Drilling Your Kickoff Teams
Many youth football coaches don’t spend a lot of time with special teams, which is a huge mistake. With proper practice priorities and a good practice methodology, every youth coach should have plenty of time to devote to developing good special teams.
While we are proponents of the onside or “pooch” kick for every kickoff, until the game is no longer in doubt, we know many coaches don’t agree with that and would prefer to put the ball in the hands of the other teams best player “in space” and take their chances.
Repping the deep kick coverage can be quite a chore and often results in injured players. Here are some ideas to rep it during football practice without banging your kids all up:
Some More Ideas for the Youth Football Coach on Kick Coverage:
Deep Kick Coverage Reps
One simple way to practice covering kickoffs is to drill it going horizontal on your field, using the yard lines as boundaries for your drills. You can set one kick coverage player every 5 yards, squarely in the middle of every 5 yard marking. Start this drill with each coverage player lined up on the sidelines facing the opposite sidelines. To simulate blocking, you can have one offensive player set up as a blocker with a hand shield, 10 yards in front of each defender. Have your kicker kick with the cover team sprinting on the kick and staying in their “lanes” for the first 15 yards. The defenders initial goal is to sprint in his lane and avoid contact with the blocker with the shield. If the defender can not avoid contact without going out of his boundary lane, he would execute a swim, rip or other 2 handed hand move to move off the blocker.
Adding a Return Component
If you are using the recommended “keep in front of/keep the runner inside” kick coverage technique (keep the runner in front of, and inside of the defender) you can add a returner and test your cover kids ability to keep the returner inside and in front of themselves. The keys are to make sure the cover players can avoid or get past initial resistance and take proper pursuit angles under control. Do not let the cover kids tackle the returner, have them fit on him or tackle to thud, not to the ground.
Covering kicks needs to be practiced but if you do it full speed and tackle to the ground with full blocking, you are asking for trouble. Drilling coverage in the above fashion will allow your defenders the repetitions of avoiding and coming off blocks while practicing proper pursuit techniques. Leave the tackling for your tackling drills.
If you can’t practice on a real field with markings, use cones or practice jerseys as boundaries. Coaching Youth Football well is more than having a few good football plays, it means you are setting good priorities and practicing special teams in a way that simulates what is going to happen in a game without the full danger of injuries. This is also a very good conditioning drill if you need to build up endurance in your team.
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Coaching youth football Copyright 2007 Cisar Management. Republishing this article is allowed if this paragraph and links are included.