Close games are won by field position and the kicking game. On a Kick Off you can influence the field position by a great kick and coverage or recovering a fumble. I particularly like the latter. The key to special teams and the kick off is practice, practice, and more practice of special teams. The most successful special team units spend a lot of time practicing and so should your team if you want to win the close game.
The Kick Off is a huge opportunity to influence the outcome of the game. You’re going to kick off at least once in the game and you have the opportunity to swing the momentum to your team by a great play from your kick off team.
In an 2/08 article in American Football Monthly, Charlie Parker of the University of Pittsburgh, outlines his 7 Essentials to Kick Off Coverage.
- Get off the ball
- Eye on the target
- Over the top to the target
- Feet gain ground up field
- Hands on blocker of fit the wedge
- Keep feet gaining ground
- Make the tackle
The main point in the article is to get up-field quickly and make the tackle. Don’t mess around with the blockers; push up field as fast as possible. In the article Parker refers to a few drills; The Rabbit Drill, The Over the Top Drill and The Cross Field Drill.
In youth football, the players worry about the blockers and don’t blow past them. The Over the Top Drill is good for teaching the players to avoid the blocker and get up field to the ball carrier. You line up a blocker, returner and a cover man. The cover man and blocker are five yards apart and returner is 20 yards back. The cover man tries to avoid the blocker while keeping his eyes on the the returner, while gaining ground to tag the returner.
Hope this helps your special teams’ practice. Good luck this season.