When looking at a Kickoff Return team it is very easy to simply assign a blocker for every defender on the kickoff team and tell you best athlete to find some space. Many teams rely on this as a simple way to install the kickoff return team and think this will be enough to bring the ball out to the 30 or 35 yard line. While this may work against inferior teams if you are playing a team that has equal talent on their coverage unit these 1 on 1 blocks have almost no shot at being effective.
A much more effective strategy is to pick specific members of the coverage unit to double team. On most coverage teams there are 2-3 players who make the majority of the tackles. If the return team can effectively stop these players from being a factor in the return they have a great chance to break the play for a long return. The Cage Drill is a great way to practice this double team.
Kick Return Team: The Cage Drill
In the Cage Drill the front wall players will be set up like they would on a normal return with a coverage player lined up 10 yards away from them similar to a kickoff. Before the drill starts it must be clear who will be the anchor and who will be the wall.
These roles can change depending on the coverage player you decide to double team but the job of each role remains the same. The Anchor is in charge of stopping any downfield pressure. He must square the coverage man up and stop his charge downfield. The Wall is responsible for the horizontal movement of the coverage player. If a middle return is called he must stop the defender from getting inside. If a Power Return is called he must stop the defender from getting out to the numbers.
In the drill set up a defender will come down the field at full speed. It is the responsibility of the anchor and wall to set up their trap and keep the defender out of the return lane. One of the key things that they have to be prepared for is for the coverage player to attempt to split the double team. This is why they must fit up tight hip to hip and then drive the coverage player out (keep in mind that they cannot lock arms and that most leagues won’t allow more than 2 player to get hip to hip, make sure you know your leagues rules regarding kick return blocking).
The Cage Drill is a great drill because of the amount of reps you can get in a short span. If there are enough coaches one can take the right side and one can take the left. This doubles the amount of reps on a very specific skill set.
(See Also) Coaching Special Teams
(See Also) Kickoff Cover Drill