“Preparation beats talent, when talent doesn’t prepare.”  I can’t remember where I picked that up, but it was from a coach at a clinic somewhere during the last 15 years.  I loved the quote, and really have built my own Special Teams Philosophy around it.  I love Special Teams!

“We always have fakes in every part of the kicking game, but sometimes a team doesn’t line up like you expected them to.  So, you design a fake against what you’ve seen in the past, then when the game starts, you see that they are lining up like you anticipated.  So, we have that fake, or that onside kick if we need it, and that’s basically what happened in the game tonight (2016 National Championship win vs. Auburn),”  Head Coach Nick Saban.

There he says a lot.  It’s all about preparation.  Finding some yards in the game, ANYWHERE YOU CAN!!

Many coaches out there tonight learned that you can actually catch a kickoff. Many folks didn’t know that.  I did because we did it by accident in a practice in 2002 when I had a dynamite kicker who went on to play in the Sugar Bowl with Hawaii.  The kid could put the ball on a dime anywhere on the field.  So, we used to line up the ball on the right hash, have 9 guys to his right, then 1 guy on the opposite numbers.  (This was before 2014 when they made you have at least 4 kids on each side of the ball.)  So, we would do some fun stuff, and many times, we would catch the ball in the air, because there was NOBODY around.  A lot like we saw tonight, and you’ll see below.

First off, whenever you watch film, you want to find out what tendencies there are.  When Alabama has this “shift” over to one side of the field, you see that they have nobody on the right 1/3 of the field below.  Why?  Because they are going to kick the ball down in the left corner.

So, Clemson decides not to put anybody to their left, Alabama’s right.  First mistake.

They totally get outflanked by Alabama’s furthest kid on the right, which you’ll see in the next few slides.




In my opinion, it is the little things that win big football games.  Look at this Clemson kid, his back is turned towards the sideline.  There is NO way that he can respond quickly enough to turn around, run, find the ball, and catch the ball.  If he was squared to the line of scrimmage, it might have given him a better shot.











Coach Fore has been a Special Teams Coordinator for 11 years here in Southern California.  He has written two great Special Teams Manuals.  One on the Shield Punt, and one on Punt/Kick Returns.  If you want to get in depth training on the Shield Punt, visit the Shield Punt e Clinic at                          ___________________________________________








The NFHS High School Football Rules regarding catching a kickoff.Slide12