The first Special Teams Roundtable revealed the importance of coaching. Two (2) of the panelists coached a pair of All-Americans over the last year. Not only do elite kickers share common characteristics, but so do elite coaches.
A big thanks to the panelists. 1) Louie Matsakis, Analyst – University of Kentucky, Drew Meyer, Analyst – University of Virginia 3) Brett Arkelian, Analyst – Virginia Tech 4) Grant Kurzner, Analyst – University of Missouri-Columbia
The most important takeaways:
- The key to coaching a kicker is to unlock their natural athletic ability and allow it to take over. 1B) The kicker’s personality and temperament determine how best to coach: a) like a caddie in golf, or b) aggressive, yelling, etc
- A coach can sense whether a kicker is ready or not, and it is his job to change the path a kicker’s mind is on, so that it flips it into thinking about something completely different.
- Each kicker is different: some are pensive and technique-oriented, others rely on feel, requiring little-to-no thinking.
- Asking for a kicker’s feedback after a shank does three things: a) creates conversation, b) identifies problem, c) creates space to move on and refocus.
- Coaches can identify the mental strengths of a high school kicker in recruiting but it requires the kicker to attend on-campus summer camp to be evaluated in-person.
- A high school kicker who makes excuses for a missed kick immediately is disqualified in recruiting.
- Hold tryouts for kicking, punting and long snapping in the offseason for emergencies!
- High school kickers who play multiple sports are more attractive because they have been exposed to more situations to winning because they play more games.
- Major problem: kickers lose strength throughout the season. Create a kicking schedule early so that a kicker can build capacity in Fall Camp.
- High school punters should chart at least 12 punts per day.
- High School Punters should be able to punt directionally left and right (between the numbers and the sideline)
- Fast hands = faster operation time, punters can speed up operation time by working on the jugs machine or Monarc Seeker.
- High school kickers need to focus on ball contact.
- Offseason is the time to do 3 things: 1) get stronger and faster, 2) work on the mental side of the game, 3) test and develop new techniques.
- Offseason is not the time to focus on results.
- Kickers who participate in team activities, volunteer with offense/defense find themselves gelling with the team as a whole, creating deep relationships later on.
- Some kickers react best when you treat them as a caddie manages a golfer. There are some kickers who react to tough coaching: getting them fired up, grabbing facemask, banging the helmet, etc.
- Kickers have methods to self-correct, but sometimes they need coaching to unlock their natural athletic ability to take over.
- Coaches are interested in how a high school kicker responds to adversity and missed kicks.
- Feedback that is important: how did you feel, why did you make or miss the kick, and write it down!
- Most coaches have to split time between various position groups and using tools like notes, charts, and graphs make it much easier to focus on the kickers.
- Do not make assumptions that your kicker knows how to stay warm during games. Create a plan, work it, and debrief to see how or if it worked.
- Chris Rubio’s four things he looks for in a long snapper, 1) big butt for balance, 2) huge head like physically large, 3) long arms, and 4) a little bit dumb.