What is the Definition of A Tee in American Football?

A tee in American football refers to a small device used to hold the oblong football upright before a kickoff. Additionally, it plays an essential role in the sport when it comes to free kicks and kickoffs. Tees are designed to provide proper support, allowing the kicker to accurately and powerfully kick the ball towards the opposing team.

The evolution and use of the tee in American football can be traced back to the early days of the sport, with notable changes in design and materials over time. Today, tees are made from plastic or rubber materials, with different types and styles available to cater to the varying needs, preferences, and skill levels of football kickers.

Key Takeaways

  • A tee holds the football upright prior to a kickoff or free kick
  • Its primary function is to provide support and accuracy during the kick
  • The design and materials of tees have evolved over time to meet the needs of football kickers.

Understanding the Term ‘Tee’ in American Football

A tee in American Football is a cone-shaped platform that holds the ball in place for kickoffs. These tees elevate the ball off the ground, allowing the kicker to make consistent contact with it during kickoffs, significantly increasing the accuracy and distance of their kicks.

The use of a kicking tee is essential in American Football as it enables the kicker to perform a high-arcing and precise downfield kick. Kicking the ball without a tee could result in inconsistent contact, which may cause the ball to travel in an unintended direction or fail to cover the desired distance.

There have been various types of kicking tees throughout the history of American Football. One popular and widely used tee is the Ground Zero 1 tee, invented by H. Jay Spiegel. This particular kicking tee has been used in every NFL game since the 1999-2000 season, as it provides an optimal hold on the ball, suitable for kickers with various styles.

In summary, a tee in American Football is a valuable piece of equipment that kickers use during kickoffs to ensure consistent contact, accuracy, and distance in their kicks. By using a cone-shaped platform to elevate the ball, kicking tees help maintain the integrity of the game and contribute to its strategic nuances.

Historical Context of the Tee

The tee in American football has a long history, dating back to the early days of the sport. The concept of a tee first emerged in the late 19th century with the invention of the T formation, an offensive formation developed by Walter Camp, often referred to as the “father of American football.” This formation placed the players in a T-shape, allowing for efficient ball movement and strategic play.

In the context of kicking, the tee was initially introduced as a way to hold the ball steady for placekicks. Before the invention of the tee, players had to improvise by using a mound of dirt or even their teammate’s foot to hold the football for a kickoff or field goal attempt. As the game evolved and standardized, various types of tees were developed to ensure consistency and improve accuracy in kicking situations.

One notable example of a kicking tee’s evolution is the Ground Zero 1 tee, invented by H. Jay Spiegel in the early 2000s. This specific tee has been used in every National Football League (NFL) game since the 2000-01 season, demonstrating its impact and importance in the professional sport.

While tees have undergone significant changes over the years, their fundamental purpose remains the same: to provide a stable platform for kickers to launch the football. As the game has evolved, so too has the functionality of tees, with modern designs now catering to the specific preferences and techniques of individual kickers.

It’s crucial to recognize that the history of the tee in American football has not been isolated from the broader development of the sport. As rules and strategies have shifted over time, so too have the tools and equipment that players use – including the humble tee. The continued evolution of the tee is a testament to the drive for innovation and improvement that has characterized American football since its earliest days.

Different Types of Tees in American Football

Kickoff Tee

A kickoff tee is an important tool that’s utilized during the kickoff in American football games. It mainly helps place and support the football in an optimal position for the kicker. There are different types of kickoff tees that are allowed, depending on the level of play:

  • Junior High & High School: Players can use a field goal tee and kickoff tee of up to 2 inches, with 1 and 2 inch tees being the most common choices.
  • College: Field goal tees are prohibited, but players can use a kickoff tee of up to 1 inch.

It’s essential that kickers adapt to the specific tees allowed in their respective levels of competition to maintain compliance with the rules.

Holder Tee

The holder tee is a supportive device used for field goal attempts and extra-point kicks in American football. This type of tee is designed to stabilize the football while a holder places the ball at a precise angle and position for the kicker to attempt a successful kick. Compared to kickoff tees, the use of holder tees in games is more dependent on the rules of the specific competition or league. However, using a holder tee or similar tool can be beneficial during practice, as it allows kickers to work on their technique and accuracy without the need for a dedicated holder at all times.

In summary, kickoff tees and holder tees serve different purposes in American football. The former is used during kickoffs to provide an optimal ball position for better trajectory and distance, while the latter helps support a football during field goal attempts and extra points, allowing for accurate kicks.

Roles and Functions of a Tee in American Football


In American Football, a tee is a crucial piece of equipment used during kickoffs. It serves to support and elevate the football, allowing the kicker to make consistent contact and achieve maximum distance on their kicks. Kickoff tees generally come in different heights ranging from 1 inch to 2-inch elevations, with many being adjustable to suit the preferences of individual kickers.

