the study of all things kicker related

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Remembering to Forget, part 2

It’s often mentioned that a key to success is the ability to block out, forget about, and move on from a bad snap, hold, kick, or punt. Of course sometimes that is easier said than done. How does one put a bad play or game behind them and move forward? We continue our look at responses from kickers, punters and snappers.
John Matich, The Kicking System
"I have always been taught to forget your last kick. I try to keep an even keel in the kicking game, don’t get too high after a game-winner and don’t get too low after a huge miss. Sometimes there are some circumstances that you can't control (weather, snap, hold), but you can't worry about it. It's real easy to get into a downward spiral and get frustrated. It's important that you keep your mind balanced and focused on your next kick. I remembered in college where I made up for a missed kick where I had to wait all week and come back the following week and kick the game winner. It was tough to wait but I certainly learned patience that week. Regardless you have to BELIEVE in yourself!"

Mike McCabe, One on One Kicking
"I didn't let what was said to me from the sidelines effect me or break my confidence. I trained so well each week I would fix or correct the mistake and performed / made my kicks. One thing is not to over analyze the miss. Visualization is the key."

"In a great sports psych book I once read it talked about the concept of being on a roll: the feeling you get when you can't miss. Sometimes it can be as simple as projecting yourself there without having actually done it yet. Once you do something once you have the ability to do it repeatedly, it's just your mind that stops you from doing so. If you can project yourself to that mental state of repeated success, it can be easier achieved from the start.

One thing I'm going to work on more this year is project myself to that state of already being 'on a roll'. If I mess up, you diagnose what you did wrong, then project yourself back to this mental state."

Filip Filipovic, The Kicking Coach
"Blocking out distractions and quickly forgetting missed kicks is something that is practiced. Guys that let themselves get frustrated and distracted in practice will have a difficult time staying calm and focused in the games. Each practice session has a purpose. Some practices, I worked on mechanics and making adjustments. During other practices, I would set high expectations and put pressure on myself to be as perfect as possible. Those are the practices that would prepare me for the games. During "pressure practice", my focus would always be on getting the most out of the next kick. This taught me to quickly move on regardless of the previous kick."

"The mental side of kicking, punting or snapping is the most challenging to practice or teach. Yet, it is really what separates guys’ performances on game day. The unfortunate thing is that often guys have to go through failure or a botched play to learn how to deal with an unsuccessful kick, punt or snap. A short memory never hurts either.

What helped me throughout my career, as I weathered some failure or challenges like everyone else, was to never self-doubt. Just because you’re not perfect on game day from time to time, doesn’t mean you lack the ability to get the job done. Learn from it, try to seek assistance in correcting it and move on. You just have to find what works for you to control your anxiety.

The challenge is how to train your mind when practicing. Most guys go out on a Saturday afternoon and joke around with a buddy and hit some balls. That isn’t training your mind to go through your progression and routine, like you will on game day. You need to practice like you’ll play. Routines are extremely important from stretching to pregame kicking warm up. You develop this through repetition.

There are many different mental tips we work with our athletes on. The biggest is breathing technique. Most guys will take large deep breaths. That actually causes an adverse response and speeds up anxiety. Slow shallow breaths are best. Talking to yourself mentally on the field is another way to train your body to relax. When you are practicing field goals for example, talk to yourself, 'steps back, target line, steps over, relax...' This along with slow shallow breaths will help you block out distractions, keep you calm and focused on the task at hand. Calm and focused provides the best environment for positive results."

Craig Hentrich, LEGacy Kicking
"Always remember, it's just a game!"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remembering to Forget, part 1

re·mem·ber [ri-mem-ber]
–verb (used with object)
1. to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory; think of again
2. to retain in the memory; keep in mind; remain aware of
3. to have (something) come into the mind again

for·get [fer-get]
–verb (used with object)
1. to cease or fail to remember; be unable to recall
2. to fail to think of; take no note of

It’s often mentioned that a key to success is the ability to block out, forget about, and move on from a bad snap, hold, kick, or punt. Of course sometimes that is easier said than done. We asked a few experienced guys how did/do they put a bad play or game behind them and move forward?

"I feel that it takes some time to learn how to block out or move on from a bad play. Sometimes it may take a few game experiences to learn what it takes to move on quickly. My first biggest learning experience came my senior year of high school. In our semi-finals playoff game, I missed a field goal by a foot to the left going into half time. It was a tough break, but what hurt most was that we ended up losing the game by two points. For a while I felt terrible and felt responsible for ending our season. But some great teammates, coaches and family of mine made me realize that there were so many other factors that happened in the football game that directly effected the out come of the game, that the fault of the loss wasn't mine. A few less holding penalties and dropped balls would have given us a few more opportunities to score to change the outcome of the game.

