Punting Question

I was just wondering when we are punting, why do we kick the ball directly at the receiver? There is a lot of open field to the side of the receiver, why not kick it there? The receiver would have to chase the ball, especially if it was a low line drive kick therefore, making it more difficult to get control. The downfield coverage team could just as easily cover that side of the field as straight ahead.
I'm thinking it has something to do with coverage wheras straight ahead is faster than on a slight angle. Maybe players staying in their lanes is the answer.
Random thoughts while waiting for Friday when we thump the Bombers.
Maybe some of the more knowledgeable among us can enlighten me. Thanks

They could be trying to avoid the "punt the ball out of bounds in the air outside the 20 yard line" penalty as well.

I've been thinking that Bartel has been doing a fairly good job lately placing the ball outside the hash marks, and often outside the numbers. I was going to check how he did in the Edmonton game, but internet access here is very slow, so the TSN video-on-demand keeps stopping. I still have the game on my PVR at home, so I might take a look later tonight.

As for using line-drive punts, that only works if there's no rush on by the coverage team. Otherwise, it's a guaranteed blocked punt. But when possible, it can be very effective. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bartel do this later in the season.

I understand where you are going with this but I feel we shouldn't make it easy for the punt returners to catch the ball to start with. I guess "line drive punt" was the wrong term, my intent was a punt that bounces along the ground, these are unpredictable. There is so much open space away from the returner, why not use it? A good punter, with proper protection, should be able to place the punt on the ground inside the sidelines in this open area maybe getting a good bounce or a fumble. Kicking the ball directly at the receiver is making it easier to catch and control. There must be a solid reason why they do it the way they do because all teams seem to do it that way.

Regarding DaveyP's comment, I think the punt must go out of bounds between the 20 yard lines in the air for a penalty. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Thanks

you can only kick the ball so far. The field is what 55-65 yards wide. The further you kick it accross the field the less you kick it down the field. It's important that the special teams unit knows where the ball is going. kicking between the hash and sideline on the side the punter is kicking from is ideal. you pin the returner to a section and everybody knows where the ball is going. I thinkt the ST cover units and Bartell have done an excellent job in containing returners this year to this point.

When PiCat logs on, he can explain the real-world implications of the Pythagorean Theorem to us.

I dont think they kick the ball directly to the returner, I think that when the ball is in the air the returner knows where it is going and gets where he needs to be to catch it.
When I play base ball and there is a fly ball I usually know where it is going to come down so I can catch it.

Notwithstanding the implications of the referred to theorem, I still think there is more advantage to using the open side of the field. The receiver can still be pinned on the edge of the field and the downfield cover team knows where it's going to seal him off.

Come on Friday!

We could take the line segment connecting the point at which the punt is taken and the point where it lands (or gets caught) to be the hypotenuse of a triangle, those two points to be corners of the triangle, and the third point to be the intersection of the line parallel to the side of the field through the point of the punt and the line parallel to the goal line through the point where it lands. The implication of this is that the game will be delayed because we're sitting there on the field drawing triangles while everyone else impatiently waits for security to drag us off.

To the extent that I would have anything insightful at all to say about punting, it would have less to do with where to punt the ball and more to do with how to get the ball to land there.

This made me giggle a little bit. And I can't believe I didn't think of trigonometry in my first answer!

According to my math, the maximum WIDTH that a punt can travel is 41 yards (65 yards - 24 yards of hashmark distance). Given the net distance of Josh Bartel's punts of 58.9 yards (His 43.9 yard punting average + 15 yards lineup behind the line of scrimmage), A perfectly placed punt from the far hashmark to the sideline will have travelled a total distance of 42.3 yards downfield....or 27.3 yards past the line of scrimmage.

Now this is erroneously assuming that Bartel's punting average is made up of punts that are directly downfield...but it shows why you can't just kick the ball as far away from a returner as possible. You lose valuable net yards.

DaveyP, Thanks for your insight and that is probably the main reason the ball is kicked directly straight ahead. I'm no mathematician but consider the following:
Those distances are probably very close if you want to take away any chance of a return. Straight ahead punts rarely do that but allow the opportunity for a return. Therefore, Mr. Bartel should try and kick the ball somewhere between the far hashmarks and the sidelines. To land the ball on the far hashmarks, he would kick the ball downfield app. 56 yds. Naturely the closer he tried for the sidelines, the shorter the distance downfield. As I said previously, just kicking it away from the receiver might bring about the chance for a fumble or bad bounce. Thanks

Hmm, interesting. Punting and trigonometry, and how it relates angling punts versus punting straight down the field.

