Icing the kicker in football refers to the action of calling a timeout right before the opposing teams kicker attempts a field goal. The purpose of calling this timeout is to throw the kicker off his game by giving him more time to feel the pressure of making the kick.
When icing the kicker you can call the time out a few seconds before the kick is attempted or just a fraction of a second before the ball is snapped.
Calling the timeout earlier means the kicker will not get a chance to hit the ball. Calling the timeout right before the snap usually means the kicking team is able to get the kick off.
Since a timeout has been called the kick will not count. If the kicker missed the field goal or had it blocked the decision to ice the kicker will have backfired as they will have a second chance to make the field goal.
Does Icing the Kicker Actually Work?
The purpose behind icing the kicker is to increase the chance that they miss the field goal, but does this strategy actually work?
A study done by sharpfootballanalysis.com compared the successful percentage of kicks when a kicker is iced. This number was measured against non-iced kicks to determine if it made a difference.
In order to measure these kicks properly, the folks at Sharp Football Analysis measured only kicks that took place in the final three minutes of a half(this is when the vast majority of icings take place).
Over the last four years, they found that icing the kicker affected the field goal percentage by 12.8 per cent. This is not a perfect science as you must also take into account the distance and weather that took place in these situations.
That all being said this is a very interesting study and can be seen in full by clicking the link here.
Who was the first to ice a kicker?
The original coach calling a timeout in order to ice the kicker is not something that has been documented. But the first coach to make this tactic popularized in the NFL was Mike Shanahan.
Shanahan popularized this strategy when icing the Raiders kicker Sebastion Janikowski.
At the time Shanahan was a coach of the Denver Broncos and the Raiders had a field goal opportunity to win the game.
Shanahan approached the official on the sideline and told him he was going to call a timeout at some point before the kick was attempted.
Shanahan then waited for the kick Janikowski to call for the snap and then immediately call the timeout. This timeout was taken so close to the snap that the field goal unit did not know it had been called.
They attempted the kick and scored yet due to the timeout the kick did not count. The Raiders then lined up the kick again and this time it went off the upright and out giving the Broncos the win.
Immediately following this successful icing the kicker several other head coaches around college and NFL football began to use this tactic. To this day icing the kicker has remained a fairly popular strategy among coaches looking to get a competitive edge.