More often than not, Special Teams are regarded as an afterthought and very little time is devoted to this very important aspect of the game. Younger age groups typically don’t have to worry about identifying a punter or a field goal/xtra point kicker, however, once the boys reach the age of 10 or so, these become crucial positions.
In my league, we are awarded 2 points for kicking an xtra point as opposed to just 1 point for running/passing it into the endzone. Needless to say, this could prove to be the difference in winning or losing a close game. Once I identify a kicker and a holder, I will send them home with a block and a ball and have them work on the hold and the approach away from the practice field. This allows me to spend more time at practice working with the linemen and the up-backs on proper protection.
Finding a punter by age 11 is CRITICAL! I can’t tell you how many teams I’ve played that had a punter who could barely clear the line of scrimmage while my punter was booming 35 – 50 yarders! This is an invaluable tool but don’t waste important practice time on chasing down punts. Have your punter and your long snapper arrive a few minutes early and get some kicks in before you begin (much like you should be doing with your QB and Center).
This brings us to the kickoff and kickoff return teams…
Do NOT load up your KO and KOR teams with lesser talented, minimum play players just for the sake of getting them a few plays. Only place these kids in a position where they stand the best chance of succeeding while not hurting the team. When I’m scouting a team I will always look for where the developmental players are and that is where I kick it! If Little Johnny is timid and doesn’t like contact, why on earth would you put him on the front line of the KOR team?? That decision doesn’t benefit anyone…especially Little Johnny. If you know a team likes to kick it short, put Little Johnny back deep and let him gain some confidence. With proper coaching, Little Johnny may be a special teams contributor in no time!