the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, April 26, 2013

Canadian Kicking, part 2

Our look at the nuances of kicking in Canada continues with commentary from five players of very varied backgrounds:

Rob Maver - born in Brampton Ontario, college Guelph, Calgary Stampeders punter/kicker 2010-present
"The main difference between kicking in Canada and the United States would be the field. It's much wider which produces larger angles for boundary kicking on punts and kickoffs. This also affects the angles we kick field goals at too as the hash marks are considerably further apart. That outside it's essentially the same game; this is why it's not uncommon for a kicker/punter to excel in the CFL then go to the NFL. Lawrence Tynes, Mike Vanderjagt and Jon Ryan are a few recent examples."
Rene Paredes - born in Caracas Venezuela, raised in Pierrefonds Quebec, college Concordia, Calgary Stampeders kicker 2011-present
"Kicking in Canada is very different from the US game. The punting game is very directional kicking instead of hang-time as well as the kickoff part of the game. I believe the kicking game is one of the most important aspect of the Canadian game."
Scott Crough - born in Ballarat Australia, signed as punter by Calgary Stampeders in February 2012
"The coaches have told me to work hard on my directional punts and flatten out my kicks to eliminate the hang time and just line drive it. Instead of the 5 second plus punts I have been doing for the past two years all of a sudden they want nothing more than a 4.5 but with 10 to 15 yards extra distance so that the returner can be stopped but still achieve a good net average."
Nick Setta - born in Lockport Illinois, college Notre Dame, Hamilton Tiger-Cats kicker/punter 2006-2009
"It's even a larger part of the game than in the NFL due to there only being 3 downs and the field being larger. Field Position plays a pivitol role in the CFL and having a big leg can really help control field position. The 3 downs equates to more punting and more big plays with returns.

You can Win a game on a Missed kick. Since if you are tied and you are tied 20/20 and you kick a field goal but it sails wide left or right but goes out of the back of the endzone you will receive a point, which would win you the game. There can be some pretty crazy endings because if Time is about to expire the team defending the field goal would have to set up a returner behind the uprights and hope the ball doesn't go out of the endzone. At the time the kick is missed if the returner can get it before it goes out of the end zone he can't kneel it down because then he would be conceding a point and that would cause them to loose the game.Sometimes they will have a kicker back there as well because you have the option to kick the ball out into the field of play and or run it out of the endzone. Since the endzone is 20 yards deep sometimes running it isn't an option because if you get tackled you give up one point and lose.

You can also lose a game on a punt sailing through the endzone as well. Same rules apply to the field goal and it must be kicked out and or ran out of the endzone. With the crazy winds in Canada and the ability to get points from missing kicks and booming punts through the end zone it really changes the game. On onsides you also do not have to hit the ground you can just kick it on the fly and have someone catch it on the go which makes for a foot to hand pass which can be pretty fun.

Last thing about kicking in Canada.. The ball makes a different sound when it hits your foot. Instead of it making a strong thud sound it makes an "EH" sound!!!"
Justin Medlock - born in Fremont California, college UCLA, Toronto Argonauts 2009-10, Edmonton Eskimos 2010, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 2011
"When I first signed with the CFL I had no idea what the game truly entailed. I just thought the hashes were wider. Little did I know that there were such things as a 5 yard halo on a punt which consisted of a 15 yard penalty, return on missed FGs, kicking out of bounce on a punt would consist of a 15 yard penalty, etc. These were just some of the adjustments that I had to make during my three years up in the CFL. I still remember the first punt I had where I hit it 38 yards with about 4.4 seconds of hang time and I got a penalty. I followed the next punt by hitting it out of bounds. I learned real quick that I needed to learn the game but also make some adjustments on my punting in order for me to succeed in the CFL. It took me about 6-8 games before I totally learned all the rules of the game.

 A lot of kickers have asked me about the CFL and the thought of going up to Canada. First I tell all imports that it is extremely hard to land a job in the CFL being a kicker. I was very fortunate with landing a spot at the right time. I loved playing in the CFL but I also know how hard it is to land a job in the CFL as an import. As an import it is also very hard to keep a job even if you are playing well. In 2010 I came off a game in which I kicked 3 FG's but I was released because the GM traded for a Canadian player. I was picked up off waivers and sat on the bench for the rest of the season. It just shows you that performance is not everything in the CFL for an import. 

For all imports who are able to go up to the CFL they have to first be able to kick/punt/kickoff. The next thing I would tell a player would be to learn the game and adapt to the game. When I say adapt to the game I am talking about how you need to keep the ball at a trajectory on a punt where you don't get a penalty. Some of the hardest punts I had in the CFL were the punts into a 20-50 mph wind where I knew I could not kick the ball higher then 4 seconds. A punt pass is a better word for the punt I am describing. If you can be creative with your punting and be a solid directional punter you can be very successful punting in the CFL. As a kicker I would just say that the hashes are wider but other then that, kicking is kicking. MAKE THE FIELD GOAL!!!"

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