the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

D3 Trainer for Kickers & Punters, part 1

The next installment in our on-going college Q&A series delves into training. 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?
Following is the first batch of the many responses...

Jordan Fredo, Wilkes
"When I think about about training and conditioning for specialists two things come to mind. One is not to strictly limit your workouts to only lifts or drills that will help specifically with your position. Branching out and doing all kinds of workouts help develop you as an athlete, and not just a specialist; and really helps flexibility and stamina. The second this is to train and condition yourself mentally just as hard you do physically. Making sure that every single rep was as close as possible to the last; I think every specialist knows consistency is everything."

Eric Malm, DePauw
"Proper technique is 80% of the battle and consistently striking a good ball already puts you ahead of the field. On top of that, having good leg speed and explosiveness is what will turn you into one of the elite specialists. Obviously, getting strong in the weight room with the team is critical, but the best kickers aren't always the ones that are the biggest. Instead, focus leg workouts around lighter weight/more reps, do plyometrics and agility training, and don't leave out core exercises. Combining this with team workouts and year-around kicking will provide specialists with the physical and mental strength to become the best. Oh and stay flexible!"

Josh Repp, Linfield
"Kicking is a huge mental game and so I train in olympic lifts which train your neuromuscular system more so than standard weightlifting exercises. That being said, other methods of training cannot be ruled out as plyometric and sprint training are also important for power development."

Tim Gormly, Thomas More College
"The amount of weight you can lift doesn't directly correlate to kicking distance and accuracy. It is more about quick explosive movement to create fast muscle twitch, while incorporating stretching to gain flexibility."

Auburn Jimenez, Macalester College
"No matter the level, leg speed is vital in producing great distance and technique in kickers. This explosiveness is built through countless hours of training and conditioning, both on the field and in the weight room, and can be the difference between success and failure. Put in the work during the off-season and the payout will show on the field."

Craig Popp, Washington & Jefferson College
"I think the biggest thing I learned in my career was how to manage my leg from Sunday-Friday so that I was at my best on Saturdays. Coming is as a freshman, all I wanted to do was kick all practice long. But as I got older, I learned how important it was to pace my leg. Kicking is the ultimate quality over quantity exercise. So knowing how to taper the number of kicks I took as the week went on was the key to being ready for Saturday."

Josh Frewin, Greenville
"The most important thing I've learned that has greatly helped me is offseason (and in season to a lesser extent) running. I began running 5K & 10K races in the offseason and feel that has greatly helped my leg (and body) endurance. Through high school and even beginning college my leg would feel dead after camp or a week of heavy kicking, but ever since I've focused on long distance running and training the soreness has decreased and the endurance to kick through an entire season without losing strength and power on my kicks has greatly increased."

Ian MacDougall, Wabash College
"The most important thing that I've learned about training around the weight room is not to overdo it and stay in a comfortable range. I have never been very good at lifting weights or doing sprints. However, I have grown a lot of muscle and stamina from rollerblading several times a week during the offseason on days I do not kick. Rollerblading and helping out with my high school soccer team keeps me in shape and has allowed me to grow as a college kicker."

Zach Litchfield, Wisconsin-Platteville
"There are many different things that have helped me. To me its more important to remain flexible over strength training, because flexibility will help with the accuracy needed to make the pressure kicks. Conditioning I did more stadium stairs and hills instead of long distance running, then when I had the chance I would do more agility work with latters, short sprints, and three cone drill. These along with eating properly helped me throughout my college career to be the best athlete I can be."

Alexander Tesoriero, Hartwick College
"Over my seventeen years as a football player, I spent a great deal of time in the weight room and practice field. I kicked nearly everyday and I believe that is what lead most to my success. I would kick no more than 30 kicks four times a week and never tried to exceed this amount. I believe this is why I was able to go injury free and not get spent. But, the most important thing I have taken from this great game is that things will not always work the way you want. Kicks will be missed, and adversity will strike when you least expect it. I will not say I discourage or held my head low, but I never let these things overcome me. There will always be another kick and another chance to excel both on the field, in the classroom, and in the real world. Football has given me so much to be thankful for."

Dylan Dunlop, Hanover
"Simply relax and just kick. When you seem to be in a slump (missing a couple kicks in a row), do not try to change anything. You've made those kicks before and that's why you're playing in college. So, just take a deep breath and have confidence in yourself. As far as conditioning, I have realized that the best type of lifting, at least for me, is low weight with quick/explosive reps. Couple that with stretching twice a day and running sprints a couple times a week, and you'll have a leg that can kick 60 balls a day. In the end, just have confidence in yourself and trust with your holder and snapper. The rest will be easy from there."

Nick Kaylor, Pacific Lutheran
"It's difficult to put down a most important. Plyometrics and lifting both yield tremendous results for kickers, if they aren't overdone. Its easy to get carried away with workload, but in the end kicking is very stressful on your central nervous system. Ensuring proper rest, sleep and eating habbits between workouts, while making sure the workload is not too intense can give you huge results. In the end that's based on the individual kicker in question. As far as in season goes, staying away from over kicking and maintaining a strength maintenance program are by far the most important aspects. Slacking on either can lead to a huge loss in distance and a breakdown in kicking form. This is where that core stability from lifting and other exercises comes into play."

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