I’m a big believer that the “third phase” of the game–special teams– can mean a difference of 6-8 points a game … and 6-8 points a game can mean the difference between a mediocre season and one that puts you in the top tier of your league (just count up the the number of games last year where you lost by less than 8 points, heart-breaking, I know!).
Great teams look at special teams and more specifically, inbounds plays, with a deep emphasis on crisp execution. Culturally, the team’s mentality needs to transition from “let’s get the ball in play” to “we’re going to score right here, every time”. For younger teams this mental shift poses a big hurdle: just getting the ball in play is sometimes an adventure unto itself!
Below is a set of inbounds plays form Michigan State coach Tom Izzo that get results AND can be taught simply to teams of all levels. I appreciate that this framework consists of a single, consistent set of actions that players can execute out of a number of different initial setups (Line, Triangle, Box). Notice how after the first frame–the initial setup–all the actions maintain consistency. Although not represented in the diagram, I also like how multiple pass options exist at each step.
Young players can wrap their heads around this; coaches can be fanatic about execution of the core actions. And other teams perceive you to have a lot more diversity on your inbounds plays than the reality of your practice time may allow. This framework provides a great starting point for your season.