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Author Topic: The Importance of Special Teams  (Read 3752 times)

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Offline gumby_in_co

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The Importance of Special Teams
« on: May 25, 2018, 01:07:25 PM »
To those of you who have figured it out, skip this discussion and go have some coffee.  ;D

We just won our Spring Championship against a MUCH more talented team. Good lord were they good. They scored 3 TDs, we scored 2 TDs, yet we won 19-18. They kicked their snapper in the backside all 3 times. We made both PATs (kicks are worth 2 around here both in Spring and Fall). Granted, we have an exceptional kicker and theirs obviously struggled, but you still have to snap, hold, block and kick without false starting, etc.

We knew we would have to depend on our punting game, so we worked hard on it leading up to the game. Snaps, protection and coverage were near-perfect. They muffed one and we darned near recovered it. We also knew that their top player would be returning punts and the rumor is that he is one of the fastest kids in the US in the 100M for his age (among kids who actually run track in 8th grade, I suppose), but you get the drift. Kid is fast. He didn't get a significant return out of all 3 attempts.

We, on the other hand, had 3 PR opportunities and had decent returns with no bobbles or muffs.

We onside kicked 3 times, but failed to recover. Our 4th kick was from our own 25 due to a penalty, so we kicked it deep and did not allow a significant return. We also got called for a "mortar" kick, but it was completely unintentional and was a borderline call. I think the official had been waiting for a year or so to finally get to call it.

We had one near miss on a KR on a wobbly goblin that made it to the 2nd level, but went out of bounds. It was a close call. Our returns on their 2 deep kicks yielded better than average field position. We easily covered their attempt at an onside kick at the end of the game.

It was pretty clear that our special teams were more polished than our opponent's. It was the difference in a 1 point game. THE game.

It was clear throughout the season that some teams did not practice special teams at all. For many of these teams, it was a significant factor in our lopsided scores that could have been so easily avoided. I think most inexperienced coaches attempt to apply their "knowledge" of pro and college football to their youth team. At those levels, long snaps are automatic, punts are usually fair caught, miscues on KR/KO are rare, etc. So they expect that to be the case with their youth team and are unpleasantly surprised on game day.

Our approach:
1) We covet the 2 point conversion. MANY games are won or lost on PATs. If we feel that we can convert 50% of our 2 point kicks, we will go for it because few teams are able to run the ball in for a PAT 100% of the time.
2) We make sure we know ALL of the weird special teams rules in our league and are prepared with a Plan B in case the officials don't know or don't enforce those rules.
3) Special teams go in before anything else at the beginning of the season.
4) We work on them 15 minutes every practice, immediately after warmups.
5) We try not to kick deep unless we don't care if they score. In our championship, we made a decision to kick deep from our own 25.
6) Special teams are chaos. Chaos belongs to the athletes.

So if you're a new coach, or an old coach who has neglected your special teams, do your team a favor and get hot on them.
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Offline mahonz

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2018, 01:21:40 PM »
Dont forget our 37 Field Goal. Ended up being the difference.

Sure was nice not to have to go for it on 4th and long from the opponents 20 but still get points.
Collect moments, not wins.

Offline gumby_in_co

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2018, 01:55:51 PM »
Dont forget our 37 Field Goal. Ended up being the difference.

Sure was nice not to have to go for it on 4th and long from the opponents 20 but still get points.

Of course. I think that is going to change my approach to the game going forward. I'm going to start scouting Sokker leagues for goalies with a big leg. Such a luxury to be able to put points up when a drive stalls. Finding a kicker like that is easier said than done, but we definitely need to try.
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Offline MHcoach

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2018, 02:10:26 PM »
L&M

It's not sexy to practice special teams. Most coaches don't understand the fine details that go into special teams. Great coaches always talk about Special Teams being 1/3 of the game & needs to be treated as such.

I was taught when I played that certain skills needed to be practiced every day. I long snapped every practice, our punters, our kickers & holders too.

IMHO most youth coaches don't spend time on Specials because they don't understand how to. Blocking on a PAT or FG is a very different skill than simply blocking. It is choreographed & needs to be perfect. At MH we went 55-1 the one loss came in double ot on a blocked PAT. Our kicker had broken his toe in the 3rd qtr, the back up kicker was fine but he was the starting LG. His replacement didn't step down on time, a gap player got a finger tip on the ball.

The loss wasn't on my players, it was on me not having another player prepared for the PAT team.

Whatever your Special team philosophy is, the important thing is to have one. Some Teams we always onside, others we always kick deep. Some Teams always punt, others go for it past mid field. If the PAT kick is 2 we always kick. In HS we usually kick, but have 2 pt plays ready. All 3 phases of the game need to be coached & need to be disciplined.

Joe
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Offline ZACH

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2018, 02:22:49 PM »
After watching Pulaski academy...we dont punt...we onside kick...go for 2 which is field goal p.a.t.

