What is a Kicker In American Football?
The majority of people see hard tackles, passes, and touchdown dances when they envision American football. The kicker is one person on the pitch who, despite being essential to the game, is frequently disregarded.
This article will examine the world of the American football kicker, including their background, duties, and some of the game’s most illustrious kickers.
Role of a Kicker
In American football, kickers are in charge of several duties. Let’s examine each of their duties in detail:
Field Goals: Kicking field goals is one of the most well-known duties of a kicker.
Field goals are attempted when the offense has failed to score a touchdown but are sufficiently close to the opposition’s end zone to try a kick, and they are worth three points.
To score a field goal, the kicker must place the ball through the opponent’s goalposts.
Extra Points: If a team scores a touchdown, it may choose to try to kick the ball through the goalposts for an extra point. The winning team receives one point.
Although kicking extra points may seem simple, kickers need to be reliable and accurate for their team to score these significant points.
Kickoffs: Kickoffs are also carried out by kickers at the start of each half and following a touchdown by a team.
In order to make the opponent begin their offensive possession far inside of their own territory, kickoffs include the kicker kicking the ball as far down the field as they can.
Kicker vs Punter
Placekickers and punters are the two main categories that involve kicking in American football. Even though both roles include kicking the ball, there are some significant distinctions in their duties and methods.
Placekickers are in charge of making field goals and extra points. They are frequently referred to as “special teams players” because they do not play for the team’s offensive or defensive units.
Placekickers practice a method where they approach the ball and kick it after taking a few steps back and to the side.
The opponent’s goalposts are placed at the back of the endzone, and the objective is to kick the ball through them.
On fourth down, punters are in charge of punting the ball as far as they can. To make it more difficult for the opponent to score, they try to pin them far inside their own zone.
On kickoffs, punters are also in charge of kicking the ball out of bounds to stop the opposing team from regaining possession.
Moreover, Punters kick the ball in a different way than placekickers do. They move towards the ball and kick it after taking a few steps backward and forward.
The objective is to kick the ball as high and as far as you can while staying on course.
Skills Required to Play a Kicker
It’s not simple to work being an American football kicker. Success in this role necessitates a particular set of abilities. The following are some essential abilities that a kicker has to have:
Leg Strength: A kicker’s leg strength is one of their most crucial abilities. Kickers need to be able to produce enough force to accurately kick the ball across great distances.
Additionally, they must be able to modify their power in response to environmental factors like wind and precipitation.
Accuracy: Kickers need to be extremely accurate in addition to having strong legs. Only 18 feet, 6 inches separate the two goalposts, so they must be able to kick the ball through there.
The top kickers are distinguished from the rest by their ability to consistently kick the ball accurately.
Mental toughness: Kicking under pressure may be quite stressful, hence the finest kickers are those who can remain calm under pressure. A kicker must be able to concentrate on the task at hand and tune out any crowd noise or distractions.
Adaptability: Kickers need to be able to adjust to changes in the game’s kicking conditions as they occur. Depending on the wind, rain, or any other weather factors that may alter the ball’s flight path, they must be able to modify their kicking technique.
Team Player: Last but not least, kickers need to be team players. To guarantee that the kick is done without error, they must collaborate closely with their holders and long snappers.
Techniques Used by a Kicker
In American football, good kicks require the right technique to deliver the required force and accuracy. The following are the main methods an American football kicker employs:
Approach: The approach is the initial stage in kicking the football. Before reaching the ball, a kicker usually takes two or three steps backward and then a few feet to the side.
The goal of the approach is to build speed and leave adequate room for the kicker to swing their leg.
Plant Foot Placement: As soon as the kicker approaches the ball, they must firmly plant their non-kicking foot on the ground while pointing it in the direction of the goal.
The positioning of the plant foot is crucial because it offers a solid foundation on which the kicker can produce power and accuracy.
Contact Point: Next is the contact point — the place where the kicker makes contact with the ball with their foot. The ball’s center serves as the contact point, and it must be struck squarely to ensure the correct flight path and accuracy.
Follow Through: The kicker must continue to use their kicking leg after making contact with the ball. Straight and in the direction of the objective should characterize the follow-through.
A strong follow-through makes sure that the kicker produces the most power and precision possible.
Top Kickers in NFL History
In NFL history, kickers have been essential players, and over time, some of them have stood out from the crowd. These are the top five kickers in NFL history, according to statistics, honors, and professional judgment.
Legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri is recognized as one of the most crucial players in NFL history. He played for 24 seasons, during which time he amassed 238 points to become the postseason’s all-time best scorer.
Vinatieri won four Super Bowls while playing for the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.
In addition, he is the only player in NFL history to reach 1,000 points while playing for two separate clubs.
Lastly, Vinatieri concluded his career with a standing goal success percentage of 83.8 percent after making 599 field goals.
With 2,544 points during 25 seasons of play, Morten Andersen holds the record for most points scored in the NFL.
Secondly, Andersen was selected for seven Pro Bowls and three times for the All-Pro team. In addition, he was the first kicker to reach 2,000 points in a career.
In addition, was the first kicker to make more than 500 extra points and the first to make 40 field goals in a season.
Jan Stenerud, who was born in Norway, had 19 seasons in the NFL. He was the first pure kicker to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Moreover, he made 373 field goals.
Throughout his career, Stenerud was selected for three Pro Bowls and twice for the All-Pro team. Additionally, he was a member of the NFL’s 75th and 100th-anniversary teams.
The longest-playing athlete in NFL history, George Blanda is remembered for his epic 26-year career. He finished his career with 2,002 points, which ranks fourth all-time.
Throughout his career, Blanda was selected two times to the All-Pro team and three Pro Bowls.
Furthermore, Blanda was renowned for his heroic exploits, such as a contest in 1970. During which, he threw three touchdown passes and also kicked the game-winning field goal.
Jason Hanson played with the Detroit Lions for his entire 21-year career and currently holds 52 NFL records, including the most field goals of 50 yards or more.
Throughout his career, he was selected for two Pro Bowls and twice for the All-Pro team.
Additionally, Hanson concluded his career with a field goal success percentage of 82.4 percent after making 495 field goals in his career.
Players with Most Field Goals in NFL History
|Rank||Player||Career Field Goals|
Folks, there you have it; kickers in American football are more than just individuals with a thing for object-kicking. They contribute significantly to the game by kicking important field goals and extra points.
One some occasions, they even score the game-winning kicks! So don’t underestimate the value of these excellent toe-tappers the next time you’re watching a game.