Football Kicker Types: Learn All the Basics

John Rizzo

Football Kicker

Football, a game of strategy, athleticism, and precision, encompasses a variety of roles crucial for a team’s success. One such role, often underrated but undeniably influential, is that of the football kicker. 

These unsung heroes possess the unique skill of launching the ball between the goalposts, determining the fate of crucial moments on the field. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of football kickers, exploring the different kicker types, their techniques, and the impact they have on the game.

What Is the Football Kicker?

A football kicker is a specialized player in American football responsible for executing kicks during various game situations. The kicker’s primary roles include attempting field goals, extra points, and kickoffs. Field goals are crucial scoring opportunities, where the kicker aims to kick the ball through the opponent’s goalposts to earn points for their team. 

Extra points are shorter kicks attempted after a touchdown, also contributing to the team’s score. Kickoffs involve launching the ball down the field to the opposing team, strategically positioning them further from the kicker’s goal line. 

Kickers require precise technique, accuracy, and leg strength to succeed. Their contributions often prove pivotal in determining the outcome of closely contested matches. 

Whether it’s securing points or altering field position, the football kicker’s role is essential, showcasing their unique skill set that can influence the flow of the game.

Roles of A Football Kicker

Roles of A Football Kicker

The football kicker assumes a critical role on the team, with responsibilities that significantly impact the game’s outcome. Their primary roles include:

Field Goals

Kickers are entrusted with attempting field goals, which can earn the team valuable points. Their accuracy and leg strength determine whether the ball successfully clears the goalposts, contributing to the team’s score.

Extra Points

After a touchdown is scored, kickers attempt extra points. These shorter kicks, taken from a fixed distance, add one point to the team’s total. Kicker accuracy is vital to secure these relatively high-percentage scoring opportunities.


Kickers execute kickoffs at the beginning of each half, after scores, and during special situations. By launching the ball deep into the opponent’s territory, they aim to position the opposing team farther from their goal line, creating a challenging field position.

Onside Kicks

In certain game situations, kickers may attempt onside kicks. These kicks are intentionally shorter and bounce in unpredictable ways, allowing the kicking team a chance to recover possession immediately after the ball travels the required distance.

Pooch Kicks

Kicker versatility extends to pooch kicks, where they aim to place the ball in a specific location on the field, typically between the opponents’ front line and deep return players. This strategic approach limits the returner’s ability to create substantial yardage.

Game Strategy

Coaches rely on kickers to make crucial decisions based on game situations. This includes determining whether to attempt a long field goal, execute a surprise onside kick, or strategically position kickoffs to prevent returns.

In essence, football kickers are more than mere specialists; they are pivotal players whose precision, strength, and decision-making capabilities profoundly influence a team’s performance on the field.

Types of Football Kickers

Types of Football Kickers

Football kickers come in various types, each specializing in specific aspects of the kicking game. These types include placekickers, kickoff specialists, and punters. Each type of kicker possesses distinct skills and roles that contribute to the team’s success.


Placekickers are known for their precision and accuracy in executing field goals and extra points. They play a crucial role in converting scoring opportunities into points. Placekickers require a strong and consistent leg to kick the ball accurately between the uprights from varying distances on the field. 

Their mental fortitude is also essential, as they often face high-pressure situations that can determine the outcome of a game.

Kickoff Specialists

Kickoff specialists focus on maximizing the distance and hang time of kickoffs. Their primary objective is to kick the ball deep into the opponent’s territory, making it challenging for the return team to advance the ball significantly. 

Kickoff specialists often have the leg strength to send the ball through the end zone, resulting in touchbacks that prevent returns altogether. Their ability to strategically place kickoffs can force the opposing team to start drives from a disadvantageous field position.


Punters specialize in launching high and deep kicks to flip field positions in favor of their team. Their kicks aim to pin the opposing offense deep into their own territory, making it harder for them to score. 

Punters possess a blend of power and finesse, requiring the ability to execute kicks accurately while generating enough hang time to allow the coverage team to reach the returner before significant yardage is gained.

Each type of kicker adapts their techniques to specific game situations:

  • End-of-Game Situations: Placekickers may be called upon to attempt a game-winning field goal, while kickoff specialists might attempt an onside kick to regain possession.
  • Kickoffs: Kickoff specialists gauge the field position and game clock to determine whether to kick deep or execute a directional kickoff.
  • Punting: Punters must balance distance and hang time, choosing whether to punt for maximum yardage or optimal placement.

The diverse roles of placekickers, kickoff specialists, and punters illustrate the specialized nature of the kicking game in football. 

Their unique skills contribute significantly to a team’s overall performance, with the ability to shape field position, score points, and even influence the outcome of a match. 

As the game continues to evolve, these kicker types remain indispensable members of any successful football team.

How to be a Skilled Football Kicker

Skilled Football Kicker

Becoming a skilled football kicker requires a combination of technique, practice, mental strength, and dedication. Whether you’re aiming to be a placekicker, kickoff specialist, or punter, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you develop your kicking abilities:

Learn the Basics

Understand the fundamental mechanics of kicking a football, including proper foot placement, approach, and follow-through. Study videos of professional kickers to analyze their techniques.

Develop Leg Strength

Strengthen your leg muscles through targeted exercises such as squats, lunges, and calf raises. A powerful leg is essential for generating distance and accuracy in your kicks.

Practice Consistently

Regular practice is key. Set aside dedicated time to work on your kicking skills. Focus on both quantity and quality – practice a high number of repetitions while maintaining proper form.

Work on Accuracy

Start by aiming for a specific target on the field. Gradually increase the distance and complexity of your kicks. Concentrate on hitting your target consistently before attempting longer kicks.

