What is the Definition of Kicker in American Football?

The kicker in American football plays a vital role on the special teams, responsible for executing kickoffs and attempting field goals. While often overlooked by spectators, kickers can make or break a game with their precision and skill. A good kicker must possess a strong leg, nerves of steel, and be able to perform under extreme pressure, as field goals can often determine the outcome of a game.

Given the significance of scoring in American football, kickers must be well-versed in various techniques and strategies to ensure they place the ball accurately between the uprights. This requires immense focus, strength, and a keen understanding of both their own abilities and the conditions of the field.

Throughout the history of American football, there have been many notable kickers who have made their mark on the sport, setting records and milestones that exemplify their contributions to the game. Their impact serves as a reminder of the importance and challenges that come with being a kicker in the highly competitive world of professional football.

Key Takeaways

  • The kicker plays an essential, but often overlooked, role in American football
  • Successful kicking requires precision, skill, and the ability to perform under pressure
  • Kickers have made a lasting impact on the sport, setting records and achieving milestones.

Kicker Role in American Football


In American football, the kicker plays an essential role in scoring points for their team. One of the main responsibilities of a kicker is placekicking, which involves kicking field goals and extra points. Field goals are attempted during critical situations, often deciding the outcome of a game. The kicker must be accurate and have a strong lower body to successfully send the ball through the uprights. Typically, the ball is held in place by a holder, and the kicker must focus on accuracy and power to successfully score points.


Another crucial aspect of a kicker’s role is performing kickoffs at the beginning of each half and following a team’s scoring play. During kickoffs, the ball is placed on a tee at the 35-yard line (for both the NCAA and NFL) and kicked to the opposing team. The aim is to send the ball deep enough into the opponent’s territory to make it difficult for them to establish a good starting field position. A kicker’s ability to generate distance and hang-time on their kickoffs is vital for their team’s overall success.

Kicker Technique and Skills


A key skill for a kicker in American football is accuracy. It’s essential to have the ability to accurately place the ball through the uprights when attempting field goals or kicking off. This demands both physical precision and mental focus during high-pressure situations. Several factors can influence a kicker’s accuracy, such as the angle of approach, foot positioning, and the point of contact with the football.


Another significant aspect of a kicker’s skill set is their range. In order to be successful, kickers must possess the lower body strength needed to kick long distances. Range becomes especially crucial during field goal attempts when the team is further away from the end zone. A kicker’s range varies depending on their leg strength, technique, and weather conditions. Ideally, kickers should have a comfortable range of at least 50 yards, with the ability to convert longer attempts in ideal conditions.


Lastly, consistency is vital for kickers in American football. Not only must they consistently perform at a high level during each game, but they must also be able to maintain this performance throughout the season. A kicker’s consistency can be influenced by their level of mental focus, their ability to handle external factors such as weather and field conditions, and their dedication to refining and mastering their techniques during practice. Consistent kickers are a valuable asset to a team, as they provide an essential source of points and increase the likelihood of success in close games.

Significance of a Good Kicker


A good kicker in American football is essential for scoring points through field goals and extra points. They play a crucial role in determining the outcome of a game, as successful field goals can result in three points, and extra points can add a single point to the team’s score after a touchdown. Generally, NFL kickers are expected to make about 80 percent of their field goal attempts and 90 percent of their extra point attempts. This highlights the pressure on kickers to perform accurately, especially in close games where a single point can make all the difference.

Field Position

In addition to scoring, kickers also significantly impact field position through punting. When an offensive drive stalls, and the team needs to change possession, the kicker, acting as the punter, lines up behind the long snapper to receive the ball. After a couple of steps, they punt the ball away toward the opposing team’s side of the field. Depending on the distance and accuracy of the punt, the opposing team’s starting field position can be greatly affected.

A good punter can pin opposing teams deep in their own territory, making it more difficult for them to mount an offensive drive and increasing the likelihood of a defensive stop. This aspect of a kicker’s role is often overlooked, but it plays a significant part in the overall strategy of a game. Precise punting and effective kickoffs can limit opponents’ opportunities for big returns and maintain favorable field position for the kicking team.

Famous Kickers

In American Football, the role of the kicker is crucial for scoring points and determining field position. There have been some exceptional kickers in NFL history who left a lasting impact on the game. Here are a few notable kickers that stand out among the rest.

Justin Tucker is widely considered the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Playing for the Baltimore Ravens, he holds the record for the highest field goal accuracy rate and has made several game-winning kicks in high-pressure situations.

Adam Vinatieri is a four-time Super Bowl champion and one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history. He played a significant role in the New England Patriots dynasty and later joined the Indianapolis Colts. Vinatieri holds multiple records, including most points scored and most field goals made.

Morten Andersen, also known as the “Great Dane,” is a Hall of Fame kicker who played 25 seasons in the NFL. With a long and consistent career, Andersen set records for most games played and most points scored at the time of his retirement.

Gary Anderson was a reliable kicker who spent 23 seasons in the NFL. He became the first kicker to have a perfect regular season, making all 35 of his field goal attempts and all 59 extra point attempts in 1998.

Matt Stover made a name for himself with the Baltimore Ravens and was a key contributor to their Super Bowl XXXV victory. Known for his consistency and accuracy, Stover had an impressive career success rate of 83.7 percent for field goals and 99.5 percent for extra points.

These famous kickers have demonstrated exceptional skill and precision, cementing their legacies in the annals of NFL history. Their performances have inspired generations of aspiring kickers and have set the standard for excellence in the position.

Kicker Records and Milestones

The role of a kicker in American Football is vital as their performance can often decide the outcome of a game. They are responsible for kickoffs, field goals, and extra points. Throughout the history of the NFL, several kickers have achieved remarkable records and milestones, showcasing their talent and skill in pressure situations.

One notable achievement is held by Morten Andersen, who has scored the most points in NFL history, totaling 2,544 points over his career. Andersen also holds the record for the most field goals made, with 565 successful kicks.

Another impressive record is held by Adam Vinatieri, who has the most consecutive field goals made, with a streak of 44 successful attempts. Vinatieri also holds the record for the most career game-winning field goals, having made 29, and is tied for the longest field goal in NFL history at 64 yards.

In the category of kickoff return touchdowns, Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington share the record with eight touchdowns each. Both of these talented athletes showcased their dynamic ability to change the course of a game with extraordinary kickoff returns.

NFL kickers have also showcased their precision in extra-point attempts. Stephen Gostkowski holds the record for the most consecutive extra points made with 479, providing crucial support to his team’s offensive success.

Several kickers have made their mark in postseason play as well. Adam Vinatieri is widely considered one of the most clutch kickers in playoff history, as he’s nailed game-winning field goals in two separate Super Bowls (XXXVI and XXXVIII), firmly establishing his legacy.

While these records and milestones demonstrate the individual prowess of particular kickers, it’s important to remember that their success is also due to the support of their teammates. From the long snapper to the holder to the blockers, each component of a successful kicking play must function flawlessly for these kickers to achieve such impressive records and milestones.