Winning in all three phases might be a cliche, but you will lose games if you have sloppy special teams practice. Planning your special teams practices is critical if you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot on game day.
How do we plan special teams practice when we only have a 90 minute practice plan? It seems like there is too much to get done. But that’s not true.
This episode of The Football Coaching Podcast dives into planning your special teams practices – and your special teams playbooks – with a Coach Simple approach.
Preparing Your Special Teams Playbooks
- The simpler you keep the special teams, the better your team executes. And the less time you have to spend on it in practice.
- Develop special teams schemes that you can re-use every week. Most of your special teams installation should be done before the first game.
- You are not required to run every special teams group like this is the NFL. If you decide not to punt (or if you are horrible at punting), don’t punt. Likewise, it is much easier to kick onsides every time than to cover kickoffs. And do the math on 2-point conversions vs. PAT.
Special Teams Practice Plan Shell
- Dedicate full days to special teams, instead of just sprinkling it into your practice plans. Make sure your players know that special teams is a focus.
- We used to install new plays and defensive calls on Monday during practice. Sticking to a Coach Simple approach, not much is new each week. Monday can be a special teams focus day.
- Do plan to work each special team every day. If nothing else, you want to call those teams out in the middle of practice. The biggest special teams error is only having 10 guys on the field.
Organizing Your Special Teams Practice Plans
- Special Teams practice plans need to involve all of your coaches. No member of the coaching staff should be ‘off’ during any part of special teams practice.
- Make sure that each coach has a piece of each special team. If they are not involved in coaching a special team, they should be working the scout team or coaching another group.
- Utilize camps for your specialty positions like kickers, punters and long snappers if you do not have anyone who knows how to do it.
- Break each special team down into groups. You do not need a lot of drills. Just work on what they will do in the game. Then bring the groups together and execute.
- Plan your special teams practice time based on how much you use each special team in a game. If you plan to kickoff 6 times, but run 60 snaps of offense? Spend roughly 10% of the time you work on offense, on working your kickoff.
- 6 Special Teams Schemes You Should Be Using, from Season 6 of The Football Coaching Podcast.
- Keep it simple on Kickoff Return with the Wedge Kickoff Return, from Season 8 of The Football Coaching Podcast: https://joedanielfootball.com/kickoff-return/
- Still cannot recommend a better approach to punt team: The Shield Punt by Chris Fore. Everything you need is in that manual.