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In the sport of American football or Canadian football, the art of icing the kicker or freezing the kicker is a tactic employed by defending teams to disrupt the process of kicking a field goal just prior to the snap. Typically, either a player or a coach on the defending team will call time out just as the kicker is about to attempt a game-tying or game-winning field goal. This is intended to make the kicker nervous and increase the likelihood of him missing the kick.

One variant of this tactic, attributed to former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan[1], is to call time out from the sidelines as the ball is snapped. This prevents the kicking team from realizing the kick will not count until after the play is over. However, this has the potential to backfire, as the kicker could miss the first attempt that does not count, but then make the second attempt, as demonstrated in a game between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys during the 2008 NFL Season

Effectiveness

A study was undertaken by Scott Berry, a statistician and the former chairman of the Statistics in Sports section of the American Statistical Association, and Craig Wood, which was published in 2004 in the journal Chance.[2] Berry and Wood looked at every field-goal attempt made in the 2002 and 2003 NFL seasons, including playoffs, and concluded that, for "pressure kicks" – those made with 3 minutes or less remaining in the game or overtime period which would tie the game up or put the kicking team in the lead – in the 40-55 yard range, icing the kicker caused the percentage of successful attempts to drop by about ten percent for an average kicker on a sunny day. On shorter kicks, the effect was found to be negligible.[1][3][4] However, the statistical signficance of the difference found – which amounted to four kicks out of 39 attempts – has been questioned,[5] and an examination by Nick Stamms of STATS, Inc. found that "pressure kicks" (defined as above except within two minutes, not three) in the NFL regular season from 1991 to 2005 showed an insignificant difference between non-iced kicks (457 out of 637, or 71.7%) and iced kicks (152 out of 211 or 72%).[6]

Notes

  1. ^ a b "Icing Kicker: New Tactic Has Drawn Double Take" The New York Times, 21 October 2007
  2. ^ Berry, S., and C. Wood. 2004. The cold-foot effect. Chance 17(No. 4):47-51.
  3. ^ Peterson, Ivars. "Icing the Kicker" Muse (September 2005)
  4. ^ Peterson, Ivars. The Iced Foot Effect MathTrek (November 15, 2004}
  5. ^ Birnbaum, Phil. "And (sic) old 'icing the kicker' study" Sabermetric Research (January 6, 2008)
  6. ^ Zimmerman, Paul. "Icing on the cake" Si.com (January 21, 2005)
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