Monday, August 3, 2009

Kaeding Kicking Klinic

Some notes I'm passing along on the kicking game that have actually helped me (and actually improve kicking performance of players!). This was some stuff I was able to learn from Nate Kaeding when he was at Iowa.

First things first - how do you find a good kicker? The best way is to scout and recruit through Punt, Pass & Kick contests, soccer players, and if nothing else, open tryout (see Texas Tech). You can’t coach a strong leg, so if you can't make one, may as well just find one.

Qualities to look for in a kicker are flexibility, leg snap, leg strength, balance, rhythm (in kicking), and possibly most important, consistency.

Kickers are a special bunch and for consistency sake, it is best to find one guy who can do the job and be done with it. Don't have 2 or 3 guys out there kicking in the game.

Also, it is important to recognize the kicking game isn't just a guy swinging at the ball, it is an entire operation consisting of the the snapper, holder, and kicker. It should be one fluid movement with all three players. Most unsuccessful kicks are the result of poor snaps and/or inconsistent ball placement. Stress the importance of technique (for consistency) and timing (for protection). The metric to strive for is 1.2 seconds total. In high school, if you can reach 1.5 seconds, you are doing perfect.

Kicking the ball
Special teams is all about timing. To improve timing and increase success, take every effort ot eliminate wasted movement (that prolongs the launch).

The kicker should set up a distance based on his personal stride length, starting with a plant position on the ball's (eventual) placement, and taking three large steps backward and one large step laterally.

The kicker should not have parallel feet in his stance. He should present his kicking foot forward, thereby eliminating a gather step completely. The whole movement for a kick takes place in 2 steps with an initial stutter. Any more steps than that and you will have erradic performance.

Once set in his stance, the kicker should pick a target past the goal post and high. With this visualization cued to align his body, he will then direct his attention to the kicking tee and keep his head down, locked on this aiming point. This ensures that the kicker is focused on his footwork and this is the same every time he kicks. With the kicking toe and kicker's hips pointing at the target (ball), his approach will consist of one 4" gather or jab step with the non-kicking leg.

short jab step initiates the long stride approach

After the jab step, the next step should be an exaggerated stride with the kicking leg, reaching forward as far as possible.

The final step is the plant step, which should put the non-kicking foot 6-8" outside of the ball placement.

The momentum of forward hip explosion should be carried through with the non-kicking foot vertically. This can be simulated/practiced simply by rolling the foot forward from the balls of the feet to the toes, ending with a jump. This follow-through ensures a consistently straight kick.
When practicing, this can actually be done with your eyes closed. Rather than shagging balls 40 yards down the field, have the kicker practice his approach and swing on a paper cup. You want to make this movement a habit, train the muscle memory of kicking mechanics.

In keeping with muscle-memorization, the coach should also stress practicing rhythmic breathing for the kicker. A consistent method of relaxed and controlled breathing will help your athlete maintain his focus during clutch game situations.
The Sweet Spot
Of most import for kicking is where (on the ball) to make contact. The ideal spot for consistent kicks is known as the "sweet spot" . This location is 3" below the midlevel point on the football.

The secret to a consistent kicking game is the contact point. Namely, the foot.
The tool used to kick the ball should be the lower inside portion of the kicking foot.

Important coaching points are that the foot should be pointed down and outside. Once this position is achieved, “lock” the ankle to ensure there will be no deviance in the surface delivered to the ball. You want a club for a foot. The sweet spot of the ball should be making contact with the ‘knuckle’ of the big toe. Another crucial aspect of presenting the foot is to always keep the sole of the foot hidden. The athlete should drive through his kicking foot arch into and past the ball.

Much like the Darin Slack C4 Method of Self-Correcting throws, a basic trouble-shooting approach to improving kicking is as follows;
  • If the kick goes end over end or spins too fast = contact made too low of sweet spot .
  • If the kick goes too far ahead of goal = contact made too low
  • If the kick goes quibs = too high of sweet spot
  • If the kick goes too far behind / hook = contact made too high

During practice, don’t just having your kicker out there just going through the motions. Have an objective and focus, working scenarios and hashes. This will build the confidence for game situations.


.....not this

for more instructional material on the kicking game, I would recommend checking out Filip Filipovic at;

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