By the time I was in college, it was easier to move on past a bad kick or punt. I had played in more games and experienced more game scenarios. In our position it can be tough because we only get a few opportunities and all the eyes are on you. But just remember that there are 40+ plays in every game that can also effect the outcome of the game and it's not all one person's fault, it's a team effort."

"They say forgetting it is the key, but it is usually forgotten once something positive has happened like for instance a made FG or PAT following the prior miss/bad game. Start with fundamentals, keep your head down, ask your coach for his feedback, and relax. The more you worry about it, you'll quickly find yourself in quicksand."

James Wilhoit, James Wilhoit Kicking
"During my career I am known for a situation just like that. In the 2004 game against Florida I missed an extra point with three minutes left that would have tied the game. We had a record crowd in the stands of 109,000 people and everyone was in shock when I missed that kick (including me). Being the competitor that I am, I was determined to make up for my mistake and I used the miss as motivation. I told our head coach that if you get the ball back that I will make the kick no matter what the distance. I was able to use my experience in Sport Psychology to help block out the last kick and to focus on the task at hand. We were able to get the ball back and with six seconds left in the game I kicked a 50 yard field goal to beat Florida. It will go down as one of the best moments of my life."

"I believe the key to success is to learn from each and every experience. Whether it be a bad kick or a perfect kick, the key is to understand and feel the process. I treat every kick as my first kick, which means I start out 100% every time. This forces me to focus on the same exact things every repetition."

"The most important thing to do after a bad snap is to just forget about it. Take the criticism that you will get from your coach and use it to help you in the future. Go on the sidelines, take a few snaps to correct the problem and leave it in the past. If you take it and keep thinking about it, it will only hurt your performance. If you take the incident and use it as a learning experience, it will only make you better."

"It is quite simple... when you have had a bad kick, punt or snap you need to immediately erase it from your mind or trick your mind to believe it never happened! This will allow you to approach your next kick, punt or snap with a positive outlook. It is hard to do, but imperative for success!"

"The thing about miskicks are that they will come, there is no doubt about that one. Whenever I hit one bad I simply analyze what when wrong, whether is was my pre-kick routine or a mechanical error. I then figure out what I will do differently and move on from there. I believe the two things that us kickers do wrong in this type of situation are 1) focus on the outcome too much and end up psyching ourselves out for the next one (e.g. missing one right and then coming back to miss the next one left). We do not need to over-correct or dwell on any outcome. 2) just move on without any sort of correction. This one was my problem. I would think "that one is done and I just need to move forward to my next kick". The major problem with that is I did not reflect on what I did wrong and therefore often made the same mistake twice in a row.

Ultimately, I believe the key mentality is to keep our eyes on the process. I like calling it "stroke focused". I know that if I am focused on my stroke, then outcome will not get a chance to creep into my mind. It is when athletes get so caught up with performance and expectation, that they forget to do what it takes to get the results they desire. In the same way, life is very similar. When we get so caught up with the future, it makes it very difficult to enjoy the process. Frost Westering says "its not about the road to success, but its all about the success road". Meaning that the process is what its all about. We all have heard this but I encourage you to always check back and make sure that your focused more on the road and less on the place you want to be.

Now, do not get me wrong, I am a big believer in having a vision for where you want to go and set goals for you to get there. There is a balance in everything and finding that balance is not an easy task, but very possible if you sit down and get it all out on paper. I encourage you to make sure that you are going through your pre-kick routines, not only in the game but in practice.....That is exactly what practice is for."

"A wise man once told me: As a kicker, you have to forget about the misses quickly and the makes even quicker. You might hit a 50-yarder in the 3rd quarter but don't get too excited, you might be called upon to hit a 28-yarder with two seconds left. Take every kick and every approach with the same focused, calm demeanor as the next one. Sometimes an extra point is just as or more important as a long field. Treat every kick with the same importance and wait until the game is over to evaluate your performance."

Craig Hentrich, LEGacy Kicking
"Always remember, it's just a game!"

Monday, May 27, 2013

Canadian Kicking Records

Names such as Morten Andersen, Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam and Sebastian Janikowski are well known as record setting kickers from the NFL. However there are a few countries other than the United States that play football (as opposed to futbol/soccer), and they also have kickers - some of whom have also set records. The rather large tract of land stretching from the northern borders of the USA to the Arctic Ocean is known as Canada, which is home to the Canadian Football League. Following is a brief look at some of the CFL kicking records.

