Drop kick: Wikis

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A drop kick is a type of kick in various codes of football. It involves a player dropping the ball and then kicking it when it bounces off the ground. It contrasts to a punt, wherein the player kicks the ball without letting it hit the ground first.

Drop kicks are used as a method of restarting play and scoring points in rugby union and rugby league. They can also be used in gridiron football codes and Australian rules football, though this is now rare.

One version of a drop kick exists in association football, where it is sometimes used by the goalkeeper to perform a long-range clearance after receiving possession of the ball from open play. The goalkeeper drops the ball so that it bounces, after which point he kicks the ball in midair.

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Rugby football

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Drop kick technique

The drop kick technique in both rugby codes is usually to hold the ball with one end pointing downwards in two hands above the kicking leg. The ball is dropped onto the ground in front of the kicking foot, which makes contact at the moment or fractionally after the ball touches the ground, called the half-volley. The kicking foot usually makes contact with the ball slightly on the instep.[1]

In a rugby union kick-off or drop out, the kicker usually aims to kick the ball very high but not a great distance, and so usually strikes the ball after it has started to bounce upwards off the ground, so the contact is made close to the bottom of the ball.

For the tactics of the drop goal in open play (field goal), see drop goal.

Rugby union

In rugby union, a drop kick is used for the kick-off and restarts and to score a drop goal (sometimes called a 'field goal'). Originally it was one of only two ways to score points, along with the place kick.

Drop kicks are mandatory:

  • from the centre spot to start a half (a kick-off)
  • from the centre spot to restart the game after points have been scored
  • to restart play from the 22-metre line (called a drop-out) after the ball is touched down or made dead in the in-goal area by the defending team when the attacking team kicked or took the ball into the in-goal area
  • to score a drop goal (officially a 'dropped goal', sometimes called a 'field goal') in open play, which is worth three points.[2]

Drop kicks are optional:

  • for a conversion kick after a try has been scored. This is rare, as place kicks are almost always used for the conversion; a drop kick is sometimes used late in a game if the scoring team needs to score again quickly, and taking a place kick would be slower.
  • for a penalty kick to score a penalty goal. This is very rare, as place kicks are almost always used.
  • when kicking for touch (the sideline) from a penalty. This is very rare - the option of a punt kick is almost always taken instead.

Additionally, in rugby sevens, the drop kick is used for all conversion attempts, which must be taken within 40 seconds of the try being scored.

Rugby league

In rugby league, drop kicks are mandatory:

  • to restart play from the goal line (called a goal line drop-out) after:
    • the defending team is tackled or knocks on in the in-goal area
    • the defending team causes the ball to go dead or into touch-in-goal
  • to restart play from the 20 metre line after an unsuccessful penalty goal attempt goes dead or into touch-in-goal
  • to score a drop goal (sometimes known as a field goal) in open play, which is worth one point.[3]

Drop kicks are optional:

  • for a penalty kick to score a penalty goal, but this is very rare, as place kicks are generally used
  • when kicking for touch (the sideline) from a penalty, although the option of a punt kick is usually taken instead.

In rugby league nines the drop kick is used for all conversion attempts after a try has been scored.

American and Canadian football

In both American football and Canadian football, one method of scoring a field goal or extra point is by drop-kicking the football through the goal.

The drop kick was often used in early football as a surprise tactic: The ball would be snapped or lateraled to a back, who would perhaps fake a run or pass, but then would kick the field goal instead. This method of scoring worked well in the 1920s and 1930s, when the football was rounder at the ends (similar to a modern rugby ball). Early football stars such as Jim Thorpe, Paddy Driscoll and Al Bloodgood were skilled drop-kickers; Driscoll in 1925 and Bloodgood in 1926 hold a tied NFL record of four drop-kicked field goals in a single game.[4]

In 1934, the ball was made more pointed at the ends. This made passing the ball easier, as was its intent, but made the drop kick obsolete, as the more pointed ball did not bounce up from the ground reliably. The drop kick was supplanted by the place kick, which cannot be attempted out of a formation generally used as a running or passing set. The drop kick remains in the rules, but is seldom seen, and rarely effective when attempted.

In popular media, a drop kick was successfully attempted in the Burt Reynolds film The Longest Yard, with Reynolds' character explaining its proper name and point value to a player (Ray Nitschke's character) on the opposing team.

