I Kick a Touchdown

Wide Left: Study Shows that Holders Play Key Role in Field Goal Accuracy

Using the model, the researchers found that if the ball is leaning to the left or right, it will affect the trajectory of the football. And the more it leans, the more pronounced the effect, which is the result of complex interactions between the rotational motion and aerodynamic forces acting on the football.

“For example,” Mazzoleni says, “if the ball is tilted 20 degrees to the left for a 45 yard field goal attempt, it will sail up to 3.5 feet to the left before hooking back to the right.” And any football fan can tell you that 3.5 feet can be the difference between winning and losing. (Just ask the University of Nebraska.)

The paper’s abstract indicates they checked with real results

A case study was performed for which experimental data were available, showing the trends of the flight of the ball captured in our simulations in actual game situations.

The title is a quote attributed to Garo Yepremian, a pretty good kicker who played for several teams from ’66 to’81, including the ’72 Dolphins. Sorry, Garo, the holder is blameless for that horrible decision to try and pass the ball in Super Bowl VII.

4 thoughts on “I Kick a Touchdown

  1. I just hope nobody asked the 2005 Minnesota Vikings team about how they like their balls to be held!

  2. I’m surprised there’s as much slack in the hold angle as described (20 degrees only makes a three foot difference? no way) – holder (and long snapper) are in practice much more precise than that, and kickers more finicky – and they still miss, by more than three feet (they are aiming for the dead center, usually).

    Soccer style kickers (the great majority these days) usually have the ball leaned a bit for them – the exact same bit, every time. The study didn’t specify the style of kicker – it varies by kicker considerably.

    The “I am going to keek a touchdown” quote I only heard of from Alex Karras, parodying the football knowledge of then-new soccer style kickers he despised. Did Garo actually say that?

  3. Garo was the kicker for the Lions to whom Karras was referring. But you have a point, it’s an attribution, not a direct quote. I changed the wording to “attributed to” in the post

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