Kickoff Coverage Team Part 2

 

Click here to read Part 1 of this article.

Alignments

All coverage personnel should face the kicker. Your horizontal alignment is critical for covering the field. Your vertical is subject to change based on preference. BEING A RANGER AND COVERING IS NOTHING MORE THAN DESIRE COMBINED WITH AN ALL-OUT SPRINT.

Your horizontal basic lanes (Ricky, Larry) are as follows:

#1 –3 yards from sideline
#2 –4.5 yards from #1; 7.5 yards from sideline –bottom of numbers
#3 –4.5 yards from #2; 12 yards from sideline –split #2 & #4
#4 –4.5 yards from #3; 3.5 yards outside hash
#5 –1 yard inside hash;
#6 –4.5 yards from #5; (adjust for kicker) 4.5 yards from #7; split #5 & #7
#7 –3 yards inside opposite hash; 4.5 yards from #6
#8 –1.5 yards outside the hash; 4.5 yards from #7
Sniper –4.5 yards from #8
Missile –Will align between two numbers on strong side; will be a game plan adjustment
Kicker –Place on hash or in middle based on call.

Coaching Point
#1 goes to the side of the call and all other personnel follow in order. This means we will flip personnel based on the type of kick and coverage (Ricky/Larry)

EXAMPLE: RICKY

Alignments

All coverage personnel should face the kicker. Your horizontal alignment is critical for covering the field. Your vertical is subject to change based on preference. KICK-OFF COVERAGE IS NOTHING MORE THAN DESIRE COMBINED WITH AN ALL-OUT SPRINT.

Your horizontal basic lanes (Ricky, Larry) are as follows:

#1 –3 yards from sideline
#2 –4.5 yards from #1; 7.5 yards from sideline –bottom of numbers
#3 –4.5 yards from #2; 12 yards from sideline –split #2 & #4
#4 –4.5 yards from #3; 3.5 yards outside hash
#5 –1 yard inside hash;
#6 –4.5 yards from #5; (adjust for kicker) 4.5 yards from #7; split #5 & #7
#7 –3 yards inside opposite hash; 4.5 yards from #6
#8 –1.5 yards outside the hash; 4.5 yards from #7
Sniper –4.5 yards from #8
Missile –Will align between two numbers on strong side; will be a game plan adjustment
Kicker –Place on hash or in middle based on call.

Coaching Point

#1 goes to the side of the call and all other personnel follow in order. This means we will flip personnel based on the type of kick and coverage (Ricky/Larry)
EXAMPLE: RICKY

BASIC COVERAGE PRINCIPLES

1. The concept of covering a kickoff is quite simple –run through the spot from where the ball is kicked at full speed. Because our personnel does not have to have stationary, anyone can be in “motion” prior to the ball being kicked. We will, therefore, use this to our advantage an call it the Flying 40! Since every player has different speed and acceleration, we do not require everyone to line up equal distance fro the ball. Our simple rule is this, line up as far as necessary from the ball, begin your sprint as the simple rule is this, line up as far as necessary from the ball, begin your sprint as the kicker approaches the ball, and be at full speed from the point that the ball is kicked. By utilizing this full speed start, a player can cut time off his 40 time; in effect giving him a head start. Coaching point: The spot at which the ball is kicked should be viewed as the “finish line” rather than the “starting point”. This will allow us to have our coverage personnel at full speed at the kickoff spot.

2. Everyone must be onside. The players aligned in the widest lanes are require to remind everyone to “stay onside”.

3. Always fake and avoid early blockers in the RUN ZONE toward the ball/pattern of return, get back into your lane.

4. If the ball carrier is within 10 yards of the blocker on you, you must 2 gap the blocker (do not fake and avoid) working to keep the ball inside and in front.

5. Do not allow yourself to be forced too wide out of your lane or become bunched together. NEVER FOLLOW YOUR OWN COLOR!

6. NEVER PULL UP! Sprint by a short drop full speed. Use arm over technique, rip technique, or avoid technique.

7. Whenever using 2 gap technique, use your hands from an extension. Explode through the blocker. Never commit to one side. Stay in front of the blocker –stay in front!

8. Make the ball carrier commit and then use your leverage to throw the blocker off and make the tackle.

9. If you are the first man downfield to the ball carrier, force the issue. Take a shot at the ball carrier. Everyone else should gang tackle and attempt to strip the ball free!