In Canadian football (and, until 1998, the National Football League as well) the drop kick can be taken from any point on the field, unlike placekicks and punts, which must be attempted behind the line of scrimmage. Even though such a kick had not been attempted in over a half-century, the NFL moved to make drop kicks subject to the same restrictions as place kicks in 1998.

American football

The only successful drop kick in the last sixty-plus years in the NFL was by Doug Flutie, the backup quarterback of the New England Patriots, against the Miami Dolphins on January 1, 2006, for an extra point after a touchdown.

Flutie had estimated "an 80 percent chance" of making a drop kick,[5] and was called to give Flutie, 43 at the time, the opportunity to make an historic kick in his final NFL game. (In fact, the drop kick was his last play in the NFL.) After the game, New England coach Bill Belichick said, "I think Doug deserves it,"[6] and Flutie said "I just thanked him for the opportunity."[5]

The last successful drop kick in the NFL before that was executed by Ray "Scooter" McLean of the Chicago Bears in their 37-9 victory over the New York Giants on December 21, 1941 in the NFL championship game at Chicago's Wrigley Field. Though it was not part of the NFL at the time, the All-America Football Conference saw its last drop kick November 28, 1948 when Joe Vetrano of the San Francisco 49ers drop kicked an extra point after a muffed snap against the Cleveland Browns.[7]

Another recent vocal proponent of the drop kick in the NFL had been Jim McMahon, quarterback for several NFL teams. During the 1980s, while playing in Chicago, McMahon regularly practiced the drop kick, and was known to frequently petition Bears head coach Mike Ditka for an opportunity to use the maneuver. Ditka, who regarded the play as an anachronism, never allowed it.[citation needed]

The last successful drop kick extra point in the NCAA was by Aaron Fitzgerald of the University of LaVerne on November 10, 1990 against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.[8]

Canadian football

In the Canadian game, the drop kick can be attempted at any time by either team. Any player on the kicking team behind the kicker, and including the kicker, can recover the kick. A drop kick that goes out of bounds is considered a change of possession.

On September 8, 1974, Tom Wilkinson, quarterback for the Edmonton Eskimos, attempted a drop-kick field goal in the final seconds of a 24-2 romp over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He missed. This may have been the last time the play was deliberately attempted in the CFL.

During one game in the 1980s, Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver Earl Winfield was unable to field a punt properly; in frustration, he kicked the ball out of bounds. The kick was considered a drop kick and led to a change of possession, with the punting team regaining possession of the ball.

Arena football

In Arena football, a drop-kicked extra point counts for two points rather than one; a drop-kicked field goal counts for four points rather than three. [9] The game's inventors seemingly hoped that a team trailing by four points on an apparent final play might attempt a very dramatic drop kick in order to tie the game, and that a ban on punting might encourage more kickers to attempt the similar drop kick as a substitute. However, the additional point has not been enough of an enticement to produce many drop kicks after the first few years of Arena play, and place kicks (even in seemingly inconvertible situations) have been the only scrimmage kick used for the bulk of the sport's history. The absence of drop-kicking with any degree of frequency from any other level or variety of gridiron football in the present day (see above), along with the decreased accuracy of a drop kick as well as the much narrower goal posts in arena football, means that there is no pool of experienced and capable drop kickers for the Arena league to draw from, and the play would in any event occur too seldom to seem to be worth the amount of practice time that would have to be devoted to it for it to be executed at any real level of proficiency. In practice, a pass off the rebound nets above the endlines (which, if completed, would result in six points and a win for the team down by four points, rather than a tie and overtime) probably has at least an equal and possibly a superior chance of success.

In 1994, Cleveland's Brian Mitchell kicked 6 four point drop kicks and 18 two point drop kicks.

Australian rules football

In Australian rules football, a similarly-named and executed kick was used in general play, particularly after a free kick was awarded. It was popular as players could kick the ball long distances, and the ball's backwards rotation was reasonably easy for teammates to mark (catch) the ball (a major feature of the game).

A variation known as the stab pass or more poetically, the daisy cutter, involved a shortened follow-through and travelled on a notably low trajectory, which made it very useful for short-range passing.

The drop kick and stab pass gradually disappeared from the game by the 1980s, as they were unreliable given the game's fast pace, particularly on wet grounds, and players were coached to use either the drop punt or torpedo punt (where the ball spins sideways on its axis rather than rotating backwards like the punt) kicking styles for reliability.

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