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Preseason Special Team Prep

Preseason Special Team Prep

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Published by: coach b on Nov 26, 2008
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10/29/2014

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I
t’s a great honor to represent GrandForks Central High School and a plea-sure to share some thoughts in regard topreseason preparation for special teams.The AFCAhas been a big part of my pro-fessional life, and I appreciate all of thepositive changes that have taken placewithin the organization in recent years.By North Dakota standards, GrandForks Central, with an enrollment of 1,300students is a large school. Even though wetypically have 120-130 players involved inthe program, it’s always a challenge to findquality players for our special teams.Fielding not only the specialists themselves(i.e. kickers, punters, long snappers,returners), but also the players who fill theother positions on special teams, is at thetop of our priority list. Like many highschools, we have been forced to occasion-ally share placekickers with the soccerteam, which leads to creative practiceschedules for those kids. With no springpractice, we stress kicking game prepara-tion beginning with the first day on the fieldin the fall. Our feeling is that if it’s a majorconcern and potential problem for us, it hasto be for our early season opponents aswell. It seems that everyone is ready to gooffensively and defensively when the sea-son begins, and rightfully so with summerteam camps, passing leagues, tourna-ments, etc. If there’s an “edge” to be had,special teams can be the difference makerin the opener.As I look back on a long listof openers, I know that too many of themwere lost early in my career due to poorspecial teams play on our part. We aredetermined to have our special teams fullyprepared for the first kickoff of the year.
Special Teams Philosophy
There is no debate within our staff, thebest players must be on the field for ALLspecial teams. This is not the place to givea kid a chance to play.There are very fewsituations in football where the ball travelsas far or the potential for a big play existsas on special teams, and we take nochances in that regard. We make a big dealabout the kicking game, and over the yearsintense competition has developed in orderto be on the field for special teams. As oneexample, the greatest honor on our team isto be a member of “The Chargers,” ourkickoff unit. Tryouts are held after practice,competition is fierce, and lightning boltdecals are placed on the back of the hel-mets of the 11 players who earn the honor.As coaches, we must sell the attitude thatwe expect to block kicks, to score, and tomake big plays on special teams. Althoughwe would literally like to spend one-third ofour practice time on the kicking game, forus that’s unrealistic. Our philosophy is thatit’s more than just time — it’s staff prepara-tion, it’s meeting time, it’s QUALITYprac-tice time, and it’s leaving no stoneunturned.
Special Teams Staff Organization
Our staff consists of nine contracted andtwo or three volunteer positions for thefreshman through varsity teams. Individualspecialty time is provided during our“Victory Period,” when four of the five var-sity coaches work with specialists in allgrades. Victory Period is scheduled early inpractice, primarily to set the tone andstress the importance of the kicking game.It also gives the varsity coaches a chanceto work with the younger players, if even fora short period of time. The period ends bybringing the field goal team together forone attempt with no time outs remaining.We set the ball down at a spot on the fieldand start a verbal countdown while theteam members hustle to get the kick offbefore time expires.
Victory Period AssignmentsSpecialists
Long Snappers: LandryPunters:SchrammKickers/Holders:BergReturners:Bergh
Non-Specialists
Frosh/Soph Line:BakerVarsity Line:StrandeBacks: PhilpotReceivers: SolbergQuarterbacks: NelsonJust as with offensive and defensiveteam periods, varsity kicking game teamperiods are directed by a coordinator. Wehave tried other methods, but have found inour situation that having a single coordina-tor is more effective than assigning certainspecial teams to various coaches. Thecoordinator is responsible for the designand schemes of the entire kicking game, aswell as goal charts, scouting reports, cutups, etc.
Varsity Special Teams PositionAssignmentsCoordinator:
Landry
Mike BergHead CoachCentral High SchoolGrand Forks, N.D.
 
