Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Make Your Special Teams “Special”

Posted by admin January - 31 - 2017 - Tuesday

I have the honor of speaking at 2 Glazier clinics over the next two months. I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my talk outlines and rehearsing what I’m going to present (PROPER Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!!!) One new topic that I have never spoken on in the past is our Kicking Game. I’m entitling it: “Make Your Special Teams Special. Utilizing Unconventional Ways to WIN in the Kicking Game.” i want to share a few concepts here. If you’d like to know more details, please don’t hesitate to email me.

I learned a long time ago that 1- Special Teams ARE important and 2- we don’t have nor make enough time in our practice schedule to work on all of the kicking game like we should! This created a problem. Either spend more time (which is limited anyway) each day on the kicking game OR… find some ways to make what we do in the kicking game simple and unique… “unconventional” if you would!

I read a few years ago about the coach in the midwest who never punted! His team also seemingly always onside kicked. I thought: we’ve been doing that for 15 years!!! We did it out of necessity because we never seemed to have a kicker who could put it in the end zone every time. We learned (the “hard way!”) a long time ago that we NEVER kick the ball deep on kick-offs. It is a recipe for disaster! The last 5 years that I coached, we only kicked deep twice— once the first season and once the last season. Much to my dismay (guess what?), both times our opponent returned the deep (and I use that term loosely!) kickoff for TD’s!!!

As I said, about 15 years ago I decided that we would “pop up” our kick-off’s and give us a chance for a turnover. Yes, it means that our opponent’s offense will start a drive around the 30-35 yard line; however, we also recovered 7 kicks in 12 games last year! I think that evens things out substantially.

We have 5 or 6 different ways we kick off. The only time we’d even think about kicking deep is if the opposing Return team brings all 11 up to their 25-30 yard line. We’re still going to pop it up or line drive it, though. *By the way, did you notice in the college national championship game that Clemson used the “Cross-field Pop Up Kick” several times??? We use it ALL of the time!

That’s just one example of how being unconventional in your kicking game can cause problems for your opponents. I’ve seen good coaches— who prepare their teams well— “forget” to work on defending our “pop up” kicks. The guy over on the numbers either lets it drop and now we’re on it or… they don’t signal for a fair catch (maybe they haven’t gone over the rule with their players???!!!) and our kids blast the return man. Either way, it means that we have a psychological advantage over our opponent. I’m a firm believer in winning the “psych-ops” portion of the battle.

I have plenty more but maybe you can attend one of the Glazier clinics or… Championship Productions is going to distribute video’s for me on this subject. Look for them in Championship’s catalog this spring! Thx!

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