Lui Passaglia holds the career records of 1203 field goal attempts and 875 successful field goals, compiled over the course of a 25 year career. At this juncture no one is even within striking distance of those records.
"Some of us made some plays - ran the ball, threw the ball, made some tackles - so you always felt you were more than just a kicker because we were more than just a kicker," he said. "We did the other jobs, too, and that was the beauty of playing in the Canadian Football League, especially in our position because of the ratio (of Canadian and non-Canadians) to do the multitude of kicking jobs, so that was pretty neat. The key I think is to perform well and to perform well for a long, long time. I never thought I'd last 25 years. I was happy when I got to 10 or 12. I always think of the first game I ever played, where I scored a touchdown (on a pass reception) in 1976 playing in front of your home crowd and the team you grew up watching."
On October 27, 2001, Saskatchewan's Paul McCallum connected on a 62 yard field goal - the longest in CFL history. He currently plays for the B.C. Lions.
"I was pleased the coach gave me the opportunity. Earlier in the week he asked me to show him how far I could kick. I guess I helped make his decision easier."
Dave Ridgway holds three records: most field goals in a season (59), tied for most field goals in a game (8, which he did twice), and most consecutive successful field goals (28).
"Football is the epitome of a team sport. Mine is the last piece of the puzzle, but everybody has to do their jobs equally well in order for me to succeed."
Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Justin Palardy currently sits atop the field goal accuracy list at 82.7%.

Looking for more Canadian football? The preseason kicks off June 12th and the regular season begins June 27th. See the full 2013 CFL Schedule.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Onside Kicks, part 2

What comes to mind when I mention onside kicks? Among the first batch of responses we received to that question, two mentioned Thomas Morstead's big onside kick for the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV:


Today we look at several additional responses, again covering various facets of onside kicks:

Dan Lundy, One On One Kicking
"Get height. Get it fast. Give your team time to recover. Plant super deep, knee over football. Strike top eight of ball and get first bounce to explode into ground so it can travel high to it's target point."

"I've been kicking long enough to have seen the transition from the more traditional "squib-style" onside (where you're hoping to get a good bounce after a couple rolls), to have successfully attempted other variations such as the popular "high-hop" onside kick, the "dribbler" where the kicker recovers, and even locking in on a man in the first row of defenders and drilling it towards him to recover the deflection. I personally love onside kicks and have been lucky enough to play for coaches who consider it my specialty and use it as a weapon for me in the Arena/Indoor game. The onside kick has really helped me add another dimension to my game and has resulted in great opportunities for me."

"Practice your onside kicks every kicking session. You have to be perfect at this. You will have one try to get it right when called upon. Make sure you’re ready for the occasion."

"Oh Shit!"

Former NFL kicker Billy Cundiff demonstrates the onside kick:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Onside Kicks, part 1

We asked our array of experts the following rather vague question: "What comes to mind when we mention onside kicks?" The answers ranged from the good, the bad, and the risky to technical in nature.

"I remember playing the Dolphins in a preseason game in 1995 and they were lined up for a normal kick off when Olindo Mare hit the first surprise 'pop up' onside kick that I had ever seen. It was text book. That began the era of the current day onside kick that is now used, especially in Arena football."

Chris Nendick, Chicago Slaughter kicker
"Excitement. The onside kick in the indoor game is huge. Big hits and change of possession. Hitting a successful onside kick could mean the difference in a game. I look forward to getting that opportunity."

"Get the ball back so we can score! Actually during the play though all I think is 'kick a recoverable ball'."

"Me getting to drill someone waiting to recover the middle roll. We all hate practicing onsides because more injuries result from onside practice than any other type of kicking practice."

"Saints Super Bowl."

"Thomas Morstead at the Start of 2nd half in next to last Super Bowl."

"Time to roll the dice."

"When I think onside kicks on the surface of the issue I think pure luck and good timing... The perfect kick if defended well could turn out ineffective. On that note a mis-hit and a mistake on the return team can line your team up for victory. So as I said before pure luck and good timing is what comes to mind when I think onside kicks."

"Onside kicks take a toll on the leg. This is how I do it: Dorsi flex the kicking foot, plant foot out in front of the ball, drive the kicking knee down and snap the lower leg through the top of the ball. I focus on the left panel and try to hit that spot and continue running straight down field. I use the toe area on my cleat that's why dorsi flexion is important. I take 6 yards back and 5 over. I loop my approach to get the hips pointed to the target. My target is 12 yards right around the numbers with at least a 2.5 second hang time. I kick mine to the right. Working on doing it to the left and getting better at disguising it both ways."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

