Author Topic: Best Strategy/Alignment for Receiving a Short Kickoff?  (Read 395 times)

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Offline Coach Brad

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Best Strategy/Alignment for Receiving a Short Kickoff?
« on: September 09, 2018, 10:37:35 PM »
Hi All,

Ran into this issue today. Played a team that shorts kicks every kickoff like we do, don't actually see many of them. Today, they recovered the first 2 kickoffs on us, scored twice before we got to touch the ball.

I was lined up in a basic kick return formation (9 man)

  X      X      X      X
      X      X      X   
         X        X

First line 10 yards off the ball, 2nd line 15 off the ball, returners 30 off the ball. Started with 2nd line 20 off the ball, but moved them up after we lost the first kickoff. I teach the front and 2nd lines to fall on any ball kicked on the ground in front of them.

On the first kick, it was a line drive at a 2nd row player, bounced off his chest right to the kicking team as he tried to catch it. Second kick was a slower dribbler that bounced away from a front line player as he tried to fall on it.

We play the same team again in a week. Is there a better alignment or strategy to employ to defend against this type of kick? They kicked it up the middle each time, never to the outside.

What If I combined the first and second lines at 15 yards. Might be easier coming forward to recover a ball rolling towards them, rather then being closer and having a higher chance of a ball being drilled right at them.

ANy thoughts on this?

Offline Bob Goodman

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Re: Best Strategy/Alignment for Receiving a Short Kickoff?
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2018, 09:33:58 PM »
Never play the front line at 10 yards, for the reason you wrote.  13's good.

Offline acsmith7062

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Re: Best Strategy/Alignment for Receiving a Short Kickoff?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2018, 04:26:16 PM »
We played 9on9 last year with 2nd graders and had good results lining up like this:

X     X     X     X     X     X

       X                   X

                  X

First row were at 12 yards and instructed to fall on any slow dribblers.  On any line drive, they are to move out of the way and let the 2nd/3rd row guys field it.  Any ball past them or not dribbled to them, they are to block (this is key).

2nd row was at 18 yards and instructed to go after any ball kicked on their side of the field.  3rd row guy is at 22 yards and should go after every ball.

Obviously, you need the 2nd and 3rd row to be fast players as they have a lot of field to cover.  Most teams we played kicked it hard right up the middle also, which resulted in the ball being fielded by my best return man (the 3rd row player) with blockers in front of him.  The key is making sure your middle two 1st row players are athletic and disciplined enough to get out of the way of any hard line drives so that they will go to the 3rd row, where they are easily fielded. 
"Two kinds of players ain't worth a damn: One never does what he's told, and one who does nothin' but what he's told."   O.A. "Bum" Phillips

Offline spidermac

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Re: Best Strategy/Alignment for Receiving a Short Kickoff?
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2018, 10:57:21 AM »
We put 8 across the front, regardless of what kind of kick we are likely to see...2 in the middle and one deep.

I can think of only one onsides try that we lost since we moved to this alignment...
None of them suck, they just haven't found what the kid is good at yet.

Offline Coach Brad

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Re: Best Strategy/Alignment for Receiving a Short Kickoff?
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2018, 04:22:53 PM »
We played 9on9 last year with 2nd graders and had good results lining up like this:

X     X     X     X     X     X

       X                   X

                  X

First row were at 12 yards and instructed to fall on any slow dribblers.  On any line drive, they are to move out of the way and let the 2nd/3rd row guys field it.  Any ball past them or not dribbled to them, they are to block (this is key).

2nd row was at 18 yards and instructed to go after any ball kicked on their side of the field.  3rd row guy is at 22 yards and should go after every ball.

Obviously, you need the 2nd and 3rd row to be fast players as they have a lot of field to cover.  Most teams we played kicked it hard right up the middle also, which resulted in the ball being fielded by my best return man (the 3rd row player) with blockers in front of him.  The key is making sure your middle two 1st row players are athletic and disciplined enough to get out of the way of any hard line drives so that they will go to the 3rd row, where they are easily fielded.
This is pretty much I was thinking, but one guy in the "middle row" 5 yards behind them, to back up whichever player has the short kick directed at them. Probably our best most sure handed player with speed and smarts. Then 2 guys in the back row on the hashes in case of a deep kick or a medium kick down one of the sidelines.

Gonna practice lots of different types of kicks at each player on the front row. Practice, practice, practice.

Offline blockandtackle

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Re: Best Strategy/Alignment for Receiving a Short Kickoff?
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2018, 05:19:35 PM »
Hi All,

Ran into this issue today. Played a team that shorts kicks every kickoff like we do, don't actually see many of them. Today, they recovered the first 2 kickoffs on us, scored twice before we got to touch the ball.

I was lined up in a basic kick return formation (9 man)

  X      X      X      X
      X      X      X   
         X        X

First line 10 yards off the ball, 2nd line 15 off the ball, returners 30 off the ball. Started with 2nd line 20 off the ball, but moved them up after we lost the first kickoff. I teach the front and 2nd lines to fall on any ball kicked on the ground in front of them.

On the first kick, it was a line drive at a 2nd row player, bounced off his chest right to the kicking team as he tried to catch it. Second kick was a slower dribbler that bounced away from a front line player as he tried to fall on it.

We play the same team again in a week. Is there a better alignment or strategy to employ to defend against this type of kick? They kicked it up the middle each time, never to the outside.

What If I combined the first and second lines at 15 yards. Might be easier coming forward to recover a ball rolling towards them, rather then being closer and having a higher chance of a ball being drilled right at them.

ANy thoughts on this?

So by "short kickoff" you mean something that can be considered an onside kick?  Are we talking about a high, short kickoff over the front line or are we talking about a little short squib that rolls on the ground?

If you know it's always going to be a short kick, I like either 5 on the front at 10 and 4 in the gaps at 15-20 depending on level and ability, with a pair of "deep" returners behind them on the hashes somewhere in the 20-30 yard line range in case something gets through the first 2 lines.  Think of them more like Cov. 2 safeties whose job is to clean up anything that gets through the first 2 levels rather than guys you want to set up a return for.

Always watch the kicker (and punter) in pregame warmups to get a feel for his leg and how deep to set your returners and lines, just in case they're kicking short by choice instead of by necessity.

Offline Bob Goodman

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Re: Best Strategy/Alignment for Receiving a Short Kickoff?
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2018, 09:39:24 AM »
If you know it's always going to be a short kick, I like either 5 on the front at 10
Even if you thought it'd be a line drive or grounder?  Why does anybody play anybody in the front line at 10 unless they want to murder the kicker?