What is a holder in American football?

What Is A Holder In Football? Holders In The NFL

American football is a fast-paced sport that calls for teamwork from all of the players on the pitch. From the players running across the field to those tackling returners and even renowned quarterbacks, everyone has a role on the field.

But even with all these players and positions, the position we want to take a look at is the holders. Here at Cleats Hub, we will examine the duties, necessary abilities, and various holder types in this post.

About Holders In Football

Holders in football are part of a group of players known as the special teams. They are players who are called onto the field to perform specific functions such as kicking the ball, tackling the returner of the opposing team (gunner), or holding the ball for a perfect kick (holders).

On the field, they are identified as the players who go on a knee to receive a snap from the snapper before placing the ball for the kicker to make a field goal or get an extra point. After catching the ball, he places it on the field with the lace facing upright and then holds it with his fingers (about one or two fingers).

When a holder is to catch a snap, he must be on a knee and must be quick to place the ball suitably for the kicker to have a clear shot.

Is The Holder A Position In Football?

It is often time asked if the holder is a type of position in football. Well, the answer is yes, the holder is a position in football, however, while it is a position, football teams do not have a player who plays the dedicated position of a holder.

This is because most of the time, another position such as the (punter) is made to take up the position of a holder.

Types of Holders

Punter As Holders

The punter frequently fills in for the holder. Punters are already adept at handling the ball, so they typically have everything they need to do a good job as the holder.

With this design, a field goal or extra point attempt can be attempted without disrupting the punt formation.

Backup Quarterback As Holders

Some teams choose to use a backup quarterback as the holder. The holder can also function as a quarterback or runner on trick plays or fake field goal attempts, giving this strategy more versatility.

Teams gain an element of surprise and unpredictability by deploying a backup quarterback as the holder.

Dedicated Holders

Even though the position of the holder is often given to players with other roles, sometimes, a player can be given the specific role of catching the placing the ball for a kicker.

Teams can make use of a position player’s versatility and mobility by designating them as the holder.

Furthermore, these holders can add a surprise element to special team plays by pulling off trick plays or fakes that make use of their catching, throwing, or sprinting abilities.

Skills Required for a Holder  

Skills Required for a Holder

Some sets of abilities are required to be a holder, and these qualities aid the special teams unit’s effectiveness. A holder must possess the following characteristics:

  • Sure-Handedness:
    The holder must be exceptionally skilled at catching and have excellent hand-eye coordination. They should have steady hands that can catch snaps reliably even when stressed and also prevent miscues that can disrupt the precision of the kick.
  • Quick Decision Making:
    In high-stress situations, the holder must make split-second decisions. They must assess the snap placement, relocate the ball as needed, and react fast to unforeseen situations. Fast reasoning and thought process is essential for a kick attempt to go smoothly and successfully.
  • Focus and Concentration:
    The holder must maintain unwavering focus and concentration at all times, especially in high-stakes scenarios. Even in stressful situations, they must avoid distractions, remain calm, and perform their duties flawlessly.
  • Timing and coordination:
    The holder’s movements must be coordinated with those of the long snapper and kicker. They should be competent at exactly timing their actions so that the snap, placement, and kick all happen at the same time.

Roles and Functions Of Holders In Football

Roles of a Holder

In American football, a holder uses a variety of strategies to carry out their duties during field goal and extra point tries.

Here are some crucial strategies employed by holders:  

Receiving the Snap

Once the long snapper sends the ball to the holder through a snap, the holder must be ready to catch the ball. Even before the snap is released, the holder’s hands need to be perfectly aligned to catch a clean snap.

A method used by holders to catch the ball is the “catcher’s grip”. This simply involves firmly holding the ball by forming a diamond with their fingers. This allows the hand to promptly close up on the catch once the ball touched the hands.

Moreover, maintaining focus on the ball and anticipating its arrival is necessary for a good catch.

