This article will discuss the importance of special teams in football. By football I mean the American version, not soccer. I think casual fans downplay the importance of special teams in football, except for the long returns or a blocked kick or something.
The keys to winning most football games are turnovers, field position, and mistakes/turnovers. Win two out of three of those elements and you usually win your football game. Special teams can be key in at least one of those factors, field position.
Field position shows the importance of special teams in football. That is all the majority of special teams action is, a battle for field position. The exception is field goals and extra point attempts.
The kickoff or punt team is trying to give their opponent the worst field position possible. The kickoff return or punt return is trying to establish the best field position, thus making their offense go a shorter distance to score.
Often defensive minded teams also try to have great special teams to help that defense lengthen the field for the opposing offense. Most NFL teams keep players just for their special teams ability and just hope they can also backup a regular position. You will also find some starters at regular positions who play on special teams. Notably Carolina Panthers wide receiver, Steve Smith volunteers to return punts from time to time. Smith broke into the league as a punt returner before becoming a pretty good wide receiver.
Then of course big plays contribute to the importance of special teams in football. Big plays cause momentum shifts which are very important in football games. Long returns for touchdowns can be devastating to the kickoff or punt team.
Imagine a team is on a high after a score, then the other team breaks a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, that would sure have a deflating effect on you. Or even worse when your offense stalled and had punt only to see it ran all the way back.
When most fans think of a field goal or extra point attempt, they concentrate on the kicker. But the kicker is just one of three important elements of the play. First you have the snapper, who at least in the NFL is usually a specialist. Trey Junkin had a long NFL career playing almost exclusively as a long snapper. One the snap is down and the ball on the way, the holder comes into play. Years ago the holder for field goals was almost always a quarterback. Now days the punter is the holder on most teams as they tend to have good hands and have the time to practice with the kicker.
I hope you found this to be educational on the importance of special teams in football. Next time you watch a game keep in mind how special, special teams can be to a team.
My knowledge of football