Simple & Deceptive Kickoff Returns

By FirstDown PlayBook on Aug 14, 2023
FirstDown PlayBook Has Over 35,000 Plays. Offense, Defense & Special Teams.

Here at FirstDown PlayBook we always see an uptick in the number of special teams coaches looking at our football coaching tool this time of year. It’s pretty obvious that there has been some procrastination with designing a sound kickoff return or punt protection scheme.

All of the cute drawing days on Twitter are over. It’s time to design schemes that your players can actually run. This includes special teams, which is normally neglected until the last minute.

We have written here many times about how most special teams plays are big field plays. They are also unique plays. There is normally not a whole lot of practice time devoted to the skills needed when it comes to special teams techniques. When there is a whole lotta football field to cover on these plays, it exposes that quickly on game day. Today we want to look at the Kickoff Return phase for a moment. This play is the epitome of a big field coaching challenge.

Obviously, when coaching the Kickoff Return unit it is always good to try to find a special player to handle the ball. However, too many coaches try to rely on this player alone and that’s a mistake. Your return won’t be very good unless that player consistently makes a lot of people miss. The odds of your good player getting hurt or timid are high if no one is blocking. Never forget that this play is an offensive play and it should be approached that way.

When it comes to coaching Kickoff Returns our advice is to keep it very simple. However; also make sure there is an element of deception as well. Remember that your players are always going to care more about offense and defense than they will your Kickoff Return. Good special teams coaches always consider this age old fact.

I Can Tell How Hard Your Defense Plays Just By Watching This Special Teams Phase

One way that you can accomplish this is to adopt blocking schemes that essentially have your players blocking the same coverage player two different ways. Meaning on your base play, your players will block their assignment inside out. On your second play, your players will sell the inside out block and then pin their assignment inside.

If you adopt this approach it will allow you to spend more time with your players on technique as opposed to learning your latest, greatest scheme. That is always a good thing. This video will take you through two kickoff returns that utilize this approach. Yours may be two entirely different plays but the message remains the same. Special teams coaches…keep your kickoff returns simple and deceptive.

Gerry Gallagher