Every offensive play in football starts with a snap...
...yet it's one of the most overlooked parts of the game.
Those watching the game simply assume the snap will be executed properly so that the play can start as it's supposed to.
While this happens more times than not at the upper levels of the game, there are many more issues with the snap at lower levels of football.
The reason for this:
Learning how to snap a football correctly takes a lot of practice.
It's an art.
But if you're an offensive lineman who wants to become a center, learning how to snap a football properly is one of the most critical skills you need to master. If you aren't able to do this, you can't play center effectively.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to snap a football.
How to Snap a Football:
There are a few different types of snap in football, including under center, shotgun, and long snap.
While there are some differences with each of these types, they all start out the same way.
Those who are still learning to snap a football correctly will start with the "under center" approach.
They can then branch out and learn how to do this correctly in shotgun and possibly even a long snap.
Here are the steps you need to take to learn how to do it:
1. Get in Stance
The stance is one of the most important aspects of a proper football snap.
Stand with your feet positioned apart at shoulder width.
If you set up too wide or too narrow, your weight won't be distributed properly, so make sure your feet are set up right first before moving on.
Bend over at your knees until you're in a squatting position.
Your thighs should be in a parallel position with the ground.
Distribute your weight even on both feet, and center it in the middle of each foot -- not too much to the heels or toes.
Bend forward with the top of your body.
Your belly should touch the thighs, and keep your back straight.
At this point, your body should look like the letter Z.
4. Hand on the Ball
Place your dominant hand on the football and grip it like you would if you were throwing the ball.
This means lining up your fingers on the laces near the top of the ball, with your thumb wrapped under the point.
Have a solid grip on the ball, but not too tight that it can slip out of your hands.
5. Tilt the Ball
Next, you want to tilt the ball up at a 45-degree angle.
The bottom tip of the football should be resting on the ground at an angle, not straight up and down.
This will give you leverage to snap the ball.
6. Position your Off Hand
Whatever hand is NOT on the ball should be out in front of you, just as if you were playing another offensive line position.
Bend this arm at a slight angle, ready to take on contact from an opposing defensive lineman.
7. Head Up
The final part of positioning your body is raise your head up.
You shouldn't look down at the ball before you snap it. Instead, your head should be up to scan the field and see what's in front of you.
This will take some time to master, as your first instinct will be to look down at the ball.
You can only get REALLY good at snapping, though, if you're able to do it without looking at the ball.
This is important, as centers need to be ready to block IMMEDIATELY after they snap the ball.
8. Snap the Ball Back
Finally, it's time to snap the ball to the quarterback.
You'll do this by quickly snapping the football back with your arm in a quick, short motion -- it should all be in one motion, too.
Don't lift the ball and move it forward...
Your first and ONLY motion should be straight back.
If you've angled the ball properly on the ground, it'll be easy to do.
If the quarterback is under center, you will follow through and snap the ball through your legs all the way up, right under your butt. The QB will literally take the ball from you at this position as if it were a handoff.
If the quarterback is in shotgun position, you'll need to toss the ball back.
The snap will be exactly the same, except instead of bringing the ball all the way up near your butt, you'll release it about halfway up.
Do this with power so that the ball gets back to the quarterback in a direct line, rather than looping up into the air.
Shotgun snaps take some extra time to master, but think of it as you're throwing the ball between your legs.
The motion and technique are the same as if you were standing up.
A snap in football is often taken for granted because so many snaps just happen flawlessly at the top levels of the game.
But this is a skill that takes years for centers to master.
If you're new to the game and want to play center, it's essential to practice the snap over and over again so that you get it down.
This is one of the most important skills that a center can learn, and what often separates a center from an offensive guard.