Whenever I am working with a snapper I always stress the importance of having a ‘Pre-Snap Routine‘. A pre-snap routine assists the long snapper in focusing on the task at hand — delivering the perfect snap every single time.
Much like the routine a basketball player displays before shooting a free throw, or in baseball when the batter steps into the batter’s box, the routine helps calm the athlete down and gets them locked in and focused on the task at hand.
Longsnapping, like shooting a free throw is a closed skill. Definitions of Skill Types as per Clark Science Center:
- Closed: Environment is predictable and response can be prepared for – archery, bowling, golf. Typically “self-paced”.
- Open: Environment is variable and unpredictable during the action. Environmental contingencies determine the response – soccer, basketball, tennis. Typically “externally-paced”.
- Mixed: Environment is semi-predictable – fielding a ground ball, steering a car on a straight highway.
Certain aspects in longsnapping never change. In basketball, the foul line is always 15 feet from the rim, and the rim is always 10 feet high. When snapping, the ball is always placed on the ground, and the punter or holder is always at a predetermined distance. What happens within the environment before and after you snap or shoot, like crowd noise, weather, etc., is out your control and does not affect the process or result of your action. You have absolute control over what you do to prepare for sending the snap back.
Example Pre-Snap Routine (change your to me/my):
1. Set your Feet
2. Take a Deep Breath
3. Grip the Ball
4. Lock in your target
5. Look up at the Defense (or Stay locked on Target)
6. Take a Deep Breath
7. Send the Snap
Everyone’s pre-snap routine is different. You have to do what makes sense for you, to get physically and mentally prepared to fire back the snap. Experiment with different flows/order of your routine until you find what works for you. When you figure out what works best, make sure you do your routine every single time you snap, regardless of the situation. If you’re in your backyard with friends, at practice, or in a game, do the same routine over and over. Through proper practice and repetition of your routine, when you’re faced with thousands of people screaming, and it’s a defining point in the game, you’ll be calm and collected because you now have a pre-snap routine to follow!
-Coach Steve Terlesky
Coach Steve has been a snapping coach on the Kicking World staff since 2015 and is based in Ohio, and originally from Pennsylvania. He was the starting longsnapper at the Division 1 level and had stops as Special Teams Coordinator at 2 different college football programs. Steve works with dozens of long-snappers in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania throughout the year, and travels to select camps with us. Schedule a Snapping Lesson with a Kicking World snapping coach today!