AFM RSS Feed Follow Us on Twitter       

   User Name    Password 
      Password Help

Article Categories

AFM Magazine

AFM Magazine

Principles and Philosophy of Kickoff Coverage

by: Philip Cole
Special Teams Coach University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff
© More from this issue

Click for Printer Friendly Version          

On every good football team, there is a group of special people who are the heart and soul of special teams. All special teams at UAPB are built around intensity, enthusiasm, communication, and speed, which enables us as a unit to get the job done. As a member of the special teams units, UAPB players ‘believe.’ Believing in our philosophy brings our special team units confidence which will bring attitude and swagger. UAPB special teams players who display leadership through example will set our tempo and attitude and that will set the tone to what we can accomplish through hard work. Our units will be held to the highest level of performance because special teams are momentum changers that help determine wins and losses.

The commitment to perform at the highest level is very important to the overall success of the UAPB program as a whole.     

    The kicking game provides the “winning edge” for our team when every player and coach wholeheartedly believes in its importance to winning.  Momentum swings in the course of games. In one or two games each season, the kicking game will directly determine the outcome.   

Scope of the kicking game  

    This includes punt protection and coverage, fielding kicks, punt returns, punt blocks, field position consideration, P.A.T. and field goal protection, defensive PAT.’s/field goal blocks, field goal coverage/returns, fake kicks/fake kick defense, kick-off coverage/kick-off returns, and on side kick-off preparation. Also, a part of the overall kicking game are kicking tactics, strategy, fundamentals, sidelines organization, and kicking game rules. These are fundamentals that help our special teams with the overall elements of the kicking game. To have a great kicking game, we must be proficient in all these areas.  

Special teams will also score points by these methods:  

     A. Safety.  

     B. Recover kick-off in an end zone.  

     C. K.O. Returns.  

     D. Advance fumbles and K.O. or punt for a score.  

     E. Punt pressure.  

     F. Intercept a fake punt or field goal for T.D.  

     G. Punt or field goal blocks for score. 

Creating Big plays on Special Teams 

    Many of the “Big Breaks” in a game occur on a kicking play.  When a team is prepared, the chance to capitalize on a break often presents itself at a most opportune time.  The kicking game often makes the difference between winning and losing.   
    The kicking game involves many precise skills. The skilled positions on special teams are punters, snappers, holders, place kickers, and returners. All of them must put in extra time at fine- tuning their skills on the field.

UAPB Kick-Off Coverage Points of Emphasis 

Kick-Off Coverage Keys & Rules (See Diagram)

    •  Never be offsides.
    •  Sprint!  Don’t break down until you pass the 35.
    •  Stay in your lane. Maintain good spacing between men.
    •  Containment!  Help inside (Squeeze)!
    •  Tackle with explosion.  Wrap up - cause fumbles.
    •  Avoid blockers early and get back to your lane.
    •  Stay on your feet.
    •  Don’t over-run the ball carrier and be out of control.
    •  Don’t squat. Run through all blocks.
    •  Remember, the ball is live after 10 yards.
    •  Always huddle before the ball is kicked.
    •  Make tackles inside the 2-yard line.
    •  Know your responsibility:  ball, force, fill, cut back, trail, safety.

Coverage Principles

•  It is imperative that we stay onsides. Trail the kicker by a yard. The kickoff team should hit the line as a unit.  “Gather” and hit it running.

•  Our goal is to be aggressive and gang tackle. We will cause a turnover or we’ll make the tackle inside our opponent’s 25-yard line.

•  The coverage must be an all out sprint from the start, all the way to the “Breaking Point” where we must come to balance to make the hit or fight off a blocker.

•  At the “Breaking Point”, we must come under control to leverage the ball from outside-in.  Stay square.  Come to balance and squeeze-down the running lane.

•  We must stay in our coverage lane. On a deep-right or deep-middle kick and if an opponent attacks us early, we must avoid him by release to our right but we must work quickly back into our lane. If the ball carrier is within 15 yards, we must stay in our lanes and attack the blocker down the middle. Use our hands to control him, shed him quickly and slide laterally to make the hit.

•  We must have the presence to feel where the ball is in flight. This will give us a jump on adjusting our coverage lanes.

•  If we get blocked, we cannot stay blocked. We cannot trade one for one. Never follow a teammate downfield.  If you come off your release and see a teammate crossing in front of you, work to the open lane. The kickoff is the best way to start convincing a team we are going to attack them from beginning to end.

•  The reason you are on the kickoff team is that you are one of the fastest, toughest men on the team.

•  Get to the 25-yard line before the ball carrier does.

•  Be alert for trick plays, reverses and throwbacks.

•  Remember to know your responsibility.

    The diagram included shows each player’s respective lanes and their specific responsibilities. As a coaching point, maintain all the lanes and keep the outside arm and leg free. Remember to squeeze the ball inside.


AFM Videos Streaming Memberships Now Available Digital Download - 304 Pages of Football Forms for the Winning Coach


Copyright 2024,
All Rights Reserved