the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kicking, Punting & Snapping for Remainder of 2012

With football season now fully under way in America and just past the mid-point in Canada, we checked in with a range of specialists regarding the remainder of 2012 by asking them to respond to one of the following questions:

A. Is there anything in particular that you have been or plan to work on?
-or-
B. What are you most looking forward to keeping an eye on during the season, at any level (professional, college, high school, etc.)?

Patrick Mannelly, Chicago Bears long snapper
A.The biggest thing I continue to work on as I get older is my feet.  I think the first thing to go for snappers as they get older is their ability to protect and cover.  Coming off my knee injury last year I was most worried I would not be able to protect like I had in the past.  I worked mostly on my post snap movement throughout my rehab.

B.  I am looking forward to seeing how important the kicking game will be again this season at all levels. [Last year] there were some kicks that impacted games in College and the NFL. Unfortunately, most were misses that gained significant media attention. Considering the outcome of those games last season, ideally, specialists realized the importance of mentally training for this season.  If so, we will see more kicks splitting the uprights. There is no better feeling then kicking a game winning field goal, pinning an opponent on their one yard line, and of course, starting it all with a perfect snap.

A. My plan for now is to rest. After my second hip surgery last January I went really hard for about 18 months without any break rehabbing, working out, and trying to stay ready for NFL, UFL or AFL workouts. And then kicking as much as we do in arena, my body needs to recover. I will do some cardio, core work, and light stretching for now and then starting lifting in October and start kicking in November. When I get back to kicking, my focus is going to be on getting my hips through the ball and getting down field. I think by refocusing on leg lock through impact will help make it easier to swing up and through the target and get down field since my misses usually came from falling off after contact and swinging a bit across my body. 
B. I'm just going to keep my eye on Northwestern. That's my only real focus on football for now.

Brian Jackson, Team Jackson Kicking
B. I work with numerous specialists in the Southeast, especially in the state of Alabama, and I noticed last season that a lot of placekickers were missing not only 1 or 2 extra points, but in the range of 4 to 6 extra points during their season.  This could be due to lack of focus, inexperienced holders and long snappers, or simply bad blocking.  I put an emphasis to all of the players that I have worked with over the last 8 months to make realistic goals and bonus goals.  For example, a realistic goal is to go 100% on field goals inside 30 yards, and a bonus goal is to make a 45+ yard field goal. This obviously can vary from player to player considering their experience and overall leg strength and accuracy, but it keeps you balanced and motivates you to strive for success.  For this season, I 'm really keeping any eye on PAT percentage at the prep level.  I would love to see 90% of kickers that I have worked with go 100% on PAT's as a realistic goal, and that's one of the key areas I will be tracking this season.
B. I am looking forward to a few things this year in kicking. First, I am looking forward to watching the college game to see what kickers and special teams coaches plan to do on kickoffs. Will they try to crush the ball out of the endzone or will they use the extra five yards to pin people deep. I suspect that some of the elite kickers will try to land the ball just a few yards in the endzone with excellent hang time and dare the returners to bring the ball out. Finally, I want to see if the NFL kickers keep this record setting accuracy on field goals. Pro kickers keep getting better and better and now making 80% of your kicks isn't enough to keep your job! 

Swayze Waters, Toronto Argonauts kicker
A. For me, I am constantly working on consistency with my steps. It seems like it would be pretty easy to walk straight back and walk perfectly sideways, but its something I am constantly trying to improve on and decrease my margin of error. Steps and reps!

Spencer Lanning, free agent punter
B. At the college level, I am anxious to see how the new onside kick rule will effect the game.  The "high-hopper" style kick that is slammed into the ground and then towers into the air, can now be fair caught. Personally, I do not like this new rule and hope that it doesn't make the leap to the next level (NFL).

Brent Grablachoff, Kicking World
B. I’m most interested in the statistical breakdown of kickoff returns as far as the average starting position for offenses after a kickoff. As most of you already know, starting this season the NFL and NCAA both made changes to move the position where kickers kickoff from the 30 yard line to the 35 yard line. Also, teams are now rewarded with a much better starting position on touchbacks. So instead of and offense starting from the 20 yard line, teams now begin on the 25 yard line. It’s been said widely that special teams coaches will strategize and devise a new game-plan with regards to kickoff philosophy. Notably, many ‘experts’ feel kickers will start to loft their kickoffs high in the air with the goal of maximizing hang-time and pinning the return team as deep as possible without giving up a touchback. Previously, a kickoff would be a reward for the kickoff team and it was the ultimate goal of any kickoff specialist! With all this said, it should be rather interesting to see how this new rule affects kickoff strategy. My gut feeling is that teams will start the first few games attempting this high lofted kickoff but as the season progresses more teams will ultimately go for the sure thing of a touchback. I believe a ‘sure thing’ is always better than leaving the decision to the return man and the team’s KO coverage. I guess it really depends on the team philosophy and how risky or conservative a coach is. Let’s see what happens!

Coach Tom Feely, Feely Athletics
"What I am most looking forward to is something I have hoped would be possible for a long time, and it will happen this coming weekend. I will be personally attending a high school game, a college game and a NFL game  (all three this weekend) with one of my own sons playing in all three games. Nick Feely, a senior kicker/punter In high school plays on Friday night an I am his position coach. Tyler is a Punter  for Columbia University and they play their season opener in New York City on Saturday, and Jay Feely's team, the Cardinals plays the Patriots on Sunday."

Postscript via Twitter:
"Feely Football Trifecta a success! Saw 3 sons play in 3 days & all 3 won. Armwood's , Columbia's & Az. Cards" 

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