A holder in football is the player responsible for holding the football when the kicker attempts a field goal. Holders typically play another position in addition to their holding responsibilities.
Holding the ball on a kick seems like a fairly easy job but there is a little more that goes into it. Before holding the ball for the field goal the holder is going to have to catch the snap.
On fields goals, the holder is going to be about seven yards back from the line of scrimmage. The snap on these plays is going to come in quite quickly so that the defenders do not have a chance to block the kick.
Additionally, when a ball is snapped to start a play it is a live ball. This means if the offense losses possession of the ball it is going to be a fumble.
If the holder fails to catch the snap then there will be a fumbled ball in the offensive backfield. If the defense recovers the ball they will then gain possession.
The holder also has to be sure to turn the laces away from the kicker when he makes the kick. This is referred to as turning the “laces out”.
When a kicker attempts a field goal he wants to connect with the side of the ball without the laces on it. Kicking the laces on a football is going to affect the kickers ability to score field goals consistently.
This is why holders will catch the ball and spin it so that the laces are facing away from the kicker when he attempts the kick.
Which Positions Do Holders Play?
We stated earlier in the article holders are usually players that play a different position as well. Below we will breakdown the top positions that double as holders for their football team.
One of the positions that often plays the role of the holder on field goals is punter. Punters are chosen to play this role for multiple reasons.
First off they are accustomed to catching passes from the long snapper. Punters catch snaps from the long snapper on punting plays.
The distance they catch these snaps on punts is quite similar to the distance holders are from the line of scrimmage on field goals.
Additionally, punters play on special teams which means it is simply an easier fit for them to play as holders. They spend the majority of practice with the kickers, long snappers, and special teams unit.
This makes it easier for these players to add the role of holder to their responsibilities on the team.
Another common option used for the holder on field goals is the backup quarterback. The backup quarterback spends the majority of the game on the bench which means an extra responsibility in the game is not going to be an issue.
Backup quarterbacks are also a great choice for being a holder if a team wants to work in a trick play. The backup quarterback is usually going to be an accurate thrower of the ball.
If a team wants to use a trick play in which the holder passes the ball this is a great option. Putting the starting quarterback as the holder would let the other team know that a fake is coming.
But if the backup qb always holds the field goals then the opposing team will not see this coming.