Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Keeping Your Hands Off the Center When Punting in Youth Football

Many youth football teams relegate the job of Special Teams coach to one of their least experienced coaches. While we all need to find real coaching duties for everyone on our coaching staff, Special Teams Coach is NOT the place you want to put the rookie coach.

Against top flight competition, Special Teams is often times the difference maker. When I go to Florida to watch the Pop Warner and AYF National Championships, I see teams that put a lot of time and effort into making sure their Special Teams execute well. You never see these teams struggling to make sure they have the correct number of players on the field or see them execute on-side kicks poorly. You don’t see these teams putting themselves in a hole by getting penalized on Special Teams or not covering kicks well.

In a recent game I watched a team that was called for roughing the snapper. They tried to “block” a Center who was snapping to a punter. The Special Teams coach didn’t know it was illegal for their Nose Tackle to engage the Center on a punt play. NFHS rules which cover 48 of our 50 states says you can’t do that:
ART. 6 . . . Roughing the snapper. A defensive player shall not charge directly into the snapper when the offensive team is in a scrimmage-kick formation. This means anytime a deep back is deeper than 7 yards, you can’t engage the Center.

The Special Teams coach was probably an old timer that didn’t know modern day football has been made a bit safer by putting rules like this in during the last 20 years.

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