American football is a contact sport and special teams are an integral part of the game. These are the groups of players whose duties are to work on the kicking game, the punting game and the return game. The most important part of these is that special teams need to be special.
What are Special Teams in Football?
In American football, the special teams refer to the different groups on the field during kicking plays. Many players who typically take part in offensive drives are the same players who line up for a kickoff or field goal. There is a specialization for these roles, which makes them essential for a successful football game.
The Four Types of Special Teams in Football
The four fundamental types of special team plays are kickoff plays, punt plays, turnover plays, and kickoffs. All of these special team plays involve kicking plays, though each play has certain differences. In addition to the offensive side, there’s usually a defensive counterpart to the specific special teams unit that is either defending against the play or returning it.
The kicking play in the NFL is the kickoff. They are often associated with the play, but it’s actually a different football play. You can see it in the diagram above. The ball isn’t punted back to the kicking team, but instead it’s placed on the opposite end zone 40-yard line. If it ends up being returned by the defense, it’s a touchback, which puts the line of scrimmage at the 25-yard line.
Kickoff returns are a pretty common play. And there’s a good chance the kicking team will have a running back or two in the backfield, plus a receiver in the backfield, plus some other defensive players on the sidelines.
In terms of a defense, it can be advantageous to have a punt returner in the backfield to take returns. One of the benefits of punt return is that it can be advantageous to not have any returners on the line. The defense can then focus on the offense’s punt block team on defense, instead of having to watch the return.
When the offense is kicking the ball, there will be a special unit that is assembled for this purpose. The field goal unit is usually made up of the kicker, the holder, and the long snapper. The long snapper is responsible for the kicking unit’s placement, and will call the signal for distance and direction.
NFL players with the most points since 2016 are all kickers. The list includes four players from the Los Angeles Rams, three from the Oakland Raiders, one from the Houston Texans, and one from the Cleveland Browns.
However, the extra point may be the last thing that a team wants to do. In fact, the average NFL coach has his team do it only two or three times per season. The quarterback or backup will usually not play the extra point because this is more of an improvisational position.
When the team is in a normal defensive formation, the defense has more linebackers on the line of scrimmage than the offense. The defense tends to have a greater number of taller and rangier players on the line of scrimmage. The defense will adjust their formation to have more linebackers, so that they can stop the ball carrier while there are fewer linebackers than defensive linemen, which is most common when a team is in a typical defensive formation.
The Importance of Special Teams in Football
The kick returner’s greatest responsibilities are to get a good field position in the second half and to maintain the integrity in the kicking game. If he kicks a poor field goal, he will not be able to use the field position as an opportunity to start a drive. The kick returner must do more than take care of the ball and block. He must understand the fundamentals required to be successful.
Offensive players have an important role in protecting the kicker’s field goal and extra point attempts because defenders can block the point after attempt by swatting the ball down.
There are still very few female coaches in the NFL. Currently, there are four female head coaches in the NFL: Martha Ford, Dawn Hudson, Lovie Smith, and Jennifer Hultgren. However, there are several female offensive coordinators and assistant coaches in the league. This disparity of women in the coaching ranks is also not unique to the NFL. In general, most male coaches tend to get promoted to head coach while female coaches tend to remain in the same role for their whole careers.
In Conclusion about Special Teams in Football
American football special teams can be one of the most exciting parts of every game and while there is no drama just in terms of scores during kicking plays, the players are usually the most successful individual statistics contributors in the league during games.
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