the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Watched Kickers Are Getting Ready

Is there anything in particular you've been working on in preparation for the upcoming season? 

We posed that question to collegiate Kickers on the Lou Groza Award preseason watch list that was released last week. 

Maikon Bonani, South Florida
"This summer I have been working on being a great all around kicker, working on all the fundamentals of kicking. Really taking the time to analyze my steps, follow through, aiming points and also, the mind game. My goal is to be so fundamentally sound that every kick and every moment is exactly the same. Trying to do as much as I can to help my team succeed this upcoming season!"
Cody Parkey, Auburn
"I have been working on my accuracy kicking field goals the most."
Ty Long, UAB
"I've been keeping the same focus I had on last season going into this one. I work on seeing how many field goals in a row I can make so I can compete with my self to try to make more each time I go out and kick. I have also been working on my kick offs direction, hang time, and being more consistent with all my kicks."
Jimmy Newman, Wake Forest
"This preseason I have really been hitting all three phases of my game especially hard. On the field, physical, and mental training have been where I have spent most of my hours this summer in order to help our team as best I can this season. And I think the rest the pieces will fall into place as long as I put the work in and trust the process."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Field of Unpleasant Dreams, part 2

What is the most difficult stadium/field/arena in which you ever kicked/punted/snapped?
In the first batch of answers to that question, Soldier Field in Chicago was mentioned by several of our experts. This time, a certain stadium in Iowa gets some love.

Brion Hurley,
"Jack Trice Stadium at Iowa State. The stadium sits in the middle of nowhere, so the midwest winds build up momentum from miles away. The stadium was basically open at each end (a little better nowadays, but not much), so that didn't slow the wind down either. One game we played, the wind was horrible. Not sure what the MPH was, but the longest punt into the wind was 23 yards. Five other punts were less than 20 yards, including one 4 yards."

Juan Gamboa, San Jose SaberCats kicker 2011
"The most difficult stadium I have ever kicked at has to have been Montana. Easily the loudest place I have ever played even though the place only holds 25,000. The fans are six feet from the sideline and they give it to you all game, especially since we were from California. The heckling was the best because it was creative and funny. Also, did I mention it was usually 20 degrees and snowing every time we came to town. Couldn't hear a thing on extra points or kickoffs, but it sure was fun playing there."

"Veteran's stadium where the Philadelphia Eagles used to play. Not only could the wind be bad, especially in the colder months, but the field with its seams and areas of loose turf were very unfriendly for kicking. However, on the bright side, rumor has it, that there was a little peep hole from the visitors' locker room into the Eagles cheerleaders' showers. Not that I would have ever looked through it though..."

"Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Most consistently windy stadium... ever. Flags on the posts will blow left to right and the United States flag 10 yards behind it will blow from right to left. Or better yet, the wind changes from pre-game warm ups to when you come back out of the locker room for the opening kickoff."

Brad Bohn, West Coast Kicking
College - Kansas State. Wind howling about 40+ miles an hour. During pregame I couldn't get it there from 30 yards. Turned to look at K-State's kicker knocking them through from 75 with the wind at his back. He proceeded to connect on 4 FG's in the 1st quarter including a 57 yarder. His kickoffs were landing in the stands 15 yards past the uprights.

NFL - Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. That wind is difficult to gauge. It feels like it is in your face no matter which direction you are kicking and it swirls up top.

Arena - Any arena that has a scoreboard that is to low to connect on a FG outside of 50 yards or has rafters that are too low to kick off with decent hang time.

John Carney, NFL kicker 1988-2010
"San Francisco early in the season is no walk in the park. It’s very windy and because it’s gusty it makes it difficult. I think the winds calm down later in the season, but in August, September, and October the gusts are hard to predict. Whereas some stadiums just have a consistent wind, that you can play the ball and expect the ball to move two or three yards. With a gust some of it is driving the ball, and your hoping that the gust doesn’t just completely take the ball out of the stadium. Similar situation with Chicago, which has a double negative – it has wind and it has high grass. That’s one of the reasons the kicking community has a high regard for Robbie Gould, because he’s done such a great job in Chicago. It’s a very difficult place to play I believe. I think New England has improved since they put down there artificial turf. Prior to that when they had grass, they would have grass and sand. The middle of the field would be torn up pretty well by midseason, and that was very difficult to play on. That’s why Adam Vinatieri is so highly regarded, not only for making clutch kicks, but for also kicking on a very tough field with very tough weather conditions. The kickers now at Foxboro at least have a good surface to kick off of. That certainly helps. Buffalo’s very windy but they have a good surface to kick off of. Cleveland can be tricky, although they’ve done a really good job with their grass- but it can get windy. And we can’t forget Pittsburgh. They have the challenge of grass, torn up grass, and tough winds. That can be very difficult, in fact that should probably be listed as one of the top most difficult stadiums.... Those are some of the stadiums that as a kicker you look at the schedule when it comes out, those kind of jump out at you right away."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kicking 101, Lesson 1



