Coach Farley, “I wish I invented this kick, but it never occurred to me in my day, because I only played one game on artificial turf.” 🙂
You can learn this onsides kick!
This is NOT a surprise onsides, but it WILL surprise your opponent.
You may recall Greg Zuerlein’s fabulous onsides kick from back in 2020 when the Cowboys came from behind to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 40 to 39. Zuerlein performed the “Watermelon Kick” to perfection and then hit a 46 yard field goal for the win.
Recovering onsides kicks in the NFL is almost impossible because of recent rules changes — but this little beauty might just be a skill you can master to win for your team when you need it most — whether you’re in middle school, high school, college or the pros!
Let’s take a closer look at the play that John Fassel, the Special Team Coordinator for the Cowboys, designed…
Here are the mechanics:
In the YouTube video below, you’ll see you don’t have to be an NFL pro to make this kick work. Ryan Schroeder, a kicker/punter at Drake University performs the kick. What’s more, in high school, Ryan played for Coach Farley at Cedarburg High School and was very effective in his ability to successfully make this kick.
For every kicker, the technique will vary slightly, depending on what you feel most comfortable with, but the basic mechanics are the same:
1) You don’t use a tee. I know, the other team will “suspect” that it’s an onsides kick. That’s right, because you’re likely only using this kick when you really have to.,,, you’re down by 2 and there’s very little time left on the clock.
2) You can try this on grass, but you will be less likely to perform it successfully… for most, this is an artificial turf only kick. Why? Because the surface is consistent and it will be less likely to interfere with the rotation of the ball.
3) Set the ball on the ground, at a 45-degree angle to the direction you wish to kick it. You can kick it in either direction, but you will choose a side.
4) You can position the ball, like Zuerlein does, right in the middle of the field (but it is harder to do because there is less time for the ball to spin). Most will like setting up the ball on the hash and kicking all the way across the field.
5a) (For college and high school) your aiming spot on the ball will be the stripe of the ball that is “across the line of scrimmage”. For true soccer players, you’ll most likely want to hit that spot as a glancing swipe of your toe and inside of your foot. You don’t want a “soccer pass”, you need the ball to spin.
5b) If you’re not really a soccer player, you’ll probably do better by toeing the ball (like a straight on kicker) in that same spot on the stripe — right in the middle of the ball.
6) Zuerlein stands above the ball, most will want to take soft field goal steps toward the ball. Again, everyone will know it’s an onsides kick. What they won’t know is how this ball is going to react.
7) Now for the tricky part: Practice by starting by aiming right at the 50 yard marker (10 yards away) on the far sideline. You will adjust your leg swing and your aiming point as you see how your ball spins.
In this video, Ryan aims at about the near 45 yard line. When I do this kick, I aim at the far 45 yard line. Zuerliein appears to aim at the near 47 yard line. It will be different for every single kicker.
8) You’ll learn that you don’t want the ball to spin so hard that it “spins up” to a point (that ball will never make it 10 yards). So long as your kick stays spinning on its side, the ball will eventually make it to 10 yards. Kicking it too hard, however, will drive it out of bounds. It’ll take some work to master.
9) If you can master it… meaning to me, as a coach, can you get the kick to spin past 10 yards (and under 17 yards) 5 out of 10 times. Understand, it’s an onsides kick. The odds are already NOT in your favor. But making this kick 50% of the time where we can recover it, will lead to a better than 30% recovery rate.
10) Relax. When you try this out in practice and succeed, your coach is going ot be intrigued to use it. And if you don’t succeed, you won’t get the chance to try. So, trust your training and “give it a go”. Know that in a dire situation, 30% sounds pretty good.