This is the first of a 3 Part Series on the Top 10 Special Teams Categories

I love Special Teams!  

My Special Teams Coordinating started in 1995 at Fallbrook High School, in just my second year of coaching.  I was the JV Special Teams Coordinator that year.  I took over as the varsity Special Teams Coordinator at The Linfield School in Temecula, CA in 2002.  Since then, I’ve been the Special Teams Coordinator every year that I’ve coached, at three different schools, including eight years of also being the Head Coach.   I just took over (May 2014) as the Special Teams Coordinator at Oak Hills High School in Hesperia, CA.  So, as you can see my experience with Special Teams has been vast: everything from 8 man with 25 kids on our team to where I am now with 90 JV/Varsity kids.

dk_usc3

This was my kicker for 2 years in high school. His first college attempt was a 30 yard field goal vs. USC (above), and it was GOOD! He went from playing in front of 500 in high school to 95,000 at USC!

I take great pride in Special Teams, and firmly believe that at the high school level many coaches see Special Teams as an afterthought, and don’t do as good of a job as they should.  Therefore, coaches who do value the importance of Special Teams, and practice them daily, can really take advantage of their opponents who don’t!

Back in 2002 when I took over the Special Teams at Linfield, the very first thing I did was get all 10 VHS tapes from our 5-5 2001 season to watch every single Special Teams play.  (Thank God for Hudl now days huh?!)  I did this to evaluate our schemes, our personnel, and our stats.  This got me thinking about what what the most important stats for Special Teams are.

My “Top 10 Special Teams’ Stats” have changed a little over the years from 2002, but not a ton.  Here is my list of the Top 10 Special Teams Stats!

AVERAGE YARD KICKED TO
YARDS PER ATTEMPTED KICK RETURN
AVERAGE START AFTER KICKOFF
KICK RETURNS FOR TOUCHDOWNS
PUNTS INSIDE 15
PUNT RETURNS FOR TOUCHDOWN
AVERAGE START AFTER PUNT
BLOCKED OPPONENT’S PUNT
TURNOVERS
FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE

1.  AVERAGE YARD KICKED TO

To determine the average yard kicked to, you need to figure out where your kicker kicked the ball TO every single kick of the year.  Then, you will divide by the number of kick.  For example, your kicker kicks to the Endzone (0 yards) 2 times; to the 10 yard one time; to the 18 yard line one time, and to the 4 yard two times in one game.  The total yardage here then is 36 yards (0+o+10+18+4+4); divide that by 6 (the number of times he kicked).  Therefore, the average KICKED TO yard is 6.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: You want a kicker who can reach the end zone, that’s the perfect dream right?!  We need to keep pushing our kickers to find that end zone.  It all starts with the KICKOFF/KICKOFF RETURN teams.  We know every time there is a score, there is going to be a kickoff.  At the end of the day, we want to make sure that our kicker has an average yard kicked to which is better than our opponent.  I believe this stat is important.  Pinning your opponent deep will lessen their chances to score.  I have seen a lot of these charts out there, and they are just about the same.  This one is from the Northwestern College Red Raiders.

Yard Line

Chance of Scoring                                                         %

    -20

                           1 out of 30

     3.3%

    -40

                           1 out of 8

     12.5%

     50

                           1 out of 5

     20%

     40

                           1 out of 3

     33.3%

     20

                           1 out of 2

     50%

     10

                           3 out of 4

     75%

Get the ball deep to give your team the absolute best chance of winning the field position battle.

Dan Kelly had a tremendous career at the University of Hawaii alongside Colt Brennan when they played in the Sugar Bowl. He started kicking in high school when we recruited him from the soccer team. He made my life as the STC VERY easy!!

 

2.  YARDS PER ATTEMPTED KICK RETURN

To determine the yards per attempted kick return, you need to add up all of the yards your opponent earned as they ran kickoff back, and divide by the number of times they did it.

For instance:  Your kicker kicked it to the end zone 2 times so there were no returns those two kickoffs.  Then he kicked it to the 10 yard one time and the returner brought it back to the 24, a 14 yard return; kicked to the 18 yard line one time and it was brought back to the 36, an 18 yard return; kicked to the 4 yard two times, once it was brought back to the 14 for a 10 yard return, and once to the 40 for a 36 yard return.  Add 14+18+10+36 = 78.  Divide 78 by 4, the number of kick returns attempted = 19.5

So, the yards per attempted kick return was 19.5 for this game.  That is NOT good!  This would represent a very poor kickoff coverage unit.  

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:  We want to have a better yards per attempted kick return than our opponent.  What we do with all of these stats is compare them to our opponent.  If we are only getting 9.5 yards per return, and our opponent is getting 16.5, this means we are giving them 7 yards every kickoff on average.  If there are 10 kicks in a game, this totals 70 yards, that’s a lot of yardage.  Again, we want to have a better start on the field after kickoffs, this yards per attempted kick return will lead directly to that.  

If we are allowing our opponent to have more yards per attempted kick return, is this because of our scheme getting down the field?  Or is it our energy and passion getting down the field?  Is our scheme on kick return not working?  These are things to evaluate in this category.  Remember, you are doing these stats for both your teams kick return, and your opponent’s, when you kick off.

3.  AVERAGE START AFTER KICKOFF

This is one of my personal favorite stats to figure out.  To determine the average start after kickoff, you are going to add up all of the yardage where you started, and then divide by how many starts you had.  For instance, you started at the 20, the 25 and the 30 yard lines after your kick returns.  This equals 75 yards; divide this by 3 to find the average start after kickoff is 25.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:  As far as your kickoff coverage and kick return units go, this is where it all comes together.  When the whole play is said and done, where are we allowing our opponent to start, and where are we starting?  Remember the chart from earlier?  We want to increase our chances to score as much as possible, so we don’t have to have an average start of the 18 yard line.  We would love to start in the 35+ area!

Again, if your opponent is starting at the 47 on average, and you are starting on the 29 on average, you are giving your opponent 18 yards every time the ball is kicked.  If the ball is kicked 8 times in the game, you are giving your opponent 144 yards!!  NOT GOOD!

If you ask many head coaches what their average start was last year after kickoffs, they will have NO idea.  Go ahead and try it.  I would bet that less than 15% of head coaches know what their and their opponents average start was.  But this is one of the most important stats in my opinion.  And it is one of the most important things for your kids to understand.  You have GOT to have a better average start after kickoff!

Look for Part 2 very soon!

 

Chris Fore is a Certified Athletic Administrator and thirteen year football coach from Southern California.  He has a Master’s degree in Athletic Administration.  He maintains a popular blog at CoachFore.org; consulting business can be found at EightLaces.org. He helps coaches nationwide at both the high school and college level with their career search and program development.  He is the author of Building Championship-Caliber Football Programs, An Insider’s Guide To Scoring Your Next Coaching Job and the Shield Punt e Clinic.

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