n the past two seasons at Hampton University, the Pirates have been first in the nation in kickoff returns

(‘01) and first in the nation in punt returns (‘02). Our special teams have scored 14 touchdowns in the past two seasons. They have also had allconference and All-American players in punting, kicking and kick returning. We believe at Hampton, it’s not just the scheme, but also the emphasis of how important it is to the outcome of the game. While many teams overlook practice time for the kicking game, here at Hampton, our first 20 minutes of practice are devoted to special teams. We place a heavy emphasis on it by making sure the whole team is involved in special teams. It is imperative that all players attend meetings, in order to instill the importance of this aspect of our preparation. Next, our meetings are treated the same as offensive or defensive meetings. We have handouts, film cuts, and a game plan on how we will attack the opposition. Every player on the team will leave with an understanding of how we will attack and what it will take to be successful.


(Diagram 1) The key is no hesitation by the returner. We will always sell the block to try to cause a breakdown in the blocking scheme. Our return is automatic (middle return). Force coverage inside out. The returner has to beat the center, but we will make contact on him before his release.

Diagram 2: Corners

Turning Your Special Teams Into an Offensive We apo n

Diagram 1

(Diagram 2) Corners are aligned inside out, slightly cocked. We want to invite the track meet, but use the sideline as your guide. At some point, the gunner has to get back inside. Corner split the middle of the gunner with the outside leg. Keep hands in strike position (very important). Stay relaxed and key any movement by gunner. Third, we don’t just kick the ball in practice and run our return, we have an Indy period for our special teams. We divide our return, as well as our staff, up into sections. From this point, we drill each position accordingly. We have found that not only will players be more focused on the task at hand, but also by utilizing the Indy period, we are able to get a lot more reps in the process.

Diagram 3: 1s and 2s

Zuriel Smith was named to the 2002 AFCA Division I-AA All-Amerca team as the return specialist

(Diagram 3) We must apply pressure away from personal protector with speed and apply pressure with No. 1 and No. 2 personal protector side with stunts. If No. 1 doesn’t get the block, he has to take the punter on the return. No. 2 has contain. Last, but not least, it takes special people to play special teams. It is normally the hard-nosed, very aggressive over-achiever that plays special teams. It’s the player that probably has not yet broken into the starting offensive or defensive line up. (Diagram 4) No. 3 and No. 4 are responsible for squeezing A and B gap. Once A

Diagram 4: 3s and 4s

Diagram 5

and B gaps are secure, they will take guards and tackles in the return. We must force them to block us.

(Diagram 5) Returner must not hesitate in the return. As soon as you catch the ball, we must gain ground on the defenders. We

always start up the m iddle to give us a chance to get started. Furthermore, it is very important that each player knows that he is just as important as the starting offensive or defensive player. In order to facilitate this, we make video highlights of our special teams, which include big hits, returns for touchdowns, etc. Also, on Monday morning meetings, we will not just dwell on the game-winning touchdown, but the return that gave us field position or an easier game-winning touchdown.

Membership Benefits of The American Football Coaches Association
1. Members of the AFCA are represented by a strong national leadership organization which protects the football coaching profession’s best interests — your best interests — and strives for the highest possible professional standards, as outlined in its Constitution, Bylaws and Code of Ethics. 2. AFCA membership enhances your professional growth and gives you an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of your profession. 3. It provides new contacts, a line of communication and a forum for the exchange of ideas and information within your profession. 4. Active members (those coaches associated with a four-year collegiate coaching staff) are eligible to vote for the AFCA Coach of the Year Award. 5. Members are eligible to attend the AFCA convention as well as the AFCA Kickoff Luncheon and Awards Luncheon. Members can attend the Coach of the Year Banquet. 6. AFCA members receive a subscription to The Extra Point, the official newsletter of the Association. 7. AFCA members have access to AFCA On-Line, the Association’s World Wide Web site. 8. Each year, AFCA members receive the three primary publications of the AFCA: The AFCA Proceedings Manual contains a complete summary of the Association’s national convention, including all speeches given at the Coaching Clinic. The AFCA Summer Manual contains coaching articles by some of the nation’s outstanding coaches, keeping you in touch with the most current trends in the game of football. The AFCA Directory contains a complete listing of the AFCA membership, providing you with the names and addresses of those in the profession who are vitally interested in the future of the football coaching profession and its improvement. If you know someone on your staff who is not a member, encourage him to get in touch with the AFCA office today. Address: AFCA 100 Legends Lane Waco, Texas 76706 Phone: (254) 754-9900 Fax: (254) 754-7373 e-mail: info@afca.com

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