Video: Freshman goes sideline to sideline on kick return TD
See what happens when special teams go awry
It's back! Very soon, on high school campuses all across this great land of ours, freshmen are going to gingerly get out of their parents' cars and sheepishly walk toward their first training camp for high school football. Seniors will roll up in their own rides as the new "BMOCs" - Big Men On Campus.
There is an old saying that failure to prepare is preparation for failure. It's true! I've spent six years as an athletic director and have seen some of my head coaches do a tremendous job preparing their troops, with to-the-minute practice plans and impeccable monthly calendars. On the flipside, I've seen some head coaches who just fly by the seat of their pants.
And you can see the difference between these two leadership styles on the field.
If you fail to prepare your special teams this season, you are preparing them for failure. Has your staff sat down and put together a special teams installation calendar? You have probably created one for the offensive side, and probably for the defensive side, but what about the third "side" of the game?
I'm entering my 16th year of coaching high school football, my 14th as a special teams coordinator. It's a real passion of mine, and one of the most overlooked aspects of the game at the high school level.
Do you want to make a difference in your special teams units this Fall? Do you want to steal some yards with special teams? Here is one way to help you create a special teams advantage this season: The special teams coordinator and head coach should sit down and plan out what they will be working on each specific day.
Many programs fail to do this, putting together an installation calendar like this. What happens is the coaching staff is usually not as prepared as it should be. The head coach blows the whistle, and yells "special teams." The special teams coordinator scrambles, and runs a one-man show.
Using a calendar will help staffs to avoid this "shoot from the hip" special teams approach.
Saturdays are left blank. Our special teams work on whichever aspect we think is not performing up to our standard on that day. That leaves us some freedom to get extra work on whichever unit the staff thinks needs a little more attention.
For the third week of the preseason, the week of our scrimmage, I simulate what our game weeks will look like. This will help our teenagers understand and prepare mentally for moving at a little quicker pace during game-prep weeks. We like to install our returns on Mondays because they usually change just a little bit depending on what our opponent's scheme looks like.
I hope that you find merit in sitting down to put together a special teams installation calendar like the one we are using for training camp this year. Each aspect will get just about the same amount of attention. We have ample time (about 30 minutes per day) to prepare our troops for battle. This comes from my head coach, who is always willing to "give you as much time as you need."
That's how all head coaches should be with their philosophy of special teams!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.