Long snappers rarely receive accolades, but one errant snap can garner plenty of grief and guilt. "Trust me, if I make a mistakewhether it's in the first or fourth quarter of a game, or even at practiceI've got two coaches and six players yelling at me to get it right," says Washington Redskins long snapper Ethan Albright.
"To avoid bad snaps, I constantly work on my technique at practice," he says. "I take my job very seriously, because many games come down to a last-second field goal or the ability to get off a punt to end a game," says Albright, who was rewarded with a spot at the 2008 Pro Bowl.
Most snapping techniques are universal, but below, the 13-year NFL veteran shares his expertise, offering some of the finer points that can improve your skill. Read his advice and practice your technique; your reward might come in the form of a D-I scholarship.
Pro Bowl Technique/Grip [for right-handers]
Grip the ball's laces like a QB, with your right hand
Place your left hand directly on top of the ball as a guide hand
Use a shoulder-width stance for punts. For field goals and extra points, widen your stance and drop your hips to get lower to handle the rush from D-linemen
Keep your head down the entire time, focusing on the target. Ball control and location are more important than anything
Get a pre-snap read on the defense, then have a teammate call out any formation shifts when your head is down
Avoid trying to guide the ball during follow-through, which leads to erratic snaps
Hit the punter between his thighs and chest; on FGs/ XPs, aim for holders raised hand
Mastering Albright's Art
Start refining your longsnapping skills early. Continue playing other positions, but great long snappers can attract attention from colleges-even if you're slightly undersized or a hair too slow for D-I
Practice, practice, practice so snapping becomes second nature
Performing special wrist exercises or using a weighted ball are unnecessary. At practice, just grab the punter/holder and pump out perfect repetitions
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