the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, December 5, 2013

D3 Trainer for Kickers & Punters, part 2

With a focus on training, here is the second of three parts of the current installment of our on-going college Q&A series. Checking in this time at NCAA Division III schools, we asked senior kickers and punters the following question:
What's the most important thing you've learned during your college career regarding training & conditioning for specialists?
Additional responses can be found here: part 1. Following is the second batch of the many responses...

Tyler Keck, Trine
"The most important thing I have learned over my four years of collegiate football in regards to training and condition is being patient. Allowing time to pass and taking it day by day to progressively become better. It's not going to all come at once and I learned that I needed to take each day as a new opportunity to better myself and continue to grow. If I didn't take it day by day, eventually it would have just brought frustration and could have brought me down. Specialist are athletes as well and apart of the football team as a whole, and I needed to be apart of the hard work and dedication the team put in. Having patience to get where I ended up was one of they key attributes in providing the success I was fortunate enough to have in D3 College Football."

Jack Pryde, Alma
"Focus on flexibility because it is ultimately where you get your power, and to obviously train hard, because I started kicking last year and was only able to kick 35 yard field goals, but now at the end of this season I was able to consistently kick 55 yard field goals. It is important to always tweak your form and kicks and switch what does and doesn't work. For the conditioning aspect I would focus on fast short sprints and try to get strides as long as possible because in the end it will help with your follow through. But overall stretching is one of the most things for a specialist the more flexible you are the more follow through you can have and it ultimately can improve your range by more than 20 yards."

Alex Jungsten, Whittier College
"There are two key factors I believe that have separated me from the other kickers during my college career is off season training. I compete in the decathlon for our track and field team, so by getting into great running shape and focusing on explosive lifting throughout the year. Although most kickers can not relate to doing this, I believe that developing your body throughout the off season has played a key role going into season. For in season however, I have focused on three key phrases that stuck in my head. Relax, have fun, and be consistent. With these words, it is able to simply what I need to think about every time before I go and kick which is great because often times kickers get to caught up on the outside factors. Then by staying consistent, its a broad term I use to kicking consistent on your swing, and training consistent. If you can learn to train consistent and trust your coach, it will establish greater confidence in your self and give the kicker less things to worry about."

Cory McNeil, East Texas Baptist
"Do not over kick during the week so that when you get towards the end of the season your leg won't be worn out or feel dead."

Benjamin Wagner, Concordia-Moorhead
"Stretching is key to avoid injury and add flexibility."

Eric Kindler, Wiconsin-Whitewater
"Training with UWW I have learned that consistency is the number one goal because our talent is as good as anyone. To be great in any sport consistency is the name of the game."

Louie Oswald, Loras
"Kicking a football is all about technique. Just like a golf swing, if you don't do the same thing every time, steps, alignment, and then steps + swing, if you don't do the same thing everytime your chances of pulling or pushing it are pretty good."

Nick Daley, SUNY Cortland
"You can never be too flexible. If you wanna become a great kicker I highly suggest yoga. A few days a week of 1 hour sessions can be the difference between being an average kicker or an all American. Consistent hard work does pay off."

Nick Muir, Trine
"The biggest thing I've learned, besides self discipline is stretching. Flexibility is key to being a good specialist. Especially when it comes to punting. Flexibility and being able to find out what your doing wrong and correct it. Also there's a saying that I've lived by my four years punting in college. 'With composure comes consistency' and consistency is the most important trait for a punter or kicker to possess."

Evan Finch, Hope College
"The biggest thing that I have learned in college is about mental preparation. You have to mentally prepare to win the game and also to lose it. Since kickers are unique football players where teammates and coaches don't necessarily know what its like to be in our shoes, we have to be confident in ourselves to not get caught up in the misses and makes but focus on the next kick. At Hope we had a kick at the end of some of our practices called "play of the day" where I had one field goal attempt which would either lighten or increase our conditioning for the day. This prepared me for pressure situations in games and I learned a lot about handling being the "hero or zero" depending on the kick. At the end of the day I learned that no matter how good or bad the practice or game went, I still had God, my friends, family and other good things in my life that have love me for who I am, not just how good I kick." 

Bill Cullen, Kean
"Every kicker is going to have their own unique style of kicking. Whether its your height, how large of steps you take, or your muscle memory, your not going to be 100 percent the same as another kicker. To be consistent you need to find what works for you and what does not work for you. You need to spend time on what works for you because it develops your muscle memory. Then you take the basic fundamentals of kicking and it should all work out. The key is not the quantity of practice kicks you take on your off time, its the quality of those kicks. Once I kept in my mind simple steps and come through with my hips, that is when I became the most successful in my kick career."

Tucker Smith, Carnegie Mellon
"You always need to be doing something throughout the year relating to kicking/punting. It is imperative that you stay loose and flexible in the off-season. I have seen the greatest gains in performance by doing plyometrics (box jumps, skaters, lunges with dumbbells, etc.), not necessarily lifting to get bigger. Resistance bands are also another great way to stay flexible and increase your distance. The more you practice small, seemingly unimportant tasks like walking around the track going through your steps and ball drop, the more automatic it becomes and allows you to be calm and relaxed when you are out there on the field. If you take time off and don't stick to your training routine, the odds are pretty high that you will tweak one muscle or another throughout the season. One last tip is to set strict limits on the number of balls you kick each practice. When someone is kicking badly, they want to keep kicking to try to get back up to the performance they were expecting, and when someone is kicking well they want to keep kicking and see what they're capable of. Have a number in your head before you step on the field, and stick to that number no matter how well/poorly you are doing. This ensures that your leg stays fresh and powerful for the complete season."

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