Win the Opener: PreseasonPreparation for SpecialTeams
 
Kickoff
Kicker:Landry#1 & 3: Bergh#2 & 4: Nelson#5:BergScout Team:Schramm
Kickoff Return
Front:LandryWings:SchrammBacks:NelsonReturn:BerghScout Team:Berg
Field Goal/PAT
Line:LandryWings: BerghEnds:SchrammKicker/Holder:BergScout Team:Nelson
Punt
Line:LandryArrows:BergBacks:NelsonPunter:SchrammScout Team:Bergh
Punt Return
Front:LandryEnds:NelsonCornerbacks:SchrammReturn:BerghScout Team:Berg
Special Teams PreseasonPractice Organization
Our preseason schedule consists ofthree days of helmets and shoulder pads,generally followed by two weeks of practicebefore the first game. Depending uponschool orientation, class starting date, etc.,the varsity practice schedule looks like this:
Day 1-5:
8 a.m.-noon and 6-8:30 p.m.
Day 6-9:
8 am - noon
Day 10-13:
6 - 8:30 pmWe are able to devote more time tospecial teams during preseason than onceschool begins, and we make every eff o r tto do so. Listed below are schedules forthe first two days of practice, as well asthe first day in full gear. The coaches workon both sides of the ball, as do most play-ers, so we are forced to make time foroffense, defense, and special teams daily.Note the time devoted to special teams —every day of preseason practice willinclude similar amounts of time for thekicking game.
Thursday,August 10 - Day 1MorningHelmets & Shoulder Pads7:30a.m.:
Meeting: Practice procedures
8:00:
Form run - stretch/cal
8:20:
Victory Period
8:35:
Offensive drills
8:55:
Defensive drills
9:15:
Team pursuit drill
9:25:
Break
9:55:
Form run - stretch/cal
10:15:
Offensive team
10:30:
Defensive team
10:45:
Punt team
11:00:
Test: 40 yd dash,pro agility, bench press
11:50:
Charger try out
12:00:
Strength make up
AfternoonHelmets & Shoulder Pads5:30 p.m.:
Meeting
6:00:
Form run- stretch/cal-Victory Period
6:30:
Field goal/PATteam
6:40:
Kick block team
6:50:
Offensive drills
7:00:
Offensive team
7:35:
Defensive drills
7:45:
Defensive team
8:20:
Conditioning
8:30:
Strength make up
Friday,August 11 - Day 2MorningHelmets & Shoulder Pads7:30 a.m.:
Meeting
8:00:
Form run - stretch/cal
8:20:
Introduce tackle circuit
8:35:
Victory Period
8:50:
Defensive drills
9:05:
Defensive group/team
9:40:
Break
10:05:
Form run/agility
10:10:
Offensive drills
10:25:
Offensive group/team
11:00:
Punt return drills
11:10:
Punt return
11:25:
Conditioning
11:35:
Team strength —Manual resistance
11:50:
Charger try out
12:00:
Test make up
AfternoonHelmets & Shoulder Pads5:30 p.m.:
Meeting
6:00:
Form run- stretch/cal —Victory Period
6:30:
Field goal/PATteam
6:45:
Punt drills
6:55:
Punt team
7:10:
Offensive drills
7:30:
Offensive team
7:50:
Defensive drills
8:00:
Defensive team
8:20:
Conditioning
8:30:
Strength make up
Monday,August 14 - Day 4Full Gear7:30:
Meeting
8:00:
Form run - stretch/cal
8:20:
Tackle circuit
8:30:
Victory Period
8:40:
Kickoff return drills
8:50:
Kickoff return team
9:05:
Offensive drills
9:15:
Offensive group/team
9:55:
Break
10:20:
Form run/agility
10:25:
Defensive drills
10:35:
Defensive group/team
11:15:
Mini football
11:35:
Conditioning
11:45:
Team strength: manual resistance
12:00:
Charger try out
AfternoonHelmets & Shoulder Pads5:30 p.m.:
Meeting
6:00:
Form run-stretch/cal-Victory Period
6:00:
Form run-stretch/cal-Victory Period
6:30:
Field goal/PATteam
6:40:
Punt team
6:55:
Defensive drills
7:10:
Defensive team
7:35:
Offensive drills
7:50:
Offensive team
8:15:
Conditioning
8:25:
Strength make up
Pre-Season Checklist
Is there a more important game than theopener, particularly in high school football?Considering the off-season demands madeon football players, and the relatively smallnumber of games compared to othersports, the opener often sets the tone forthe entire season. Because we are notallowed to scrimmage other schools, thefirst time we step on the field, it’s for real.We can’t afford to leave anything tochance, and if we are going to lose the firstgame, it won’t be due to lack of prepara-tion. The worst thing that could happen
 
