the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, April 26, 2013

Canadian Kicking, part 1

by guest blogger Eddie Johnson

editor's note:  We asked the question, "What should the rest of the world know about kicking in Canada?" The following response comes from punter Eddie Johnson - who was born in Newport Beach California, played college ball at Idaho State, and was with several NFL teams between 2003 and 2008. 

So what does that have to do with Canada? More recently he played in the CFL - with the Toronto Argonauts in 2009 and with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2010 & 2011.

First off... it's different than the NFL. The rules and size of the field, require the punter/kicker to have to develop a different strategy for success.

The main rules that change the punting strategy:

Rule - 5 yard halo rule for the punt cover team around the returner.

This is a 15 yard penalty if the cover team breaks it. So hitting the NFL hang-time ball around 40-45 yards just doesn't fly. Because then the cover team has difficulty not entering the invisible halo if you do.

So... it's far better to hit more of a line drive punt and even sometimes hitting a low liner on the ground to get it to roll first (if it hits the ground and the returner grabs it it's only a 5 yard penalty if the halo is broken). Because that now gives your cover team a chance to be successful. I had a few too many hang-time balls last season and it KILLED our net. No bueno.

sidenote: This style of punting goes against what most punters are taught to do. But one has to conform to their environment.

Rule - If you hit the ball out of bounds on the fly between the 35 yard lines it's a 15 yard penalty or the opposing team has the option to back you up 10 yards and punt over. 

Ok, the fields are wiiiiidde in the Great White North.. so this is where it gets good. Now not only can you not freeze a returner with hang-time, or kick the ball out of bounds, but you have to be able do so while still punting directionally. So, it's imperative that you get the ball far enough and close enough to the sideline (without getting it out), because if you don't, NOW the returner has way more field to bring it back with if you don't... lol. Good times. Add in the windiness of some stadiums up there, and this can be very challenging.

Rule - Punting for points or "singles"

Ok... this is wacky. But kinda cool because it gives you an opportunity to possibly win a game as a punter... go figure. If you punt or kick a ball into the endzone and it doesn't get returned... that's a point. That being said, you are trading off field position for that point tho... because the other team can get the ball on their 35 yard line if you do. So most of the time it's far better to try and coffin corner the ball out of bounds within the 20 yard line to goal-line. I know... stay with me.

Rule - The punter is "onside"... so basically if you punt the ball down the field and the returner hasn't gotten his hands on it... you can run down the field and jump on it and recover the ball. Bananas. I almost tore my knee doing this last season.. not cool. But if you don't do it.. you're not Charlie Sheen... you're NOT winning. Be a winner


Rule- If you can hammer the ball out of the back of the endzone (95 yard kick...75 yards just to the goal-line) then the opposing team gets the ball on their 20 yard line, which is great field position for your team. If the ball stays in the endzone, then that's a point and the ball on the 35 yard line.

So if you can, knock the dust off it.

Field Goals

Basically, if need be, you can use training wheels in Canada. Meaning, you can kick off a one-inch tee. I rocked it. Why wouldn't ya... but I do know that some kickers prefer off the ground because they feel it gives them more control. I concur, but I like the casualness of a one-inch tee.

Also, same rule applies for the point. If you miss and it goes in the endzone and isn't returned... boom! point.

You can also kick the ball out of bounds within the 20s for field position as well. So you can obviously get more of a consolation prize every time you kick. Which is nice. There's always an opportunity to help the team. Good stuff.

I may or may not have let some stuff out... but as you can see... kicking in the CFL is actually kinda fun. It keep you on your toes. Every situation is unique depending on the factors at hand and because of the high turnover of possession due to the three downs of play, as a punter and kicker, you get on the field ALOT. And I don't know about you... but I like to play. So I dig that about the CFL. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He didn't mention those kick-it-in/kick-it-out situations where the kicker has the opportunity to kick the ball more than once ON THE SAME PLAY. I guess he never got the opportunity.

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