NFL Career Scoring Leaders: Top 30

Through the 2012 season, following are the thirty most prolific scorers in NFL history.
  • The list is comprised of 27 kickers, 1 kicker that also played quarterback, 1 kicker that was also an offensive lineman, and 1 wide receiver
  • With the recent retirement of Jason Hanson, Adam Vinatieri remains the only active player in the top ten
  • If David Akers  has a productive 2013 in Detroit, he could reach the top ten
  • Sebastian Janikowski should reach the top twenty this year
Will someone some day surpass Anderson and Andersen for the top spot? That would require remaining healthy, productive and employed for over twenty years while kicking for teams that provide ample scoring opportunities. While all those circumstances falling into place are difficult enough, the current job market makes it even more challenging. The kicking industry continues to generate an expanding pool of young NFL-caliber players that provide teams with lower cost, yet effective kicking options. NFL teams are increasingly opting to join the youth movement rather than paying higher salaries to veteran kickers.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Practice Here, Practice There, Practice Everywhere

State-of-the-art practice facilities are all well and good, but some times, many times, other accommodations have to suffice. Some times, special conditions prevail. We asked specialists what was the most unusual place/scenario where they ever practiced kicking/punting.

"My senior year in high school, we were playing in the State Championship game. We had to use a new long snapper for the game, so the night before, in the hotel hallway on our floor, I made the snapper and holder get about 25 snap holds for timing purposes. On the last few, I actually kicked the ball until one of our coaches came out and put a stop to it."

"I took footballs to Hawaii to practice while on my honeymoon since camp was less than a month away. I also practiced on Bermuda during a bye week. My rookie year, my wife and I drove from California to training camp in Philadelphia and stopped at several schools to punt along the way, among them, Nebraska and Notre Dame."

Mike McCabe, One on One Kicking
"High school parking lot. Fields were so bad from all the winter snow melting in the spring."

"In my rookie season I slipped in a game on a field goal attempt (on Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium field – perhaps the worst field ever) and swore after that I would never slip again. So... every year after – once a week – I would kick 50 balls off of wet cement to promote total balance, removing the torque off of my plant leg, so I could kick off of ice if needed."

Rex Robinson, Total Kicker
"In 1978, my folks and I went to the beach in Florida. There were no fields to be found so I went to a local playground and kicked over the swing-sets. I also aimed at some lights poles for more of a challenge. I actually started kicking at age nine kicking into some trees near my house, with a branch as the crossbar."

"I'm from Miami, FL. Every year during hurricane season right before a big storm I love to take my bag of footballs out and kick into the wind. Keeping the ball on the tee is the challenge but its unbelievable the distance u can get with 35+mph wind gusts at your back. And don't get me started on punts. If you can manage to get one off without the wind altering the drop too much, let's just say its a confidence booster seeing a spiraling punt explode off your foot in tropical storm-like winds."

"Most unusual place I can think of is a racquetball court."

"As I first learned how to kick a football as a child (using an old hard-toe shoe for the straight-on style), I constructed a make-shift goal post on an empty lot behind my parents' house. For uprights, I used bamboo poles that previously had been wrapped around by carpeting. And for the crossbar I used my mother's old clothesline. If one of my kicks hit the clothesline/crossbar, the goal posts would collapse. Before I made the make-shift goal posts, I settled for simply trying to kick the ball over the telephone wires in the alley from my backyard into the empty lot.

Once as a 14-year-old sophomore, I was kicking before the start of gym class on the high school baseball field. I was kicking from around second base and several of my kicks cleared the right-field fence. Our gym teacher was the head football coach and he invited me immediately to join the varsity."

Nathan Chapman, Pro Kick Australia
Apart from practicing in hail storms, I remember when I was preparing to go to camp for the Packers and I knew it was going to end up getting pretty cold (take into account I live in a place that is like Miami). I used to drive in my car (I was a sales rep) with my helmet on and the air conditioner on full bore to as cold as it could get, and practice spinning the ball like from a snap and then shaping it in my hand like I was going to punt it. I did that a lot.

Practice in all conditions in any environment I say if it can help in any way. Who knows, if I had ever been asked to punt a ball from the front seat of my car, I probably would have been okay at it. So far I have never been asked to."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bicycle Kicks

When and where did the bicycle kick originate?
"There are different claims of invention in different parts of the world for this popular move. Generally, players noted as being the inventors of the kick tend to be those that have made the move during national or international tournaments in an official association football match. Nonetheless, the invention of the kick is controversial as different countries have different proposals on how and where the move was invented. For instance, in Peru, the move is attributed to the players of Callao, and it is often told that they invented the move when playing with English sailors in the late 19th century. In Chile, Basque Ramón Unzaga is credited with being the first player to create the bicycle kick in 1914 and exhibit it in an official football match. In Italy, the invention is usually credited to Carlo Parola, who allegedly invented the move on 15 January 1950. Further contributing to the controversy, some players that have performed the move attribute the invention to someone else or themselves. Per sé, Leônidas, a famous player from Brazil, attributed the invention of this move to another Brazilian player, Petronilho de Brito. If that were not enough, sometimes the attributions of invention get jumbled, and people begin to attribute the invention of the kick to famous players who performed, but did not claim invention of, the kick such as Hugo Sánchez from Mexico and David Arellano from Chile."
Some of the Greatest and Best
A compilation of some of the best bicycle kicks around.
1) Marco Van Basten - Ajax
2) Mauro Bressan - Fiorentina
3) Trevor Sinclair - Queens Park Rangers
4) Wayne Rooney - Manchester United
5) Zlatan Ibrahimovic - AC Milan
6) Eliran Atar - Bnei Yehuda
7) Gary Cahill - Aston Villa
8) Rivaldo - FC Barcelona
9) Dimitar Berbatov - Manchester United
10) Deco - Chelsea FC
11) Ronaldinho - FC Barcelona
12) Peter Crouch - Liverpool FC
13) Eidur Gudjohnsen - Chelsea FC

