A long snapper in football is a special teams position that is responsible for snapping the ball on field goals and punts. A long snapper only plays a few snaps a game and is the lowest paid position in football.
Long snapping is of course the biggest responsibility of the position. On both field goals and punts a long snapper comes onto the field in order to snap the ball.
The reason the center does not complete this snapping duty as well is because this job is much harder than it looks.
In order to effectively snap the ball this distance in the NFL you need to have good speed. The difference between a successful field goal and a blocked one is a matter of milliseconds.
Additionally snapping the ball accurately is key. If an errant snap occurs on a field goal or punt it can be costly. Since there are few players in the backfield it is common for errant snaps to become turnovers.
Punt Return Tackling And Blocking
Another small responsibility of the long snapper is tackling and blocking on punt returns. After snapping the ball the long snapper will block for a few seconds until the ball is punted.
Once this happens the punter will run down the field in order to tackle the punt returner. The long snapper is not typically the player that gets the tackle. Though every once and a while a long snapper will contribute with a tackle.
Long Snapper Attributes
Consistency is the most important attribute that a long snapper can have. Though speed is important the biggest factor in a successful snap is getting the ball into the hands of the holder or punter.
In order to keep your job at this position, long snappers must avoid mistakes and consistently snap the ball in the same area each time they step on the field.
Arm strength is another important factor in becoming a long snapper. As we stated earlier it is important that the ball is snapped with good speed so that the play can be completed quickly.
Often times when scouting, a long snapper will be timed to determine how fast he can snap the ball back to the holder or punter. A quick long snapping time can earn you a spot on an NFL roster.
The positioning of a long snapper is incredibly simple. On the few plays that a long snapper is on the field, he will set up in the middle of the formation. The long snapper will take his position wherever the referee sets the ball and the rest of the formation will form around him.
Long snappers tend to have a larger build as they are still responsible for tackling NFL punt returners on some occasions. That being said this position is known for being one of the least athletic on the team.
Most long snappers will look burly but not noticeably large or muscular enough for you to assume they are a professional athlete.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide to understanding long snappers in football. If you have any more questions about the position please reach out to us. We would be happy to answer any more questions you may have.