ITP Glossary – Special Teams

Football Term Glossary

Special teams is traditionally referred to as the “third phase” of football. Not at Inside the Pylon. We believe in equality for all phases, and as such, we have created a database of special teams terminology for the Inside the Pylon Football Term Glossary. After all, kickers are the highest-scoring players in the game. Whether you want to learn about different types of punt returns, kicking technique, or blocking schemes on kickoffs, our special teams glossary with full descriptions and annotated video will help teach you about this phase of the game. While offense and defense get all the glory, their strategy is often determined by the battle on special teams. We are simply here to help you understand that battle.

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  • Coverage Lanes – Coverage lanes are vertical sections of the field the kickoff unit are assigned to fill. Minimal overlap and moving downfield as a unit is essential.
  • Directional Punting – Directional punting is a strategy employed by both college and NFL teams to reduce the number of available lanes for a returner.
  • Fair Catch – A fair catch allows a kickoff or punt returner to field a kick without being tackled, while giving up his opportunity to return the kick.
  • Field Goal and Extra Point Protection – In field goal and extra point protection, the focus is to rebuff pressure from the middle of the defensive formation using the overlap and rocker techniques.
  • Fire Call – A fire call is made by the holder on FGs or XPs in the event of a bad snap – making a successful kick impossible – triggering an opportunity to throw a pass.
  • Hold-Up Technique – Rather than attempt to rush the punter, hold up technique involves legally grabbing an opposing lineman’s jersey and maintaining leverage to delay progress.
  • Jab Step (Kicking) – A jab step is a small step by a kicker used to begin his approach as the ball is snapped on a field goal or extra point.
  • Onside Kick – An onside kick is deployed by a team trying to gain an extra possession by kicking the ball into the ground and hoping to recover it 10 yards downfield.
  • Open-Field Punt – An open-field punt occurs when the line of scrimmage on a punt is between a team’s own goal line and its 40-yard line.
  • Pin Deep Punt – A pin deep punt is defined as any punt kicked when the line of scrimmage is from a team’s 41-yard line forward.
  • Skip Step (Kicking) – A skip step is a motion employed by kickers on their follow-through for field goals and extra points.