Video: Florida team pulls off INSANE 99-yard touchdown
See what can happen with a bad snap - sometimes it's amazing.
Have you had that dreaded bad snap yet? You know the one. Things aren't going well already. One of those nights. And then you have to punt again. And you're on the 14 coming out of your own end zone. And then it happens: bad snap!
Or, it's a tight game. Every possession is so critical. Tied 28-28 with 6:30 to go. fourth and 8 from your own 38. Gotta punt. And the snap hits the ground 2 yards in front of the punter, then skips off his shins.
Years ago, when we faced one of these moments, I was so ticked at my long snapper. I chewed in to him a bit. And I chewed in to my punter a bit for simply falling on it, when he had time to pick it up and get rid of it. He said something to me that I'll never forget, and was the basis for this drill that I've used ever since.
"Coach, I've never practiced that before, I don't even know if I could do it."
I was making a coaching mistake by asking a kid to do something that he's never done before. And I preached to the kids that we wouldn't ask them to do something in a game that we had not practiced before. See photos below for a little guidance.Step 1 –
Get a football or two.Step 2 –
Get on a line to do this drill. Either a sideline or a yard line. You've got to do this drill on a line so that the punter will focus on getting back on his path. I've run the shield punt since 2002; for us it is critical to stay very straight behind the center. If the snap takes you off center, you must get back on that line as quickly as possible. It is like this for most punt formations. Step 3 –
The coach lines up about 8 or 9 yards away from the punter. The coach lines up on the same line that the punter is on.Step 4 –
The coach simulates the snap by "underhand snapping" the ball toward the punter. This means that you are throwing the ball from your hip, with a spiral, to simulate the snap. A coach once asked why I don't simply snap the ball poorly toward the punter for this drill. The reason is that I really want to be able to see him clearly, to help direct him, teach him, etc. Step 5 –
Snap the ball about 30 times per day with this drill. This year, my kicker just kicks. He is a soccer player who was recruited by our head coach right from his history class after our head coach watched him do corner kicks in soccer. So, he has no other positional responsibilities during practice. That is a great thing for me as the special teams coordinator. We can work on whatever I deem necessary during practice. Step 6 –
Direct the snaps all over the place. You just never know where that ball might come out. So, I will snap it directly to him, just where we want the snap. I'll snap it high, low, to the left, to the right, into the ground, and on and on. I try to never snap the ball to the same place two times in a row.
Sure enough, we had a bad snap on just the third punt of this rookie's football career. And he did a dynamite job. He got the kick off, and was then wiped out by the opponent.
Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.