If you may be interested in seeing how punting at an angle affects how far down the field the ball goes, then you may click the following link: http://easycalculation.com/trigonometry ... angles.php

What you want to calculate is the adjacent side and opposite side of the right-angled triangle.

The hypotenuse is the distance that the ball is punted (not taking into account the height it is punted, of course.) If it is punted straight down the field (if angle q is 90 degrees), then the hypotenuse is equal to the distance down the field that the ball travels. The hypotenuse would be kept relatively constant, as it relates to how far the punter can punt the ball.

The opposite side is the distance down the field the ball travels. You'll find that as angle b (90 - q) increases, the opposite side, and therefore the distance down the field the ball travels, decreases. You know that punting at an angle decreases how far down the field punts travel, but with that calculator, you'll see how much of a difference it makes.

The adjacent side is the distance toward the sidelines that the ball travels. Calculating that is important, as that, of course, should not exceed a certain distance.

Of course there is more to it than this. I haven't taken hangtime into account, or the many other things that need to be taken into account. But if you want to see how angling it affects distance down the field punts go, there you go.

For giggles, I did the math to give an idea of the differences.

Field dimension assumptions:
The field is 65 yards wide.
The hash marks are 24 yards in from the nearest sideline.

Imagine a player punting the ball from the goal line at his own end.

If the player consistently punts the ball 40 yards in a straight line along his chosen direction, we can calculate how far downfield it will travel depending on which direction he kicks it.

Let's assume the punter is standing on the left hash, at his own goal line (and we'll ignore what happens to the punted ball after it hits the ground). We'll consider only the best case scenarios where the punter is able to control the direction of the ball perfectly.

If he kicks it straight down the field, so that it lands along the left hash, it will land at his own 40 yard line.

If he aims to the left so that it travels 40 yards in a straight line and lands directly on the left sideline, it will land on the left sideline at his own 32 yard line.

If he aims to the right so that it travels 40 yards in a straight line and lands directly on the right hash, it will land on the right hash at his own 36 yard line (or 36.21 yard line).

If he aims further to the right so that it travels 40 yards in a straight line and lands directly on the right sideline, he has a problem. The right sideline is 41 yards from the left hash. A 40 yard punt directly to the right (not moving downfield at all) will not even reach the right sideline before it hits the ground.

If he compromises and puts it halfway between the right hash and the right sideline, it will land at about his 28 yard line (or 27.55 yard line).

Conversely, if he puts it halfway between the left hash and the left sideline, it will land at about his 38 yard line (or 38.16 yard line).

I think these number help illustrate why kicking toward the near sideline is so attractive. In particular, I think it's easy for fans to forget that in the CFL it is 41 yards from a hash mark to the far sideline. In the NFL, the distance from a hash mark to the far sideline is 29.75 yards.

EDIT: As DaveyP observes, most CFL punters are hitting the ball more like 60 yards in the air rather than 40, in which case the new downfield distances (from the punter) for my scenarios above would become:
Left hash: 60 yards
Left sideline: 54.99 yards
Right hash: 57.54 yards
Right sideline: 43.81 yards
Midpoint of right hash and right sideline: 52.53 yards
Midpoint of left hash and left sideline: 58.79

This is really enthralling and hilarious. I started this thread just to see if there was any other reason other than distance that someone would constantly punt the ball directly toward the receiver. I never expected it to go this far. This is why I love this forum, you get varied opinions, yes, and get great insight into fields other than football. I think I now know for certain why the ball is not punted to the open side of the field, and if anyone should ask, I will simply refer them to this forum and this thread. Thanks

Maybe it's just me, but I always thought this is what happened...

-Returner lines up in the middle of the field
-Punter kicks the ball to one side or the other
-Returner shifts to side the ball is kicked to
-Fans eyes on ball, not returner at this point
-Returner recieves the punt after having moved over the flight of the ball.
-Fans eyes notice returner, giving appearance it was kicked right to where he was

And isn't a lot better than arguing with each other over which member of the team should be fired first?