Ray Guy explains how to use onside kicks
An onside kick can be a surprise kick or a kick that everyone in the stadium knows is coming. The kicking team executes the onside kick with the intention of obtaining possession of the football. An onside kick can be used at any time to create a big play, but usually these kicks are employed when the game is on the line and the kicking team desperately needs the ball in the hands of its offense.
Kicks are considered onside kicks if they go at least 10 yards (enough to be legally recoverable) and provide the kicking team an opportunity to recover the kick and secure possession of the ball. Kicks that can be used for onside kicks include the high-bounce kick, the classic drive kick, and the drag kick.
The high-bounce, or lob, kick is angled toward the sideline, bounces off the ground, travels high in the air, and comes down at a point just beyond 10 yards. This kick gives the coverage team an opportunity to catch the ball before it hits the ground. To get the high bounce, the placekicker positions the football in the same way he normally would tee up the ball for a kickoff, with the exception of turning the tee backwards. This allows the football to immediately hit the ground without making any contact with the tee. He takes a position to the left side of the ball (for a right-footed kicker), about two and a half steps away. From this position, he faces down a line that connects his plant foot, the ball, and the spot he’s kicking to-a spot 10 yards away. The approach is similar to that for an extra point or field goal. The placekicker leans, jab steps, steps, and plant steps past the ball, allowing the kicking foot to strike down on the upper third of the football with the inside tip of his toe. He sweeps the kicking leg across his body so the kicking foot doesn’t hit the ground or the football as it ricochets upward. This contact forces a quick rotation of the ball into the ground, causing the ball to bounce high into the air as it heads toward its target. Ideally, the football should go at an angle from the tee, gaining distance as it heads toward the sideline to a point 10 yards down field. The football must come down toward the sideline but not too close. It needs to remain in the field of play to ensure an opportunity for the kicking team to secure possession.
This is an excerpt from the book “Football Kicking and Punting” by Ray Guy and Rick Sang, foreward by John Madden