Coach Farley urges you to get to know the rules of the game to fully take dvantage of every situation. Special Teams play is always crucial, and often times, presents situations that even experienced coaches are foggy on the application of the rulebook.

Two years ago on this day… October 7, 2021

Every seen a double punt?

If you’re like most everyone else, the answer is, “no.” Take it from the Fox Sports announcers (and officiating expert Mike Pereira) who got the call wrong during a broadcast between the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams.

On a typical 4th down and 14 on their own 21 yard line, All-Pro punter Michael Dickson stood at his own 6 yard line to take the snap. What ensued was a true rarity in sports… a double punt. Ahkello Witherspoon of the Rams basically came in to block Dickson’s first punt, but the ball glanced to the side of Dickson’s foot, not behind him. What’s more, it spun like a top allowing Dickson to pick up the ball with one hand and attempt to run or pass for the first down.

That, in an of itself, would be the heads-up play you’d expect from a pro punter — but Dickson paused when faced with a row of Rams blocking his way to the first down marker — so he punted the ball again…

…which tumbled nicely down to the 11 yard line, netting a 68 yard punt to backup the Rams.


Michael Dickson
Seattle Seahawks

Dickson is an Australian professional NFL punter for the Seattle Seahawks. He played at Texas in college and is regarded as one of the best punters in the league. His career punt average of 47.6 yards per punt ranks as the best in NFL history. 

What would you have done?

Like Michael Dickson, who was an Aussie Rules Football player, by-the-way, you’d have tried to do the very best with what you had to work with to help your team.

So here are the rules for punters to be in the right headspace when you’re called upon to enter the game.

When the coach yells out, PUNT TEAM!”, get all of the basics done prior to the play:

1) Quickly count… do you have 10 guys in front of you?

2) Get at the proper depth (12 yds. youth, 13 high school, 14 college & 15 pros) for the snap.

3) Get in a good stance and be prepared to move swiftly to the snap of the ball.

4) Like a shortstop in baseball, expect a good snap, but be ready for a ball that’s high or low, on the ground or to the side of you. Beat the ball to its location so that you are catching the ball in front of you in cadence with your steps.

5) Think to yourself, “Catch the ball.” It’s lierally the most important thing you can do on the play.

6) In our camps, I team that if you catch the ball clean, you can “take your time (your normal steps)” to punt. But any deviation (a bobble by you or a bad snap) then you need to hurry your punt.

7) Once you catch the ball, your training will take over. Don’t worry about your steps, your grip or your drop. If you think anything, it’s “get a good strike on the ball” — on a clean catch or a hurried one.

AND THEN, should something crazy happen, like it did to Michael Dickson, use your athletic ability to make the best of the play you’ve been given. That doesn’t mean to do something risky. On the contrary, it means to instantly assess the situation and, to steal a phrase, JUST DO IT!

Do you fall on the ball?  Pick it up and run? Make a pass to an open receiver? Make the tackle an opponent trying to score?

The worst that can happen to any punter is that the play goes for a touchdown against you. Period. Typically, that happens when you get a ball blocked. But can also happen when you drop the snap and get frazzled, or most often — after you hit the best ball of your life (out kicking your coverage) and now you’re left to be guy the guy who make the TD saving tackle. HINT: The sideline is your best friend. Force the return man to run towards the sideline and slow him up (for others to tackle him) or shove him out of bounds.

The next worst thing is that you never get the ball off, or shank or heaven-forbid, wiff on the drop of your punt giving your opponent super field position and a whole lot of wind in their sails. HINT: Your coach is not going to be your biggest fan. Keep your head up and try your best to be a stoic soldier, hoping for the chance to punt again in the same game to get the taste of that one our of your mouth — and your coach’s, too.

Knowing all of that, since the punt play has already blown up, you left to figure out what you can salvage so that those “worst things” don’t happen.

Understand, a 13 yard loss because you dropped the snap is a whole lot better than a TD going the other way. And sometimes, you pull off something that no one ever saw coming. I had a great snapper launch one over my head by about 25 yards. I sprinted back and picked up the ball, turned outside to be able to punt it from there… and found that I could run about 10 yards before it would be too late to try and punt it.  I did so and we netted 30 yards on the play. I was a big hero… OK, so I didn’t punt it twice, but then, not everyone can make the greatest special teams play in NFL history!

SUPER INTERESTING > Hear what Michael Dickson and his Coach Pete Carroll had to say about the play at this link >


Learning to do your part to help your team win is what Coach Farley instructs.  If you’d like ot learn more, feel free to contact him at:

Coach Farley helps assess and improve high school and college punters and kickers at his summer camps and through virtual and private training sessions.