Icing The Kicker
Icing the kicker in football is a strategy used by the non-kicking team to force a mistake by the kicker on a field goal or extra point. To ice the kicker, a team will call a timeout prior to the kick to give the kicker time to overthink the attempt.
The strategy is executed at the end of the game or in overtime when the pressure is higher and each point matters for winning the game. The defensive team's coach will stand right next to the referee and signal a timeout just before the ball is snapped. The kicker must then wait the full 30 seconds before they can set up again, leaving them to think about the kick more than they would like.
The strategy began in 2007 when the Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan called timeout to ice Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski. The move paid off and the Broncos won the game. From there more coaches have adapted the strategy, despite protests from kickers saying it is unfair.
Icing the kicker is a hotly debated topic among coaches and fans. There is a constant back and forth on whether or not the strategy works. Based on data collected, there is some indication that there are varying rates of success depending on how far the kick is. As the distance of the kick increases so does the effectiveness of the strategy. That being said, it still varies from kicker to kicker and from situation to situation. What may work one time, might not the next.
One thing that most agree on is that while icing the kicker it is important to not let the kicker get a practice kick off. If the timeout is called too close to the snapping of the ball, then the ball will still be snapped despite the timeout. The kicker then gets the advantage of correcting anything wrong with the first kick. If the kicker is allowed to take a practice kick the strategy is not as effective.