How to score return touchdowns

4/13/21 - Eric Colonna

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Punt return is your time to shine. It’s a free opportunity to get the ball in your hands and showoff your skills to make a big play.


Here are the 6 steps and tips to returning a punt for a touchdown:


1. Read the punter. Watch film on him, see how far he can kick and how his body language changes based on which way he is kicking. If you see him looking one way or tilting his body to the left, what’s that mean about the kick? If you don’t have film, start off a little further back and get a feel for how he kicks on the first couple of punts.


2. Catch the ball in the air. If you’re in Canada, then this increases the likeliness of a no yard’s call because the defenders may get in your 5-yard bubble. Either way, you’ll catch it with momentum moving forwards and be in control. The ball won’t have an opportunity to bounce over your head and the kicking team doesn’t have enough time to react to you. By catching the ball in the air, you’re putting yourself in the best position to make a play.


3. Read the kicking team before you catch the ball. By reading the gunners before and after the kick, you’ll get a good feeling of where the ball is going and how to set up your blocks. As you’re tracking the ball to catch it, take 2-3 peaks in front of you and develop a quick plan on where to go.


4. Run away from your return side to setup blocks. If you want to run forwards or to the opposite side, it’s between you and your coach to figure out, but the main point is run away from the return, this is why… If you want to return the ball to the left, then run to the right because your blockers are going to need to push the kicking team to the right. Running to the right first will draw in the other team and setup your blocks so you can bounce it back and make a big return.


5. Make the first man miss and follow your blocks. Your return is probably designed to block everyone but one player because football is 11on11 or 12on12 and you’re not blocking. If you make the first guy miss, your chances for a big return go up immensely.


6. Don’t head right to the sideline right away. Leave space so you can bounce your return out further once you’re deeper in your return. This will also give the defenders the difficult job of tackling you, because you can bounce it out or cut it back. If you can only cut back, then they can take a certain angle and make the tackle with a lot less trouble this way.


Bonus. Understand the rules. If you catch it out of bounds, if you wait to pick it up, can the kicker recover the ball? Talk with your coach and the ref to clarify the rules and use them to your advantage.