Category Archives: Special Teams

Coaching Youth Football Special Teams Articles by Coach Parker Youth Football Coach

The Onside Kick in Youth Football

In 2006 when I started coaching tackle youth football again, the leagues coaching coordinator was very big on kicking onside kicks.  That was his thing.  To be honest, onside kicking every kick did not work out for us.  Sure we picked a few turnovers, but the majority of time we gave the other team 7 to 12 yards on our kick off.

In 2007 we started kicking just over the head of the 1st line of the kick return team and try to have the ball bounce before the second line of returners.  This short kick off worked better for us.  We recovered about the same number of kicks and most of the time, the returner at the second line just fell on the ball.  We would pick up about 7 yards a kick vs our old onside kick.  I cringed a few times when our kicker kicked the ball a little hard and it drifted into the “real” returners hands. 

This year, I am going to continue with the short kick focused on the second line of returners.  What have you had success with on youth football kickoffs?

Good Luck this season.  Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!

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Kick Return Blocking – Special Teams

The other day, I was talking to another youth tackle football coach about how his 4th grade youth football team blocks on kick returns.  We did not do a great job blocking on kick returns last year, and I want to see how other coaches are blocking kick off defenders.   He says he makes sure the kick is not an on-side kick then he has his blockers angle inward, shuffle step backward and then pick up a man nearest him.  The blocker shuffles with his block, mirroring the defender downfield and punch blocking him.  He does not have his kick return blockers “engage” the defender but mirror and punch block the defender while running with the defender.  So he basically has his blockers “get in the way” of the defenders.  He says that his experience has been when the youth football player “engages” the defender, the kick return blockers stop their feet and the defender runs past them.  

I do like the “basketball like” mirror blocking concept.  I am going to experiment with this concept this season, but I will assign my kick return blockers defenders to block.  I think this will especially work well for my front line blockers, since I am now moving to an all skill player kick return team.  For my second line of blockers, I am going to experiement with Coach Cisar’s Trap blocking concepts outlined in his Winning Youth Football A Step by Step book.

Please reply to this post and let me know what you are doing for your kick return blocking. 

Good luck this season. 

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Kick Return Blocking – Special Teams

Kick ReturnOur youth football kick return blocking is not that great.  We did better this year by assigning players to block but we can do better.  We missed many blocks and one that hurt us in our final play off game last season. 

After reading Coaching Offensive Linemen by Dave Christensen and James Peterson, I learned something that I have never heard before about Kick Return front linemen, except maybe for the Hands Kick Return Team for onside kicks.  They suggest in their book that your offensive linemen do not make good kick return blockers because the are not designed to be open field blockers.   They recommend using linebackers, tight ends, and back-up running backs as your Kick Return Teams front-line blockers. 

Why use skill players as the frontline blockers of your Kick Return Team?

  1. Better Open Field Blockers
  2. Better use of hands for blocking and recovering ball
  3. Quicker and Faster to set up your blocking line
  4. Allows time during kick to talk to O-Line as a group before 1st play

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Kick Off Coverage

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. 

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