How about some Free Youth Football Special Teams Coaching Tips? Special teams is an overlooked area of American football by many inexperienced football coaches. It is not until a big mistake on Special Teams reaches up and bites you, maybe coasting your team a playoff win, that coaches learn to take Special Teams seriously. Special Teams will make or break a season. Don’t let Special teams ruin your season for lack of practice time and proper special team fundamentals.
Even at the NFL level, some pro teams still do not accept that Special Teams is the winning phase of football. Just as an FYI, the all time scoring leaders in the NFL are Kickers; a Special Teams player.
Before we get into my Youth Football Special Teams Coaching Tips, we should define Special Teams.
- What are Special Teams?
- How Much Time Does Your Team Practice Special Teams?
- Kick-Off Special Teams Coaching Tips
- Kick Return Special Teams Coaching Tips
- Punt Team Special Teams Coaching Tips
- Punt Return Special Teams Coaching Tips
- Extra Point After Kick Special Teams Coaching Tips
- Field Goal Team Special Team Coaching Tips
- Conclusion Special Teams Coaching Tips
What are Special Teams?
Simply put, Special Teams is the football phase involved in the Kicking Game; both kicks and return of kicks. Special Teams is often referred to as the third phase of football behind Offense and Defense. Offense gets all the glory, Defense wins championships, and Special Teams alters games. Perfect your Special Teams play and win more games, ignore Special Teams and cry on the bus home. The Special Teams are Kick-Off, Kick Return, Punt, Punt Return, Field Goal Unit, Point After Attempt / Extra Point Kick squad. Some may consider the Defense of the PAT and Field Goal as another squad on Special Teams unit as opposed to adjusting their main Defense. Now let’s discuss Special Teams Coaching Tips.
Special Teams Coaching Tips
How Much Time Does Your Team Practice Special Teams?
For youth football Special Teams at least 30 minutes a week should be your minimum. Here is a Special Teams Practice time poll to see how you compare. We use pre-practice time for Special Team skill players to practice their craft. We like our kickers to Kick at least 30 minutes without the Special Teams squad around to get focused reps. We really do much better as a Special Teams unit when we have 2 hours a week on Special Teams. If you are practicing more than 3 days a week, then more than hour on Special Teams is a must.
Special Teams practice time will reward you when you need it, either by mistake free special teams or a big turnover or blocked kick. Practice makes perfect is my one of the best top Special Teams Coaching Tips.
Kick-Off Special Teams Coaching Tips
For youth football I recommend NOT Kicking deep down the field. After 25 plus youth football tackle seasons, I have seen too many deep kicks returned for touchdowns. I think the deep kick-off like the punt is the most dangerous play in youth football. Mainly because the lack of time spent on Special Teams to perfect the Kick-Off coverage is an issue and many youth football teams do not have the skill players to make open field tackles on a tier 1 or tier 2 running back in the open field.
Many times, these deep kicks will be returned for a touchdown or end up back around the 50-yard line where a short pooch or onside kick would have been downed.
I recommend kicking an Onside Kick toward your sidelines and perfect that directional kick. I also like Soccer players for Kickers or players with strong legs. I’ve had several big lineman kick for use, especially at younger ages. The bigger players legs are usually stronger. Also a quick tip, move the football between the hashes to set up your kicks. Do you like these Kick-off Special Teams coaching tips?
Last season, I learned a new tip to line up your kick team in order on the sidelines how the would line up on the field. Works great! Thanks Coach W!
Kick Return Special Teams Coaching Tips
In our youth football league, many teams onside kick almost every kick until around 11U. There are only a few teams in each age group that may kick deep now and then. It is best to scout your opponent and find out where and how long the kick.
Make sure to have your hands team on kick return and good open field blockers. Slow lineman do not do well on Kick Return since they are too slow to block an open field defender running by them.
I recommend a 6-4-1 set up or a 5-4-2 set up at the appropriate depth for your age group kickers. Use your skilled players (hands guys) on your Kick-return team. Do not put 8U kick returners at the 10-yard line. I doubt the 8U kicker will kick to the 10. Do you like these Kick Return Special Teams coaching tips?
Punt Team Special Teams Coaching Tips
Punting is a tough and highly debated play at the youth football level and even at the High School level. Many youth teams will not punt unless backed up within their 20-yard line. I do not Punt unless we are within the 10-yard line. Hopefully your league at 8U or 9u will not have Punt plays but allow you to declare a punt and give you a 20 or 30 yard walk off for the declared punt play.
Why not Punt? Punting is very risky; Snap, Catching the Snap, Defensive Rush, Punt Kick, Direction and Length of Punt, then Punt Coverage. There are so many Punting issues just to get the kick, then if you get a great punt, now you must tackle a great open field runner. Most youth football players have a tough time understanding that they just were blocking and now they are on Defense and must tackle the punt returner in open field, which is extremely difficult for most youth football players.
I recommend the directional punt and or Rugby sweep option punt. Or even better sometimes is the Fake punt. Do you agree with these Punt Special Teams coaching tips?
Punt Return Special Teams Coaching Tips
At younger youth football ages, I recommend that teams do not return the punt just let it bounce around and do not touch the football. Trying to catch a Punt at the youth football level is very very risky. I have lost too many games watching our Punt returner or defender touch a punted football and have the Punt team recover and we lose the football.
At older ages, but your best receiver deep and tell him to catch the punt or field the punt if the football is kicked to him and he has an easy catch, otherwise get out of the way of the football, and let it bounce. Do not turnover the football by blowing the reception.
The most important point about the punt return, is if your team does not muff the return, then you get the football. I want the football. This is one of the best Special Team coaching tips for youth football punt return.
Extra Point After Kick Special Teams Coaching Tips
At the youth football level for extra point PAT kicks I recommend, not kicking unless you have a consistent kicker, snapper, and holder. Go for two points and run an Offensive play. I do not kick extra points unless my PAT Kick team can execute a 66% success rate.
I always make sure I have a fake extra point kick play that can also work as my muffed play if the holder drops the football. We usually release the TE on a Seam and the WB on an Out. The Holder will Sweep Option to the receiver side. We have an audible call for this play that I can yell out if needed.
Some youth league will make the extra point kick worth 2 or 3 points and the running play from scrimmage just one point. If this is the case, find a Kicker and practice! This is a huge advantage!
I like Soccer players for Kickers or players with big or long legs for strength. I’ve used both and been successful.
Field Goal Team Special Team Coaching Tips
I will be honest, in my 25 plus seasons coaching tackle youth football ages 5u to 12u, I have seen maybe 5 or 6 field goal tries and only one successful. I would use your PAT unit for this Special Teams Play, and I would not spend too much time working on it unless you have that KICKER.
Conclusion Special Teams Coaching Tips
Make sure to make Special Teams a focused part of your practice plans. It can alter a course of a game with either a mistake or a huge Special Teams plays for your squad. Don’t be the coach, who’s team does not know how to line up for a kick-off or kick return. I just laugh at these coaches then win. Did I leave off a Special Teams Coaching Tip that you have learned? If so, leave me a comment below.
Did you like my youth football Special Teams Coaching Tips? How do you coach your Special Teams unit? Would love to hear from you!
There are 3 phases of football and Special Teams is the 3rd phase. Make sure to focus on the 3rd most important phase of the game. Mistake free special teams will help you win and or save a few close youth football games. Do not ignore Special Teams! Ignore them at your peril.
If you have any questions about my youth football Special Teams coaching tips, please Contact Me anytime.