Q&A on the News

Q: I’m puzzled about the sudden emphasis (in football) on “laces in” and “laces out” and that the snapper, holder and kicker all have to be on the same page. A few weeks ago during a college game, the holder angled the ball to the left and the kicker angled his kick in that direction and missed left by a wide margin. Now we have Minnesota losing a game kicking with laces in. What’s going on?

—Karen Ermutlu, Alpharetta

A: Kickers generally want to kick footballs with the laces out, or facing away from them.

If they kick the laces, it could cause the ball to act erratically, but might not be as important as the “lean” of the ball as it’s held by the holder on kicks, Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri told Colts.com.

“Laces pointing away from my foot to the middle of the upright is perfect,” he said. “If you hit the laces if they’re straight back, and your foot is going right through it, it’s like hitting a baseball not on the sweet spot or a tennis ball with a tennis racket just a couple inches off and it kind of gives you that rattle. It’s the same kind of feeling when you’re kicking a ball.”

Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, a former UGA kicker, missed a potential game-winning 27-yard field goal attempt wide left in a NFC playoff loss to Seattle on Jan. 10.

The laces were pointed toward Walsh in Jeff Locke’s hold.

“Having the laces out is going to give you better contact,” Locke told reporters after the game, but Walsh said, “the whole thing is on me and I accept that.”

Andy Johnston with Fast Copy News Service wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).