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Football Field Goal Range

Football Field Goal Range
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What is field goal range in football?

Field goal range describes how far a football team's kicker can kick. If a team is within field goal range, they are close enough to the opposing team's goal post to make a field goal based on the kicker's ability. Field goal range is based on numerous statistics on how kickers have performed in the past and in pregame practice.

Field goals are worth three points and can be attempted from anywhere on the football field and on any scrimmage down.

Calculating Field Goal Range

To calculate if a team is within field goal range follow these steps:

  1. Locate the line of scrimmage.
  2. Add 17 yards to that yard line.
  3. Determine if the kicker can make a kick from that distance.

In the example above, if a team is on the 40-yard line, they are 57 yards from the goal post.

The end zone is ten yards long and the goal post is located on the end lines at the back of the end zone.

The holder, a player on the special teams who holds the ball for the kicker, positions himself seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. He does this so the defense will not be able to block the kick.

10 + 7 = 17

That's why we add 17 yards to the line of scrimmage when calculating field goal range.

NFL Field Goal Range

In the NFL, the typical field goal range is around 52 yards. To be within field goal range, a team should be on the opposing team's 35-yard line before attempting a field goal for the highest chance of success, since 35+17=52.

It is not impossible to make a field goal outside of field goal range; it's just unlikely. Many kicks farther than this distance have been successful before. That's the beauty of sports, anything can happen. However, like all sports, football is a game of percentages.

Kicking Outside of Field Goal Range

Why would a team want to try a field goal if they are out of range? Certain situations call for a kicker to have to exceed expectations. For example, if there are only a few seconds left in the first half or in the game, the team should kick as long as they believe the place kicker has a chance at hitting the field goal. The longest ever field goal was kicked by Justin Tucker, and was 66 yards. If a team is within 70 yards and the half is about to be over, they will likely try to kick a field goal as they have little to lose.

FAQ

What is the average field goal distance in the NFL?

In the NFL, in 2016 the average successful field goal length was 37.7 yards. The range of each player varies greatly, depending on the kicker and game conditions. Weaker kickers may be limited to 30-35 yards, while stronger kickers may thrive further away.

What determines field goal range?

Field goal range is determined mostly by how well the kicker can perform. So, each individual kicker has their own field goal range. If a player has had a lot of success from 35 yards out, but not much success from further, then their field goal range would be around 35 yards. Ultimately, teams want to get their kicker to the distance where they will be the most successful.

What is the longest NFL field goal ever made?

The longest field goal that was ever kicked and made was 66 yards. This kick was accomplished by Justin Tucker, a kicker for the Baltimore Ravens. In this 2021 game against the Detroit Lions, Tucker won the game by accomplishing this incredible feat. 

What is the longest field goal in college football?

The longest collegiate field goal occurred in 1976, and was a 69-yard kick taken by Ove Johansson, a player for Abilene Christian University. The record has not been broken since. In warm ups before the game, he even made two field goals from 70 yards away! 

What is the shortest field goal in NFL history?

After 1974, the NFL moved the goalposts further back, so the shortest possible field goal is now 17 yards. However, before this change, the shortest field goals ever recorded were 9 yards long. These kicks came from athletes Jim Turner and Mike Clark. 

Who is the most accurate kicker in the NFL?

As of 2021, the most accurate kicker in the NFL is Justin Tucker. His success rate was 94.6% in the 2021-2022 season, slightly higher than any other kicker in the league. When you also factor in that Justin Tucker holds the record for the longest successful NFL field goal attempt, he is easily one of the greatest kickers to ever play the position.  

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