the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, December 6, 2013

D3 Trainer for Kickers & Punters, part 3

With a focus on training, here is the third part 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 and part 2. Following is the third batch of the many responses...

Brik Wedekind, Monmouth
"To not over-train. At the beginning of my punting career I wanted to every exercise with as many sets as possible to enhance my performance. Over my career I have found out that the minimal possible effort is what is best. Now I really focus on my core lifts (squat, power clean, bench) and then just get in a couple of sets of auxiliary lifts to help enhance my ability to perform my core lifts. As far as conditioning goes I have found sprinting to be best for kickers and punters. Long distance running is good but with sprinting we can train leg speed at the hip flexor, which is beneficial for kickers and punting because we want our leg swing to be as quick as possible."

Joe Mallock, Williams
"I would argue that kicking is 90% mental. Everyone at the college level and above has the ability to kick a field goal or punt a spiral (10% ability). But it takes mental strength to kick to your maximum ability in the game. While training and conditioning are important for keeping yourself in top physical condition, that's not why I do it. I have learned that a strong training program gives me confidence in the game. I never have a doubt that I did everything possible to prepare myself for the game. If I watch film, practice my kicking, and condition well, then I go into the game feeling ready and confident that I will perform to my potential."

Eric Schaible, Rose-Hulman Institute of technology
"Consistency of my drop when punting. Without a formal coach at a D3 school like Rose-Hulman, it took a lot of alone time to figure out what I was doing wrong. After evaluating tape and adjusting my drops it proved to be the most important thing in my success just due to after punting for 10+ years the form of my body wasn't the problem, but my drop especially with wind proved to be the crucial most important part."

Nick Fuentes, Kean
"Don't over lift, keep your legs and core in shape and do more explosive workouts; full body workouts than individual muscle groups."

Dominic Zappa, Waynesburg
"No matter what you work out regiment is, lifting, cardio, etc, you have to make sure you stretch and work on your flexibility as much as possible, because at the end if the day that's the most important."

Matt Traub, Carroll
"Find a way to kick during the winter. Whether it's kicking in a gym, kicking in the snow, or paying to use an indoor facility. Also lifting everyday. There are no off days, everyday is a day to get better in any aspect."

Chad Peevey, Mary Hardin-Baylor
"After four years the most important thing I realized is to never take anything off or make an excuse. I still catch myself in practice making an excuse for a bad kick saying 'oh it was my first kick' or 'it won’t happen in the game'. Well we practice like we play and bad kicks in practice will make its way to the games, and in the game just because it's your first kick doesn’t mean you can have a bad one. When it comes to running and conditioning my first couple of years I would run not to get last place, I was becoming complacent. Now days when we are doing team running and conditioning I try to win. I run to push other people, because let’s be honest who wants to lose to the kicker/punter. So I’m not only making myself better but the people around me."

Daniel DiProfio,  Fairleigh Dickinson - Florham
"Flexibility is a must. I was never too focused on extreme weight training but rather making sure I was as flexible as I could be. It helped me drive through the ball better. I think mental training is key for a specialist because it is important to stay focused and not let a bad kick/punt effect your next attempt. Staying poised is definitely key to executing a kick/punt."

Aaron Spence, Defiance College
"Some of the most important things I've learned during my college career punting the ball, especially for me playing quarterback and running back, is that I'm going to have to put in extra time at the end of practice and in my free time because I'm playing different positions too and I obviously spend more time there than I do punting. Your going to have days where your hitting the ball well and the day's where you just can't seem to find the sweet spot. You can't get caught up and let it affect you but just focus on that next punt and not rush through it and try to kill the ball. Just take a deep breath and remember all your techniques that you have learned. Confidence is huge punting the ball and if you have that it will make your job a lot easier."

Cameron Sobleski, Wabash College
"The most important thing I've learned is basically how to be mentally and physically ready for Saturdays. The past two summers, I attended the Ray Guy Camp in Atlanta, and I was able to just talk with Coach Guy. During the two-day camp, he would tell us stories of his playing experiences and little tips that he learned as a player and coach. The biggest things he reiterated over and again are that you can never do enough drops and that you do not have to kick a lot of balls in order to be prepared. As long as you stay mentally focused on the game and situation, your body stays warm on the sidelines. Being mentally prepared is probably the thing I most improved over my career. In regards to lifting, our specialists mainly focus on squatting, back, shoulder girdle, and leg swing machines to work the hip flexors and hamstrings." 

Kelby Vandenberg, Nebraska Wesleyan
"I've always kind of made it my goal to stay fit and be in shape. During the offseason I did a lot of quickness/agility drills to improve my step speed prior to my kick. I did a lot of core workouts to keep my body tight and in line. The biggest thing I did was hip machine workouts and flexibility workouts to make sure my hip flexors were strong and my hamstrings were loose. In practice, I treated my leg a lot differently sophomore year than I did senior year. Sophomore year I kicked heavily four days a week. Then by the end of the season my leg was pretty dead. This year I kicked at the beginning of the week. The next day I worked strictly on flexibility and my drop. And then Thursday and Friday I did a moderate amount of kicking. I definitely noticed a difference. I still had a lot of pop and explosion in my leg at the end of this season compared to the end of my sophomore season."

Wesley Franklin, Ferrum
"When I think back to beginning my college career the biggest benefit I saw in terms of training and conditioning is to never be content with what you know, there is always someone who knows more and can help assist you in becoming a better person and well as player. Even throughout college I attended camps to help me out in learning more about my body and how to make it work for me to help me achieve my goals. The biggest help came in the weight room though, I started out college weighing 180 pounds and through hard work I began my senior year at 220 pounds and being one of the heaviest lifting players on the team. From the beginning of your career to the last day, you must understand that being a kicker/punter means you are still a member of the team and therefore you must put in the work with others to achieve your goals. Reach out to other college players and coaches when you are struggling or simply have questions, I know without the support of some fellow college players at other schools I would never have had any of the success that I had in my career."

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