John T. Reed’s Football Think Tank

The pendulum field-goal kick
In my youth, I thought I could become an NFL place kicker. I could kick 46-yard field goals all day, but I could not kick a 47-yarder to save my life. So I abandoned the effort.

However, along the way I fiddled around with different approaches. Back then, the NFL goal posts were on the goal line. Now, they are on the end line (back of the end zone). I discovered that for short distance kicks like P.A.T.s and short field goals, I did not have to take the normal steps to approach the kick. I could just stand there and shift my weight from my back foot to my front, which never moved, and kick the ball through the uprights.

The obvious advantage is quickness. Field goals are already extremely hard to block. Kicking even faster would make them darned near impossible to block. But during my 15 seasons as a coach, I forgot about that experiment.

Bill Dudley’s “Pendulum” kick
On 5/23/06, I was watching the NFL Channel when they did a piece on Bill Dudley. Bill Dudley is a Hall of Famer. He played for the Steelers, Lions, and Redskins from 1942 to 1953 with two years off for military service. He did it all and takes up half a page in the NFL Football Encyclopedia Total Football.

League leader
He was undistinguished as a passer, but led the league in rushing attempts and yards; punt return attempts, yards; kickoff return average; interceptions and yards after interceptions; and field-goal and extra-point kicking percentages.

With regard to the latter, he used a unique kicking style called the “pendulum.” That is, he simply shifted his weight from his back (right) foot to his left, which never moved, and kicked the ball with his right foot—the same as my experimental, short-distance field goal kick. NFL Films’ piece on him had a video clip of him kicking a field goal that way.

Other advantages
Other advantages include less chance of your plant foot slipping, less practice time required to master the kick, more time to try a second time in case of a momentary muff by the holder, less chance of misplacing the plant foot in the wrong location.

Try it
Seems to me that all field-goal kickers and their coaches should experiment with this to see if it works and is quicker and what their maximum range with this type of kick is. At the college and NFL levels, rules that bring the ball back to where it was kicked from in the event of a miss discourage long attempts. Accordingly, a large percentage of field-goal attempts could switch to this technique.

To contribute an idea or comment to this Football Think Tank web site, either email to or fax to 925-820-1259 or snail mail at 342 Bryan Drive, Alamo, CA 94507.

Best wishes,

John T. Reed

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John T. Reed, a.k.a. John Reed, John T Reed, Jack Reed, 342 Bryan Drive, Alamo, CA 94507, Voice: 925-820-7262, Fax: 925-820-1259, Email: