American Football Wiki

A holder preparing to take the ball from the center

In American football the holder is the player who receives the snap during field goal and extra point attempts made by place kick. The holder is usually positioned between seven and eight yards behind the line of scrimmage. The holder kneels down and places the hand farthest from the line of scrimmage on the ground with the other hand held out waiting for the ball to be snapped to him. After receiving the ball, the holder places it on the ground as quickly as possible, so that one end is touching the ground and the other end is supported by one finger. The holder also rotates the ball so that the laces are facing towards the goal posts. On particularly windy days, a holder is used to help steady the ball on kick-offs, though that player is usually a special team specialist rather than a punter or quarterback.During a "fake field goal" attempt the holder may pick the ball up and either throw a forward pass or run with the ball (i.e., act as the quarterback would on a standard play). In addition, if the snap is so bad that the kick obviously won't succeed, the holder may attempt to run or pass. However, this rarely succeeds; the holder is usually tackled promptly.The holder is usually a player who plays another position, but doubles as a holder. Often, the holder will be a punter, wide receiver or a quarterback (often a backup), as the position calls for good hands and concentration, the quarterback may naturally be the best holder on the team. Additionally, in the event of a bad snap, and an aborted kick attempt, the holder may have to become the quarterback for the play, so having an actual quarterback helps in that regard. Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys is the most recent example of a starting quarterback also serving as a holder. Romo held as a backup and remained the holder after he became the starter midway through the 2006 season. He stopped holding after botching a hold for a game winning field goal versus Seattle in the playoffs that year (though he did serve as the NFC holder that February in the Pro Bowl). He took up holding duties again in 2009 in response to several missed kicks due to bad holds. Increasingly, it is becoming rarer to see starting quarterbacks as holders.

There can also be a holder during kickoffs and free kicks, but this is reserved for when the ball tee cannot keep the ball up by itself, usually due to wind.

Compared to other American football positions, the holder is one of the most trivial positions, requiring precision in the receipt of a snap and placement of a ball in short time, but requiring far less physical talent than a skill position and much less bulk or strength than a lineman. Patricia Palinkas, the first female professional football player, played holder during her short time as a pro player.

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