What Is A Coffin Kick In Football?

What Is A Coffin Kick In Football

A coffin kick is a strategy used on punts in football. The technique can help pin a team’s offense in poor field position, giving your defense a major advantage. Keep reading to learn about coffin kicks in football.

Coffin Kick Definition

A coffin kick in football is when a team's punter kicks the ball, it lands in the coffin corner, and then bounces out of bounds. The term coffin corner describes the small corners on a football field in front of the end zone that span from the five-yard line to the goal line.

The coffin kick is used to prevent long punt returns and force the opposing team to start with a poor field position. This type of kick is a high-risk, high-reward scenario because if it works correctly, the punter can pin the opposing team back deep in their territory. However, if the punter is inaccurate, it may result in a touchback, which allows the opposing team to start from their own 25-yard line. The name coffin kick may be misleading because it can only be completed by a punt, and it is illegal to do on kickoffs. It is against the rules for a kickoff to go out of bounds, and if it does, it results in either a rekick or a five-yard penalty for the receiving team to begin their drive on their own 30-yard line.

Coffin Kick Origins

The coffin kick’s name comes from its goal of kicking the ball into the coffin corner. The term coffin corner is derived from a feature in Victorian houses, which is essentially a small, decorative corner. 

The coffin kick technique dates back to the 1890s. In football’s earliest days, punters were viewed as much more valuable than running backs and other skill positions because the game was much slower and focused on maintaining field position. Since hash marks hadn’t been added to the football field yet, punts that died inbounds and near the sidelines were extremely favorable because teams could not move the ball closer to the center of the field. This explains why the coffin kick was the main technique used by punters at this time.

Many credit the coffin kick technique to George Brooke, a punter for Swarthmore and Penn in the 1890s. A notable instance of Brooke’s mastery of the coffin kick occurred in a 1895 game between Harvard and Penn. In the game, George Brook kicked a low punt from the 50-yard line that pinned Harvard down right near their own goal line. Harvard elected to punt the ball on first down, and a blunder occurred. Penn rushers pressured the Harvard kicker and forced him to kick the ball directly into a Penn player, who recovered the ball for a touchdown. This example illustrates the effectiveness of coffin kicks in football’s early days.

Coffin Kick in Modern Football

The increased speed of the game, rule changes, and degree of difficulty have all led the coffin kick to become less prominent in modern football. The addition of hash marks to the field in 1933 altered the effectiveness of the coffin kick, allowing teams to move the ball 10 yards inward if the ball was kicked out of bounds. Although the coffin kick is undoubtedly effective when it is executed correctly, it still requires a great deal of precision and is very difficult to pull off. The low angle at which the punters have to kick the ball puts it at a higher risk of being blocked. Aside from its high degree of difficulty, the usage rate of the coffin kick began to drop in the early 2000s in favor of the use of gunners. A gunner is a player who lines up near the sideline to move downfield as fast as possible to tackle the punt returner. The gunners are often used to down the ball without it going out of bounds or, in some cases, for forcing a fumble.