A pooch punt in football refers to a punt that is intentionally kicked with reduced power in order to make it more difficult to return. These pooch punts will not travel the typical punt distance, but they will utilize hang time, the sideline, or the reduced distance to make the returners job as hard as possible.
Pros And Cons Of Pooch Punts
To develop a better understanding of pooch punts we are going to break down some of their pros and cons. This should give you a better understanding of when and why these punts are used.
Limiting The Punt Returner
One of the biggest benefits of the pooch punt is that you are going to limit the punt returners’ ability to return the ball.
These punts are specifically done for this purpose and are quite effective at doing so. By taking fifteen or twenty yards distance off the punts it is going to take a lot less time for your teammates to get there.
This often results in the punt returner being entirely surrounded by the opposing team prior to even catching the ball. In these situations, the punt returner is often forced to call a fair catch.
Downing The Ball Inside The Twenty
Another benefit of pooch punts is your chances of downing the ball inside the opponents twenty-yard line. Of course, this is only true if you are already close to the opponent’s end zone but since this is where pooch punts are typically used we’ll count this as a pro.
On pooch punts, if one of your teammates grabs the ball before it goes into the endzone for a touchback the opponents must start from that position. This makes the recovery of a ball inside the twenty a very beneficial play.
Since these punts travel a shorter distance and are often in the air for just as long they offer an increased chance of recovering by your team.
The only real downside to a pooch punt is that you are going to be sacrificing some field position even if the returner doesn’t gain any yards.
This is simply because a pooch punt is going to travel a shorter distance than a regular punt. This is why a pooch punt is not going to be used very often. Unless you are near the opposing team’s endzone.
When To Use A Pooch Punt
Know that you know the pros and cons of pooch punts it’s time to see an example. Pooch punts are not used too often in the NFL which is why the examples will be fairly specific.
Closing Out The Game
One situation in which you would use a pooch punt is when closing out the game. Say your team has the ball at midfield it’s fourth down and there are fifteen seconds left on the clock.
You could punt the ball full power and that will likely have the returner catching it around his ten-yard line. But punt returns are one of those plays that can turn into a touchdown quickly. And 90-yard punt returns aren’t unheard of.
In this scenario, you may want to try a pooch punt. This punt will get the ball within the opponent’s twenty-yard line but will have a much lower risk of return.
Since the punt will take a few seconds off the clock it is well worth it to give up the ten or so yards of field position in order to lower the risk of a punt return touchdown.
I hope our guide to pooch punts in football has taught you everything you needed to know. If you are looking to learn more about punting in football our site has tons of great content.