Tag Archives: Special Teams

Football Book Review – Complete Guide to Special Teams

Last night, I read American Football Coaches Association’s Complete Guide to Special Teams.  This is an excellent 250 page book on Special Teams tactics, drills and techniques written by some of the best Special Teams coaches in football and edited by Coach Bill Mallory and Coach Don Nehlen.  Some of the tactics outlined in the book are too sophisticated for youth football but the fundamental strategies lay an excellent special teams’ foundation for any youth tackle football team and the position technique chapters apply to all football players that want to play skill positions on Special Teams.  I could not put the book down and read all 250 pages in one sitting.  I rate the book 4.5 /5.0. 

The book is divided into two parts; tactics and techniques.  The Tactics sections includes chapters on; Punting, Kickoffs, Punt Returns, Kickoff Returns, Extra Points and Field Goals, Two-Point Conversions, Punt and Field Goal Blocks, and Developing Special Team Units.  The Techniques section includes chapters on; Punting, Kicking Off, Kicking Extra Points and Field Goals, Long Snapping, Holding for Kicks, Returning Punts and Kickoffs, and Developing Special Team Players.

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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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