MLS: History of Bicycle Kicks
Featuring Brian Ching, Marcelo Balboa, Taylor Twellman, Dewayne DeRosario, and Carlos Ruiz.

Pelé - Escape to Victory
Escape to Victory, known simply as Victory in North America, is a 1981 film about Allied prisoners of war who are interned in a German prison camp during World War II. The film was directed by John Huston and stars Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone and Max von Sydow. The film received great attention upon its theatrical release, as it also starred football superstars Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles, Kazimierz Deyna, Paul Van Himst and Pelé. Numerous Ipswich Town F.C. players were also in the film, including John Wark, Russell Osman, Laurie Sivell, Robin Turner and Kevin O'Callaghan. Further Ipswich Town players stood in for actors in the football scenes - Kevin Beattie for Michael Caine, and Paul Cooper for Sylvester Stallone.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The 2013 Post-Draft AFC West Specialists Landscape

Following free-agency, the NFL draft, and the flurry of undrafted signings, here is a snapshot of the current specialists in the AFC West:

Denver Broncos
  • K Matt Prater, returning starter
  • P Britton Colquitt, returning starter
  • P Ryan Doerr (Kansas State), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • LS Aaron Brewer, returning starter
Kansas City Chiefs
  • K Ryan Succop, returning starter
  • P Dustin Colquitt, returning starter re-signed March 4th
  • LS Thomas Gafford, returning starter re-signed March 19th
Oakland Raiders 
  • K Sebastian Janikowski, returning starter
  • K Eddie Carmona, free agent re-signed on April 30th
  • P Chris Kluwe, probable new starter, free agent signing on May 16th, will compete with...
  • P Marquette King, second year player returning from IR
  • LS Jon Condo, returning starter
San Diego Chargers
  • K Nick Novak, returning starter re-signed March 10th
  • P Mike Scifres, returning starter
  • P Richard Kent (Vanderbilt), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • LS Mike Windt, returning starter coming off IR, re-signed March 9th
  • LS Kyle Nelson, signed last November after Windt was injured

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The final AAUGH!

Yesterday we revisited the first batch of reactions to a Charlie Brown and Lucy classic. We showed kickers, punters and coaches a still from the clip below, and then asked them the following questions:
A. What was your gut reaction or initial thought when you first saw the image just now?
B. After at least an hour later, any additional comments you’d like to add?
Today, we look at a few more responses along with some closing comments from someone intimately familiar with the situation.


A. I laughed and said, "That's not cool."
B. I guess Charlie Brown didn't get the "fake field goal call."
C. Laces out Lucy...

Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders punter
It reminded me of my holders in college until my third year when I got settled in with my great guy. It also reminded me of the first training camp practice when we were auditioning new holders with the exception of the two guys I've rolled with this season!

Craig Pinto, Kicking 4 Celiac
A. Thankfully that's never happened in real life.
B. Thinking about how old I am by looking at that cartoon.

Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comics, once commented:
"I'm astonished at the number of people who write to me saying, 'Why can't you create happy stories for us? Why does Charlie Brown always have to lose? Why can't you let him kick the football?' Well, there is nothing funny about the person who gets to kick the football."
The final word on the matter? Only months before he passed away, Schulz discussed the topic on two occasions:
Schulz had been asked if, for his final Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown would finally get to kick that football after so many decades. His response: "Oh, no! Definitely not! I couldn't have Charlie Brown kick that football; that would be a terrible disservice to him after nearly half a century." Yet, in a December 1999 interview, holding back tears, he recounted the moment when he signed the panel of his final strip, saying, “All of a sudden I thought, 'You know, that poor, poor kid, he never even got to kick the football. What a dirty trick — he never had a chance to kick the football!'”

AAUGH!

