Coaching Special Teams in Youth Football
Regardless of what scheme/formation you use keep these special teams tips in mind:
Kickoff Team: Make sure your kids are ten yards behind the football. It is important that they get a running start down the field. The team must stay on-sides (do not cross before the ball is kicked). Every player covering the kickoff needs to stay in their lanes. Practice kicking the ball off in practice! When coaching special teams practice onside kick recovery team as well.
Here is an excellent article regarding: kicking the football
Kickoff Return Team: Bring the wall to the ball!! Front line stays alert for an onside kick and then runs back to the returner. The players in the middle and back return rows run back to the player that fields the kickoff and creates the wall (many leagues you cannot wedge, but it is only a wedge if they lock arms or get shoulder to shoulder). then blocks down field. Do not have your players try to block the kickoff coverage team too early. The coverage team will just go right around your blockers. There is too much space to be blocking too early, the kick returner must cut off your players blocks. Make sure you prepare a hands team, to prevent teams from recovering an onside kick. Put some sure-handed kids on the front line of your return team.
Punt Team: Foot to foot splits (leave a little space between so the kids aren’t on top of each other). Your team must block down to the shoulder of the linemen inside of them, staying low while stepping down & inside. Blocking backs line up even with the tight end or the last guy on the line of scrimmage. The blocking back must have a nice wide base (make yourself big) and block inside to outside. The middle blocking back calls the snap count, lines up on the kicker’s foot side. Practice long snapping & punting the ball every day. When coaching special teams make sure your players fan out when the football is punted. You have to cover the whole field!
(See Also) Punt Coverage in Youth Football
(See Also) Punting and Kicking Technique
Your punter should yell go when the ball is kicked so that blockers know to fan out down field & tackle the player with the ball. Your punter should always yell the direction the ball was punted. You should always punt the football to the short side of the field. Meaning if you are on the right hash the punter needs to punt the ball to the right sidelines. This will cut off the space for the returner and allow your team to fan out in their coverage lanes.
Punt Return Team: Punt block or Punt return? Punt block: your player’s need to rush through each gap while linebackers line up right behind the D-linemen & they need to loop or cross. Also, make sure you have containment defenders to stop fakes. Keep someone back to field the punt so the punt team doesn’t get a nice bounce their way. Punt return: your players should go to where the ball was kicked and lead block-bring wall to the ball. Have them give a light rush, then once the ball is kick they must stay with a coverage player. When coaching special teams make sure you always have contain players and the kids know not to run into the kicker.
Extra Point Kick: In youth football the extra point kick is worth two points! So it is important that you practice this everyday. The line splits should be zero (foot to foot). The linemen block down to the shoulder of the linemen inside of them. Linemen need to stay low while stepping down & inside. Blocking backs have wide base “get big” and step down to inside linesmen’s shoulder pads, always blocking inside first. Snapping, holding, and kicking needs to be practiced often. Snap count should be a fast count (silent count, ball movement, or on first sound) do not want the defense to have time to set up and try to block the kick. We love coming right out of the huddle after we score and kick the point quickly. You can also go on a hard count to try and make the defense jump off-sides.
Extra Point Block: The best area for your defense to block the extra point attempt is through the A (Between center & guard) & B gaps (Guard & Tackle), don’t waste time trying to block it from the outside. You need to load up the A & B gaps on the opposite side of their snap holder. You need to double team the A gap blocker (guard, do not hit the center it is a penalty in youth football), driving him back. Double team the B gap blocker (tackle), drive him back. Send linebackers right behind the double teams. If this is executed properly you will create penetration up the middle, allowing linebackers to block the extra point. When coaching special teams make sure you prepare your defense for fakes, containment, and coverage schemes are needed.
(See Also): Extra Point Block Play
Special Teams is one of the three main phases of football. You must practice all phases of special teams daily. One of the biggest mistakes a youth football coach can make is to overlook special teams. Youth football coaches should always make time for special teams. For example; there is one minute left in the game, you’re losing by a touchdown you need to recover an onside kick…. Coaches will either be glad they practiced it, or they will wish they had practiced their onside kick recovery more!
Have pride when coaching special teams. Special teams will be the difference in many games.
(See Also) ST Playbook for Youth Football
(See Also) Speical Teams Plays and Formations
(See Also) Winning the Field Positon Battle