K is for Kick.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Watched Punters Are Getting Ready

Is there anything in particular you've been working on in preparation for the upcoming season? We posed that question to collegiate punters on the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list that was released recently. 

Tyler Campbell, Ole Miss
"I've just been working on all fundamentals of punting. Trying to get as consistent as I can and become more efficient. Trying to get my steps, drop, and hang time consistent to where I can be the most effective for my team and become more fundamentally sound."
Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
"Fine tuning my technique and consistency. hours of drill work create mental confidence which I believe is huge for kickers and punters. Consistency comes from being calm and confident while letting your ability take over."
Brad Wing, LSU
"Consistency. That's the main thing. And also heavily working on direction more than anything. That's super important to eliminate return opportunities for opposing teams."
Darragh O’Neill, Colorado 
"Mostly working on directional punting as well as improving my hang time. Every day just goin' out and hitting every punt as if it was a game situation and making sure I'm placing the ball exactly where I want it."
Ian Campbell, UTEP
"I have been focusing on gaining weight properly through our extensive lifting program and making sure that my drop stays the same. With more weight coming through my swing I will be able to project the ball higher into the air. Hangtime is my main focus for this offseason."
Brian Schmiedebusch, Bowling Green
"Flexibility and getting stronger. Both will help me with my hang time, and getting more distance on my punts. Field position will be very big for us this year."
Dalton Botts, Miami (FL)
"I have been working on alot of the ozzy pooch punts and being more consistent overall."
Ronnie Doherty, Kansas
"I've been working on pinning teams inside the 20. As well as my drop."
Bobby Cowan, Idaho
"I have been working on my pooch punts a lot. That is one thing I struggled with last year and am really focused on doing better at this year."
Will Atterberry, North Texas
"The one thing I have worked on summed up is "Consistency"- footwork, setting my drop table faster and correctly, and letting my eyes follow the ball after it leaves my foot."
Jeff Locke, UCLA
"I have been primarily focusing on increasing my hang time this off-season. For me, this has meant working on a consistent, flat drop in the perfect position relative to my body and working on swinging up through the ball rather than down the field. My hang-time has been solid the last few years, but I have definitely seen a direct correlation between my average hang-time for the season and the team's net punting stats. Increasing my hang-time will be the biggest benefit to the team in the fall."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lou Groza Award 2012 Preseason Watch List

The Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award announced the 2012 Preseason Watch List. Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2011 season and 2012 expectations. Ten conferences are represented among the 30 kickers, led by seven from the Big Ten. The SEC follows with six, along with four each from the ACC and the Pac-12. The Big 12, Conference USA and Sun Belt each placed two representatives, while the Big East, MAC and Mountain West each had a kicker recognized. 

While the Watch List highlights thirty of the best returning kickers in the country, the Groza Committee will be watching all FBS kickers during the season. The winner will be announced on Thursday December 6th during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Award Show.
  • Drew Alleman, LSU
  • Brett Baer, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Drew Basil, Ohio State
  • Tyler Bitancurt, West Virginia
  • Maikon Bonani, South Florida
  • Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson
  • Dan Conroy, Michigan State
  • Mitch Ewald, Indiana
  • Anthony Fera, Penn State
  • Andrew Furney, Washington State
  • Brendan Gibbons, Michigan
  • Jack Griffin, Florida International
  • Andre Heidari, USC
  • Parker Harrington, Air Force
  • Zach Hocker, Arkansas
  • Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
  • Ty Long, UAB
  • Brett Maher, Nebraska
  • Craig McIntosh, Kentucky
  • Mike Meyer, Iowa
  • Jimmy Newman, Wake Forest
  • Cody Parkey, Auburn
  • Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
  • Jeremy Shelley, Alabama
  • Caleb Sturgis, Florida
  • Matt Weller, Ohio
  • Jake Wieclaw, Miami (FL)
  • Jordan Williamson, Stanford

Ray Guy Award 2012 Preseason Watch List

The Augusta Sports Council has announced the preseason watch list for the 2012 Ray Guy Award, which honors the nation’s top collegiate punter. 

