Football: How to Punt
Punting is a unique skill in football and takes a lot of practice. A good punter can make a huge difference in the outcome of a game. A good punter will help the team gain good field position and can help both the offense and defense.
What makes a good punt?
A good punt goes for both distance and hang time. A high punt allows the punt coverage players to get down the field and make the tackle before the runner can set up a return.
Before you punt, you should warm up and stretch. If you start out trying to kick a long punt without warming up, you may pull a muscle.
Holding the Ball
Hold the ball in your strong hand (i.e. right hand if you are right handed). Hold it near the end with the laces up. Your thumb should be on top of the ball with your fingers to the side. Use your off hand to keep the ball firmly in your strong hand.
Your arms should be extended straight out and the ball should be angled with the tip slightly to the left (for right footed kickers).
As you begin your kick, you will step forward. First with your kicking leg, then with your off leg. Firmly plant your off foot on the ground and maintain your balance. Your right foot will now move forward to kick the ball.
Drop the Ball
One of the most important parts of kicking a punt is dropping the ball. It must hit your foot directly and at the right time and angle. This takes a lot of practice. Keep the ball in your hands as long as possible, to where you are almost kicking the ball directly out of your hands.
Your foot needs to contact the ball on the top of the foot (not the toe) and the fat part of the ball.
Kick the Ball
Keep your leg straight and angled toward your target. Kick with all your force through the ball. Your foot should keep going up after the ball is gone.
In the Game
When punting in a game, the first thing you need to do is catch the snap. Catching the snap is very important and should be practiced. A dropped snap or fumble could cost the game.
Once the ball is caught, the punt should be executed quickly. A few short steps and the ball should be off. Focus on kicking the ball, not the defense.
Once you have learned to kick for distance and hang time, you will need to learn to kick for direction. Sometimes a short, accurate punt is needed in order to keep the ball from going into the end zone for a touch back. Getting the ball to stop inside the 10 yard line will pin the other team back and give your defense a great chance at stopping them.
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