What is the Definition of a Holder in American Football?

In American football, every point matters, and the role of the holder is crucial in securing those points through field goals and extra points. The holder is a player on the special teams responsible for keeping the ball in position for the kicker during field goal attempts or extra points. In high-pressure moments, the holder’s skill and precision are essential in setting up the kicker to seal a victory for the team.

The holder receives the snap from the long snapper, typically positioned seven yards behind the line-of-scrimmage. Upon receiving the snap, they kneel down on the ground and carefully place the ball on the field with one hand, providing stability for the kicker to make an accurate kick. Although the primary function of the holder may seem simple, the position demands concentration, consistency, and the ability to execute under pressure.

Key Takeaways

  • The holder is a vital component in a football team’s scoring strategy.
  • Precision and stability play key roles in the success of a holder’s execution.
  • Holders must remain consistent and maintain good performance under pressure.

Basic Definitions


The holder in American Football is a crucial member of the special teams and plays a significant role during field goal or extra point attempts. They are responsible for receiving the snap from the long snapper and holding the ball in place for the placekicker. The holder must have soft hands, be consistent in placement, and quickly place the football, providing a stable base for the kick.


The placekicker is another important player on special teams, tasked with kicking field goals and extra points. Their role is vital for adding points to the scoreboard during tight games or securing a win in the final moments. A placekicker must have strong leg power, accuracy, and the ability to handle high-pressure situations.

Long Snapper

The long snapper is a specialized player in American Football, specifically trained to deliver the ball swiftly and accurately to the holder during field goal and extra point attempts. Long snappers are usually also a part of the offensive line, with snapping abilities being their primary skill. Precision, speed, and consistency are essential traits of a successful long snapper.

Roles and Responsibilities

Preparing for the Kick

Before a field goal or extra point attempt, the holder will study the kicker’s preferences and align themselves with the snapper and the kicker. It is crucial for the holder to be aware of the kicker’s preferred angle, direction, and any specific requirements they may have to ensure a successful kick.

Receiving the Snap

During the snap, the holder’s main focus is on catching the ball cleanly from the long snapper. This requires concentration and hand-eye coordination, as an improper catch can negatively affect the kicker’s attempt. The holder maintains a firm grip on the ball while preparing for the next stage.

Holding and Spotting

Once they have caught the snap, the holder’s responsibility is to place the ball accurately on the ground and angle it according to the kicker’s preference. In addition to properly aligning the ball, the holder must ensure the laces face outward for better contact with the kicker’s foot. During this process, the holder will quickly secure the ball with one or both hands while maintaining the kicker’s desired angle and position.

Throughout these stages, the holder’s role is crucial for a successful kick. Accuracy, speed, and consistency in performing their duties contribute significantly to the success of the kicker’s field goal or extra point attempts.

Skills and Techniques

Hand-Eye Coordination

A holder in American Football must have excellent hand-eye coordination to successfully handle the incoming snap and place the ball perfectly for the kicker. This skill becomes even more essential when considering the limited time available during field goal attempts.


The role of a holder also requires agility. When the ball is snapped, the holder needs to efficiently catch and rotate the ball, correctly placing it on the ground with the ideal angle for the kicker. Moreover, the holder should be prepared for any mishandled snaps, using their agility to quickly adapt to unexpected situations.


In the holder’s role, communication plays a crucial part. The holder must be in sync with both the long snapper and the kicker, ensuring that each play runs smoothly. Clear communication becomes especially crucial when the kicker is attempting field goals or extra points during high-pressure moments. Being able to effectively relay instructions and maintain a composed demeanor can make a significant difference in the success of these crucial plays.

Famous Holders

While it’s challenging to determine the best holders in the history of American football, several players have excelled in this essential yet often overlooked position. Many of these successful holders are punters, backup quarterbacks, or wide receivers.

Steve Weatherford is one notable holder who played as a punter for several NFL teams, including the New York Giants, where he helped the team win Super Bowl XLVI. Weatherford’s career spanned over ten years. His ability to consistently place the ball accurately for kickers played an essential role in numerous critical game moments.

Kellen Clemens, a former backup quarterback of the New York Jets, was another skilled holder. Kellen’s experience as a quarterback made him a reliable holder during his NFL career. Clemens’ quick hands and concentration helped his teams capitalize on field goal attempts.

Additionally, Brian Moorman, a two-time Pro Bowl punter who spent most of his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills, was a reliable holder. Moorman’s keen hand-eye coordination and experience with handling the ball made him an excellent choice in this role throughout his career.

Other notable holders include Donnie Jones and Sam Koch. Both of these punters have held for critical field goals and extra points throughout their careers, helping secure victories for their respective teams. Their skills in performing this task are often praised by their teammates and coaches.

In conclusion, the holder position may not receive the same level of attention as other roles in American football. However, these players exemplify the importance of a skilled and dependable holder in a successful special teams unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

A holder in American Football is a crucial player on the special teams, responsible for holding the ball in place for a kicker during field goal or extra-point attempts. They kneel down on the ground, receive a snap from the long snapper, and carefully hold the ball for the kicker to kick.

Some common questions about the holder position include:

  1. What skills are required for a holder?
    A holder should have soft hands, consistency in placement, quick placement of the football, and an ability to rotate the football so the laces face away from the kicker.
  2. What body type is needed for a holder?
    There is no specific body type required for a holder. In fact, many NFL teams utilize their punter as the holder.
  3. How far behind the line of scrimmage is the holder positioned?
    Generally, the holder is set on one knee seven to eight yards behind the line of scrimmage.
  4. Do holders play other positions?
    Yes, holders typically play another position in addition to their holding responsibilities. As mentioned earlier, punters often serve as holders in professional leagues.

Remember that the role of a holder in football may seem simple, but it requires precision, focus, and excellent coordination with the long snapper and placekicker to execute a successful field goal or extra point attempt.