The 25 candidates on the list incorporate a broad spectrum of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) punters. The number of eligible candidates for this season will grow when the award opens for nominations in September. The winner will be announced live during The Home Depot College Football Awards airing on ESPN on Thursday December 6th. 
  • Dylan Breeding, Arkansas
  • Steven Clark, Auburn
  • Brian Schmiedebusch, Bowling Green
  • Riley Stephenson, BYU
  • Pat O’Donnell, Cincinnati
  • Darragh O’Neill, Colorado
  • Pete Kontodiakos, Colorado State
  • Richie Leone, Houston
  • Bobby Cowan, Idaho
  • Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State
  • Ron Doherty, Kansas
  • Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
  • Brad Wing, LSU
  • Dalton Botts, Miami (FL)
  • Brett Maher, Nebraska
  • Will Atterberry, North Texas
  • Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
  • Tyler Campbell, Ole Miss
  • Jackson Rice, Oregon
  • Harrison Waid, San Jose State
  • Jeff Locke, UCLA
  • Sean Sellwood, Utah
  • Tyler Bennett, Utah State
  • Ian Campbell, UTEP
  • Richard Kent, Vanderbilt

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Field of Unpleasant Dreams, part 1

In the ideal world, every snap, hold, kick & punt would be successfully identical. In the real world, numerous factors make that impossible at times. Of course the former could be rather boring and the latter can be very exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Aside from human factors, the surrounding environment also plays a big role in each play. Some football venues are closer to the ideal than others. Some are not. We asked our array of experts the following question:
What is the most difficult stadium/field/arena in which you ever kicked/punted/snapped?
Uwe von Schamann, NFL kicker 1979-1984
"Two come to mind. The old Metropolitan Stadium for the Vikings and Shea Stadium when the Jets played there. Also any stadium that shares the baseball team. Early in the season you had to kick off the dirt infield."

Todd Covington, All-Star Kicking
"Mine was at Morgan State. It was awful.... field was lop-sided, holes in the field, and the grass was about two inches tall!"

"No Question, Pittsburgh's Heinz Field is the worst field in the NFL and I've played in some of the most notorious games. One of the only ties in recent history occurred between the Falcons and the Steelers on a mess of a field that more closely resembled a beach than a football field. Dirt and sand combined with a cold November day created the perfect setting for a Steelers game. But that game paled in comparison to the field conditions for the Monday night affair between the Steelers and the Dolphins. A week of rain and the ill-fated decision to put new sod over the ruined old sod left the field a quagmire. In some places on the field you would sink up to your calf. It really was unwatchable football with the final score 3-0. The game was punctuated by a punt landing on the field and sucking into the ground, standing upright like an upside ice cream cone."

Brooks Rossman, Kansas City Kicking
"The most difficult stadium that I have ever played in is Virginia Tech. The field is grass and actually more like a hardened dirt. The stands are basically right on top of the bench and they are by far the loudest group of fans I have ever heard. They put big 12 stadiums to shame. They also have some interesting crowd chants to say the least."

"Chicago. The wind is strong and consistently inconsistent in its direction, the weather sucks, and the turf is crap. I think that pretty much covers all the bases :)"

Mike McCabe, One On One Kicking
"Chicago. In the old stadium the wind off the great lakes was average 20 mph, so for any player you must master punting into the wind. Any one can punt with it."

"Soldier Field in Chicago. I played in a 'Monday Night Football' game there on Halloween night in 1994 that was 38 degrees, torrential rains, and 65mph winds! I averaged 27 yards a punt and received a game ball. What fun!!!"

"When you are running up a hill and having to jump to reach the ball on a kickoff... farm field up north. Bring a shovel for gameday."

"In my case, the most difficult stadium to play in was also the most fun.

Playing for the Houston Oilers from 1988-1993, we would have to travel to play the Cleveland Browns in Nov/Dec every year( AFC Central). Municipal Stadium, a.k.a. 'The Mistake on the Lake", was probably the toughest stadium to play in due to the condition of the field (painted mud since the grass was non-existent), the weather (usually very cold with various levels of wind, rain and snow) and the fans('The Dog Pound" was always out in full force.)