10. If facing a wedge, the first man to it should never trade on of one. Take out at least two men.

11. Out run any cross blocks/traps.

12. Bad weather conditions may force us to use a holder. If so, the ball will be held by “S”. Others move over.

KICKOFF TIME

1. A great kick should hang in the air a minimum of 4.3 seconds and travel at least the goal line.

2. An average kickoff returner takes 1.2 seconds to cleanly field the kickoff and begin to advance it.

3. The total time for a return to start is 4.3 seconds plus 1.2 seconds to close gap.

4. RUN ZONE –Everyone on the kickoff team should run a 4 second “flying forty” which would put the kickoff team at he 25 yard line with the returner between the goal line and the 5 yard line.

5. ATTACK ZONE –Because of now having to take on blocks, the kickoff team should be able to cover 1/3 of he ground and the return team will cover 2/3 of the yards remaining. This puts the kickoff team at the 18 yard line when meeting the returner.

6. WAR ZONE –Once the kickoff team gets inside the opponents 20, this is where the real battle will start. Our goal is to keep the ball pinned down by making sure tackles. No armtackles!! We must bend our knees!!

COVERAGE RESPONSIBILITIES

1. #1 Contain (front side)
a. Hit LOS at full speed. Must key back line for type return/potential blockers.
b. Sprint 30 yards full speed in your lane prior to any lane adjustments
c. Diagnose return and continue to ball (contain it).
d. Responsible for contain to side of kick.
e. Alert for reverses/gadget returns
f. Keep outside arm/leg free; Keep ball in front and inside.
g. Never overrun ball #2 or #3 ( will open a lane behind you )
h. Play Chase vs ball away
i. No matter where you align you will always end up in the #1 lane except with variations of kicks
j. Aiming point vs wedge; ultimate contain; aiming point vs returner. 1 yard outside his near foot (to your side)
k. Always be alert to throwback from a 2-deep look
l. NOTHING IN THE WORLD WILL GET OUTSIDE OF YOU. YOUR ONE JOB IS TO KEEP EVERYTHING INSIDE OF YOU.

2. #2,#3,#4,#5, #6, and #7 (Force Unit)
a. Hit LOS at full speed. Must key back line for type return/potential blockers.
b. Sprint 30 yards full speed in your lane and outrun early blockers. Avoid to side of return and get back into lane at full speed.
c. Diagnose return and continue to ball.
d. Responsible for blowing up wedge/Ball Carrier.
e. Accelerate through any blocker (2 gap) once you hit the attack zone (or earlier if short kick occurs)
f. Never overrun ball carrier
g. No matter where you align, you will always end up in your respective lane. Your possible alignments will be 1 lane over to the left or the right, based on call.

3. #8 –Contain (Backside)
a. Hit LOS at full speed. Must key back line for type return/potential blockers.
b. Sprint 30 yards full speed in your lane prior to any lane adjustments.
c. Diagnose return and continue to ball (contain it).
d. Responsible for contain away from side of kick.
e. Alert for reverses/gadget returns
f. Keep outside arm/leg free; Keep ball in front and inside.
g. Never overrun ball #6 or #7 ( will open a lane behind you )
h. Play chase vs ball away
i. No matter where you align, you will always end up in the #8 lane, except with some variation kicks.
j. Aiming point vs wedge: ultimate contain; aiming point vs returner; 1 yard outside his near foot.
k. Always be alert to throwback form a 2-deep look.

4. Missile (M) –Hit a man to side of kick
a. Hit LOS full speed. Key front like blockers ( by game plan)
b. Sprint to far 30 yard line.
c. Must be the divider in kickoff. The first down make the return alter.
d. Don’t get caught up with blockers; stay unblocked!
e. Become a hit man to the ball from a depth of 10-15 yards behind force unit.
f. Can align anywhere by game plan (ex. Ricky: H-4 would tell us it is a Ricky Kickoff and the Missile would align to the right of #4 lane and do his respective job.)

5. Sniper (S) –Hit man away from side of kick
a. Hit LOS full speed. Key front like blockers ( by game plan)
b. Sprint to far 30 yard line.
c. Get across the field force the issue, close seam.
d. No matter where you line up you will always, play in the Sniper lane.
e. Aiming point vs wedge: hash to side of kick; aiming point vs returner: wide side # on jersey.

6. Kicker (K) –Deep Safety (Behind all players on the field)
a. KICK BALL PERFECTLY –to designated spot
b. Become a deep safety as you cover your kick. Stay behind everyone don’t get caught up in the trash.
c. On all returns, utilize the sideline toward the return as your helper. Always force the returner toward the sideline and never allow him to cross your face/ cutback to the field. Pin the returner and only give him 1 direction to advance.

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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