Explaining Football Special Teams And Why They’re Important

Written By: Chris Haddad
Updated: April 22, 2024

Football is a game that needs strategy, skill, and teamwork. Fans mostly watch the offense and defense. But, there’s a part that is very important too: the special teams.

Let’s discuss special teams and why they matter. We will examine their main roles and strategies. This is for anyone interested in football, from big fans to the just curious. Understanding special teams will change how you see the game.

The Role of Special Teams In Football

Special teams in football are very important. They help decide the field position, ultimately affecting who wins the game. The closer you are to the end zone, the higher your chances of scoring points.

There are three types of special teams in football. Let’s learn more about them.


The first special team, and one of the most important, is the punt team. The punt team is often seen on fourth down. The offense has a chance to go for it on fourth down or punt it.

It’s completely up to the coach if they want to punt it or not. Teams don’t have to punt, but it’s smart to try to take advantage of field position. There is a coach who never punted and he had some success, you can read about it here.

When a team chooses to punt, they will bring in their punt team. This is made up of offensive and defensive players.

The punter will stand 15 yards behind the long snapper, catch the snap, and kick it as high and as far as they can.

Once the ball is kicked, the punt return team will then try to advance the ball as far as they can with the possibility of scoring a touchdown.

More often than not, the punt team will get tackled not far from when they caught it, or the returner will signal for a fair catch.


The next special team is kickoff. Every game starts with a kickoff. Teams will line up 11 players in a line, one being a kicker. The ball will be kicked as far as the kicker can, and the kickoff team will try to tackle the kickoff returner.

The kick return team will try to gain as many yards as possible, with the possibility of scoring a touchdown.

It’s common to see the ball kicked out of the back of the end zone, or a play take a knee for a touchback.

Again, both teams are trying to fight for field position if the kick returner does decide to take the ball out.

Field Goal

The field goal team is the last of the special teams. Their goal is to kick the ball through the field goalposts for 3 points or 1 point after a touchdown (also known as a PAT).

Like the punt team, coaches elect to kick a field goal on fourth down instead of risking turning over the ball to the other team and sacrificing field position.

Field goal kickers have the most pressure out of all of the kickers. They need to make clutch kicks, which often result in teams winning or losing.

The Importance of Special Teams

Special teams can turn the game around with one play. A great kick return can pump up your team and make the other team lose hope. By playing well on special teams, teams can better position themselves to score points.

Details in special teams really matter. How players move and what they do are crucial. Focusing on these details and making good special teams plans can be the difference between winning and losing games.

About the author 

Chris Haddad

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports & high school coach for over 12+ years. He has been featured as an authority on Hudl, Bleacher Report and countless other football-centric platforms. Chris continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about the game of football.