Ball Positioning

The major strategy used by the holder after receiving the snap is to place the ball in the best possible spot for the kicker. They rotate the football so that the laces point away from the kicker to reduce the possibility of a mishit.

In order to provide stability, the holder also places the ball on the ground while holding it with their non-dominant hand.

Holders, also need to ensure that they are fast with positioning the ball on the field. If they flop, it could lead to an erred kick by the kicker or a total inability to kick the ball.

Tilt Adjustment

The football’s tilt may occasionally need to be changed by the holder to satisfy the kicker’s preferences or work around unfavorable field conditions.

With this method, the ball is angled slightly differently to match the kicker’s approach and foot strike.

Ample Communication

Effective communication is crucial to the success of a field goal and extra point attempt. To guarantee a clean and precise snap, the holder signals the long snapper for the snap count and makes any required alterations.

They also keep lines of communication open with the kicker and discuss preferences, changes, and timing in order to promote trust and confidence.

Holders IN The NFL  

Top Holders in NFL History

Ranking the best five-holders in NFL history is a subjective undertaking because the position has no statistical relevance.

Yet, a number of the holders have made significant contributions to the game through their consistent play and contributions to their clubs’ success.

These are five notable NFL record holders:

1. Sean Landeta

Sean Landeta, regarded as one of the best punters in NFL history, also possesses remarkable holding strengths. Landeta played in 22 NFL seasons for teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.

He was also noted for having great hands, consistently putting the ball, and handling tricky snaps. Landeta was also named to three Pro Bowls during his remarkable career for his precise holding.

2. Hunter Smith

Hunter Smith spent most of his career as the Indianapolis Colts’ holder. His rapport with Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri was key to their success, notably their victory in Super Bowl XLI.

Besides that, Smith was one of the league’s most trustworthy holders because of his precision, timing, and stamina under duress. He also played in 12 NFL seasons and is regarded as one of the most dependable holders of his era.

3. Matt Turk

Matt Turk excelled not only as a punter but also as a holder during his 17-year NFL career. He played for the Houston Texans, New York Jets, and Washington Redskins, among other NFL franchises.

Furthermore, Turk was able to accurately control snaps and place the ball where his kickers could make the most of it, which helped his team win numerous games.

He was a consistent holder throughout his career, earning a spot in the Pro Bowl in 1996.

4. Brad Maynard

During his 15-year NFL career, Brad Maynard was known mostly for his punting prowess as a top-class holder.

Maynard was recognized as a dependable holder for the several kickers he worked with over his career due to his dependability, sure hands, and effective ball placement.

He was also involved in several famous field goals and extra points ball placement.

5. Josh Bidwell

Josh Bidwell spent 12 seasons in the NFL, primarily as a punter and holder for the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bidwell was remarkable as a holder because of his combination of agility and consistency.

He also handled snaps with ease, offered excellent ball placement, and communicated clearly and concisely with players who to the role of kickers. Also, because of his great holding abilities, Bidwell was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2005.

Players Teams Length Of Playing Career
Sean LandetaNew York Giants
Los Angeles / St. Louis Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Green Bay Packers
Philadelphia Eagles
St. Louis Rams
Philadelphia Eagles
New York Giants
22 NFL Seasons
Hunter SmithIndianapolis Colts
Washington Redskins
12 NFL Seasons
Matt TurkLos Angeles Rams
Washington Redskins
Miami Dolphins
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
St. Louis Rams
Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars
Houston Texans
17 NFL Seasons
Brad MaynardNew York Giants
Chicago Bears
Cleveland Browns
15 NFL Seasons
Josh BidwellTampa Bay Buccaneers
Washington Redskins
12 NFL Seasons


The holder is an important member of teams, even though they do not always get the credit they deserve. Furthermore, the abilities and contributions of the holder are critical to the success of field goals and extra-point attempts.

We hope that spectators gain a better understanding of the game’s subtleties and the contributions made by a holder.

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