Long Field Goals…What Are The Odds?
** This original article/post is from 2013. I will be updating the numbers for 2018, but for now, enjoy and look for an update soon!
There is no doubt that coaches like kickers with ‘big legs’. It must be a comfort to know that a field goal kicker can at least have the chance to bomb a 55-60 yard field goal at a moments notice.
However, what are the odds that most kickers will try more than a handful of these long kicks? I would argue that for most kickers in most programs, they might be better off with a focus on closer range kicks. Sure, there are exceptions, but the numbers don’t lie. Let’s take a look.
When I was at Georgia Tech, my very first attempt was 53 1/2 yards as a true freshman. That was the only kick over 50 yards I even TRIED for two back to back seasons. My last two seasons in college, I attempted and made a total of 4 field goals over 50 yards. So, in four years, I tried 5 field goals from ‘way out’ over 50 yards.
That’s not very many compared to the huge amount of kicks inside 50. Those were the important kicks…6 kicks that won games in the last second from inside 40 yards and 1 kick to prevent a loss in the last seconds again, all from inside 40 yards.
My attempt distances were not that uncommon when I played, but I decided to compare them with average attempts today in college.
In fact, I pulled numbers through the end of September so see where the ‘distance’ focus is in D1 college games this year. Not much has changed.
I didn’t just look at one or two teams either, I looked at ALL D1 teams together. There were over 760 attempts with an overall conversion rate of just under 74%.
On top of that, for every 10 field goals attempted collectively over 50 yards, just under 4 were actually converted successfully (just under 39% total).
The hot range for D1 kicking attempts so far is actually 30-39 yards.
In fact, 2 out of every 3 times these coaches have yelled “field goal!” so far, kickers have been lining up for a kick UNDER 40 yards….about 66% of the time.
So, I’m not certainly not suggesting that you should never practice or take pride in long field goals. I know there are teams that try a higher percentage of longer kicks. However, on average, I think it’s an interesting note.
My message to the average high school kicker then is this.
Don’t stress ‘quite’ as much about your effectiveness from 40 to 50 yards or more. Focus on your bread and butter kicks most of the time!
I have a feeling that even if you kick in college one day, that’s more often the range that you’ll earn your keep in.
Get a reputation for being consistent and the occasional 50+ bomb will just be the icing on the cake.