I was reading the newspaper the other day on the new football coaching staff of the Fighting Illini. One of the areas of concern to address is special teams. Now, this isn’t a story about Illinois Football but just an example to show how important special teams are. We all know it. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.
Several important thoughts were pointed out as I was reading. The Illini ranked near the bottom in most special teams categories. Their kickoff return teams average was so dismal that they didn’t even average enough to get back to the twenty yard line. They were actually better off when they COULDN’T return. The kickoff coverage was bad, allowing opponents to begin with good field position. The punt team cost them one and probably two games. All in all it was miserable. And I know they worked hard on special teams, but for whatever reason they were consistently bad. And they were bad not just this year, but the last several. It was estimated that Illinois’ special teams cost them about one hundred yards per game compared to the average. That’s a lot of hidden yardage that doesn’t show up in the box score.
So, what does that mean for us high school coaches? Well, again it’s a reminder of the importance of special teams. As I look back perhaps we as a staff could have done more to be better. Not that our teams were bad, but where could we have done a better job? Some suggestions might be:
1.Explore innovative ways to improve your special teams by learning from others. Chiefpigskin has videos available for a unique punting system at this very time. Take a look, you’ll enjoy learning about it.
2.Identify strong punters and kickers at an early age, maybe 11 or 12 years old through youth camps. Develop them so they’re ready to be strong varsity kickers/punters.
3.Spend appropriate practice time everyday on special teams.
These are some of my thoughts. How about yours? I’d love to hear of your suggestions and ideas.