What kicker and holder duo have worked together the longest? By far it is Charlie Brown and Lucy van Pelt, whose 59th work anniversary is coming up next month. Despite their longevity, success has eluded them:
Perhaps Lucy's most famous gimmick in her long existence as a character is the one in which she pulls the football away from Charlie Brown right as he is about to kick it.
The first occasion on which she did this was November 16, 1952, taking over for Violet, who had previously (yet unintentionally) subjected Charlie Brown to this trick on November 14, 1951, for fear that Charlie Brown would accidentally kick her instead of the ball. Afterward, Lucy would always intentionally pull the football away from Charlie Brown to trick him. The most infamous example of this is the animated special "It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown", where her actions cost the football team the Homecoming game, yet Charlie Brown is blamed even though he is clearly not at fault.
What do live specialists think of this animated pair? Last year at this time, we asked kickers, punters and coaches the following:
A. What was your gut reaction or initial thought when you first saw the above image just now?
B. After at least an hour later, any additional comments you’d like to add?

My first thought when I saw this picture was that this would definitely be me if the ball was taken from me that late in the kick. However, and unfortunately, there are many kickers out there that would not even fall backwards because of how much they bend over at the ball! Too many "crunchers" out there!

A. I thought it was upside down and needed to be rotated, but his follow through is good and his leg is locked, however his head is up. Had he kept his head down, he would have seen her take the ball away.
B. It's still funny. He needs to skip forward when kicking so he doesn't fall on his butt.

Filip Filipovic, The Kicking Coach
I had a holder in high school who did this to me as a joke. I almost injured myself trying to stop/slow down my leg swing in mid kick. This cartoon gives dumb holders bad ideas. Maybe media does affect kids negatively.

Chris Husby, Special Teams Football Academy
I always loved this photo. Always one of those "back of the mind" fears when you are kicking a field goal. Not that the holder would do it, but slipping as I'm about to kick the ball.

Lucy must have taken the other team (-2.5)!!

A. A HOLDER'S DREAM!!!
B. A HOLDER'S DREAM!!!

Nathan Chapman, ProKick Australia
I know this is a big American cartoon and I read it as a youngster, but not this one. Makes me laugh and I think 'yeah, like always, kicker gets the short straw'.

John Matich, The Kicking System
A. I think of all the offensive lineman trying to kick field goals before practice starts. Almost every walk-thru in college all the lineman would try to kick and occasional Charlie Brown would occur. Sometimes they didn’t even need to move the ball away.
B. Pop Warner players trying to do the same thing... 

Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings punter 2005-2012
A: That's gotta be a torn ACL.
B: Man, Lucy is such a b#%$&. Charlie Brown should kick her right in the head.

Girls can kick too! 
 
A. You are only as good as your holder! Learn proper holding technique and work with your holder to perfect their skills. They can make or break you!
B. The kicker is often the butt of every football player's joke; it gets old, so don't be that weird kicker that makes the rest of us look bad!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The 2013 Post-Draft CFL West Specialists Landscape

Following free-agency and the CFL draft, here is a snapshot of the current specialists in the West Division:

B.C. Lions
  • K/P Paul McCallum, returning starter
  • K/P Hugh O'Neill, returning backup who'll compete for punting & kickoff roles
  • P/K Steven Shott, free agent signing
  • LS Tim Cronk, returning starter
Calgary Stampeders
  • K Rene Paredes, returning starter
  • P Rob Maver, returning starter
  • P Dumitru Ionita (Concordia), drafted in the seventh round
  • LS Randy Chevrier, returning starter
Edmonton Eskimos
  • K/P Grant Shaw, returning starter
  • P Burke Dales, returning starter coming off IR (foot)
  • LS Ryan King, returning starter coming off IR (shoulder)
  • LS Mike Benson, returning backup
  • LS Jorgen Hus (Regina), drafted in the fourth round
Saskatchewan Roughriders
  • K/P Chris Milo, returning starter who could be challenged by...
  • K/P Brody McKnight, acquired by trade on March 1st
  • P/K Ricky Schmitt, returning backup who could retain punting role
  • LS Cory Huclack, returning starter re-signed in February

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The 2013 Post-Draft CFL East Specialists Landscape

Following free-agency and the CFL draft, here is a snapshot of the current specialists in the East Division:

Hamilton Tiger-Cats
  • K Luca Congi, returning starter
  • K Brett Lauther (Saint Mary's), drafted in the seventh round
  • P Josh Bartel, returning starter
  • LS Kevin Scott, returning starter
Montreal Alouettes
  • K/P Sean Whyte, returning starter
  • K William Dion, free agent signing in January
  • LS Martin Bédard, returning starter
Toronto Argonauts
  • K/P Swayze Waters, returning starter
  • K/P Anthony Alix, returning backup
  • LS Chad Rempel, returning starter
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
  • K Justin Palardy, returning starter
  • P Mike Renaud, returning starter who'll be challenged by three additions...
  • P Brett Cameron (University of North Dakota), free agent signing in March
  • P Tim Hutchison (Australia), free agent signing in May
  • P/K Billy Pavlopoulos (British Columbia), drafted in the seventh round
  • LS Chris Cvetkovic, returning starter

