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How to Kick a Football on Kickoff

By Kent Ninomiya

In order to effectively kick a football on a kickoff, you must follow several very specific motions. The types of motions depend on what you are trying to achieve on the kickoff. The most common goal is to kick the football as far and as high as possible to give your teammates time to get down the field and make a tackle. Other ways to kick a football on kickoff are the squib kick, onside kick, and angling away from a specific returner.

Set up the football on the tee. One end should stick up and be angled slightly toward you. The laces of the football should face away from you.

Step backward from the football. Every kicker has a preference for how far he wants his approach. In general, it should be five steps back and four steps to the side of your non-kicking leg. Your approach should be at about a 60 degree angle.

Lean forward on your non-kicking leg. This is your ready position for the kickoff. Raise your arm to let your team know that you are ready.

Drop your arm and make your approach. Take your first step with your kicking leg. Build speed with your second and third steps. Your fourth step should result in your plant foot landing directly beside the football about one foot away.

Swing your kicking leg as hard and fast as you can for a regular kick off. Impact the football slightly below the fat part of the ball and follow through with all your might. This will propel the football high and far.

Kick the top half of the football for a squib kick. This is usually performed at the end of a game or half when you don't want the other team's return specialist to get a chance to take the football back for a score. The idea is the bounce the ball on the ground so that a bigger and slower player picks up the ball. Kicking the top half of the football makes it bounce end over end.

Kick downward on the football for an onside kick. This makes the football bounce high in the air over a short distance. Onside kicks are used when you want your team to recover the football. This is allowed if the football travels 10 yards. If the ball is high in the air, your team has as much chance to get it as the other team. Angle an onside kick toward a sideline 10 yards away from the ball.

Hook the ball if you are trying to kick it away from a specific player. A talented return specialist can bring a kickoff back for a touchdown on a regular basis. Attempt to keep the ball away from this player by kicking the football to the other side of the field. The best way to do this is to angle your body differently. A slight adjustment, like a half step, will move the ball significantly. Be careful not to do this too much or the football will go out of bounds and you will get a penalty.

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