Ineffective steps can cause various issues throughout the entire punt. Examples of this could be swinging around the ball rather than up through it, or massive loss of power. Steps are often a quick fix, however the habit is tough to break. So we wanted to cover this topic, just as all the others and break bad habits early!
The Dance Step
I included a video of one of our trainees, Brian Buschini from University of Montana as he provides a great example of what we call the dance step or shuffle. Obviously he is just kicking out of hand, but as he tosses the ball to himself watch his feet, he includes a small shuffle then into his second step, and plant step. This shuffle is very important because it can speed up operation time significantly. It should occur as the snap is coming to you, as a way of getting the operation moving early. It also allows you to quickly move into your second and plant steps rather than waiting until you have the ball to start, potentially causing blocked punts.
Walking The Tightrope
This is by far the most common issue we see with punt steps. I struggled with this myself, but basically it's walking one foot over the other just as you would on a tightrope. I tell the guys I work with, "just walk like you are at school." This concept takes some pressure off the steps as it changes your thought process. Just some normal steps shoulder width apart down the hallway at school. The issue with the tightrope steps is that it opens up your hips instead of keeping them square to your target causing you to have to swing your kicking leg around from behind your plant leg, rather than swinging straight up through the football. If you are a right footed punter who's punts often fall to the left or opposite for a lefty, this may be part of the issue. So as I mentioned to help with this, just work on talking normal walking steps through your punt operation with and without the ball until it becomes muscle memory and your hips can stay square through the target.
Approaching Towards Your Target
This is another common error we see in young punters, not aiming their steps towards their target. Usually when we begin punting, I'll have the athlete punt directly down the middle to gauge this very thing. More often than not, I will see them start stepping to their dominant leg side and then trying to correct back to the middle. This will naturally cause you to have to swing around the ball rather than up through it, preventing you from getting the best hang time and distance possible. So again, toss the ball up to yourself or as you catch the snap incorporate the dance step, and approach towards your target line. In the video above you can see Brian approaching right through his target line.
The final item I wanted to touch on is the size of steps that should be taken. We often see young punters taking very large steps thinking they need to ramp up and give it their all. Taking these very big steps actually hurts you in the long run, decreasing power you could drive into the football because it is being used to create big steps. Once again, back to the concept of "walking at school" your steps should be balanced and comfortable, not too small and not too big. Your goal should be to have the ball gone in 3-3.5 yards giving you space to get the ball off and your protection room to take on blocks and not have to worry about getting back into your area.
These tips will help you become a more consistent and effective punter if used correctly! Take these and work through them one step at a time, pun intended. Excited to see some more moonshots!
Wondering how to get around shoveling snow or closed facilities to get work in? Give the link above a read on how to get the most out of your time indoors! With the current circumstances and the tough weather that we deal with up north we are spending more time indoors. Don't let these factors prevent you from improving your craft and your preparation for gameday!
Once in a while if possible you should get out in the tough conditions just so you know what adjustments to make when or if that kind of weather hits during the season!
Reminders: Wash your hands, follow social distancing protocols and always wear a mask! These little tips will help keep you safe as well as the people around you! Do your part to help stop the pandemic so we can beat it!
With the age groups that we coach, we often get the question, "how or when should I transition to the ground?" This is a very important question because of the obvious, you have to kick off the ground in college. So, at some point this transition has to happen, but we wanted to dive into this question and help you guys out and make the change easier when you feel ready to!
What do I need to change in order to successfully kick off the ground?
In our opinion, only one thing needs to be adjusted to make the transition to the ground, your plant foot. As show in the pictures above, off the block the middle of our foot should be lined up with the seam of the ball (possible slight adjustment depending on the height of the block). But off the ground, our plant foot should be lined up mid ankle to the seam of the ball. This is because off the ground we need to hit the football at a different point than off the block, and adjusting our plant foot adjusts our swing path as it correlates to the football. The deeper plant (farther forward) will allow you to hit the ball earlier, rather than the shallower plant (farther back) where you would hit the ball later and slightly more on your upswing, meeting the ball at a slightly higher point (off the block).
Often High School kickers (including myself when I was making the transition) overthink this transition and make all these other unnecessary adjustments that actually hurt you in the long run. These could be sinking your hips at impact (thinking you need to swing lower) or trying to scoop under the ball to create the height you are losing from not having the block, among others. But as I mentioned before, these don't need to happen. Simply adjust your plant foot and it will take care of the rest. Stay tall, light steps, lock your ankle, discipline your eyes and drive right through that slight inner panel right through the uprights!
When should I make the transition to off the ground?
The answer that we give to young specialists to the second part of the original question is, when you feel comfortable to do so. But, you can consider some other factors to help you make your decision:
When making the transition to the ground, your holder no longer has something to aim at for their placement of the hold. They will have to be more accurate with their spot, because if they place it down away from where you marked, your whole approach and swing will have to be adjusted on the fly, often not creating a great result. So, if you are considering making the switch, have a conversation with your holder and have him and your snapper work with you in the off season to perfect the change so everyone is prepared for game day!
