Kickoff Coverage: Avoid Technique

By FirstDown PlayBook on Dec 28, 2021

We published a blog a few weeks ago about when and how to use the 2 gap technique on kickoff coverage. If a special teams coach had their way, his kickoff cover unit would rarely use the 2 gap technique. Instead they would almost always use the avoid technique. The avoid technique is a much faster way to get the job done. That job is to get to the football.

As we have referenced here many times, speed down the field solves a lot of things on kickoff coverage. Ideally your coverage unit will beat the kickoff return unit front line by running past them before they get their hips turned. Eventually though, your kickoff coverage team will encounter blockers.

As you will remember from our blog on 2 gapping, 15 yards from the returner is when this decision should be made. If the cover man is closer than 15 yards to the returner when contact is made, he should 2 gap. If the cover guy is more than 15 yards away then they should use an avoid technique. We teach two types of avoid techniques.

“Rip” Avoid Technique

The “Rip” technique is used when the cover guy takes advantage of an over aggressive blocker. The rip technique means the cover man will rip across the blocker’s face. This technique has many of the same details involved that are used by a defensive lineman pass rushing a QB. We have listed some of them in the diagram below.

Hot 1 Kickoff Cover Changeup

The first coaching point is the most important. This must be carried out at full speed. The last coaching point emphasizes the importance of getting back into the lane to the football after the “Rip” is executed.

“Whip” Avoid Technique

The “Whip” technique is another example of how to beat a blocker when there is ample time to get back in the coverage lane to the ball. If the blocker is not as aggressive  and is sinking too far inside with his block then this technique is good.

This is similar to what a defensive lineman uses on a speed rush off of the edge to the QB. The cover guy should attempt to be low and thin as he attacks the blocker. Note that this does not give the cover guy permission to take a wide path to the ball. He must still hug the blocker and skim past him full speed to the ball.

Obviously, these tips are only part of what it takes to execute these two techniques properly. The ability to use hands to stay off of these blocks will be a huge advantage also. Finally, every player is different based on speed, physicality and feel for the game. This should also be taken into account when teaching your coverage team. However, if your players understand the fundamentals behind these two simple techniques it will help your kickoff coverage a lot.

Interested in other articles about Special Teams play? Check out this link in the FirstDown PlayBook Coaches community site.