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

John Kasay: Retirement Tribute

Yesterday, kicker John Kasay signed a 1-day contract with the Carolina Panthers, announced his retirement, and attended a reception in his honor.
"I've been to these and lots of times they come off more like funerals than they do celebrations. And it really is (a celebration)....
I told Mr. Richardson the reason I wanted to do this is simply I can't write 70,000 thank-you notes. I wish that I could. But this is my feeble attempt to tell everybody thank you."
Long snapper J.J. Jansen played with Kasay for two years at the end of his Panther career
"He's just been so warm and inviting away from football. John and his whole family are our dearest friends. He's been such a friend, mentor, really a second father figure. We often joke that I'm his fifth kid....
And all the football stuff speaks for itself. The reason we're here today is because he was so good at what he did for so long. It's fun to be able to give him a proper and fitting end to an unbelievably great career."
Kasay's former team-mate, close friend, wide receiver Steve Smith offered the following thoughts:
"He’s one of my good friends. I don’t know what the big deal is. I mean, a white kicker from Georgia and a black guy from California, a wide receiver. We’re friends. Get over it. It’s not that odd....

His impact on me has been great. It has, in a lot of areas. But I’m not going to try to give you that so you can put it into two sentences, because it’s greater than that. I think I’d be doing him a disservice to try to summarize it because, why does it matter? John Kasay’s leadership and what he’s done is far beyond football."
A Career in Numbers

Monday, May 6, 2013

CFL 2013 Draft - Specialists

The following four specialists were selected in this year's CFL Draft held this afternoon.

Jorgen Hus (Regina), 
long snapper
selected by Edmonton Eskimos in 4th round
"2012: Served as the team's long snapper, appearing in seven Canada West games and both of the team's postseason games ... collected 12 solo tackles and 11 assisted tackles during the conference schedule ... recorded the majority of his tackles on special teams, as he had eight solo tackles and eight assisted tackles on kickoff and punt returns alone ... added three solo tackles and two assisted tackles on special teams in the U of R's two postseason games."
Brett Lauther (St. Mary's), kicker/punter
selected by Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 7th round
"Lauther, a 22-year-old kicker who played last season for the Saint Mary’s Huskies, was selected in the seventh round, 52nd overall. The six-foot-one, 195-pounder led the AUS in scoring last season with 73 points and his 16 field goals were just one shy of his career high of 17 set in 2011. He also carried a success rate of 80 per cent. Lauther becomes the second kicker form Colchester to be drafted after Justin Palardy, who now plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, was selected by Hamilton in 2010. Lauther, a Cobequid Cougars graduate, was one of eight Huskies named to the conference all-star team last season. In a season highlight, he went five-for-five in field goal attempts, all from 38 yards or longer, averaged 41.2 yards on 10 punts, made an onside kick and ran for a first down on a fake punt in a 23-22 loss to the Sherbrooke Vert et Or on Sept 16. In 2011, his 91 points led the CIS."
Billy Pavlopoulos (British Columbia), punter/kicker
selected by Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 7th round
"Pavlopoulos missed the 2012 season while serving a suspension for using a supplement that contained a banned substance. However, he is the best punter in this draft class and perhaps the best all around kicking prospect as well.... averaged 43-yards per punt in 2011 – the second best average in the country – after punting 70 times for 3,007 yards. He also served as the Thunderbirds’ kicker and converted 13 of 19 field goal attempts that season."
Dumitru Ionita (Concordia), punter
selected by Calgary Stampeders in 7th round
"The Woodstock, Ont., native led the country in punting in 2010 with an average of 42.5 yards per kick. In 2012, he played for the Twin Cities Predators (based in Waterloo, Ont.) of the Canadian Junior Football League. Head coach/GM John Hufnagel says: 'He was teammates with Paredes and he played junior ball this past year and probably will play junior ball again this year. This selection was, more or less, maybe providing us with depth because of what may or may not transpire in the expansion draft'."

