Football is littered with specialized terminology. From crackback block to packaged play, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.
A skip step is a motion employed by kickers on their follow-through for field goals and extra points. Its primary objective is to allow the kicker to continue his momentum directly through the ball. Kickers want to ensure the kinetic energy is moving in the proper direction through the kicking zone. The direction of a skip step can be used as an indicator of the kick’s accuracy, and may also indicate mechanical issues occurring earlier in the attempt.
As a kicker strikes the ball, his kicking leg travels through the kicking zone, taking the straight-line momentum of his approach and turning it to rotational energy as the leg whips through. The torque created by this motion can reduce accuracy if not properly controlled. The post-kick skip step helps to channel this energy by forcing a kicker to move directly through the target on his kick:
Above, Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots takes a skip step after a 54-yard strike against the New York Giants. Kicking from the left hash, this skip step carried his plant foot from the outside of the hash to the middle of it, as it helps him follow through directly through the uprights.
While the example above is one of a textbook skip step, many kickers employ different variations that suit their own style. Steven Hauschka of the Seattle Seahawks uses a motion that possesses a flatter swing plane and more rotational energy, causing his skip step to often twist more towards his plant foot:
However, Hauschka has also run into mechanical issues because of the tremendous force generated by his swing. While he has been remarkably consistent throughout his career, his mechanics have broken down over several weeks, leading to skip steps that look like this:
Instead of having his momentum moving directly through the target, Hauschka has allowed the rotation of his body to take him significantly outside the target. This kick began a game-long struggle for Hauschka, as he missed two other kicks due to these mechanics.
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Chuck Zodda wrote this entry. Follow Chuck on Twitter @ITP_ChuckZ.
All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.