Laces Out

First off I want to say this post is not to call out the Minnesota Vikings specialist. I wrote this to educate the football fan about longsnapping and what all goes into a field goal attempt. (And to plug I have had my fair share of laces issues and been part of the problem on missed kicks. Just ask all the holders and kickers I have played with.

Many people have asked, “Is it possible to snap a ball and consistently get the laces facing forward?” The simple answer is yes. As an NFL snapper you are asked to be precise not only with your placement of the ball on field goal snaps but you are asked to have the laces facing forward when the holder catches the ball.

Is this going to be 100%? NO.

But if you do “miss” it is best if the laces are facing the holder so he can see the laces when he catches the ball and can spin the ball into proper position. Kickers do not like to see laces or do not like to see a ball spun while approaching the ball for the kick.

Snappers are only a small part to a field goal.

There are three components to a successful kick: SNAP, HOLD, KICK.

The kicker has the hardest job by far, then the Longsnapper, and then the holder (depending on how good the Longsnapper is).

A successful kick starts with a perfect snap. It should be about 1 ½ feet above the kickers spot, which is pointed out to the holder by the kicker when they run out onto the field and lineup for the kick. The Longsnapper must snap a catchable ball, trying to get the laces facing forward. When the ball is snapped to the correct spot the holder will catch the snap and place the ball on the spot picked out by the kicker.

Now comes the hard part of the hold. Depending on the wind and preference of the kicker the holder must lean the ball to a specific position. The holder never really places the ball straight up and down. Some kickers like the ball leaning slightly forward or to a side. Professional kickers will have a certain way they like the lean to help play the wind.

If the snap is off and the laces are facing backward or to the side the holder must try to get the laces facing forward while still getting the correct lean on the ball. Normally a holder will put the ball down on the spot then try to spin the ball to get the laces facing forward. When a kicker sees the laces as he starts into his kick he can have an “Oh Sh–t” moment and panic a little. No kicker likes to kick the laces. A kicker also does not like to start into his kick and see the ball being turned to the forward position. I call that DJing the ball, like a DJ on the turntable. It can also be a judgement call of the holder whether to spin the ball or not. I have had snaps and the laces were off and the holder did not DJ the ball because they thought that would be too much of a distraction.

And after all of that, the hard part. The kicker must make the kick.

How To Get The Laces Facing Forward

The key to getting laces forward as a Longsnapper is speed. Consistent Speed. It takes thousands of reps to get your speed consistent.

Longsnappers, snap 20 balls to the holder. On each snap have the holder catch the ball and see where the laces are in his hands before putting it down. If the laces are in different places on each snap then your speed is not consistent. Once you can snap the ball so the holder is catching the ball with the laces in the same spot then it is time to master the “laces out” craft.

Make sure you are in the same position on every snap. The ball needs to be in the same position as well.

Once you have consistent laces there are two things you can do to make sure the laces are facing forward or in the 12 o’clock position.

Ball Position

When getting into longsnapping position (see photo)

Patrick Mannelly - Laces Out

try moving the ball toward your helmet or away from your helmet. This will cause the release (photo of the release)

Patrick Mannelly - Laces Out

to be slightly different and it can alter the laces. Start by moving the ball a little and snap a few. Check to see where the holder is catching the laces after each snap. Experiment with the position to see where you can get consistent laces facing forward. There were days when I would be off and this was the quickest way for me to fix it.

Turn The Ball In Your Hand

Patrick Mannelly - Laces OutWhen you longsnap the laces will normally be in your dominant hand fingers just like a Quarterback. My right hand is my dominant hand in this picture.

Now try turning the ball a ¼ turn in your hand when in snapping position. Rotate the ball so one of the seams of the ball is where you normally had the laces. Snap a few balls and see where the holder is catching ball. Imagine a clock: 12 o’clock is the forward position “laces out”, 6 o’clock is laces facing the kicker, 3 o’clock is facing the holder, and 9 o’clock the laces are facing away from the holder.

If your speed is consistent then when you move the ball in your hands a ¼ turn to each seam the the holder should see the change in where the laces are caught. Experiment with the different grips and see if you can get the “laces out”.

3 Comments on “Laces Out”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *