Icing the kicker: Does it work?

I’m watching Miami-Denver, where the Dolphins have a 9-point lead after the touchdown they just scored. When the Broncos started their drive, the color commentator said that they have two timeouts and Miami has all three left. With just about two minutes left, I thought, “There’s no way Miami would use any of those…except to ice the kicker.” Which got me thinking: does icing the kicker ever actually work? Are there any statistics that show that taking a timeout to knock the kicker’s timing off actually works (or doesn’t)?

I think it had an effect the first few times they did it, Now a kicker prepares for it. I have seen them call time too late to stop the kick. The kick missed. He made the second try.

I’ve always thought it was counterproductive and stupid. Maybe it’s effective when called well ahead of the actual kick, to build the psychological tension in the kicker’s mind… but the way they do it now, calling the time out a second before the snap, just results in the kicker getting a practice kick to test the conditions.

I don’t know about a kicker in football, but it seems that icing a free throw shooter in basketball would be counterproductive. A basketball player is busting his buttocks all game and has to be getting tired. When he’s fouled and awarded free throws, a time out that’s designed to ice him really just gives him a chance to catch his breath.

Ponch8, in football, the kicker sits on the bench all day and only comes out for 30 seconds to a couple of minutes at a time.

You’d think by now it’d be more effective for the coach to stand like he’s going to call a time out, but not actually do it.

That’s what I was trying to say. Icing a kicker should have no effect, but icing a free throw shooter should actually help him.

As people have mentioned, icing the kicker can actually help the opposing team if not done right.

Icing the kicker originally involved calling a timeout as the opposing team was breaking the huddle. This would supposedly give the kicker more time to sweat about how important the kick was, hopefully causing him to get so nervous that he flubbed the kick.

Actual results - meh. Kickers are used to standing around with their useless one-bar helmets and no-pads pants all day and getting called in for 5 seconds of action. They are accustomed to the glory or goat pressure.

The last-second “icing” was first started by Mike Shanahan and the Broncos I believe (I could be wrong). He figured out that the rules did not preclude a head coach from standing next to a Side Judge and saying “The second before they snap the ball I want to use a timeout.” Result: the whistle blows AS the offense snaps the ball and everyone goes through the motions of a field goal except none of it counts.

The first few times it happened it might have had some marginal effectiveness, especially if it was a long field goal and the kicker made it. Now he has to re-do the whole thing.

It has backfired several times though, with kickers missing the first “iced” attempt and then nailing it on the second go.

Kickers expect it now, so its effectiveness is pretty much nil. If anything it relaxes the kickers as they figure they might have two shots at kicking that game-winning field goal.

Ummmm…basically what SenorBeef said but with a lot more words.

Hmm. The coach just tells the ref that he intends to call a time out? He doesn’t actually have to say “time out” at the right time, and the side judge calls it for him after the ball is snapped?

That’s lame. They should at least force the coaches to actually call a time out.

Well, it’s impossible really to tell if it works or it doesn’t. But in today’s Packers v Titans game, the Packers called time out to “ice” the Titans kicker twice: once at the end of regulation, the other time during overtime. It “worked” the first time (he hit the right upright, missing the kick); the second time the kicker made the kick to end the game.

The way I understand it is that the coach says “I want to call a timeout right before they snap it.” He then stands by the Side Judge and says “timeout” or makes the T symbol as close to the snap as possible. Since there is always a delay between when the coach says “timeout” and the ref blows the whistle they always get the benefit of the doubt - meaning that the play goes, but doesn’t count. I put some of this blame on the refs who don’t want to be seen as influencing the game, and as such will make sure that their “delay” in recognizing the actual call and then blowing the whistle doesn’t matter.

Of course in other parts of the game the whistle is all that matters, and countless seconds have been run off the clock in games while players frantically call for timeouts with no ref looking in their direction.

It’s lame, no matter how you slice it.

Oh, and to DSYoungEsq: those were two different kicks. In different directions and the second one was MUCH shorter, but I agree that it’s impossible to tell if it really works.

Al del Greco, who was a professional kicker for years and years, hosts a morning radio program in Birmingham. Somebody asked him a couple of days ago if icing the kicker works, and he said it was more effective if the other team DIDN’T call time-out. He said now it’s expected that the time-out will be called, so in those instances where it wasn’t, he always felt a little rushed and out of sync.

Semi-related question: I was watching part of the Jets game yesterday, and the camera zoomed in on Favre and one of the officials late in the half. Favre was clearly telling the official he wanted a time-out with four seconds on the clock, even holding up four fingers to illustrate his point. However, I don’t think he ever actually called it; he was walking away from the official when the official (who was staring intently at the clock) blew his whistle and waved his arms.

Does a coach/player have to actually call the time-out, or can they just tell the official “I want the TO with X seconds left on the clock”?

Bolding mine.

Gone the way of all things, I fear.

Interesting. I wonder if they always call timeout to maintain the status quo, so that the more effective option of not calling timeout is open? Probably not, but it’s an interesting question.

BTW, I think the game where Flutie wore the one-bar facemask was the same one where he kicked a field goal.

While it would be awesome (is that too hyperbolic a term here?) if that was the case, I’m pretty sure the drop-kick extra point came while Flutie was with the Pats, not the Chargers.

On the field goal for the Bucs come from behind win against the Chiefs this weekend it worked, BUT

  1. Bucs line up to take field goal on third down. KC calls a time out just as the ball is being snapped. Bryant drills it through the uprights.

  2. Bucs line up AGAIN to attempt the field goal. One of the right side linemen flinches, which stops the play for illegal procedure “Prior to the snap, movement by the offense…” Still the ball is snapped and the kick goes off and is wide right. If not for the offensive penalty, the Chiefs would have the ball back at the spot of the kick. The Chiefs cannot decline the penalty, because it occurred prior to the snap.

  3. Now the Bucs are a bit farther back then they’d like to be. So they run a pass out in the left flat to their third string RB. He is adjudged to make a first down.

But wait

  1. The replay official in the booth, as is done for all judgment calls in OT, signals that he wants another look. After further review, Ed Hoculi (sp?) says that the runners foot went out of bounds further upfield (it did) and so now the Bucs are faced with fourth down. FTR, Hoculi screws up the explanation a couple of times, but they did get the call right.

  2. Bryant takes the kick on his third try, closest in of the the three by a few yards, and the Bucs win.

Not that the idea is gone.

I am about 500% sure that he was with the Chargers. Trust me. I was one of maybe 15 Chargers fans at the time.

You may want to check your memory banks



I was thinking of the Bills. Dammit.