On AFM: Kicking Scrimmage – Practicing Special Teams, Third Down Offense, and The Free Kick

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Years ago I heard now retired coach Wally Hood present a clinic on the kicking scrimmage. This special teams focused scrimmage format allowed a team to work all phases of the game, but gave emphasis and most reps to the special teams. When I became a high school head coach this was something I implemented with my teams, and we also did this at the college level.

I’ve used a number of different variations of tho scrimmage format over the years, but my favorite also emphasizes third down offense.

Choosing teams

Depending on your situation, you can choose the teams, or you can select captains and allow them to choose the teams. I like the players selecting the teams because it gives them ownership, and gets them thinking about who the best special teams players are. This helps emphasize the importance of special teams in their minds. Kickers, punters, and long snappers are obviously drafted early, and when you let the whole team be involved in the draft, it’s good to see the specialists valued by their teammates.

After the teams are selected, players need to be put on units. Again, I like to give ownership to the players, but also understand in this area they need guidance. I usually have a different coach in charge of each unit of special teams, so each one would work with both teams to help them put together their units. We do the same with offense and defense, ensuring that all players have an opportunity to perform in the scrimmage.

Preparing for the kicking scrimmage

This is another opportunity for the team to realize the value of work on special teams. Usually the kicking scrimmage serves as the second practice of the day during two-a-days. We give each team time to practice and go over their units (with coach supervision) at the end of the first practice, and as a walk through before the scrimmage.

Because this is something unique, and an opportunity to compete and win a spot on a unit, the players pay attention to the units they are on and their assignments even more than they do during regular special teams practice time…read more


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