any player to grab clothing at any time. Once an official feels your clutch of the clothing restricts your opponent, they must penalize the play.
  • Call challenging – When I ask about a call, I am sometimes flagged. Players must only challenge interpretation of the rule not an official’s judgment. In the GFFL all call challenging is illegal and is to be strictly enforced.

Rookie Captains’ FAQs

  • How should I set up my offense and defense? Mostly all GFFL teams use the typical 5-man formation: A center with a quarterback in the shotgun position. Two wide outs and a back next to the quarterback to block the first guy in. Remember to think of your center as a receiver when designing plays. Defenses vary, but the most common is the two man rush along with a middle-line backer and two cornerbacks. Although finishing the season and having fun is primary, we would like to see your team as being competitive. Don’t be embarassed of asking a Patriot team captain about some strategies. GFFL successful captains are not arrogant, but rather confident and proud enough to help when asked. They also enjoy new and fresh competition.
  • Can I collect money from my players, although my team is sponsored? Yes! Infact, we expect it. In order to have commitments from anyone these days, unfortunately you have to hold their money. The GFFL office doesn’t hold team slots without accounts having a balance. Therefore, we would think you should use the same tools to ensure attendance and participation.
  • What if a player does not have a driver’s license during the official player registration? New registering rookies could use a combination of Identifications. A birth certificate that validates age with name in combination with a work or college picture I.D. that validates what the person looks like meets the requirement.
  • Why does the GFFL have strict registration rules? Successful registration is extremely important because of the legal implications as well as the ethical rule implications which ensure parity among our teams. In addition, it would be grossly unfair if we allow teams to add during the post season.
  • What if I have a player disqualified? If you have a player disqualified (ejected out of the game), you must assume he will be fined and continue to be suspended. After you receive your citation, you can let your player know when he can return. Citation fines are adjusted on your account automatically within five days of the citation, unless the player has paid it directly.
  • Can I have my late player meet the registration requirements after his first game because I need him? If a game is played with an illegal player, you automatically lose the game and get severely fined. You as the captain also risk being suspended. With anticipated late players on the roster deadline day, you should explain you situation to the head referee and request the start of the game to be delayed. If the schedule is on time you may be granted ten minutes which would allow time to wait for the late player or talk with the Executive Director.
  • Should I ask for a break if I’m not prepared for registration? No! We cannot make exceptions. Staff understand the difference when a captain asked for a clarification during registration versus asking for a favor to let a player “slide”. In addition, when players cannot register properly, we know that those players arrived at the field hoping to play but now cannot due to poor communication between the player and captain. Although this may seem incidental to the GFFL, we feel it delivers a bad taste in the mouth of a rookie (new member), and therefore, poorly promotes the GFFL. Because of the potential conflicts and affects on new members, the although seemingly harmless requests for registration favors usually end up in fines.
  • What if I have a problem with an official? When any player has a problem with an official, they should ask that the captain address it immediately with a field Director. Unaddressed misperceptions only lead to frustration and eventually hostility.
  • Why does it seem that I always have the same officials? Officials are also directors. Normally, officiating schedules are simply designed to meet needs. However, you may mostly get officials who are responsible in governing other class leagues. For example: If you have Mr. X as your commissioner, you will most often not have Mr. X as one of your officials since Mr. X governs your team’s conduct.
  • Why does it seem that our team is getting picked on by the officials? Officials have a dual responsibility – Officiating the game, but also managing their area or game site. If a team has been observed as not playing in conformity with GFFL standards, the class commissioner is notified usually at the end of the day and a corrective action plan is designed for the same officiating team. If the problems persist, the acclimating officiating team will do the next game. If problems still persist, the Executive Director will directly address leadership or expulsion issues or banning the team. Proper sportsmanship is paramount.

Tips for Rookie Captains from Veteran Captains

  • Recruit multi-dimensional players. Every captain who has ever fielded a team in the GFFL will tell you they have experienced injuries and “no-shows.” The best remedy is to get some guys who can play a few different positions and make sure they are commited every week. If you specialize too much, it can hurt you.
  • Do not argue with officials. Here’s what you get when you argue with officials during the game – nothing. Be civil when you ask a question about a call and save the bantering for after the game. If you wait to voice your complaints until after the game, chances are the officials will be more conscientious to your objections.
  • Do not argue amongst yourselves. You need to not only recruit players who are talented, but who also can get along with each other. There is no room for egos. Inter-squad squabbles show weakness to other teams.
  • Keep control. Establish early that there is only one captain and the captain makes the decisions. Make it clear that substitutions will happen and only the offensive and defensive captains may speak to the officials.
  • Know when to talk and when to shut up. Everyone likes a little healthy smack talking. But don’t be foolish. If you’re up by thirty keep your mouth shut or be prepared for the reputation that follows. Common sense is important.
  • Keep the concept of “team” at the forefront. This sounds corny, but I would rather have no players on the points leader board and have a winning record then have many and be a team less than 500%. Spread the offense around and substitute often.
  • Be creative. I know you only have five players to work with at one time, but not everything has been thought of yet. Show some different formations and keep opponents guessing.
  • Get some scripted plays together. Sandlot games are nice (you have time to think). But this is the GFFL and you have ten seconds from when the ball is put in play until you snap the ball. Having ten or fifteen written plays sometimes eliminates having to think.
  • One player talks in the huddle – usually you offensive game captain. If one person is elected to talk, there is less confusion and less wasted time. Remember that ten seconds goes fast.
  • Have a good time. Above all have fun. Some of the best games are the ones that include opponents who know each other because they’re relaxed. Remember, this is not the NFL. We all have jobs, families, etc., and this is our recreation.

