“Hip By” Special Teams Technique

By FirstDown PlayBook on Jun 28, 2019
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When you watch a college or NFL football game you often see all of the credit for an explosive punt return go to the returner. Granted, a great returner is a key but there is often more to it. Coaches who know how to teach special teams technique are rare. They not only help you create positive plays but they also help eliminate senseless penalties.

Today we want to touch on just one of the techniques in FirstDown PlayBook. So enjoy the article and then get on over to the FirstDown PlayBook website for more coaching help just like this!

When coaching your punt return team you will always be better off if you teach your blockers to get most of their work done at the line of scrimmage. It is far easier to hold a punt coverage man up at the line of scrimmage. Here you can get your hands on him in tight quarters and use your feet to stay in front. It is much harder to handle him out in space as he heads down the field in coverage.

The Hip By Special Teams Technique Is Used When Things Don’t Go Well Early

However, it does not always work out this way. There will always be times when the punt coverage player wins at the line of scrimmage. The punt return player then finds himself in a “chase” mode.  If you watch college and NFL football closely each weekend you will see this repeatedly. Some NFL players do an excellent job of making the best of a tough situation by using what is referred to as a “Hip By” special teams technique.

Here are a few things you can teach your punt return unit when they find themselves in this situation.

Run Full Speed

You are already in a bad situation and the only way you are going to recover is to run. Remember that a lot of coverage guys will slow down as they try to diagnose what is happening with the return. They will want to come under control as they get closer to the returner. This is your chance to make up ground with the hip by special teams technique.

Run Directly At Your Returner

Geometry is not on your side at this moment. You have to do everything you can to regain what you have lost. Obviously if the blocker runs right behind the cover guy he will never regain the needed leverage to make the block. By running directly at the near shoulder of your returner you are running the shortest distance between two points. Those two points are where you are now and the last possible point to make a legal block.

Be Prepared To Adjust

Your returner is tracking the ball in the air. This the hardest job on the field when everyone is breathing down his neck. The last thing he needs is to have one of his own men buzzing him or running into him as he attempts to catch the ball. Be aware of the conditions like wind that could force him to adjust late. Give him room to do so. As the returner catches the ball this block will be made just as the cover man thinks he is about to make the tackle. Space awareness is crucial.

More FDPB Special Teams: Check Your Shield Punt Splits

Know When To Cut Your Losses

Sometimes the ground lost at the line of scrimmage and on the way down the field just can’t be made up. The last thing that the return team needs is a penalty for blocking in the back. There are times when the blocker needs to just peel off and find someone else to block. Someone else on your team may get that block. It may also be a fair catch situation where you live to fight that battle another day.

This Special Teams Technique Allows You To Make The Block With Your Body Presence

As the blocker makes the ground up and gets himself in a position to make the “Hip By” block it is exactly that. The blocker wants to just get his hip and body between the cover man and the returner, nothing more. This block is going to be hard to execute. It will be impossible if the blocker tries to use his hands. In fact, most coaches will teach the blocker to throw his hands up as he makes this block. This shows the referee that there is no illegal contact being made.

Create An Explosive Sky Kick Kickoff Return

The “Hip By” technique is no different than any other technique, meaning that it can and should be practiced if you expect it to be used effectively. We all know that if we can get our returner started on a punt return the chances of good things happening increase exponentially. This technique can be the difference in springing your guy for a huge return as opposed to being tackled at the spot of the catch.

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