Guess what, kids love special teams for some reason. So we dedicate 20 minutes on most days to a special team.  We have 12 onside kicks...and 7 kick returns lol
"Some athletes have division 1 dreams and jv work ethic" - random

Offline gumby_in_co

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2018, 04:53:56 PM »
Great coaches always talk about Special Teams being 1/3 of the game & needs to be treated as such.



It's a way to make your team 33% better if you have it or 33% worse if you don't.
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Offline MHcoach

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2018, 07:15:27 PM »
L

I think you really have to learn Special Teams the same as O or D. Then you have to be able to teach it. I am lucky I was a long snapper so I can teach that. I have learned how to cover kicks & block for punts & PATs. The one area I don't mess with is the Kickers. I just let them kick.

Joe
"Champions behave like champions before they're champions: they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners"
Bill Walsh

Offline joshv155

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2018, 11:27:40 PM »
100% agree. I decided to forgo kicking extra points last season after we had mauled teams the season before scoring on almost all our non-kicking extra points (1 vs 2 points like your league) We lost two games because the teams we played kicked extra points for 2 and we couldn’t do it. Coaching mistakes. We will kick extra points every time next year.

Do you have onside/deep kick and return setups you wish to share ?
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Offline MHcoach

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2018, 12:18:57 AM »
Josh

 In AYF special teams do not as a play for MMP's. We used an interesting deep kick that was very effective. We placed the ball on a hash, & had our kicker kick deep between the numbers & the sideline. We put our 4 best & fastest player inside the hash, the next 2 were chasers  & the last 4 played contain.

Very effective & simple coverage.

Joe
"Champions behave like champions before they're champions: they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners"
Bill Walsh

Offline Bob Goodman

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2018, 05:20:47 PM »
I'm going to make the case that for competitive purposes, in most cases special teams prep deserves much, much less than 33% of your time.

We coach different ages & different rules, so let's assume 10Us and something close to one of the major rules codes -- maybe even something favorable to place kicking for goal by limiting the number of defenders who can rush or where they can rush from, just to lean in favor of special teams.

1st of all, most of us aren't going to have that player who can make those kicks often enough to be worthwhile.  If you don't have such a player, then as it says in the tax worksheets, stop, no sense working on it further, you cannot get this benefit.  The odds of your being able to develop such a skill in a player by taking time of his away from practicing other skills are so long against as to be prohibitive.

Most of us also aren't going to have the player who can mix in some deep kicks at kickoffs in a worthwhile manner.  No sense working on coverage you'll never use.  Just kick onside, a shallow bounding ball, or some such.  Practicing coverage and recovery won't take long.  Recovery should be part of your general fumble recovery skill practice.

Similarly, most of our opponents shouldn't kick deep, so again not much need to prepare against them.  Most of the "practice" you need here is going over scenarios, like when the ball is poison & when it needs to be played.

Some of us will find punting worthwhile, but not as a special team, just as a quick kick.  So it's just another offensive play.

You can't neglect kicking situations entirely, but I'd say the avg. team shouldn't need to spend more than 10% of practice at them, & many of them less.

Offline joshv155

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2018, 05:42:45 PM »
Josh

 In AYF special teams do not as a play for MMP's. We used an interesting deep kick that was very effective. We placed the ball on a hash, & had our kicker kick deep between the numbers & the sideline. We put our 4 best & fastest player inside the hash, the next 2 were chasers  & the last 4 played contain.

Very effective & simple coverage.

Joe

Joe -

That is the exact idea our coaches came up with at our meeting last week. We were thinking 5 inside the hash but 4 sounds fine so we can contain the rest of the field. We thought 5 so that our onside and deep alignment wouldn't look any different.
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Offline Bob Goodman

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2018, 06:28:44 PM »
We coach different ages & different rules, so let's assume 10Us and something close to one of the major rules codes
Unless it's Canadian.  Then you're justified putting in more than 10% on kick plays.

Offline MHcoach

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2018, 08:07:46 PM »
BG

While I can agree age & rules do make a difference; that would be in the scheme part not the coaching. Specials matter, figuring out how to coach them less is a bad idea.

Joe
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Offline MHcoach

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2018, 08:16:45 PM »
Josh

If you count the players across, #1 nearest the sideline, #5 being the kicker & #11 nearest the far sideline.

1&6= Faster players who ran to the ball.

2,3,4, & 7 ran their lanes.

Either 5 or 8 played safety.

9 10 & 11 played contain

Joe
"Champions behave like champions before they're champions: they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners"
Bill Walsh

Offline Bob Goodman

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Re: The Importance of Special Teams
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2018, 10:38:24 AM »
BG

While I can agree age & rules do make a difference; that would be in the scheme part not the coaching. Specials matter, figuring out how to coach them less is a bad idea.

Joe
It's never a bad idea to figure out what coaching time is best spent on.  Every minute you can save coaches & players from 1 thing is a minute you have them available for something else.