The field goal target line in football refers to the location the offense needs to get to in order for their kicker to have a realistic shot at scoring a field goal.
It is important to remember where this line on the field is, is not where the kicker will kick the ball from. The field goal target line refers to where the line of scrimmage needs to be in order for the kicker to be in range of a field goal.
How Is The Field Goal Target Line Determined
The first thing you must know about the field goal target line is that it takes each kickers ability into account. When you see this line appear on your television they have calculated the kicker’s personal field goal range.
This is done by looking at the kicker’s history. Say a kicker has had a career-long field goal of fifty yards. This means the target field goal line will be based on this distance.
In other words, the target field goal line is based on the longest successful field goal from that kicker.
But since the target field goal line is not going to be the place in which the kicker actually kicks the ball from there is still some more work to do to calculate the target line.
After all when a kicker scores a fifty-yard field goal, they did not kick it from the fifty-yard line.
Instead, you must take into account where the uprights sit in the endzone and how far back from the line of scrimmage the kicker sets up.
The uprights in the NFL are always at the back of the endzone. The endzone is ten yards deep meaning this moves the target line ten yards closer.
When a kicker and holder set up to take his kick he will do so seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. This means the difference between the field goal target line and their longest field goal will be seventeen yards.
Essentially a fifty-yard field goal would take place when the line of scrimmage is at the thirty-three yard line. Because 33 + 17 = 50
How to calculate field goal distance
Now that you know how to calculate the field goal target line, you can calculate field goal distance.
To calculate field goal distance add seventeen yards to the location of the line of scrimmage.
So a field goal from the thirty yard line would be a fourty seven yard field goal
A kick from the fourty would be a fifty seven yard field etc…
Who Has The Longest Field Goal Target Range
Now that you know each kicker has their own field goal target range you may be wondering who has the largest.
The owner of the longest field goal target range in the NFL is Matt Prater. Prater scored the longest kick in NFL history with a sixty four yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans.
A sixty-four yard field goal puts his target range at the fourty seven yard line. That being said Prater is 36 as of writing this article meaning he may not have the power he did when he scored the field goal back in 2013.
When Does It Show Up?
When watching NFL games you will notice that the field goal line does not show up on every drive. The reason for this is because the broadcast is only shown it when a field goal is very likely to occur.
The main times in which this line will be broadcasted occurs at the end of the first half and the end of the game.
As time starts to expire teams often must rush down the field in hopes of scoring a field goal. During this “two minute drill” the teams will work their way up the field towards the target line.
Since the broadcaster knows this is what they are trying to achieve, this is when they will display it on your television.
What Is The Purpose
The purpose behind the target line is to allow the audience a better understanding what is happening on the field.
First off most fans are not aware how far their kicker can kick a field goal. This field goal line is a reminder of the furthest your kicker has successfully completed one in the past.
This allows the fans to understand exactly how far they have to advance the ball in order to have a chance at three points.
Additionally, not all fans are aware of the time constraints and the fact that the team may only be going for a field goal.
Seeing this line lets fans know what the goal of the offense is for these next few plays. Having this line displayed is a clear indicator of exactly what they should be hoping for, making it easy for even brand new football fans to cheer on their team.