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What are 'special teams' in football?

Football- Special Teams

Darrin Chiaverini (Football Coach and Professional Athlete) gives expert video advice on: What are 'special teams' in football?; How much of a football game is spent on special teams?; Who plays on special teams? and more...

What are 'special teams' in football?

Special teams in football is also known as the kicking game and the reason why it's called the kicking game is because on every special team they see you kicking the ball. Punt team,kick off return kick off team, field goal. Basically, it's a big part of your football team and sometimes it gets overlooked by coaches, but it can win or lose football teams for you.

How much of a football game is spent on special teams?

About a third. It just depends on the game. If you're moving the ball very well on offense you won't punt that much. But, you'll still, if you're scoring points now you're still using your PAT extra point team, which is your field goal unit team. So, about a third of the game is spent on special teams, and it's a vital part of the game.

Who plays on special teams?

The majority of the team plays on special teams. Your receivers, your defensive backs, your safeties, your linebackers, these you use for kick-off coverage or kick-off return, your offensive defensive linemen around field goal, field goal block. So the majority of the team plays on special teams except for the quarterback.

What is a 'field goal'?

A field goal is worth three points and is when the kicker kicks the ball through the uprights. Usually you have your linemen blocking; the center snaps it back to the holder, the holder puts it down, the kicker kicks it, and it's worth three points if it goes through the uprights. Fourth down -- that's when a team will go for a field goal depending on from where they are on the field. It's different than a PAT. A PAT is a 'point after touchdown.' So after a touchdown, you bring the field goal unit team on to kick the ball through the uprights and that's only worth one point. A field goal is worth three because it's not after a touchdown, it's anywhere on the field and depending on how good your kicker is you can do it pretty well from the 40 or 50 yard line.

What is a 'PAT'?

'PAT' is point after touchdown, it's worth one point. You bring your field goal--your team on, you kick it through the uprights; that's worth one point. If it's blocked, depending on what league you are in, you can pick it up, and run it back to the other opponent's end zone for two points. So depending on which league you're in, you can pick it up and block the 'PAT' to run it back, but it's worth one point.

What's the secret to kicking a field goal?

I don't know if there are any secrets to kicking a field goal, but some kickers have a routine which they go through on the sideline, and if you have ever noticed, coaches do not talk to the kickers before a big kick, they do not want to say anything to them, and let them do their job. So I think the secret to it is just basically having a kicker that you believe in, that can go out there and make the kick.

What's the secret to blocking a field goal?

The secret of blocking a field goal is giving pressure up the middle. If you can get your defensive tackles to push your guards back and get your linebackers through to block the play, you'll be successful blocking it. But, it takes a lot of pressure up the middle to get that thing blocked. A lot of teams, what they do is they pull the wing guy out and they shoot the defensive back in between and he'll try to dive and block it. So that's another tactic that teams use. They try to get the DBs, the fast guys off the edge, just trying to cut that corner and blocking it. It happens every now and then, but it's kind of rare. If you watch the Michigan-Appalachian State game, they blocked a field goal that same way. They shot the defensive back through the wing, and he just dove in front and blocked it, and won the game for them.

What is a 'kick off'?

Kick off is when ten other guys including the kicker line up on the 35 yard line and they kick the ball off to the return team and those guys go down there and just wreak havoc. We used to call it the suicide squad because those guys go down there and just lay everything out and try to get that ball carrier down. So it's when ten guys run down the field and try to make the tackle on the kick-off team.

What is an 'onside kick'?

Onside kick usually happens at the end of the game, but some teams do a surprise onside kick. It's basically when the kicker kicks the ball at least 10 yards. It has to cover 10 yards, or the opponent has to touch the ball first. Once the ball travels 10 yards, it's a live ball and you're allowed to recover it. A lot of coaches use this for strategy as far as, after you score a touchdown, big momentum swing, trying to get the ball back right away and keep the momentum, or at the end of the game, when they're down, they kick an onside kick to try and get 10 yards, get the ball back, for a gain of possession to try and score and win the game.

What is a 'kick return'?

A kick return has gotten really popular in the last couple of years as far as the notoriety, especially guys like Devon Hester for the Chicago Bears, who have taken their kick return game to a new level. It's basically when the kick off team kicks a ball and the return guy who can return the ball until he gets tackled. If you have a good return man, you can really swing the game in your favor.

What is the secret to a great kick return?

The secret is that you have to have a guy back there that's special with the ball in his hands. You can have guys blocking and doing their job but if you don't have a guy back there that has good vision, that can see the field at different angles then you won't be successful. If you notice with the Chicago Bears if you put someone back there besides Devin Hester it wouldn't be the same thing. Even though they're blocking and doing their job you have to have a special player back there doing his job and taking it to what we call the house.

What is a 'punt'?

A punt is when an offensive series, they get to fourth down and they don't want to go for a fourth down. They bring the punt team on, and the punter - that's all he does is punt the ball. He goes back and he gets the ball from the center. It's set back.... he's like in a shotgun stance, and it's sent back to him and he punts it. And basically it's to change a possession.

When does a team 'fake punt'?

Depends on the coach, depends on the situation. If the team is on the forty yard line going in, they don't want to try a field goal, they might bring the punt team out. And depending on what the game situation is, they might try to go for it as far as faking it, throwing a pass, or having the punter run it. Basically the punter will get the ball from the center and instead of kicking it, he will fake it and run the ball for the first down, trying to gain a first down for the offense.

What is a 'coffin kick'?

A coffin kick is like a corner kick. Basically what they try to do is, the punter tries to angle it and tries to get it out within the five yard line. If he can do that, it's called a coffin kick because it puts the offense in a tough situation coming out of their own end zone. And if you get a really good punter that can do this and do it consistently, it's a great advantage for you.