Kickoff Coverage

APBA Football does a good job of addressing the various personnel packages associated with offense and defensive (i.e., 2-TE sets, 3-4-5 WR sets, nickel/dime defenses, etc.) alignments, however, I feel the game is lacking with regard to special teams.  Since the various “special teams” squads comprise a third of the game, I feel like it is important to address who should participate in performing those roles.

I would like to begin with the “crown jewel” of special teams – Kickoff Coverage.  Let’s discuss the “Kickoff Coverage” positions and more importantly the concepts associated with each position.  Below is the basic formation for Kickoff Coverage.  

  • “Outside-In Forcer” (L1/R1), usually this is the fastest player on the team who is a solid tackler.  This position is usually manned by either a wide receiver or cornerback.  This person’s job is to sprint to get as deep as the football, maintain outside containment and attack from the outside to the inside.
  • “Forcer” (L2/R2), this is traditionally an aggressive player with speed (a.k.a. outside linebacker) whose job is to sprint directly to the ball and make the tackle using an outside to inside attack. 
  • “Trackers” (L3, L4, R3, and R4).  The “Trackers” manning the L3/R3 spots, have very good speed and a nose for the ball and are usually manned with defensive backs, linebackers or running backs.  The primary difference between a L3 tracker and a L4 tracker is their spacing with regard to the football.  Both positions must run controlled downfield with L/R-3 trackers maintaining a 10-yard relationship to the football, while the L/R 4 trackers maintain a 5-yard relationship.  All trackers attack from outside to inside position.
  • “Head Forcer and Tracker” (L/R 5).  These are very aggressive players, usually the teams hardest hitters, normally this position is manned by an inside linebacker and the fastest offensive lineman which normally is a guard. The Head Forcer is on the side of the kicking leg of the kicker and the Head Tracker is on the opposite side.  They are responsible for sprinting under control, head up on the ball and attacking from an inside to outside position.  These two positions are your traditional “wedge busters”.
  • Kicker.  Act as safety around the opposition’s 45-yard line.

Now that you know the positions and the concepts associated with each, let’s break it out in APBA language.  I always try to use reserve players on special teams, however, if there are not enough players on the roster or a particular reserve is injured, I will use the starter for that position.

  • d1.  Outside-In Forcer – 3rd EB
  • d2. Forcer – 3rd outside linebacker
  • d3. Tracker – reserve SS/FS
  • d4. Tracker – reserve CB/FS/SS
  • d5. Head Forcer – 3rd inside LB
  • d6. Head Tracker – 3rd offensive guard (OG)
  • d7. Tracker – reserve HB/FB
  • d8. Tracker – reserve HB, FB, or db
  • d9. Forcer – 4th outside linebacker or starting outside linebacker
  • d10. Outside-In Forcer – 4th EB or 3rd CB
  • d1. Kickoff Specialist

The following is an example of the “Kickoff Coverage” team for 1965 New York Jets.


 d1. J. Evans

d2. O’Mahoney

d3. Hudson

d4. Gordon

d5. Atkinson

d6. Ficca

d7. Carson

d8. Smolinski

d9. Dukes

d10. Robinson

d11. J. Turner

This post will be located in the Special Teams Lineups hyperlink within the “Categories” widget. Next topic of discussion will be the “Punt Coverage”.

2 thoughts on “Kickoff Coverage

  1. Excellent breakdown! I usually just wing it when there’s a fumble recovery or odd return man outside of O9 or O10 on a kickoff return (usually looking to the reserves to fill the spot for that result, as you say). I forget … are you using the current master boards or “classic” master boards?

  2. A mixture of both…I probably provided a poor example (65 Jets) because George Allen really was the first coach to address special teams and it was later…Special teams is near and dear to my heart, back in the day, I was a “head tracker” and loved it!!! I will provide a breakdown for every unit as time goes by.

Leave a Reply