The 2013 Post-Draft NFC North Specialists Landscape

Following free-agency, the NFL draft, and the flurry of undrafted signings, here is a snapshot of the current specialists in the NFC North:  

Chicago Bears 
  • K Robbie Gould, returning starter, recovering from surgery
  • K Austin Signor, free agent signing on April 19th
  • P Adam Podlesh, returning starter
  • P Tress Way (Oklahoma), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • P Kyle Negrete (USC), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • LS Patrick Mannelly, returning starter re-signed on December 26th
  • LS Brandon Hartson (Houston),  undrafted rookie free agent signing
Detroit Lions 
  • K David Akers, new starter, free agent signing (from San Francisco) on April 5th
  • K/P Havard Rugland (a.k.a. Kickalicious), free agent signing on April 11th
  • P Sam Martin (Appalachian State), probable starter drafted in the 5th round
  • P Blake Clingan, free agent signing on March 5th
  • LS Don Muhlbach, returning starter re-signed on March 14th 
Green Bay Packers 
  • K Mason Crosby, returning starter who could be challenged by...
  • K Giorgio Tavecchio, free agent signing on March 26th
  • P Tim Masthay, returning starter
  • LS Brett Goode, returning starter 
Minnesota Vikings
  • K Blair Walsh, returning starter
  • P Chris Kluwe, returning starter was released on May 6th following...
  • P Jeff Locke (UCLA), new starter drafted in the 5th round
  • LS Cullen Loeffler, returning starter

Drop Kicks, part 3

Game winning kicks don't happen every day.

Game winning drop kicks definitely don't happen every day.

That's what made Jonny Linehan's game winner on Saturday doubly notable. His drop goal at the end of the match gave BYU a 27-24 win over Cal, and gave them another national championship.
It was a bit of improvising. We were in front of the post. I thought, '100 percent of the time in practice I put this through. But maybe when it comes down to the big moment, I'll shank it.' But I was fortunate enough to put it through the post. I wouldn't like to do it again....
After the kick, I celebrated but I was making sure the ref called time so we could really celebrate. We did this as a team and we celebrated as a team. As soon as the ref blew the final whistle, my life was in danger. They came running at me. It was surreal, a wonderful experience. … It was quite scary. I was scared for my life. Everyone was jumping on me. I was like, 'I can't breathe.' But it was so loud they couldn't hear me."
In the first two parts of this series, we discussed the rarity of drop kicks (including in the NFL) and we spoke with several players who've been keeping the drop kick alive in American indoor football. A current proponent of the technique, Geoff Boyer put the drop kick to use during his time with the Albany Panthers of the PIFL:
"I have been looking forward to using the drop kick this upcoming season and being able to outscore traditional style kickers. Once I heard about how the points had been changed from 2 to 1 on a drop kick extra point, and then from 4 to 3 on a field goal, I was disappointed. In my opinion, it is very difficult to execute on a consistent basis for the majority of people or even kickers for that matter. I feel it should be awarded with more points like it is in the AFL. Although the points may have changed, my coach still believes in my ability to drop kick as do I, so look forward to seeing many this upcoming season."
Taylor Rowan provided the most recent drop kick in the AFL:



But if we want want to find more frequent drop kicking, we need to switch back to rugby. And we need to shift our focus away from North America, and head far south of the equator to the tip of another continent:
"The drop goal is seen by some as an abomination, something that belongs to another era, another dimension and sacrilege to be used in the modern game of rugby, and yet it is an effective weapon of choice by a select few. In New Zealand it is frowned upon by many. Something that caused quite the debate when there were talks of Dan Carter practicing the dreaded drop, preparing to unleash it onto unsuspecting opponents during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The Aussies are torn between wanting to showcase their talent with ball in hand and their ever increasing desire to win at all costs. They seem not to have made up their minds on which side of the fence they sit. In the meantime the South Africans, oblivious to the mental torment going on across the Indian ocean, happily slot the necessary drop when required. Of the seven drop goals that have been scored in the Super Rugby season thus far, only one has been scored by a non-South African player."

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The 2013 Post-Draft NFC South Specialists Landscape

Following free-agency, the NFL draft, and the flurry of undrafted signings, here is a snapshot of the current specialists in the NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons
  • K Matt Bryant, returning starter
  • K Jeremy Shelley (Alabama), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • P Matt Bosher, returning starter
  • P Sean Sellwood (Utah), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • LS Josh Harris, returning starter
Carolina Panthers
  • K Graham Gano, returning starter
  • K Morgan Lineberry (Abilene Christian), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • K Jordan Gay (Centre College), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • P Brad Nortman, returning starter
  • P Pete Kontodiakos (Colorado State), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • LS J.J. Jansen, returning starter
  • LS Tyler Morgan (Georgia Tech), undrafted rookie free agent signing
New Orleans Saints
  • K Garrett Hartley, returning starter
  • K Jose Carlos Maltos,  free agent signing on May 13th
  • P Thomas Morstead, returning starter
  • LS Justin Drescher, returning starter
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • K Connor Barth, returning starter
  • K Anthony Cantele (Kansas State), undrafted rookie free agent signing
  • P Michael Koenen, returning starter
  • P Chas Henry, free agent signing on February 13th
  • LS Andrew Economos, returning starter re-signed March 20th
  • LS Andrew DePaola, free agent signing in January