Kickoff Return


  • The five front line players on the return team will line up 10 yards and six inches from the football.
  • The tackles align between the numbers and the hash marks. The guards align on each hash mark.
  • The center aligns opposite the kicker. 
  • The ends align at the 35-yard line, each two yards outside the hash marks.
  • The upbacks line up at the hash marks, just inside the 15-yard line.
  • The alignment of the returner varies, depending on the leg strength of the kicker, between the five-yard line and the goal line.

After the Kick

  • The front line turns and runs full speed toward the 35-yard line, each player ending up within arm’s length of each other and turning to choose a defender to block.
  • The ends run full speed to the 15-yard line, aligning on the outside shoulders of the upbacks.
  • The upbacks back pedal three yards and to the middle of the field.
  • The ends and upbacks form a secondary wedge and seek out defenders not picked up by the front wedge of blockers.
  • The returner not catching the football will move in front of the other returner and lead block.
  • The returner catching the football runs into the double wedge created by the blockers

I always try to use reserve players on special teams, however, if there are not enough players or particular reserve player is injured, I will use the starters for that position.  If a returner is carded OA/OB, use an OC carded player at 010. If I have a lot of players rated OC, I use them at the End positions.


  • o1. End – Use  either a EB, DB, HB, or FB
  • o2. Tackle – ET
  • o3. Guard – Outside LB
  • o4. Center – Offensive Guard (OG)
  • o5. Guard – Outside LB
  • o6. Tackle – ET
  • o7. End –   Use  either a EB, DB, HB, or FB
  • o8. Upback – OC carded player
  • o9. Primary Returner – OA carded player
  • o10. Secondary Returner – OB carded player
  • o11. Upback – OC carded player

The next post will address Punt Return.

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