Punt Return and Block

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

1. Return men must take pride in catching punts—both in practice and in games. You must know the opponents punter…study film and scouting reports.
2. Must stay penalty free. A penalty often means giving the opponent the ball back with 1&10.
3. Must stay onside –there are is no excuse for being off sides.
4. Disguise your responsibility…make the punt team believe you are going to pressure the punter at all times.
5. You must realize that we are getting the ball back when our opponent is punting. Be an intelligent player and don’t create a situation where we allow the opponent to maintain possession.
6. You must have an honest belief that we can return punts for a score If you carry out your responsibility.
7. On the wall return…move the wall to the ball carrier.
8. Commit yourself to your assignment and especially your block. Don’t wait to see if we have a chance for a return before you block
9. We must do a great job in controlling the forces to allow for a cushion for our returner.
10. Block all at the block point…approximately 4-5 yards in front of the punter. Study film and scouting reports on the opponents punter.
11. When we score…let’s get 11 men to the end zone.

General Musts of the Punt Return Team:
1. Be onside
2. Lay out at the block point
3. Block in front
4. Catch the ball
5. Stay outside the 10 yard line
6. Block above the waist
7. Have the proper personnel on the field.

Punt block and returns are opportunities for us to create the BIG PLAY. Our main mission in Delta Force is to obtain possession of the ball, establish field position, and to score. A punt return for a touchdown or blocking an opponents punt can be a great momentum builder for us and a demoralizer for our opponent.

AXIOMS

• Know the call as you enter the field. Communicate it. Know your responsibilities.
• Recognize formation. Be alert of fakes that may come off of an alerted alignment. Communicate anything that looks unusual.
• Rhythm rushers: Get off on snap and see ball. Contain Punter.
• On block, lay out where his foot will be contacting the ball. (Block Point)
• Deep Back: Study approach of Punter and flight of the ball. Catch everything.
• On shock. Deliver a blow and get movement. Sustain it.
• On wall. Get the position to block –don’t chase. Timing is important. Don’t throw early.
• Return all punts –shoot for TD each time.
• Know who has pass responsibilities. Be alert for run/pass.
• Tough pressure on blockers and punters forces slow release and poor punts.
• If ball is on the ground bouncing around, call “PETER”, and get away.

Reminder Check List

Returns

_____A.If you are on the field prior to Delta Force situation, check with adjacent teammate or captain of that unit for the “call”.
_____B.Be onside. End men on line call across.
_____C.Go to the block point.
_____D.Block in front. If you cannot see the front of his numbers, pull off.
_____E.Catch the ball.
_____F.Call “PETER” if not handling the ball. Alert teammates ball is bouncing around.
_____G.Know your assignment. Stay on blocks.
_____H.Generally, do not handle punts inside the 10-yeard line. May alter versus specific Punters.
_____I.Know rule of first touch. Official downs the ball.

Blocks
“Most Demoralizing Play in Football”

_____A.Get off with the ball. Be onside. Know the scheme’s weakness.
_____B.Look at the ball (“Get Off”).
_____C.Anticipate contact point (scout report) and adjust path accordingly. Don’t go to Kicker, but across his path.
_____D.Block the ball not the punter.
_____E.Automatic return middle.
_____F.Partially blocked punt crossing the L.O.S. is as if it had not been blocked (“PETER”).
_____G.Fourth down punt not crossing the L.O.S. will be our ball, so try to advance it.
_____H.Third down punt not crossing the L.O.S. is free ball, get possession.
_____I.Know your assignment. Rush, man-to-man, or wall
_____J.Need to get 9 ½ yards in 2.0 seconds.

A Blocked Punt is Usually Good for a Touchdown –Score!!!!

How to Block a Punt

Stance:  Sprinters Stance: Narrow 3-point; staggered feet; weight on your hands; eyes on the ball.

Crowd the Ball: Squeeze the ball without being offside. Place hand just in front of the ball and get into stance.

Get-Off: Watch the ball. Be ready as soon as the center has the ball. Key any pre-snap keys. Get off on ball movement. If center dips or rocks, roll into start and time the snap.

Know Blocker’s Techniques: Understand the opponents punt protection. Know who will block you as well as his technique and responsibility. Anticipate the block and beat it.

Rush Through Lane:  Stay low and pick your feet up. Be prepared to meet Blocker on the line or from the side. If Blocker takes you, head up and drive him straight back. If Blocker blocks you from the side, work away from the technique on the rush, dip the nearest shoulder to him, and rip you arm up and through. Clear the block and re-direct back toward contact point. Don’t run around and get out of your lane; this will force other Blockers out of their lanes. If same color inside shows, peel off outside.