Tips for Successful teams

  • Ingredients to winning teams. Good players, specialization, and a strong leader are the keys to a winning team. Having good players allows you to specialize and be flexible to mix things up on the field. When opponents focus on our top receivers, go to short passing to draw the defense in. Once that works, your best receivers are usually open for six.
  • Every team should have strong leadership. All captains must be able to take control. When a player is not performing well, you (the captain) must have the authority to pull him out. If a player is getting too emotional, you must be able to sit him down for a while. Keeping your players focused offers wins.
  • Enjoy the competition. Enjoy playing against great players and teams. The GFFL is abundant of talented players and competitive teams who also enjoy great competition. That rival respect makes the GFFL my choice for playing as well as coaching excellent players.
  • Championships are hard work. I have had the privilege to play in the GFFL for many seasons. Fortunately during those seasons, I have also had the honor to play in playoffs and championships. Taking home the Championship trophy is certainly a thrill, but is dependent upon hard work.
  • Have team unity. One of the biggest downfalls of a team is not having the attitude of team unity. Attitudes can make or break a team.

Tips on GFFL Communication
Communication is essential to any organization. Our staff communicates to players mostly through the captains. The ways of communication, however, vary. Staying up to date on changes and getting GFFL news not only keeps you informed, but also may give you the edge. Below are the several modes we use to communicate to captains and players depending on the content or situation.

  • Captain Memorandums contain critical information on everything from schedule or rule changes to game or game site issues that need to be addressed. Captain memos go to all captains and are a critical tool to our organization.
  • GFFL Billboard (at field) is a great way to see the standings, latest line, stat leader, or just the seasonal schedule. Other general billboard information may be on upcoming events.
  • Internet is a great way to tell a friend about the GFFL or peruse the many tips offered by veteran staff and players. Our website ( holds important information from event calendars to actual up-to-minute field temperature and conditions, as well as interactive pages for captains to vote, select rosters, pick programs with the use of their online password.
  • Email is a great way for all the members to voice an opinion, make a suggestion, or request general information. Email cannot be used for dialogue items, such as rosters and conduct issues.
  • Telephone (by calling the GFFL general number) is an opportunity for any members that want to speak directly to the Executive Director. Calls will be taken before 9:00pm.
  • Citations, notices, or directors’ letters dictate imperative action that must be taken by a captain or player. Sometimes an account will be assessed a fine or a player may be suspended. Citations must be followed and responded to.
  • Eboard is for members who want the latest up to date information. The Eboard contains such things as current standings, and copies of captain memoradums. The Eboard is great for players who may want to know where their team stands before having to wait until the following week. It can also be used by any player who wants to see a copy of the current captain’s memoradum.

Finish the Race First

  • Philosophy for new captains should be to, not only accept losses, but expect them. Unless your entire team is perfect, the 1st year pitfalls are difficult to avoid. Although there is an endless amount of factors that inhibit wins, the biggest is player committment or lack thereof. Missing necessary personnel will certainly alter your weekly playbook. Collecting up-front security money from players is extremely helpful in curbing “no shows” and is highly recommended, but recruiting people who want to play is always more important that people who can play.

The Big Picture

  • Penalty Pitfall – The second biggest factor that inhibits new teams from winning is having focus only on winning, as opposed to learning game rules. This may sound juvenile-like, but like any organization that must work in complete harmony, people need hands-on experience to learn first before improving to perfection. Captains or teams having only a casual knowledge based on rules is the main cause for penalty accumulation. If you don’t think penalties dramatically affect your game, think again and read on! Proficient teams average seven to ten penalties per game, and elite teams average only four to seven, while new teams average more than 15. That ratio may look staggering in comparison on paper, but is commonly overlooked on the field. This results in offensive drives being stopped, low game scores, deterioration of game integrity, and the reduction of player and spectator enjoyment.

Trench Survival

  • The Penalty Factor – Don’t create a penalty differential against your opponent. We know that penalties can slow the game or even prevent a win from coming your way, but penalties in the our fast style format may affect your game or gameplan more than you think. In the GFFL penalties are assessed in downs, not yards. Typically when an offensive team is penalized, they turn the ball over 50% of the time. If your opponent is not being penalized at the same rate, you have created a penalty differential 75/25. Your opponent now controls the ball 75% of the time, uses 75% of the 40 minute gameclock to score, and is therefore, three times more likely to score. Think of a team that you are evenly matched against. After you score 14 points, their side of the scoreboard will say 42.