What is the Definition of Drop-Kick in American Football?

The drop-kick is a unique and rarely seen kicking technique in American football. It is a method in which a player drops the ball and then kicks it as it bounces off the ground. The skill is used during field goal attempts or to score an extra point after a touchdown. Although it is legal, it has largely been replaced by the more popular place-kicking technique, which involves a holder setting the ball on the ground before the kicker makes contact.

Historically, drop-kicking was a common practice in the early days of American football, but its use has declined over the years. One notable example of a drop-kick being used in a modern game came in 2006 when Doug Flutie of the New England Patriots executed the first successful NFL drop-kick since 1941. Despite this rare appearance, the drop-kick remains a fascinating aspect of the sport for fans and players alike, reminding us of the ever-evolving strategies and tactics in American football.

Key Takeaways

  • The drop-kick is a legal but rare kicking technique in American football for field goal attempts or extra points.
  • Historically common, its usage has declined in favor of more consistent place-kicking methods.
  • Doug Flutie’s 2006 drop-kick was the first successful execution in the NFL since 1941, highlighting the rarity and intrigue surrounding this technique.

Definition of Drop-Kick in American Football

A drop-kick is a type of kick used in various codes of football, including American football. The technique involves a player dropping the ball and then kicking it as it touches the ground. While drop-kicks are more common in rugby union and rugby league, they hold a unique and rarely used place in American football.

In American football, a drop-kick can be used in two specific situations: for field goals and for extra points. Field goals are scored when the team in possession of the ball kicks it through the opponent’s goal, which consists of two uprights. Extra points are scored after a touchdown, and the team can choose to attempt a one-point kick or a two-point conversion.

To perform a successful drop-kick, the player must have proper timing and technique. As the ball touches the ground, the player must make contact with their foot, propelling it towards the goal. This can be done from different positions on the field, such as from the line of scrimmage or during an open field play.

The drop-kick field goal is worth three points, similar to a place-kick field goal. However, it is rarely utilized in modern American football due to the difficulty and unpredictability of the technique. Consequently, most kickers prefer the place-kick, which offers more stability and control.

In the history of NFL, the drop-kick has made sporadic appearances, often as a surprise tactic or a tribute to football’s roots. It reminds both players and fans that even within the strict regulations of the sport, creativity and innovation can still find a place on the field.

History And Development of Drop-Kick

The drop kick has a long history in American football, dating back to the early days of the sport. It is a kick made by a player who drops the ball and kicks it as, or immediately after, it touches the ground. This technique was once widely used in both Australian rules football and American football but has become quite rare in recent years.

One notable milestone in the history of the drop kick involves the New England Patriots’ Doug Flutie. On January 1, 2006, following a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins, Flutie successfully executed a drop kick, making it the first drop kick in the NFL since 1941. This moment highlighted the technique’s rarity and showcased the skill needed for a successful drop kick.

The decline of the drop kick in American football can be attributed to several factors. First, the sport has evolved over time, placing a greater emphasis on the passing game and less on kicking. Additionally, the shape of the football has changed, making it more challenging to execute a drop kick accurately.

Despite its rarity in contemporary American football, the drop kick remains a legal method to score points in the NFL. The technique can be used for field goals, extra points, and even kickoffs. While it may not be commonly seen in today’s game, the drop kick holds an important place in the history and development of American football.

The drop kick is still used frequently in other sports like rugby union and rugby league, where it serves as a method of restarting play and scoring points. Association football goalkeepers also often use drop kicks to return the ball to play. Although the drop kick is not as prevalent in American football, it remains an interesting relic of the game’s past and a testament to the sport’s evolution.

Drop-Kick in Modern Football


Drop-kicks are rarely used in modern American football, primarily due to their difficulty and low success rate. They have become almost obsolete in the NFL, but are still technically allowed and can be seen occasionally in special situations or when a team wants to surprise its opponent.

Rules and Regulations

In American football, a drop-kick can be used for field goals, extra points, and even for kickoffs. According to the NFL rules, a drop-kick is considered legal when a kicker makes a kick as, or immediately after, a dropped ball hits the ground. This can happen from behind the line of scrimmage or during an open-field play when the risk of the ball being caught is low.


