the study of the kicking components within sports

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kyle Stelter: Acquisition and Acknowledgement of Accuracy

During his senior year in high school, Kyle Stelter took up long snapping as suggested by his offensive line coach as a means of increasing his college prospects. Kyle took the advice and has been snapping ever since. His collegiate career started at University of Wisconsin Stout and concluded at University of Wisconsin River Falls. Most recently he snapped for the St. Paul Pioneers, champions of the Northern Elite Football League. His snapping activities are not just limited to his team play. He is the founder and co-owner of the USA Special Teams Academy where he instructs others in the ways of snapping. We recently spoke with Kyle and discussed (not surprisingly) snapping.

When you first started snapping as a senior in high school, what was the most challenging aspect to learn?
“Just being accurate. Being accurate is one of the biggest problems guys have. It’s something that’s really hard to get down as a beginner.”

How long did it take until you felt comfortable in that new role?
“Quite a while actually. I didn’t feel extremely comfortable and confident in my role until I was a sophomore in college.“

What’s harder, snapping on a punt or snapping on a placekick?
“Snapping on a punt, because there are a few more aspects to it. Not only do you have to snap the ball back there as fast as you can and be accurate with it, most of the time you also need to block. You’ve got a bunch of big guys running at you trying to take your head off. It’s a difficult task.”

Are there any adjustments you make when playing in rain or in cold weather?
“If it’s raining I always like to keep a towel on my waist or on my belt somewhere. Just keep my hands as dry as possible for as long as I can. It depends on what level your at and how good the refs are with the ball, but usually the refs will be pretty good about getting you a dry ball or at least keeping it as dry as possible. In cold weather I like to use a hand warmer. So I’ll keep my hands in there as long as possible until I have to go grip the ball. Just make sure you’ve got a sure grip.”

On average, how long does it take for a new snapper, holder and kicker that have just started working with each other to get their timing and rhythm down?
“It depends on what level you’re at. In high school I would say quite a while because you don’t have that special teams time. You’re usually not just a specialist, so you only get maybe a couple minutes a day to work on it, if that. You could never get used to it in high school if you don’t work out a lot with those same guys. In college I would say maybe a couple weeks. You’ve just got to get used to your timing. If you’re working with the same guys all the time it’s a little easier to get used to the routine, who you’re working with, and where your snaps are and how fast they are.”

Are there any conditioning or training routines that are unique to snappers and that don’t really apply to other positions?
“Basically as snapper you just want to be able to snap as much as possible, get into a rhythm, and be able to do the same thing every single time. Some things that I like to do… there’s a lot of different drills for accuracy and speed. I like to use a weighted football to build up my endurance and my strength. That helps me with my speed as well. Just working on different scenarios… If there’s a hard wind, sometimes I’ll snap into the wind just to get used to it. Going through different situations… blocking different ways. Different scenarios with the clock… sometimes you’re being rushed and you need to get out there and do your job but still be accurate.”

It’s often mentioned that kicking is 80 to 90% mental. Does that also apply to snapping?
“I think it does. If you go out there and you’re not confident in what you’re doing, or you don’t understand the situation… it’s a big portion that’s mental. If you have a bad snap, you just have to forget about it and move on. You’re going to have to do it again, and if you’re worried about that last snap it’s just going to mess with your head. Everybody is going to have a bad snap in their career; you’ve just have to forget about it and move on. Maybe ask your punter or holder where it was, get that locked into your head and how to fix it, and then move on from there.”

Do you have a favorite story or moment from this past season with the St. Paul Pioneers?
“There’s a lot of good moments. Winning is a fun experience compared to a college team that didn’t really have a successful season all three years that I was at it. In the all-star game it came down to a game winning field goal in overtime. That was something exciting, having to run out there and snap for a game winning kick and then having everybody acknowledge you… it’s a pretty good feeling. Especially when usually nobody knows your name.”

Is there anything you’ve learned since becoming an instructor that you wish you had known back during your college playing days?
“Just some different drills and workout training techniques that I’ve picked up on. I wish I would have worked a little bit harder on technique. In college I didn’t really have a coach, so I just went out there, did my thing, and kind of had to learn from myself what I was doing wrong. I wish I myself would have had a coach, working with me and helping me fine tune my technique – instead of me having to be out there with a video camera, checking out what I was doing wrong, and trying to adjust it myself.”

In a recent article NY Jets kicker Nick Folk said regarding long snapping: “I think it’s hard for people to really understand until they try to fire one, then get run over.” Do you have anything you’d like to add to that?
“Yea, it’s tough. You’ve got to be very skilled to be able to throw a ball as hard as you can between your legs and the try to get your head up so you don’t get killed. There’s a lot of practice that goes into it, a lot of training, and a lot of people don’t think it’s a hard thing to do. They see people do it and say, ‘aww, I could do that’. But until they get under, between their legs, and try to do it themselves… then they could finally appreciate what we do as a long snapper.”

Earlier this year, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe drew attention to the fact that long snappers are the only position not included in the Madden Football game. Do you have anything you’d like to add to that?
“I know it’s our job as long snappers not to get noticed, but it would always be cool to have some of our snappers acknowledged in the game. I bet it would be hard for those guys to develop all the stats for the snappers, but it would still be cool to be acknowledged in a video game where everybody else in the league is acknowledged.”

This interview sponsored by the National Camp Series.

No comments:

Post a Comment