Kicking for Angles

By: Russell Lawless

In the land of football, kickers are always the ones that people will blame if they miss their field goal. Many commentators usually will say that if a team is at a certain spot of the field on the right hash mark then they might need to take a delay of game penalty for 5 more yards to get a better angle for the kick. In this exploration we will be exploring whether or not this is true. We will be looking at the college and the high school level.

To see for yourself please go to the attached GSP file: College Football.

Through my exploration I found that there was no where in between the 0 and 50 yard lines where it would be a better kick for the kicker if they took a 5 yard penalty. The only place that would be better to take the 5 yard penalty would be in the end zone. However, that will not be able to happen in the sport of football. So the commentators are wrong when it comes to them saying that they will have a better angle on the field goal kick by taking a delay of game 5 yard penalty.

Now let's look at the high school field. To see for yourself please go to the attached GSP file: High School Football.

We see that the kicking angle is better for high school when comparing the angles of college to high school at the 10 yard line.The angle for the college field is 17.50o while the angle for the high school field is 22.84o. As you go further down the field the angle is always better at the high school level. Now the question is whether or not it is better to take a five yard penalty to get a better angle if you are close to the endzone at the high school level. Explore to see what you can find.

The answer is no. When the ball is on the line of the endzone and then moved backwards by 5 yards you will see that the angle goes from 26.24o to 25.34o. However, there is a better spot to take the ball at if you are on the goal line. The best spot for the high school field is in between the 1 and 2 yard line (roughly 1.45 yard line). The way I calculate this is by finding where the peak angle is and then calculating the distances that I computed. In this case I divided the total distance from the 50 yard line to the goal (10.67) by 5 to get 2.134. Then I divide the distance from the spot of the ball to the goal (.31) by 2.134 (distance of 10 yards) to get .145. I multiply this by 10 to get 1.45 which is the yard length from the goal line.