1. Squib – Right, Middle, or Left
These are low kicks meant to skip along the ground making it difficult to field, or set-up a return. The placekicker must strike the just above the middle of the underbelly of the ball to get the low skipping results.
2. Surprise Onside
This can be extremely demoralizing to an opponent, regardless of when you execute it; i.e., at the start of the game, after half time, or after a score. However, it can put your defense in poor field position if unsuccessful. As such, we decide whether a surprise onside kick is a possibility based upon our scouting reports. They can be used versus specific return alignments, but are typically directed toward a player that bails early before the ball is kicked. There are two types of schemes used; (1) “Killer” is executed where the kicker recovers their own kick, or (2) “Surprise Onside” – kicked toward the boundary to a location voided by a coverage player.
Killer – The placekicker “bumping” the middle of the football, produces a rolling pace to the ball. The pace should be timed so that the kicker and the ball arrive 10-yards from the free-kick line at the same time. The ball is bumped with the meaty part of the foot (bone on the top of the foot).
The Surprise Onside Kick is executed striking the top third of the ball, when set vertically in the tee. This produces a bounce, bounce, big hop path. The ball should be struck violently, not softly. The aiming spot is at a coach standing along the sideline. Since this is a surprise onside kick, the coaches location will vary based upon the opponent’s alignment and personnel.
3. Save-the-Game [“Onside Kick”]
• Boundary There are two styles, (1) the bounce, bounce, big hop or (2) the bounce, big hop. The first style is described above (same as the Surprise Onside Kick”) except that a coach is positioned at thirteen yards along the sideline to provide a visual reference point for the kicker. Setting the ball vertically next to the tee, and striking the top third of the ball to execute the bounce, big hop style. This has the effect of driving the ball into the ground (making the ball live) creating a high hop; i.e., bounce, hop.
• Quail Right or Left This is an arching style kick to a void left by the return team, typically fifteen yards downfield, about five yards from the sideline. The ball must be struck below sweet spot to produce a backspin style of kick.
• Pin Ball This is a low, line-drive style kick aimed at a specific front line player. The ball is struck in the fat underbelly (middle) of the ball.
Whenever a team uses a fair catch to field a kick (whether a free-kick or a scrimmage kick), they have the option to execute a free-kick. As a matter of fact, if a free-kick, after a fair catch is kicked through the uprights, the kicking team is awarded three points. The defense can have a significant impact on this play if they will keep the opponent’s offense backed up deep when they are pinned up near the goal line. We practice this point every week as part of our preparation script. Not specifically for the three-points, but to make a point to the defense how important field position is.
5. Kick After a Safety
When a safety is given up, the team yielding the safety must kick the ball from the twenty-yard line. All of the rules governing kickoffs apply, except that the kick can either be a punt, a place kick from a tee or a drop kick.
6. Drop Kick
The rules still allow a player to use the drop kick for kickoffs, free-kicks and scrimmage kicks. However, the kick for all intents and purposes is not used in modern day football. The primary reason is the inconsistent results that these types of kicks yield. The kick is executed with the kicker standing with his shoulders aimed between the uprights as follows:
Stand in an athletic position, feet at shoulder width, with the kicking foot in a heel to toe stagger.
The kicker must catch the snap from the center, and adjust the ball holding it with both hands, one on each side in the middle of the ball. If the ball has stripes, the middle fingers will be along the seams with the fingertips just above the upper stripe. Quickly turn the laces so that they are facing directly up.
Take a one-foot stride with the non-kicking leg while fully extending the arms downward at 45°, so that the laces are now pointed directly between the uprights.
As the non-kicking foot hits the ground drop the ball, with the goal of it hitting the bottom end (point) while cocking the kicking back.
As the ball hits the ground, bring the kicking leg forward executing a toe punch style kick. The goal is to catch the middle of the underbelly, directly behind the laces.
The ball should sail end-over-end through the uprights.
Coaching Point: At the end of good practice sessions, during hell week, and throughout the season we will have drop kick contests. When you find that player that can kick the ball consistently through the uprights from the 20-yard line you can have some real fun – if you have the courage. Think about motioning the holder.” If the defense does not cover, execute a fake; otherwise have you player drop kick the ball through the uprights. I guarantee that you will create a lasting memory for your players.
The following chart details our kickers practice week:
Monday: Lift, Every Day Drills, Onside Kicks – Surprise, Killer, Save-the-game, Squib Kicks, Point-after-touchdown
Tuesday: Every Day Drills, Directional Kickoffs, Field Goals, Pooch Punts,
Wednesday: Lift, Every Day Drills, Onside Kicks. Directional Kickoffs – Game Plan, Field Goals
Thursday: Stretch, Every Day Drills
Friday: Game Night
About the Author of this post:
Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.