Video: Freshman goes sideline to sideline on kick return TD
See how special teams can be special or go haywire.
There are two ways to treat special teams in your football program: First class or second class. There is no in-between.
Every program treats their special teams different. Every program needs to make three key decisions that serve as a road map for their program. Figuring out these three key special teams concepts will determine how well they do in 2017.How much time are you going to spend?
Are your special teams periods going to be timed by the sand timer or the stop watch? The sand timer is flipped over, and those pieces fall for a certain amount of time. The stop watch is used to get things done quickly.
Many programs want to use a stop watch, thereby limiting the time coaches prepare their players. If your special teams are going to perform well on Friday night, they need to be developed during the week. There are varsity football teams who simply "roll out the ball" on Thursday to make sure they have 11 guys on each unit. This is "stop-watch timing."
What kind of athletes will you use?
Are you going to use thoroughbreds or donkeys?
Now before you get upset with the term donkey, let me explain. Would you use less than your best player at quarterback? Would you start a third-string tackle "just to get him some time?" Of course not.
You want the thoroughbreds in every position on offense and defense. You don't want the slower kids starting on offense or defense, why is it OK to start those kids on four or five special teams plays?
Yes, we need to be wise in not overusing kids. But don't expect first-place special teams when you're not using first-place kids. It just can't happen. If your backups hold most special team roster spots, then you will get second- or third-place performances on Fridays.How will the coaches be involved?
Are the coaches going to be invested in your special teams? If so, how much are they investing? Some programs get all of their coaches involved in special teams, and some leave it to just one or two guys.
The best special teams programs use every coach possible. Sure, maybe your coordinators don't have the responsibility of being in charge of a unit, but they still should be coaching a position group on a team. I like to use three on PAT/FG, kickoff, kick return and punt return. I use four on punt.
On punt for instance, we use one to watch the three kids on the line left of center, one to watch the opposite side, one to coach up the shield and then one for the longsnapper and punter. This helps us to maximize teaching and repetitions.
Get your coaches all involved in special teams if you want to make a real difference. And I don't just mean on the field. Get them watching film, and investing in special teams in the film room as well. Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.