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How To Punt a Football

Punting a Football – Guide for Punters

We continue our discussion of the kicking game in football with “How To Punt a Football”. Becoming a punter might seem like the easiest or least stressful role on a football team, but a punter is key in field positions battles.

Also, a punter’s skill set requires him to catch a football, step into a kick, getting a perfect spin or spiral, sometimes angle the kick to help the coverage unit, and doing all this while 8 to 10 guys coming barreling towards you exposed plant leg. There are reasons that punting penalties are so strictly enforced, because punters are in the most dangerous position in the field at the top of their punting motion. Even a minor hit can cause a major knee injury, if it happens at the wrong moment.

You might equate the punter with the field goal kicker, too, since both are special teams players who kick the bal. But when punting a football, you’re going to need a slightly different set of skills. The obvious difference is that you’re going to need to be able to catch the ball and kick the ball in stride, which is much different than just punting the ball from a standing start.

Stand 10 to 15 Yards Behind the Snapper

A punter needs to stand between 10 and 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Remember that every yard you stand behind the line is an extra yard you won’t be punting the ball downfield. Balance this by the fact that the opponent’s punt return unit and/or defense may send players to try to block your punt, so every yard you stand back gives you added time and space to avoid having your punt blocked.

In the end, you’ll want to stand where you feel most comfortable. I prefer around 12 yards from the snapper, which allows me to take a couple of steps and still be around 8-9 yards away from the line of scrimmage. College and NFL punters might prefer to stand 15 yards away from the line of scrimmage.

Catch the Snapped Ball

Don’t forget to concentrate on catching the ball before you punt it. You’ve seen in football games where a receiver drops a reception by turning his head downfield to anticipate breaking a tackle, before looking the ball into his body and making certain he catches the ball. So don’t get ahead of yourself. Look the ball into your hands and catch the ball with both hands about 8-10 inches apart.

Hold the Ball Laces Up

Hold the ball at arm’s length with both hands vertically in front of you. The ball should be held about waist high. The laces of the ball need to be held straight up, since you don’t want to kick the ball on its laces, which can affect the length and spin of the football.

Step Into the Kick

Go into your kicking motion by taking two steps forward. Start your steps forward with your kicking foot, then your non-kicking foot. This should give you two steps before you kick the ball.

Drop the Ball and Kick

In one instance (as they say, “with one motion”), you should drop the ball and kick at the ball. Kicking the ball while it’s still in your hands will be ineffective, if not impossible. At the same time, if you drop the ball too far, the trajectory of the ball will be too low and it can be blocked.

So drop the ball as you begin your kick, so you can kick the ball as it falls to the ground. At this point of the kick, you need to have your eyes on the ball, not on the punt blockers who might be coming towards you.

Kick the Ball With the Outside of Your Foot

Here’s the tricky part of punting a football: you should kick the ball with the outside center of the football on its lower left side. Kick the ball on the lower right side if you are left-footed. This should produce maximum power, while also creating the kind of spiral that will allow the ball the best aerodynamics for traveling the furthest distance.

Use a Follow Through

Follow through with your punting motion, kicking your foot up as high as you can. Most professional punters will end with their kicking foot over their head. It will look like the punter is trying to kick his knee. For this reason, a punter has to be incredibly flexible and limber. Remember to perform full stretching exercises before punting the ball, because your muscles need to be flexible and limber to perform the punting motion properly.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010 at 4:06 pmand is filed under Football, Youth Football. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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