Football Long Snapper
What is the Long Snapper in Football?
In football, the long snapper is a specialized offensive player whose task is to snap the ball to the holder during field goals and punters during punts. Most teams have a dedicated long snapper on the roster as it is a specialized position. Long snappers are considered special teams players.
What Is a Long Snap?
Unlike a regular snap, the long snapper must be able to cover a distance of anywhere between seven and 15 yards with an accurate snap, as well as do it quickly. Long snaps (and long snappers) are used exclusively in kicking plays such as field goals, extra points, and punts.
Long Snapper Responsibilities
The long snapper must block after the snap like a center would, though there is often much less pressure on the long snapper to block during field goals and punts because most defenders who have a chance at blocking the kick are defenders who run around the offensive line.
In 2017, the NFL banned the practice of defenders jumping over the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a kick. This benefits long snappers, as they were usually the player being jumped over, and now they do not have to worry about it.
Long Snapper Strategies
Long snapping requires a lot of precision and arm strength. Since the distance of a long snap is a little further than a regular snap, it can be more challenging for the holder or quarterback to catch and control the ball. A good snap should hit the holder or punter’s hands, depending on the play. The hands act as a target.
Since snappers are essentially defenseless due to their need to aim and snap the ball effectively, no one can cover them until after the ball is snapped. However, once the snap occurs, the long snapper must act as an offensive lineman would, holding back the defense while the punt or kick is in progress in order to prevent a blocked kick or a turnover.
Pros and Cons of Being a Long Snapper
There are pros and cons to any position in football, and long snappers are no exception. Some of the benefits of being a long snapper are the fact that your skills are only needed in certain scenarios. Unlike a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver, long snappers do not operate under constant pressure because the plays they are a part of are less frequent than others. However, one downside to this is that when the long snapper is called up to play, oftentimes, the pressure of their situation is high. Especially on field goals, the long snapper is under a lot of pressure to make a good snap because a bad one can ruin the play entirely.
While it isn’t a position where you are called upon constantly, being a long snapper in the NFL is not an easy gig, especially in terms of notoriety. The only way casual fans will know your name is if you make a mistake, and long snapper mistakes are often game-changing since a missed field goal or botched snap on a punt leads to excellent field positioning for the opponent. There are not many notable long snappers in NFL history, as the job requires such consistency that proving you are the best to ever do it is incredibly tricky.
Why Are Long Snappers Important?
Long snappers are essential in field goals and punts. Their snaps must be perfectly timed and executed. In addition, they must be placed exactly where the kicker is going to be so they have an easily executed kick. These snaps can be the deciding factor between winning and losing a game.
Long Snapper Plays
The long snapper is used for field goals, extra-point kicks, and punts. During field goal attempts and extra point attempts as they snap the ball about seven to 10 yards to the holder. In punt plays, they must snap the ball about 15 yards to make sure the punter has enough room to perform the punt.
Long Snapper Skills
Although long snapper was not always a dedicated position, there are a few skills that all great long snappers have attained. Of the highest importance is great balance. Long snappers must accurately throw the ball while bent over and facing backward. The slightest loss of balance can lead to a blown play.
Effective long snappers also need to maintain arm strength, to help them quickly and easily fire off snaps. Finally, accuracy is key to being a long snapper. They must be able to reliably hit their target, so long snappers spend plenty of time training to perfect their aim.
Notable NFL Long Snappers
- Zak DeOssie
- Beau Brinkley
- Morgan Cox
- L. P. Ladouceur
- J. J. Jansen
- Justin Snow
- Ethan Albright
- Tanner Purdum
- Kevin Houser
- Jeff Robinson
What does a long snapper do?
A long snapper snaps the ball to the holder or kicker and then blocks defensive players after the snap. Long snappers are used in kicking plays such as field goals, punts, and extra point kicks. The long snapper snaps the ball between seven and 15 yards in these plays, significantly farther than a center snaps the ball during regular offensive plays. After the long snapper has snapped the ball, they must assume blocking duties similar to a center.
How do you long snap a football?
You long snap a football by holding the ball as if you are throwing it normally, then turning your hand to cup the ball so your palm is facing up. Get down into a comfortable crouching stance. Keep the football on the ground and place your guide hand on top of the ball with your middle finger on the seam. When making the snap, keep your elbows in so they hit your inner thighs. This will allow the greatest throwing motion for the longest snaps. Finally, release the ball between your legs and toward the receiving holder or punter.
Has a long snapper ever been drafted in the NFL?
Long snappers are occasionally drafted in the NFL, typically in later rounds. Although every NFL team keeps at least one player on their roster to fill the long snapper position, they do not typically use draft picks to acquire them. Most draft picks are used on offensive and defensive skill position players and linemen. Long snapper is one of the least-drafted positions, even coming in below punters and place-kickers.