What Is A Kicker In American Football

A kicker in football is a special teams position that is responsible for kickoffs as well as field goals. A kickers main job is to kick the ball through the uprights when attempting a field goal.

This is an incredibly high-pressure job as field goals can often being the play that decides a win or loss. Kickers are also known for having incredibly long careers with some playing in the NFL until their 40’s.


Field Goals

Field goals are far and away the most important aspect of being a kicker in the NFL. A successful field goal will result in three points awarded. This is almost half the points of a touchdown.

Not to mention when it comes down to the wire it is the kicker that is often tasked with converting a field goal to win or tie the game.

Extra Points

Extra points are another major responsibility of the kicking position. After each touchdown, a team can decide whether to go for a one or two-point conversion. The vast majority of the time teams choose a one-point conversion.

A one point conversion means the kicker will attempt a 33-yard kick to earn the extra point. For most kickers in the NFL, this is easily completed but a miss can be costly.

A single missed extra point throughout a game can turn the tide and even cost your team the game. To make it in the NFL as a kicker you must be sure to achieve consistency in your extra points.


The final responsibility of the kicking position is kickoffs. Kickoffs start off the game and are used to change the possession after each score.

On a kickoff, the kicker is expected to kick the ball through the endzone for a touchback. This ensures the opposing team starts on their twenty five-yard line. If the kicker fails to kick it through the endzone the other team has a chance at a return.

Though kickoff return touchdowns are unlikely, they still happen each season. Meaning have a quality kickoff can be an important aspect of the kicker position.

Kicker Attributes

Leg Strength

Leg strength is likely the most important factor when it comes to kicking in the NFL. In order to play this position at an elite level, elite leg strength is required.

The distance with which kickers are able to score field goals has slowly been increasing over the years. This paired with the importance of leg strength for kickoff make this an incredibly important attribute.

Good Under Pressure

The ability to perform under pressure is one of the most important factors of being a kicker in the NFL. Kickers likely have the most pressurized position in football and if you are not able to kick well under pressure your mistakes will not go unnoticed.

That being said, if kicking under pressure is a kicker’s strong suit then he will likely have plenty of opportunities to be the hero.


When playing kickoff the kicker will line up in the middle of the formation with an even number of players on either side.

He will typically line up three steps behind the ball so that he can get a short run-up to his kick. Once he waves his hand the rest of the team knows he is about to kick.

On field goals, a kicker will line up two or three steps behind the holder. The holder lines up roughly seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. The kicker will then take a run up and kick the ball once it is in the holder’s hands.


The only real consensus around the build of a kicker is that they tend to have larger legs. Aside from that kickers can come in just about any shape or size. Since their legs are the only part of their body kickers tend to use their upper body is not consistent across the board.

Concluding Thoughts

We hope that this guide has taught you everything you need to know about the kicker position. If you have any more questions about this topic please be sure to reach out and we’ll be happy to answer.

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