PATs and Youth Football
In many youth football leagues, the Point After Try (PAT) kick is worth 2 points and a run or pass is worth just 1 point. That is the case with both Pop Warner and AYF leagues as well as many independent leagues throughout the country.
Many youth coaches feel they are wasting time developing a place kicker and spending time on PAT kicks. They either feel the kids can’t do it or that they are just better off going for the 1 point attempt since in many cases scoring from about 3 yards out may be easier than a team making a PAT kick. The PAT kick does require some pretty good execution; a good snap, good catch and hold, protection and a good kick. While that may seem daunting to some, it makes good sense to develop a solid PAT team.
Let’s take a look at the math, say you score 50 touchdowns this season and run your extra point in, making 80% of them. That’s 40 points you’ve scored on your PAT runs. Now let’s say on those same 50 touchdowns you made 20 PAT kicks, just 40% conversion rate for 40 points. So even by scoring an incredibly high percentage of your run plays, to match that scoring you would need to convert just 40% of your PAT kicks.
While some of you are saying, 40% is tough to do, it doesn’t have to be. I found attending the last two Pop Warner and AYF National Championships and other big tournaments, the teams that make it this far, they all kick. Even down at the Jr Pee Wee level I see these young kids on well coached teams making 60-70-even 80% of their kicks. Jeff Miret’s Pop Warner teams from Port St Lucie Florida have made over 90% of their kicks in the last two National Tournaments.
Even if you aren’t connecting on 40% of your kicks, you need to be competent at kicking your PAT’s. What happens if you are playing a team, you are down 14-6 and you score on the last play of the game, if you haven’t been practicing your PAT kicks, there is absolutely no chance you can tie the game up. If that happens, who are the parents going to blame? That’s right, they blame you. Championship caliber teams are able to convert their PAT kicks. If your goal this season is to win a league or National Championship, you may need to adjust some priorities. In the last 4 seasons I’ve coached 5 games that came down to who was the best at executing their PATs.
The key is you have to invest some time in developing a kicker. I met the people from Kohls kicking school at a clinic 4 or 5 years ago in Chicago. They have excellent videos on training both kickers and punters. Even if you don’t want to go into the depth that they do, just learning about proper foot placement is well worth the investment. The off-season is a great time to improve your skills in an area most coaches know so little about. Why not become the resident expert in an area most youth football coaches avoid like the plague.? A little knowledge goes a long way in developing a consistent PAT kicking team.
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