The Middle Cross Kick Return

Jan 18, 2012 | Kick Return, Special Teams

Importance of Kick Off Return

Developing and repping a solid kick off return team can be an explosive offensive weapon for your football team. With the kick off team, you are generally looking to avoid, negative momentum. However, with the kick off return team, you can gain a huge momentum swing with a great return. At the very least, you want to give your offense the ball outside of the -30 yardline.

The kickoff return team is important, because you can give your offense the ball in good field position, and could possibly even score a TD.

Why do we do what we do?

We like to make the other team spend as much time as possible when preparing for our special teams. If we are able to execute the KO return well, then we should be able to force them into making a kick that they do not usually practice. If they are making a kick they don’t spend much time on, then we feel we will be able to take advantage. We also like to have some schematic and skill based carry over from our offense and defense. We are a Wing T team. Therefore, we use blocking angles in our return schemes to create an advantage for our smaller athletes.


We want our offense to take the ball anywhere outside the -40 yard line. We do not want to fumble. We’re trying to give our team solid momentum, because, unless you are taking the ball to start a game or half, something bad has just happened. Therefore we want to give our team a little pick up and swing things in our favor.

Formations and Personnel

Our base kick off return formation has four players aligned on the 50 yardline, the guards are 2-3 yards inside the hashes, and the tackles are on the tops of the numbers about 9-10 yards from the sideline. The two ends are aligned on or 2 yds outside the hashes on the -43 to -44 yardline. The 2 up backs are on the -33-34 yardline just inside the tackles. The Center or wedge captain is on the 25 yard line in the middle of the field, while the two deep men are 3-5 yards inside the hashes on the 10-15 yard line. The alignment or everyone, but the front six can be adjusted based on scouting. It should look something like the diagram below.

In terms of personnel, I feel that this is one place where you can fit some of your "program" type guys. Program kids are those kids who have busted their tails for your school but may not be ready for a full time position on offense or defense. In the Guard position, you can put your TE or FB type kid who likes to hit people. This year one is filled by a TE and the other by a Halfback. The Tackle needs to be someone who can move a little bit, because the scheme requires him to cross the field, so we look for our tough WR types. This year, one is our best cracking WR, an the other is a back up DE. The up backs are pretty crucial to your scheme, b/c the more athletic they are, the more things you can do with them. We look for sure handed guys in this position that can get in the wedge a block. These might be your FBs or your TE’s. This year, we have a back up FB and a back up HB. The C or Wedge Captain must be someone who is willing to sell their body to make a block, they also have to be smart enough to set the wedge in front of the ball and alert the other members of the wedge when to go. This year it is our tough as nails TE/NG. in my opinion, the two deep guys need to be your two best runners on the team, Ideally they would both be your playmakers, but if you have only one, then put him here. I feel like you can hide the stud returner by stacking them during the pre kick, then once the kicker goes into his steps, they can align as normal.

The Scheme

We only use one blocking scheme for our kick off return. The rules are very simple, and easy to follow. We use a scheme that crosses the front 6 men, and makes a wedge with the back 4 in front of the return man. The illustration is below.

We use this return for two reasons. 1 it allows you to create blocking angles in the return game. We aren’t asking a kid to simply "drop back and hit someone." We’re giving him a specific job, and man to block. 2. it works. This year our avg starting field position of Kick off Returns has been around  the -40 yardline. The shortened field puts your offense at a tremendous advantage.