The Houston Oilers - Cleveland Browns game in Cleveland in the late 80's/early 90's always had playoff implications. The fans were always 'well-oiled' and rowdy would be a gross understatement. Due to death threats, head coach Jerry Glanville once wore a bullet-proof vest during a playoff game and I was actually standing right next to offensive coordinator June Jones when he got hit in the back with a frozen grapefruit thrown from the upper deck.... That being said, Cleveland was always one of my most fun cities to play."

Friday, July 6, 2012

United Bowl IV: kicker Brady Beeson

On Saturday July 14th, the Tri-Cities Fever and the Sioux Falls Storm will play in the Indoor Football League's annual championship game - The United Bowl. 

Earlier this week we checked in with Fever kicker Brady Beeson for a quick Q&A session: 

How did you come to join the Fever last month? 
"I had just moved back from San Diego after training all winter/spring with my coach, Michael Husted. On Memorial Day morning, I received a message from Coach Shackleford, asking if I'd be interested in joining the squad. The rest is history, as I immediately began to prepare to meet the team in Denver that upcoming weekend. After training for roughly a year with no game experience, it has truly been a blessing to be able to join the Fever organization. It has been an amazing experience, which has provided an opportunity for me to not only contribute to the team, but gain exposure for myself in my pursuit of making an NFL roster."
Can you tell us a little about your first game, when you ended up being named the IFL Special Teams Player of the Week? 
"Denver was an amazing experience. After meeting the team in Denver the night before the game, I was told I would have an opportunity to work with my snapper and holder for the first time the following morning. Given the circumstances, Coach Shack told me I was only expected to kickoff well, and make my extra points.

I wanted to make an impact early in the game, and gain the trust of my teammates and coaches. I had a great warm-up, and I just got into a groove early. My first kick of the game was a 50 yard field goal, so I saw it as a great opportunity to do just that. After hitting that kick, I just trusted in my swing and approached every kick the same way. Being a free agent for a couple years, and not having any live game film since college, this was the perfect opportunity to prove myself and my hard work over the years. I'm so thankful for the opportunity the Fever have given me, and I didn't want to let them down.

By the time the game-winning kick came, I felt very comfortable out there. I believe Husted's coaching and my mental training over the last year really paid off that night. However, I believe my Special Teams Player of the Week honors were a team effort and reward. None of it would have been possible without great players being around me, as well as great snaps, holds and blocks. I will be forever grateful for the Fever and Coach Shack putting trust in me."

Can you give us an idea of what your itinerary looks like this week heading into the championship game? 
"We had practice this morning [Monday], as well as tomorrow. Being the 4th of July week, we have a few days off coming up as well. In many ways, I think it is just as valuable at times to step away from the game for a minute and take advantage of the chance to bond with teammates, especially in the most important time of the season. By the end of the week we will get back to work and get ready to go to war.

As for me, I will treat it like any other week. I'll make sure I'm stretching up to an hour a day, working on my mental fitness, and making the most of my reps at practice. I want to be clicking on all cylinders by the time I leave for Sioux Falls next week. There is a different method to the madness in the indoor game, so it is important to be prepared in every aspect of the kicking game, whether that be kickoffs or field goals. This is an exciting time for the Fever organization, so I also want to enjoy every moment of the upcoming couple weeks."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

CFPA 2012 Specialist Watch List

The College Football Performance Awards has announced their 2012 watch list for specialists. The goal of College Football Performance Awards is to provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football. Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.

The specialists to watch are:
  • John Bonano, Arizona 
  • Zach Hocker, Arkansas
  • Cody Parkey, Auburn
  • Justin Sorensen, BYU
  • Riley Stephenson, BYU
  • David Harman, Central Michigan
  • Caleb Sturgis, Florida
  • Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Mike Meyer, Iowa
  • Anthony Cantele, Kansas State
  • Freddy Cortez, Kent State
  • Joe Mansour, Kentucky
  • James Hairston, LSU
  • Matt Wile, Michigan
  • Kevin Muma, Michigan State
  • Brett Maher, Nebraska
  • Casey Barth, North Carolina
  • Matt Weller, Ohio
  • Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
  • Andrew Ritter, Ole Miss
  • Trevor Romaine, Oregon State
  • Anthony Fera, Penn State
  • Kevin Harper, Pittsburgh
  • Jordan Williamson, Stanford
  • Brandon McManus, Temple
  • Michael Palardy, Tennessee
  • Jeremiah Detmer, Toledo
  • Jeff Locke, UCLA
  • Andre Heidari, USC
  • Marvin Kloss, USF
  • Nick Marsh, Utah 
  • Jimmy Newman, Wake Forest