The following is based on a clinic presentation I did last year at the Vancouver
Island Mega Clinic in Nanaimo. I would like to thank the host of this clinic,
and my mentor, Rob Stevenson for all the support he has given me and the
doors he has helped me open along my path. Keep finding the way coach!
Special teams is a topic in coaching football that is often given much lip
service but too often not enough true service. I have spent a lot of time,
energy, and money to improve my knowledge of the game of football, and
over and over again I have read articles that say the same thing. Special
teams is a third of the game. It\u2019s the first play you set the tone with every
game. It can win or lose you a game. It offers the most exchange of yardage
on any one play. Yet most coaches do not truly have a sound philosophy of
special teams. By this I mean they do not put enough into understanding and
implementing great special teams; X\u2019s and O\u2019s, drills, teaching, along with
player utilization and development. The following are some suggestions and
guidelines to help you consider whether you are putting enough emphasis on
your special teams play. If it reinforces what you already do and you pick up
just one thing then it has been worthwhile.
What is your TIME COMMITMENT to special teams.
Offense is fun. Defense and Special Teams win Championships. During a game your
special teams is on the field 20% of the time on average. Therefore you should practice
special teams 20% of your practice For a 2 hour practice this equals around 24 minutes
If you neglect your special teams you WILL lose a game because of it.
If you emphasis your special teams and your players take pride in it you WILL win a
game because of it. Remember the weather, B.C. Rain, Ontario cold, and so on.. Will it
be a problem for you or will you take advantage of it?
What is your special teams ATTITUDE?
We would hang our hat on something fun with the kids. All special teams players have to
be \u201cAFC\u201d = Absolutely Fricking Crazy.
It takes a special type of player with a special mentality to play on special teams.
There is a very consistent exchange of large \u201chidden\u201d yardage on special teams and the
opportunity for big plays (for or against you). You need your best special teams players
on the field. This may very well be mainly your starters.
Who do you want on your special teams?
Most of them should be your better athletes (LB\u2019s, RB\u2019s, DB\u2019s, TE\u2019s, WR\u2019s).
Key aspects of great special teams players are the ability to carry out assignments, make
good decisions, and make plays.
What do you do with players and coaches not involved on that special team you are
practicing at the time?
Linemen are not on most special teams (except for FG/XP)
Who runs your special teams?
Ie) Head Coach with help
Ie) Assistant coaches have one each
Ie) What do your coaches do who are not involved?
GENERAL (each game)
-No blocked kicks
-Play penalty free (know the rules)
-Score or set up a TD
-Block a kick
-No pressure on our punter
STATISTICAL (tough one, as depends yearly on your kicker)
-Net avg 30 yds punt (High School)
-Avg 10 yds Punt Return
-Avg 4 yds on Opponent Punt Return
-Pin opponents inside their 25 yd line of Kickoff (may depend on your kicker)
1) Take the line (no offsides ever)
Line team up. Use a whistle to alert the kickoff team they can proceed. It
always amazes me but every year I see a team so excited they kickoff
before the refs have blown it in. Kicker raises hand and drops on his
approach. Rest of team times it up so they cross the line just after he
makes kick contact. NO OFFSIDES EVER!!! Sprint 10 yards and review
lanes. Practice for the onside kick too. Kicker\u2019s approach may be different
for his onside kick technique so the timing will be different.
Teach phases of kickoff. Players must know that post-kickoff they are too get downfield and never get blocked. For the most part avoiding contact is better as long as they remain in their lanes, as they cannot avoid to get tied up on blockers and lost ability to make tackle for minimal gain.
3) Leverage fit drill
Practice players keeping the ballcarrier on their proper shoulder (for simplicity
sake their inside shoulder). Practice different types of returns and how you
want them to react (wedge, sideline, reverse). Where do you want your wedge
breakers to make contact? If the returner tries to bounce it who should be
there to make the tackle? Where? Don\u2019t assume they know. Don\u2019t just tell it
to them. That is not effective teaching. Show them. Have them do it.
a) Use of #\u2019s 1-10 & K
b) Use of sides -L 1-5, R 1-5, & K
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