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I have written on here before about the first play of my coaching career. The kick off that was returned for a TD. Today will be the first in a 2 part series on drills we use to help us succeed. This week’s installment are for your Punt, PAT, and KO cover teams.

That moment has had a tremendous impact on the way we approach special teams. While I do not feel that you have to spend a ton of time on special teams, I do feel that you have to spend time practicing them. Just with offense and defense, I think that practice time should be divided among walkthrough team time, individual or group skill development, and lastly full team time either on air or against a scout team. When developing the practice plan, if we are focusing on individual skills, we will use a lot of circuits. We feel that by using circuits, we can get a lot of work done in a short amount of time and also a little bit of conditioning. I will go over our use of circuits later in the article.

I would like to share with you the drills that we use to help our special teams have success on Friday nights.

Punt and PAT/FG Teams

We use the whole part whole teaching approach when it comes to installing all special teams, but I feel this approach is particularly well suited to working with the Punt and PAT/FG units. We first install the basics to the whole group in a walk through period. Once the whole concept is installed, we will break each into skill specific positions. For example on the punt team, the line will work together. The gunners will work alone and the CORE or snapper, personal protector, and the punter will work together. This is a logical groups of players based on their skill sets. Once we feel that the proper techniques have been acquired, we will then move on to team versus air. This is done to ensure the player know their roles and assignments before we use a scout team. The final step is to put a scout team against the team showing various rush looks.

Kick Off Team

The drill sequence for the kickoff team is similar to that of the other teams with a few exceptions. Since the skills required to be good at covering kicks are largely the same for all members of the KO team, we group them all together for group time. One exception is that when then team is going against air, we will have the team run in their cover lanes to a point 20-25 yds downfield. At this point, marked with a cone, the cover team will break down in an athletic position and perform a wave drill. The drill can be done with a coach directing the cover team, or with a ball carrier. The cover men should maintain their cover lanes as they adjust to the ball carrier or the coach’s direction. Using a ball carrier will also ensure that the cover team has the ball carrier head up or on their inside or shoulder depending on their cover assignments.

A second drill we will use to work on KO coverage is a simple cover drill. I got from AFCA’s Complete Guide to Special Teams in an article by Greg McMahon. The diagram below shows how we set up the field for this drill.

Equipment Needed:

  • 8 Cones or something to be used for landmarks, 2 hand shields, Bag or dummy large enough to be tackled


Cover man (CM) starts on one sideline, then on coach’s command, sprints across field. He must avoid first bag while staying w/in the 3 yd box, he then regains his coverage lane to the next scout player. The CM then uses a two-hand butt technique in the ATTACK zone to defeat and shed the 2nd block. Once past this point, the player will sprint to the cones and settle his feet (chopping) in a good football position. The returner will then be released by the coach to run full speed to one of the landmarks. The CM will shuffle to the side that the returner is running to and execute an open field tackle on the bag the returner is holding. The players will then rotate to the starting position at the opposite sideline. One coach will be on each side to release the CM and returner. Variation: This could also be down using a kicker or punter, so that the returner gets practice fielding kicks and the CM get accustomed to moving on the kicker’s movement.

Coaching Points:

  • Players should use any means possible to avoid the first blocker, but must stay w/ in the 3 yd box and regain lane integrity.
  • On attacking the 2nd bag, players should gather feet to prepare for contact. On contact, they should stun pad with heel of their palms and shuck pad to one side.
  • Do not release return man until CM has gathered feet at cones.
  • Ensure proper form tackle on the returner's bag. Have CM execute form tackle and bring bag to returner’s spot while still in form tackle.

Additional Kicking Resources:

Click here for more Kicking Game Coaching Resources.



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