What Are the Special Teams in Football? The Exact Answer Is Here!

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What are the special teams in football? The fact is that special teams are one of the unique characteristics of football. 

They are not the defensive team and the offensive team. Instead, these teams are only on the football field for about 20% of a game. However, their role cannot be taken lightly, as they generate roughly 30 to 35% of the scoring.

Also, they significantly impact where the defense and offense start on the field for any given possession.

So what are the special teams in football? What do special teams mean in football? Let’s explore with Scott Fujita!

What Are the Special Teams in Football? 

what are the special teams in football scottfujita 1

Special teams refer to units that involve the kicking game.

Special teams refer to units whose purpose involves the kicking game. It includes the team defending against the kick, the team doing the kicking, or the team returning the kick.

A football team comes in several special teams units, including:

  • Punts.
  • Kickoffs.
  • Field Goal.
  • Extra Point.


All football games start with a kickoff. One of the things that makes this kicking play unique is that a ball is free-standing on a tee, making it different from other kicking plays, where it is snapped to a punter or holder.

In the kickoff, a kicker will be responsible for putting the ball on the tee around the thirty-five-yard line and kicking it to the end zone of the opposing team to get it near the goal line. If this ball ends in the end-zone of the opposing team, it will lead to a touchback, putting the scrimmage line at the twenty-five-yard line.

During the kickoff, there will be one kickoff return. The special team’s unit contains defenders typically ten feet from the tee. 

Two players close to the end zone are selected kickoff returners. Those guys can operate other roles, maybe cornerbacks, running backs, or wide receivers.


The offensive team typically punts a ball on 4th down during one offensive drive, avoiding turning the ball on their field half. Different from the kickoff and another kicking play, the punter will handle a ball before they kick it. 

When starting the play, the long-snapper should snap a ball back to the punter, who would catch it before dropping it when they kick it.

The defense will line up similarly for one kickoff. But the defensive line should own one punt returner in the backfield. He can return the ball immediately after getting it or wave it dead like part of one fair catch. 

Like in kickoffs, if punting teams kick the ball so far too past or land in the end zone, the play would result in one touchback, while the ensuing drive should begin at the twenty-five-yard line.

Field Goal And Extra Point Team

The players for the extra point and field goal teams are extremely similar. 

It includes the kicker, the holder (catches the snap and places it on the ground for the kicker), and the long snapper (snaps a ball to the holder). The long snapper will take over the position on the offensive line occupied by the center.


Who Can Play on Football Special Teams?

Main players of special teams in NFL football include:

  • Punter.
  • Holder.
  • Kicker.
  • Gunner.
  • Kick Returner.
  • Punt Returner.
  • Long Snapper.
  • Personal Protector.

 What Are the 6 Special Teams in Football?

Special teams include:

  • Kickoff team.
  • Kick return team.
  • Punting team.
  • Punt blocking/return team.
  • Field goal team.
  • Field goal block team.

How Many Players Are on Special Teams?

There are eleven players on the field at a time for the special teams, as is the case with both the defense and offense at all times.

Are Special Teams Crucial in Football?

What are the special teams in football

Special team units are essential to football teams. 

Special team units are only on the field for approximately 20% of a game, but they are essential to the success of a team.

Are Special Teams in Football on Defense or Offense?

Players of special teams are not defensive or offensive players when they’re on special teams.


Special teams are very special. They don’t get much fame as the defensive or the offensive, but how they perform has as much. They can have a significant impact on the game outcome.

Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ve got the answer to “What do special teams mean in football?”

They are great momentum changers and might be one thing that can break the will of the opponent.

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