In pressure packed moments as the kicker steps up to hit a game-winning field goal, right there beside him is his holder, primed and ready to set up the kicker to seal the game.
Their job is also one with high stakes, as the ball is snapped, their job is to catch the snap, and quickly transition to get the ball down for the kicker exactly to his liking.
Any bobble, hesitancy or errant placement is sure to result in disaster. With the defense selling out to block the kick, the holder must operate with stillness and urgency, and ultimately keep his kicker in rhythm to split the uprights with ease.
Holders must operate with the soft hands of a receiver, and possess reactionary skills in turning the football to keep the laces away from the feet of the kicker. Their job is similar to that of punters, or offensive lineman with a lack of spotlight on their job, and similar to teammates in similar shoes, prefer it to be that way as they quietly give kickers opportunities to put points on the board.
What does a Holder do?
If you ever watch a kicker as he steps out onto the field, it is easy to tell the rhythm associated with the position. Whether it’s their routine practicing a few kicks, or their deliberate and careful setup, they rely heavily upon creating the same environment for every kick.
The holder is a big part in this, as his quick and steady placement of the football is the last piece of the puzzle, setting up a kicker to split the uprights. Their job placing the ball isn’t random, as kickers expect the ball to be in an exact spot, angled to their preference, with the laces turned away from them.
All of this is executed in a split-second, and requires quick and steady mechanics from the holder. While simple in nature, a long snapper, holder and kicker will spend a lot of time dialing in their process to find success when game day arrives.
In the rare instance of a fake field goal, you’ll get to see the athleticism (or lack thereof) from the holder! Teams may look for their holder to throw a pass, flip the ball to the kicker, or run the ball in these situations. There are plenty of fun ways to execute this, and the holder usually has the opportunity to play a big part in tricking the defense.
Why is it called a Holder?
Sometimes these are extremely obvious: The holder is responsible for holding the ball for the kicker on extra points and field goals.
What are some other names for the Holder position?
What are the Skills and Body Type needed to play Holder?
Consistency in Placement
Quick Placement of Football
Ability to Rotate the Football (Laces Away from Kicker)
Many teams will use their punter as their holder in the NFL. In high school and college, teams may also use backup quarterbacks, receivers, or anyone they feel can get the job done.
Who are some of the best Holders ever?
In football circles, there is truly no consensus for the best holders of all time. There are no holding stats tracked by the NFL, and is a position where they are simply expected to get it done.
However, if you look at any great kicker in the NFL, they will be sure to point to both the work of their long snapper, and holder for setting them up for consistent success.
Why is the Holder so important?
Special teams are far from the main source of entertainment for fans of the game, but coaches will be sure to point to the importance that the special teams aspect has on the game. Every point a team can get matters, a botched extra point, or field goal can easily be the determining factor in a game as it's been seen over and over again.
The job of the holder is a specialty, but one that only demands so much of their attention. Often, holders have other duties such as being a punter, receiver, or backup quarterback. Their holding job is secondary, but one that requires them to dial in at a moment's notice to precisely execute their job, and give the kicker the chance to approach every kick with rhythm and confidence.
A holder’s job is ensuring a team can maximize their scoring opportunities, doing whatever it takes to get the ball down with steady precision for the kicker. Whether it’s grabbing a bad snap, or quickly turning the laces, the holder’s overlooked job can be the difference in a converted, or missed scoring opportunity.
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