As we compiled concepts for our collection of Super Bowl science, we came to a startling realization: we don’t understand kickers. Long the outcasts, we figured our lives obsessing over science would provide something of a kinship with the resident geek of the football field. But when we glimpsed into the kicking world we were plagued by uncertainty. So, to our reading public we request assistance in deciphering the king of special teams.
Laces In – Ace Ventura popularized the theory that the position of the laces matters. Really? We all watch the holder spinning the ball into the appropriate position but to what end? We couldn’t find any data suggesting the strips of leather help or hurt and Tony Romo will attest it’s hard enough to get the snap down.
The K-Ball – We didn’t even know this [existed](http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1017189/index.htm Ideal pressure). Apparently kickers get their own balls that are kept untouched in a secure location to ensure crafty veterans can’t molest them to their advantage. We want to know about any home remedies and whether they work? Gary Anderson finally retired, right? Well let’s get him on a field with a tub of butter, an air pump and few buckets of water to see if the wives tales have any legs.
Rugby – Where are all the rugby players? Okay, this one doesn’t beg of science, but there’s an entire league of kickers who would love to have one of these chaps on their side next time some third string linebacker decides to pick on the little guy. We’ve got an influx of wimpy soccer players who couldn’t cut it in Europe but even a second rate rugby player won’t mind breaking the wedge on his own kickoffs.
Barefoot – What happened to the barefoot kicking? There was something so pure about it but it seems like everyone needs a piece of leather between their foot and another piece of leather to protect their fragile metatarsals. Conceptually the energy required to compress the shoe material is inefficient, so there’s got to be someone willing to withstand the pain.
Warmup Net – What’s up with the warm-up net? For all the kicker knows, he’s practicing kicking the ball wide left each time. Tiger doesn’t practice driving into a net, he goes to the range. How about a sideline simulator like that golf thing at your local pro shop. The kicker can slam it into a screen and the simulation will show how far it went, whether it was straight and if the kick should’ve been blocked.
It’s Good? – Okay this one is not on the kickers, but why don’t we have a better way method to determine if a field goal is good or not. You’ve got two middle age guys staring up a long yellow post. Some of the time the ball goes higher than the posts making the judgment impossible. Heck, one ref always looks at the other before they make the call. Come on people, we’re better than this.