Special Teams Youth Football 101-Break Down
Kickoff Team: Make sure your kids are ten yards behind ball. It is important that they get a running start down the field. The team must stay onside (do not cross before the ball is kicked). Every player covering the kick needs to stay in their lanes. Practice kicking the ball off in practice! In youth football may teams are not ready to defend against an on-side kick, practice onside kick recovery team (hands team).
Kickoff Return Team: Bring the wall to the ball!! Front line stays alert for an onside kick and then runs back to the returner. The players in the middle and back return rows run back to whoever fields the kick and creates the wall (Wedge), then blocks down field. Do not have your players try to block the kickoff coverage team too early. The coverage team will just go right around your blockers. There is too much space to be blocking too early, the kick returner must cut off your player’s blocks. Make sure you prepare a hands team, to prevent teams from recovering an onside kick.
Punt Team: Foot to foot splits. Your team must block down to the shoulder of the linemen inside of them, staying low while stepping down & inside. Blocking backs line up even with the tight end or the last guy on the line of scrimmage. The blocking back must have a nice wide base (make yourself big) and block inside to outside. The middle blocking back calls the snap count, lines up on kicker’s foot side. Practice long snapping & punting the ball every day. Make sure your players fan out when the ball is punted you have to cover the whole field!!!! Your punter should yell go when the ball is kicked so that blockers know to fan out down field & tackle the guy with the ball. Your punter should always yell the direction the ball was punted. Youth Football Special Teams- Punting Tips
Punt Return Team: Punt block or Punt return? Punt block; your player’s need to rush through each gap while linebackers line up right behind the D-linemen & they need to loop or cross. Also coaches need to make sure you have containment defenders to stop fakes. Keep someone back to field the punt so the punt team doesn’t get a nice bounce their way. Punt return; your players should go to where the ball was kicked and lead block bring wall to ball. Coaches you will still need containment players to defend against any kind of punt fake.
Extra Point Kick: In youth football the extra point kick is worth two points! So it is important that you practice this everyday or at least a few times a week. The line splits should be zero (foot to foot). The linemen block down to the shoulder of the linemen inside of them. Linemen need to stay low while stepping down & inside. Blocking backs have wide base “get big” and step down to inside linemens shoulder pads, always blocking inside first. Snapping, holding, and kicking needs to be practiced often. Snap count should be a fast count (silent count, ball movement, or on first sound) do not want the defense to have time to set up and try to block the kick.
Extra Point Block: The best area for your defense to block the extra point attempt is through the A (Between center & guard) & B gaps (Guard & Tackle), don’t waste time trying to block it from the outside. You need to load up the A & B gaps on the opposite side of their snap holder. You need to double team the A gap blocker (guard, do not hit the center it is a penalty in youth football), driving him back. Double team the B gap blocker (tackle), drive him back. Send linebackers right behind the double teams. If this is executed properly you will create penetration right up the middle, allowing linebackers to block the extra point. Also prepare your defense for fakes, containment and coverage schemes are needed.
Special Teams is one of the three main phases of youth football. You must practice all aspects of special teams daily. One of the biggest mistakes a youth football coach can make is to overlook special teams. Youth football coaches should always make time for special teams. For example, there is one minute left in the game, you’re losing by a touchdown you need to recover an onside kick! Coaches will either be glad they practiced it, or they will wish they had practiced their onside kick recovery more!