What Is a Special Team in Football: 5 Interesting Facts
In football, special teams play a crucial role in determining the outcome of a game. While offense and defense receive most of the attention, special teams are often the unsung heroes who can make or break a team’s success. But what exactly is a special team in football? Let’s delve into this topic and explore five interesting facts about special teams.
1. Definition and Composition of Special Teams
Special teams refer to a specific unit in football that is responsible for the kicking, punting, and returning aspects of the game. This unit comprises players who specialize in these skills, as well as the long snapper, holder, and kicker. Special teams are typically on the field during kickoffs, field goals, extra points, and punts.
2. Roles and Responsibilities
Special teams have several key roles and responsibilities during a game. The kicker’s primary role is to score points kicking field goals and extra points. The punter is responsible for kicking the ball as far as possible to flip field position and force the opposing team to start their offensive drive farther away from the end zone. On the other hand, the returner’s task is to catch punts or kickoffs and advance the ball as far as possible towards the opposing team’s end zone. Additionally, the long snapper is responsible for accurately snapping the ball to the holder or punter for a kick.
3. Impact on the Game
Special teams have a significant impact on the game’s outcome. A well-executed punt can pin the opposing team deep in their territory, making it harder for them to score. On the other hand, a successful field goal or extra point can provide crucial points that may decide the game’s winner. Moreover, a long kickoff return can provide excellent field position for the offense, giving them a better chance to score.
4. Trick Plays and Game-Changing Moments
Special teams are known for their creativity, and trick plays are often executed during games. These unexpected plays can catch the opposing team off guard and result in significant gains or even touchdowns. For instance, a fake punt can surprise the defense, allowing the punter to throw a pass to an open receiver. Trick plays on special teams can be game-changing moments, turning the tide in favor of the team executing them.
5. Special Teams Coordinators
Every football team has a special teams coordinator, whose primary role is to oversee the special teams unit. Special teams coordinators develop game plans, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of opposing teams’ special teams, and train players to execute various special teams plays effectively. They often work closely with the head coach to ensure that special teams play an integral part in the overall game strategy.
Now, let’s address some common questions about special teams:
1. Are special teams only present in professional football?
No, special teams are present at all levels of football, from high school to college and professional leagues.
2. Can special teams score touchdowns?
Yes, special teams can score touchdowns through kickoff or punt returns, as well as on trick plays.
3. What happens during a kickoff?
During a kickoff, the kicking team kicks the ball to the receiving team, who tries to catch and return it as far as possible towards the kicking team’s end zone.
4. Can a field goal be blocked?
Yes, field goals can be blocked if a defensive player is able to get past the offensive line and reach the kicker before the ball is kicked.
5. What is a fair catch?
A fair catch is when the returner signals waving his hand above his head to catch a punt without advancing the ball. This protects the returner from being tackled immediately.
6. Can a blocked punt result in a touchdown?
Yes, if the blocking team recovers the blocked punt in the end zone, it results in a touchdown.
7. What is a touchback?
A touchback occurs when the ball is kicked into the end zone on a kickoff or punt, and the receiving team decides not to return it. The ball is then placed on the receiving team’s 25-yard line.
8. Can a field goal be scored from any spot on the field?
Yes, a field goal can be attempted from any spot on the field. The distance varies based on the team’s position.
9. What is an onside kick?
An onside kick is a kickoff where the kicking team intentionally kicks the ball shorter than usual, hoping to recover it before the receiving team can gain possession.
10. Can a punt returner advance the ball after signaling a fair catch?
No, once a fair catch is signaled, the returner cannot advance the ball and must give up possession to the opposing team.
11. How long is a typical football field goal?
The length of a field goal attempt varies depending on the team’s position on the field. However, a typical field goal ranges from 30 to 50 yards.
12. Can a kickoff or punt go out of bounds?
Yes, if a kickoff or punt goes out of bounds without being touched a player on the receiving team, it results in a penalty, and the receiving team gets the ball at the spot where it went out of bounds.
13. Can a field goal hit the uprights and still count?
Yes, as long as the ball goes over the crossbar and between the uprights, it counts as a successful field goal, even if it hits the uprights.
14. What is the role of the holder during a field goal or extra point attempt?
The holder’s role is to catch the snap and place the ball on the ground in a position for the kicker to kick it. They must ensure the ball is stable and in the correct position for a successful kick.
Understanding the importance and intricacies of special teams in football is crucial for any football enthusiast. By grasping the roles, responsibilities, and impact of special teams, one can gain a deeper appreciation for this often-underestimated aspect of the game.