The drop-kick technique involves a player dropping the ball and kicking it as it, or just after it, touches the ground. This is a challenging skill to perform, as it requires precise timing and accuracy. The player must ensure that the ball hits the ground at the right angle and position for a successful kick. Despite its rarity and difficulty, the drop-kick is an interesting and strategic play in American football.

Famous Drop-Kick Moments

Historic Moments

The drop-kick has a rich history in American Football, with its roots dating back to the early days of the sport. One of the most famous drop-kicks in NFL history occurred on January 1, 2006, when Doug Flutie of the New England Patriots successfully executed the first drop-kick since 1941. This remarkable feat took place during a game against the Miami Dolphins, emphasizing the rarity and skill involved in such a play.

Drop-kicks were more common in the early days of football but have since become a rare sight due to changes in the game’s strategy and the specialization of kickers. However, the technique remains a legal maneuver and an exciting element in the NFL’s official rule book.

Notable Players

Doug Flutie is undoubtedly the most famous player associated with drop-kicking in modern football. His 2006 drop-kick during Week 17 against the Dolphins showcased the skill and precision required for such an unusual and challenging play, etching his name in football history.

Other skilled drop-kickers from the past include Paddy Driscoll, who played for the Chicago Cardinals and Chicago Bears in the 1920s, and Earl “Dutch” Clark, one of the major stars in the early days of the Detroit Lions. Both Driscoll and Clark were known for their exceptional drop-kicking abilities, which contributed to their teams’ successes during their respective eras.

In conclusion, the drop-kick remains a rare and captivating element of American Football, with historic moments and notable players that have showcased its unique appeal to fans throughout the years. Despite its infrequent use in contemporary games, the drop-kick continues to be a fascinating and enduring part of the sport’s legacy.

Comparisons: Drop-Kick Vs. Place-Kicking

A drop-kick in American Football is when a player kicks a dropped ball as it hits the ground or as it is in the air bouncing upward after hitting the ground. Drop-kicks are rare in modern football but can be used for field goals or extra points. The technique involves the kicker dropping the ball from their hands, striking the ball immediately after or as it comes into contact with the ground. The primary risk associated with drop-kicking is that a poor drop could cause the ball to bounce in the wrong direction, leading to a failed attempt.

On the other hand, place-kicking is the standard method used for field goals and extra points in American Football. A place kick requires the ball to be held in place by a teammate, usually called the holder. The kicker takes a few steps back and then runs up to strike the ball, aiming it through the goalposts. Some advantages of place-kicking include increased accuracy, consistency, and a more controlled trajectory of the ball, making it a more reliable choice for scoring opportunities.

Let’s compare the two kicking methods using key points:

  • Usage: Drop-kicks are rarely used, while place-kicking is the standard kicking method in American Football.
  • Risk: Drop-kicking carries higher risks due to unpredictable ball behavior, whereas place-kicking provides more control and consistency.
  • Accuracy: Place-kicking is generally considered to be more accurate in comparison to drop-kicking.
  • Difficulty: Drop-kicking is considered harder to execute than place-kicking, as it requires perfect timing and coordination between dropping the ball and striking it.

The different techniques of drop-kicking and place-kicking in American Football each have their unique challenges and advantages. While place-kicking is currently the preferred method for scoring field goals and extra points, the art of drop-kicking still holds a place in the game’s history and can be a fascinating display of skill when carried out successfully.


A drop kick in American football is a rare but legal way to score points, typically occurring during field goal attempts or extra point conversions. The technique involves a player dropping the ball and then kicking it as it touches the ground or during its upward bounce. This type of kick carries inherent risks, as poor execution could result in the ball bouncing in the wrong direction, potentially ruining the kick.

Drop kicks serve as an alternative to the more common placekick used in field goals and extra points. However, mastering the drop kick requires precision and skill, ensuring the kicker accurately positions themselves and delivers the necessary force at the right time.

In summary, the drop kick is an intriguing aspect of American football that showcases the versatility and skill of kickers in the sport. Although rare in contemporary games, drop kicks have secured a place in the rich history and rulebook of American football.