Contact Point: Know the spot and anticipate the ball being there.

Extend/Surge:  Extend arms over to cover contact point. Surge instead of jumping (Hurdle toward spot). Never jump toward the ball.

Watch The Ball:  Don’t close your eyes or take your head out of your arms. Keep your hands together and look through the “V” of your hands. See the ball hit your hands. Follow the ball once you have blocked it. Pick the ball up and run. If you feel or see the ball being dropped, extend and lay out over contact point; must get into the air or you’ll be too late.

Avoid The Punter:  Never leave your feet when coming up the middle. Work to the side of the Punter and work your hands to the ball.

Punt Returners

Returners…  You have a great responsibility. You are in a position to make a “Big” contribution to our offense and be involved in an exciting play. Be alert mentally and relaxed physically. But turn it on!!

Before Ball is Punted…  Know our Call, score, time remaining, field position, wind, and field conditions.  Count your players.   Toss grass into the air and/or look at the flags to test the wind.

Alignment…  Scouting report will dictate you depth and placement. Wind can adjust. Know exactly how many yards you are from the L.O.S.  If we use double safeties, the call man plays the tendencies.  Communicate…Move to ball and start calling “ME!” “ME!” “ME!” or “YOU!” “YOU!” “YOU!” –Alert “PETER” call.  Watch the snap leave the ground.

Responsibility…  Field all punted balls.There is an average of 15 yards when the ball hits the ground.

Fielding the ball…Hop like a tennis player hops as he waits for a serve. Break for the ball as soon as you pick the ball up in flight. Break at full speed while reading the flight of the ball to give yourself maximumtime to “Fine Tune” yourself under the ball or to make a decision not to field the ball.

“Fine Tune” your feet to make the ball drop into your pocket the same way every time. Get your body under the ball and your feet under your body.

Keep you body square to the L.O.S. while keeping the ball in front of you.

Bend slightly at the knees and the waist. Get your hands out where your eyes can see them (tie an imaginary string from your eyes to your hands). Do not extend your arms away from you body. Keep you elbows in and use your forearms and your chest to form a pocket. Catch the ball, Catch It! Try to catch the ball about shoulder height so you can soften the reception and guide the ball in. Always tuck the ball away before running.

Fall on every ball that is missed. You are not watching the ball all the way in unless you can see it go through your pocket and on down to the ground.

If your decision is to let the ball bounce, play if for one good bounce (remember…”PETER” call). If the bounce is not easy to play, get away from it and watch the receiving team play it. If they touch the ball and do not down it, try to pick it up and return it. Never play the second bounce.

Fair Catch…  The tactical situation will sometimes dictate the distance of the kick, coverage or time when we will fair catch.  When making the fair catch, do it as late as possible, but get you body under the ball. Do not be afraid to go down to one knee on a fair catch to help you keep a good pocket.  A receiver who makes a fair catch signal is not protected if the ball hits the ground.

10-Yard Line Rule… Do not field ball inside the 10-yard line. Know where you are at all times. If you signal for a fair catch, you cannot block! If you do not signal, block the first man down to prevent him from keeping the ball out of the end zone. Be a good actor after you make the decision not to catch the ball; fake a reception away from the ball to keep coverage people from downing the ball inside the 10-yard line. Do not use the fair catch signal unless you are going to catch the ball.

End Zone…  Ball breaking the plane of the goal line either in the air or rolling is a touchback.

Flight of Ball… It is very important for a receiver to study the flight of the ball.

Without the Wind… Ball Threading Line: Goes directly to target.
• Tip Up: Breaks right (opposite rotation) work to position ball on left Peck.
• Tip Down: Short and left; catch ball on right Peck.
• Extremely High: Will remain tip up; ball will break right (catch on run).
• Low Ball: Tends to turn over; move left quickly.

With Wind…
• Tip Up and Wobbling: Short and right.
• Tip Down: Short and severe; break left.
• Wobbling Ball Turning: Short and no hang (best ball to return).

Tail Wind…
• Enhances prescribed breaks.

Side Wind…
• Aids or nullifies the breaks of the ball.

Head Wind…
• Tip Down: Most difficult to catch; crazy bounces.
• Nose Up: Ball breaks back away from you.
• C.P.:If you must reach for the ball, leave it alone…unless body is underneath it.

Eyes On The Ball As Soon As Possible…Flight To Hands

About the Author of this post:

Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.

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