Coaching Youth Football Special Teams to be #1 The Best
Coaching youth football special teams might be more important than coaching your running backs. I have seem so many youth football games lost by poor pee wee special teams play that I have lost count. Make sure to focus and make Special Teams a priority with your youth football coaching staff.
Updated 2/2/2021 – Coaching Youth Football Special Teams Blog Post
Here’s a article video on coaching youth football special teams and here are some more Coaching Special Team Articles
Coaching Youth Football Special Teams
Special Teams is a game breaker in youth football. Most pee wee teams do not practice Special Teams the needed amount of time, and they pay the consequences in the game. Plus, a lot of youth teams, place a high number of minimum play players (MPPs) on their Special Team units. Not enough practice time and MPPs usually leads to disaster. Make sure to practice youth football special teams at least 30 minutes a week or more.
Our pee wee football team has a dedicated Special Teams Coach that coaches our youth football special teams schemes. We spend at least 45 minutes a week out of 6 hours of practice on coordinated Special Teams practice. This year, I am turning our warm-ups and end-of-practice conditioning time into Special Team drills to get 30 minutes more of Special Teams practice a week. We also ask our skills players, kickers, punters and returners, to practice at home. I wish we had more time, because this is still not enough.
Youth Football Punting
We have been very lucky with our youth football Special Teams play, but I still cringe when we punt the ball. I think the punt is the most dangerous play in youth football. We only punt if we are backed up within our 25 on a 80 yard field. There are so many variables in the punt starting with the snap. You must find an accurate long snapper and practice the long snap everyday. A bad snap can add 7+ more yards of negative field position to an already difficult defensive situation.
Punters are also very inconsistent at the pee wee level. The receiving of the snap is tough and then to punt with 7+ players running at you takes a unique personality to stay calm and not miss the snap or shank the punt. We ask the punters to kick out of bounds toward our special teams’ coach. I do not want the possibility of a return, because the punt return in youth football is a great play for the return team, especially if the team has a top running back as the punt returner.
Open field tackling at the youth level is very poor and a good punt returner on the loose is a chance for a big gainer or even a TD. So never kick down the middle of the field to the punt returner.
Youth Football Kick-Offs
I am also worried about Kick-offs, especially, if we have not called an on-side kick. Like the punt returner, a good kick-off returner can mess up your day. I almost never kick deep especially at ages below 10U. I usually kick to the second line of receivers and try to kick to an MPP. We kick the ball on the ground so there is a possibility of a weird bounce and fumble by the receiving team. Never kick to a starting running back that is also on the kick return team. Pick out the player that is having trouble where to line-up or is not paying attention. Find the weakest player on the front line to kick to.
John T Reed says in his book, Coaching Youth Football, to kick to your sidelines, because it is hard for the players across the field to hear their coaches and usually have uneven spacing allowing for a great on-side kick opportunity. Kicking short also reduces your chances for a big return. Most of the time, the receiving team falls on our squib kicks. You must train your kickers to identify these keys and be consistent.
If your kicker can not kick to the second line on the ground and kicks high and deep or down the middle, you must find another kicker. We have the kickers practice in pre practice kicking to a ring toward the sidelines at least 20 reps. Make sure to make the onside kick a priority in youth football special teams play because it will be a huge benefit to your team!
Kick Returns in Youth Football
We have been very successful with our youth football special teams kick-returns. We have four talented returners, all starting running backs. We spread these returners around the kick return unit based on the opposing kickers kicking habits. We put one of our starting FBs on the front line because he looks like a lineman, one of our halfbacks on the second line, another FB offset behind the 2nd line and our speed demon deep offset from the deep FB. We then move them around these lines based on the kicker.
We score a TD on a return about every other game. The kick return blockers have assigned players to block. We have tried to set wedges and walls but this has not been as successful as assigned blocks.
Youth Football Punt Return
Our youth football special teams punt return unit is a punt block unit. We assign a punt returner and ask him to return the punt if he is unopposed. We stack the line and try for a blocked punt. We tell everyone on the team, except for the returner, not to touch the punt once it has crossed the line of scrimmage.
Youth Football PAT / Extra Point Kick
A big advantage to any youth football team is a PAT kicker on your youth football specials team squad. We found our PAT kicker last year and he was very successful, about 40%. Because the PAT Kick is 2 points in our league this is a huge advantage. My advice to any youth team is to start working on this skill early. We waited one year too late. Like the punt, practice the long snap and make sure you have a hands player holding. Our holder is our speed demon back because he can pass and runs well in a crowd if the snap is muffed.
Practice, Practice, Practice Special Teams! Good luck. Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!
Find me out online my Website, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube site. Enjoy the youth football coaching tips and plays!!! Let me know how I can help you become a better youth football coach. You can also find my free youth football plays that I posted on my Pinterest free football plays board.
Please leave me a comment below or contact me anytime. I love talking about coaching youth football special teams. Special Teams is always overlooked by inexperienced coaches and a great area to win youth football games.
Remember to Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!
Fort Worth, Texas / Keller / N Fort Worth
PS: Stay Safe and remember we are all on the same team in the end. Be Nice.
PSS: I have started a new Youtube Channel and website with my other past time; World of Tanks. Check the online game out if you need a distraction during the crazy time. WotNoobz.com and WotNoob.com.
Updated 2/2/2021 – Coaching Youth Football Special Teams Blog Post
Great web site coach,when I coached 8 and 9 yrs old I used to have the QB line up under center and pitch the ball to the punter, it worked pretty well for us in that age bracket. Good luck ,again great site.
I have a really talented punt returner I would like to utilize more next season. I believe trying to block the punt also creates a great return possibility if they get the punt to our returner. Can you send me a detailed play of your favorite punt block? I was thinking of trying to overload the middle but I’m afraid of fake punts. The more detailed your response the better.
to be honest we run a Raider blitz, we just blitz everyone but two. I overload the outside CB, LB, DE and play loops and stunts.