Seek Coaching

Enlist the guidance of experienced coaches or kickers who can provide personalized feedback. They can identify areas for improvement and help you refine your technique.

Master Mental Toughness

Kicking requires mental resilience. Practice mindfulness techniques and visualization to manage pressure situations. Build confidence in your abilities through positive self-talk.

Record and Analyze

Record your kicking sessions and review the footage. This allows you to identify any flaws in your technique and track your progress over time.

Conditioning and Flexibility

Maintain your overall fitness and flexibility. A well-conditioned body helps prevent injuries and contributes to your overall kicking performance.


If you’re interested in a specific kicking role (e.g., placekicker, kickoff specialist, punter), focus on honing the relevant skills required for that role. Each type of kicker has unique demands, so tailor your training accordingly.

Simulate Game Scenarios

Practice under various conditions, including different weather conditions and simulated game situations. This prepares you to perform consistently regardless of external factors.

Attend Camps and Workshops

Participate in kicking camps and workshops where you can receive professional coaching, interact with other kickers, and gain exposure to different techniques.

Stay Patient and Persistent

Progress might not be linear, and setbacks are normal. Stay patient, persevere through challenges, and continue refining your skills over time.

Stay Informed

Keep up with the latest trends and techniques in kicking. The football world constantly evolves, and staying informed can give you a competitive edge.

Becoming a skilled football kicker is a journey that requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to improvement. With consistent practice and a willingness to learn, you can develop the expertise needed to excel in this specialized position.

Significance of a Football Kicker

Significance of a Football Kicker

A football kicker holds a significant and often underestimated role within a team. Their contributions extend beyond the field, impacting various aspects of the game and team dynamics. Here’s why a football kicker is of immense importance:

Scoring Opportunities

Kickers are responsible for converting field goals and extra points, directly contributing to the team’s overall score. Their accuracy and reliability in high-pressure situations can determine the outcome of closely contested matches.

Field Position

Kickers influence field position through kickoffs and punts. A well-executed kickoff can pin the opposing team deep into their territory, making it challenging for them to advance the ball. Similarly, a punter’s ability to place the ball strategically affects how far the opposing team must travel to score.

Time Management

The timing of kicks, especially field goals, can impact a team’s approach to managing the clock. A successful field goal can change the momentum of the game or put a team in a more comfortable position as the game clock winds down.

Game Strategy

Coaches make strategic decisions based on their kicker’s capabilities. This includes determining when to attempt a field goal, whether to opt for an onside kick or choosing between a punt for distance or placement.

Momentum Shifts

A long, accurate field goal or a perfectly executed onside kick can lead to sudden momentum shifts in a game. These plays can energize the team and the crowd, creating a ripple effect on the overall atmosphere and performance.

Pressure Situations

Kickers often face intense pressure situations, especially in critical moments of the game. Their ability to remain composed under pressure demonstrates mental toughness and can inspire confidence in the team.

Team Unity

Kickers are an integral part of the team, requiring collaboration with snappers and holders for successful kicks. Their teamwork and chemistry contribute to the overall cohesion of the squad.


A multi-talented kicker, capable of handling various roles such as placekicking, kickoff duties, and punting, provides a team with added flexibility and options during games.

Skill Specialization

Football kickers embody the idea of specialized skills within the sport. Their unique abilities showcase the depth and complexity of American football, enhancing the overall spectacle of the game.

A football kicker’s role extends far beyond the physical act of kicking a ball. They are strategists, momentum creators, and game-changers. 

Their influence is felt not only in the points they score but also in the strategic decisions they prompt and the psychological impact they have on both their team and opponents. 

The significance of football kickers cannot be understated; they are unsung heroes who shape the course of the game and contribute to a team’s success in ways that go beyond the scoreboard.


What are the Different Types of Football Kickers?

There are several types of football kickers, each specializing in different aspects of the kicking game. These include placekickers, kickoff specialists, and punters. Placekickers focus on field goals and extra points, kickoff specialists aim for long-distance and strategic kickoffs, while punters excel at launching the ball deep into the opponent’s territory.

What Sets Placekickers Apart from Other Kicker Types?

Placekickers are known for their accuracy and consistency in making field goals and extra points. They have mastered the art of kicking the ball accurately between the goalposts, often under immense pressure. Their contributions can be game-changing, deciding the outcome of close matches.

How Do Kickoff Specialists Make a Difference?

Kickoff specialists possess the strength and technique to deliver long-distance kickoffs that push opponents deep into their own territory. This strategic advantage allows the kicking team’s defense to start with a better field position, putting pressure on the opponents to cover a longer distance to score.

What Skills Define a Successful Punter?

Punting requires a unique combination of power, precision, and finesse. Punters aim to launch the ball high and far, ideally pinning the opponent’s offense deep in their own territory. A skilled punter can significantly influence the field position battle and give their team an advantageous starting point.

How Do Kicker Types Adapt to Different Game Situations?

Kicker types need to adapt their techniques based on the game situation. Placekickers must handle pressure-filled moments, kickoff specialists adjust their strategy based on field position and the game clock, and punters must choose between distance and placement depending on the team’s needs.

Wrapping Up

As we wrap up this exploration into the realm of football kicker types, it’s clear that these specialists play an integral role in the game’s dynamics. Whether it’s the precise accuracy of placekickers, the booming kicks of kickoff specialists, or the strategic finesse of punters, each type contributes to shaping the course of a football match. 

Their abilities not only reflect the importance of specialization within the sport but also highlight the significance of well-executed kicks in determining victory on the gridiron. 

So, the next time you watch a football game, take a moment to appreciate the unsung heroes behind the impressive kicks that can turn the tide in an instant.

Hopefully, you have got my point properly. Have a nice day.

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John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn