Special teams are not merely a key to a football team’s success. A good kick return can equal great field position
Here are the things to keep in mind when it’s time to build a strong special-teams unit:.
Find Great Players
Great special teams begin with great special-teams players. These players often distinguish themselves in practice. They are the ones who leave their feet in order to make a play. They are the ones that other less-energetic players often complain about as being over zealous. They love contact. They chase every play.
Find Time in Practice
The more prominent special teams play, the more an opponent must take up valuable practice time to counteract it. In an effort to maximize special-teams performance, I will incorporate special-teams preparation with conditioning. In this manner, special teams can be practiced each and every day.
Rather than have players run a high repetition of laps (where many linemen tend to be less than enthusiastic or energetic), a coach could run a high number of kickoffs, kickoff returns, punts, and punt returns. Your players get in shape, and the time is spent more productively killing two birds with one stone.
Outwork Your Opponent
Many teams are lax in their devotion to the kicking game and special-teams play in general. This despite a contemporary trend recognizing the valuable contribution special teams can make to a game, often even breaking open or deciding a close game. Without surprise, those teams willing to spend valuable practice time devoted to special teams are the very ones who most often benefit from it.
When a team is trailing by two points and declines to attempt a 40-yard field goal–opting instead to go for a fourth-and-eight situation from an opponent’s 23-yard line–the message is clear. The kicking game is inadequate. There is a chink in the armor.
A team so uncommitted to the basic necessities such as a simple field goal is likely to be deficient in other special-teams areas as well. It is against just such a team that I will feel confident to try my highly practiced and prepared special plays. In other words, such a scenario is ideal for going for the fake kick or blocked-kick attempt. The reasoning is simple: If my opponent has prepared so little for their own field-goal team, how much have they prepared for my multi-threat special teams play? I like my chances.