What are special teams in Football?

What makes special teams in football so unique? a lot, in fact.


The offense and the defense are the only two groups that come to mind when most people think of football teams. Special teams, however, are frequently ignored the third unit that has a significant effect on the game.

Any team that is in charge of field plays that center on the kicking game, whether your team is trying a kick, returning a kick, or defending a kick, is known as a special team. In most games, special teams groups are only on the field for about 20% of the time overall, but they have a significant impact on the result.

A typical National Football League season sees special teams contribute about 35% of all points tallied. Sure, offenses play a much bigger part in the real point total, but special teams also impact how well offenses (and defenses) perform.

Special teams determine exactly where teams commence drives on the field. Special teams participate in four key sections of the game, with two units assigned to each.

They are as follows:

  • Punts, 
  • Field goal attempts 
  • Kickoffs
  • Attempts at extra points

Players who are not notable members of the offense or defense make up special teams units in professional leagues and even on the majority of collegiate teams.

But in youth football, where rosters are frequently smaller, the same players who are on offense and/or defense also participate on special teams.

To better understand how crucial the part of special teams is, let’s take a closer look at each of these aspects of the game:

First kickoffs

Every football game starts with a kickoff. From a fixed hoop, one team will kick the ball to the opposing team, who will then attempt to return it as far down the field as they can.

Kickoffs are also used to restart the game after each point is scored, at the beginning of the second half, and in overtime if necessary to determine the victor.

The kickoff squad consists of one kicker and ten additional players who are tasked with covering the kick and tackling the player who successfully catches the ball. The kicker will position the ball on a tee near the 35-yard line on his side of the field, depending on the level of the sport.

In order to get a strong running start and plenty of momentum behind his kick, the kicker will frequently line up about 15 yards behind where the ball will be put at the beginning of the play.

Of course, the goal is for him to kick it as far as he can to either get a touchback if it falls outside of the other team’s end zone or if they kneel it in, or to give the defense’s coverage team time to advance. To allow them to get a running start as well, the remaining kicking team members will line up approximately 10 yards behind the ball.

To cover the full field, these players will be positioned in a line from sideline to sideline across the playing surface. For kickoffs, the ball serves as the line of scrimmage, and no player may pass it before the ball has been kicked. Players on the receiving side frequently line up in three different levels.

The larger players will position up about 10 yards away from the ball, usually offensive linemen or tight ends.

Two of these five players will line up on either side of the hash marks, with the fifth person in the center of the field. It is their responsibility to stop players as they approach them and to keep an eye out for an unexpected onside kick.

Four competitors from the following level will set up about 20 yards behind the first line. They are a little more nimble and mobile, but blocking will also be one of their main responsibilities.


When the offense fails to gain a first down on fourth down, punts are most common. The squad will call out the punt team to hand the ball to the opposing team rather than attempting to gain a first down on fourth down.

A punt can be made from any spot on the field, but it usually comes from the 50-yard line and is directed back toward the offensive team’s end zone. When it comes to how the players line up, a punt resembles a normal play more than a kickoff.

At the line of scrimmage will be seven members of the punting squad. A guard and tackle will position up on each side of the ball, two yards apart, with the center (or long snapper) in the middle.

The other two players will stretch out further, about three yards away from the line of scrimmage. Instead of the standard three-point stance, all of these players, with the exception of the long snapper, will be in a two-point stance with their palms on their hips. One upback will line up about five yards in the backfield immediately behind the guards, and a third upback will line up on the right side of the field about two yards behind the first up back.

The long snapper will position up about 15 yards in front of the punter. The punter will receive the ball from the long snapper, collect it, set his feet, advance one step, and then punt it down the field.

The punter’s objective is to either kick the ball as far as they can or to slant it in the direction of one of the sides.

A field goal and extra point attempt 3 plus 4.

Due to the identical player setup for both kinds of plays, field goals and extra points can be grouped together for an explanation. After a touchdown is made, extra points, which are worth one point, are awarded.

The football is positioned at the two-yard line in all levels of football, from youth to college. To make the kicks more difficult, the ball is positioned at the 15-yard line in the NFL. Field goals can be tried from any spot on the field and are worth three points.

The distance a team attempts a field goal from the end zone entirely depends on how far their kicker can kick the ball.

The majority of the time in the NFL, the ball must be within 35 to 40 yards. It must be even closer at lesser football levels.

Due to the lack of a kicker with a powerful enough leg, some youth football teams will not try a field goal. On fourth down, field goals are also most frequently tried. They take place when the offense fails to get a first down, just like punts.


Special teams groups are in fact unique. Even though these groups aren’t as well-known as the offensive or defensive, their performance still affects the game’s outcome just as much, if not more. A football team’s special teams are rumored to lose contests more frequently than they win them.

Because of this, it’s crucial for youth football teams to educate their players about special teams, the functions of each player on the field, and the importance of practice in order to perfect the plays.

Special teams in Football FAQs

1) What exactly do football special teams mean?

special group. Noun. Any of several predetermined combinations of the players on a squad that is used in American football when the traditional offensive and defensive formations are inappropriate, such as kickoffs and field goal attempts.

2) What are the four different football special teams?

There are four major player groups that make up the special teams:

  • The starting element.
  • Kicking section.
  • The squad that returns kickoffs and punts.
  • The unit for field goals and additional points.

3) How much football is made up of special teams?

Each season, special teams account for between 17 and 18% of all plays, with kickoffs and punts alone accounting for 11 to 12%.

4) Who participates on special teams?

One of football’s most underrated divisions is special teams. It alludes to the team members who take part in kickoff plays while they are on the field. Kickers, punters, kickoff returners, receivers, and any other players engaged in kick coverage and returns are included in this group.


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