Special teams can make a difference in who goes home with the win and who suffers the defeat.
Simply put, the receiving team’s job is to advance the kick-off return as far down the pitch as possible. With a couple of key blocks, put the ball in the end zone. Setting up these key blocks begins with the wedge.
The wedge, as we all know, is a wall of players that the returning man fences behind in hopes of finding the opening that can propel him to large yards or a 6-point return.
The kicking team sends down its rushers and wedge busters, running at full speed, risking their life and limbs as they hurl their bodies at the players making up the wedge. Sometimes the wedge busters are successful, stopping the big run backs. However there are many times that they are not, allowing the great momentum to change course backwards. A momentum that can change the outcome of the game.
How do we become more effective at breaking the blockade of returning teams? Don’t try to overwhelm or knock down blockers. Instead divide the blockers.
Run straight to the blocker at full speed, sell him for the fact that you intend to run over him. No matter how skilled and practiced he is, at the last moment he will be preparing for impact. Rather than making head-to-head contact, split blockers, run between them taking the best angle for the ball carrier. Not only do you reduce the risk of injury for yourself, but you’ll often find yourself in position to make the tackle, interrupting a long kickback kickback and pushing away any momentum-changing throwbacks, like a 6 pointer.