Field Goal or Extra Point

Tees are also utilized for field goals and extra points in high school and lower levels of play. However, at college and professional levels, kickers use a specialized holder instead of a tee for field goals and extra points. The holder, typically a backup quarterback or punter, positions the ball vertically with the laces facing outward, while balancing it with one finger to provide a stable platform for the kicker to strike the ball accurately. The main purpose of a tee or holder in these situations is to ensure proper alignment and elevation, allowing the kicker to convert these critical scoring plays with increased precision.

How a Tee is Used

A tee in American football serves as a support tool for the ball during kickoffs. Made from rubber or plastic, the tee allows the kicker to accurately aim and generate power in their kicks. Its primary function is to elevate and stabilize the football.

Players can use a kicking tee of various heights depending on the level of competition. In junior high and high school games, athletes can utilize field goal tees and kickoff tees of up to 2 inches in height. The most common tees for this age group are 1 and 2-inch varieties.

In college football, the use of field goal tees is prohibited. However, kickers can still employ a kickoff tee with a maximum height of 1 inch.

Throughout the years, several designs have been developed and approved for use in American football leagues, such as the NFL. The Ground Zero 1 tee, for example, was invented by a Cornell alum and implemented in the league during the 2000-2001 regular season.

Quality football tees are sturdy and heavy, making them suitable for professional and recreational use. Champion Sports Football Tee is an example of a well-regarded option for serious footballers looking for game play quality.

In summary, a tee is an essential piece of equipment used in American football to enhance the player’s performance during kickoffs. Different levels of competition have varying regulations on the types of tees allowed, and various designs have been developed for optimal gameplay.

Understanding Tee Regulations in American Football

A tee in American Football is a small device used to elevate the ball off the ground during kickoffs and field goal attempts. This device plays a crucial role in gameplay, providing kickers with a consistent surface to make clean contact with the ball.

The NFL has specific regulations in place to ensure that tees used in the league are consistent and fair for all teams. According to the official NFL rulebook, tees used during kickoffs must be approved by the league and cannot exceed one inch in height. This ensures that kickers cannot gain an unfair advantage by using taller tees, which could enable them to generate more distance or height on their kicks.

Additionally, once the ball has been placed on the kicking tee, it cannot be moved. If the ball falls off the tee or the tee itself is moved, the officials must stop play and restart the timing process. This rule exists to maintain the integrity of the game, as moving the tee could result in changes to the launch angle, trajectory, or spin of the ball.

In contrast to the NFL, college football allows tees to be up to two inches in height for kickoffs. This difference in regulation provides a slightly easier transition for college kickers, who often use a higher tee during high school play.

It is important to note that tees are not used for all kicking plays in football. In the NFL, for instance, placekicks during extra point attempts and field goals must be executed without a tee. Instead, the ball is held by a holder, typically a backup quarterback or punter, who places the ball on the ground with one end resting on the field and the other pointing upwards.

In summary, understanding tee regulations is an essential aspect of American Football for both fans and players. Ensuring that all teams adhere to these regulations maintains the competitive balance and integrity of the sport, while allowing athletes to showcase their skills under fair and equal conditions.

Changes and Evolution of the Tee Over Time

The tee in American football has evolved significantly throughout the history of the sport. Initially, players used a mound of sand or dirt to elevate the ball for kickoffs and field goals. This makeshift solution was not ideal, as it was subject to weather conditions and field quality.

In the early 20th century, rubber tees were introduced to provide a reliable and stable platform for kickers. These early tees consisted of a small rubber block with a slightly concave top, which held the ball in place. As time went on, the design of the rubber tee improved to accommodate different types of kicks and provide a better grip on the ball. Some tees now feature teeth-like indentations, which help keep the ball secure during a kickoff.

A significant change in the design of the tee came with the introduction of the “Ground Zero” tee, developed by football coach Pete Gagliardi. This tee has a thinner platform and a wider base, promoting better ball trajectory and enabling the kicker to get under the ball more effectively.

The changes in tee design over time have been driven in part by rule changes in American football. For instance, in 1974, the NFL moved the goalposts from the front of the end zone to the back, making field goals more challenging and prompting kickers to adopt more specialized tees. The evolution of tees has also paralleled the development of football cleats, helmets, and other equipment, as technology and materials have improved, allowing for better performance and safety on the field.

Today, there is a wide variety of football tees available, catering to the needs of kickers of all skill levels and preferences. Some tees are adjustable, allowing players to tailor the angle and height of the ball for optimal kicking performance. Ultimately, the evolution of the tee in American football reflects the sport’s ongoing pursuit of innovation and excellence in every aspect of the game.