would be to let one get away because of asituation which we were unprepared for. Ionce spoke at a clinic about preseasonpreparation and was told by a coach thatthere was no way they could prepareeverything for the opening game. Myresponse was, “How can you not?” The fol-lowing chart is our pre-season checklist forspecial teams, and is very similar to ouroffensive and defensive charts. It is thecoordinator’s responsibility to see that weare adequately prepared for every situationwhich appears.
Kickoff
 ___ deep middle ___ deep corner ___ squib ___ pooch ___ onside - shift ___ onside - angle ___ onside - middle ___ after safety
Kickoff Return
 ___ wedge ___ vertical ___ wall ___ cross ___ hashmark kick ___ unbalanced kick ___ onside ___ squib ___ pooch ___ protect ___ after safety
Punt
 ___ spread ___ tight ___ uncovered ___ Fire call ___ react to block ___ react to fair catch ___ freeze ___ from end zone ___ take penalty ___ all fakes ___ take safety ___ Gopher punt
Field Goal/PAT
 ___ normal kick ___ no time outs ___ take penalty ___ Fire call ___ react to block ___ all fakes ___ free kick
Special Situations
 ___ kick block - edge ___ kick block - middle ___ questionable kick ___ special formation adjust ___ substitution procedure ___ time out procedure ___ pre game ___ halftime warm up ___ sideline procedure ___ net procedure
Punt Return
 ___ hammer ___ 10 up middle ___ twins middle ___ inside 10 yd line ___ short punt ___ fair catch ___ defend fake ___ bad snap ___ 10 up block ___ special block ___ last chance blockWe’ve been at this long enough to knowbetter, but still take for granted that kidsknow things which we think are obvious —and find out that they don’t know them atall! As an answer, we have developed a listof critical reminders and coaching points foreach special team. Although the list is post-ed along with other kicking game informa-tion, it is important to cover the “obvious”things in meetings. Fair catch rules, liveball/dead ball, when to handle punts, block-ing behind a play, etc., are typical of thekinds of things that can end up getting youbeat because they simply weren’t covered.The bottom line is that we can’t expect kidsto know anything unless it’s been taught.
Regular Season Practice Schedule
Although the focus of this article is onpreseason special teams preparation,emphasis on the kicking game remainshigh during the regular season as well.Time devoted to the special teams during atypical week would look like this:
Monday:
20 min. of special teams drills.
Tues./Wed.:
15 min. of Victory Periodand 20 min. of team period.
Th u r sday:
20 min. of special teamsscript.
Kick Blocks
Between extra point and field goalattempts, the kick block team will likely havea number of opportunities to get on the field.We spend considerable time practicing ouredge and middle blocks. Although simple indesign, they have been quite successful.
Edge Block RightRight C:
Align on line of scrimmage,attack one yard in front of holder, you arethe block man.
Left C:
Align on line of scrimmage, mancoverage on up-back.
S:
Align three yards deep, head up onup-back, man coverage.
F:
Align three yards deep on tight end,head up, man coverage.
Right E:
Align head up on tight end,drive him down into C gap.
Left E:
Align on outside shoulder of tightend, you are the recovery man.
Rip:
Align head up on up-back, attackhis inside shoulder.
Liz:
Align in C gap on block side, attackthe holder.
ST:
Align in B gap on block side, attackthe holder.
T &N:
Align in Agaps, attack the holder.
Middle BlockRight C:
Align on line of scrimmage,outside shoulder of upback, you are blockman.
Left C:
Align on line of scrimmage, out-side shoulder of upback, you are recoveryman.
S &F:
Align head up on upbacks, mancoverage.
Defensive Ends:
Align head up on tightends, man coverage.
Rip &Liz:
Align in Agaps, attack theholder.
Tackles:
Align head up on guards anddrive them to B gap.
Diagram 2: Middle BlockDiagram 1:Edge Block Right

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