We often do recommend if you are serious about playing college football, that you make it a goal by your senior season to be kicking off the ground. This way you already have a year and game experience doing so, this will be a big factor to college special teams coaches. But, if you aren't ready to at that point don't worry! After your senior season, get rid of your block and make videos of yourself working off the ground to send to college coaches. In your training sessions we can also make recruiting film while you are making your transition so they can see your progression! Hopefully these tips make your transition and success off the ground much easier!
One of the biggest factors to a missed kick and a very common error we see with young kickers is, an inconsistent approach. Inconsistency in this area can cause a variety of mishits, pulling around the ball, toeing the ball, a loss of power among others depending on where your approach takes you. So in this post I wanted to cover a few things that we use in training that will help you become more consistent and an overall more improved kicker!
What is the plant line?
The first tip we use to help kickers become more consistent is to "follow your plant line." Your plant line is an imaginary line from toe of your inside foot (right for right footed kicker and left for left footed kicker) at the back or starting position of your approach through where your plant foot would be at impact (shown in picture above). Your ideal plant foot location is about your foots length away from the football. You can measure this before you take your steps back. This will give your kicking leg enough room for a powerful strike through the football.
How will this make me more consistent?
The key to making this tip successful is keeping your inside foot/leg (again right for right footed kicker and left for left footed kicker) along this line all the way through impact. You notice in the photo above the inside of this line is shaded out, that is a way one street to missed or mishit balls going in there. A couple things could happen if you step inside your plant line:
Okay, I fixed my plant line, why am I still losing power on my kicks?
In addition to your plant line, your steps will make a big difference in the outcome of your kick. Often we see young kickers who start very far away from the ball. This causes you to have to take very large steps to get to where you need to be. With these large steps you are driving your power/momentum into the ground and into your large stride vs into the football. Make sure you aren't having to reach for the football, it should be comfortable and easy for you to reach your plant spot and drive through the football.
You should also be light on your feet. We often see young kickers who take flat footed steps to their spot and through the ball. This is the same idea, taking these steps will again drive your power into the ground and force you to have to recreate momentum rather than building it up throughout your approach. Take a close look at NFL kickers when you are watching a game, they are all light on their feet and hover across the ground so they keep their power/momentum up with them rather than into the ground.
So in review, stay true and follow your plant line, be light on your feet and don't over stride during your approach to the football (adjust your approach length if needed, possibly shorten by half a step at the back end). These tips if used correctly will help you become a more consistent and powerful kicker!
Moving over to the punting side, the first thing I ask trainees when we begin punting training is "What grip do you use on the football?" The drop may be the major factor in a good punt vs a bad punt, but the key to a good drop is having a solid and consistent grip on the football.
Keys to a great grip:
How do I decide which grip is best for me?
There are multiple ways punters from high school to the pros grip the football, and they all can be effective. Anywhere from on top of the ball, underneath (the "trap door" drop) or on the side (the "handshake" drop). Just be sure that your grip is the following:
Which grip do you recommend?
I recommend the handshake drop (pictured above) to the specialists I train. It is a natural position for your wrist to get to, just like you are going to shake someones hand. The middle finger on the seam also provides a great landmark and can guide you quickly to the correct position. Next, it is very easy to obtain a firm grip on the football (eliminate extra space between ball and your hand), in comparison to the on top of the ball grip where it can easily slip out of your hand. Finally when you transition to the drop, you only have to worry about getting your pinky out of the way, vs the trap door drop (underneath) you have to get most of your hand out of the way of the ball coming down.
Try out different grips and find one that follows the major points I listed above, but most importantly is comfortable for you! These tips will help you have a more consistent drop, and become a more consistent punter if followed correctly! Any questions or comments feel free to reach out! Let see some pigs fly!
At the beginning of every session with a new trainee I always ask, "do you know where you should me making contact with the football?" I usually get a variety of answers, from "I'm not sure, I just kick" to "near the bottom" or "just below the middle." Obviously some of these answers are incorrect, but others are not correct enough in my opinion. I am a big proponent for the aim small, miss small concept and this translates to ball contact as well. You should be aiming for a specific spot on the football, this will train your eyes and mind to become more accurate with your contact of the ball and in turn make you a more consistent kicker. This should also be your mindset with picking targets, but I will cover that in a later post.
Where should that specific spot be?
If you watch the ball flight of a kick from most NFL kickers or some college kickers closely you will notice that the ball carries straight, and slightly fades to the right, or left for a left footed kicker. This is considered a strong fade, because the ball is straightening out and continuing to carry downfield. In comparison, a lot of young high school and some college kickers often have their ball bend back to the middle which is actually decreasing distance on your kick because it isn't straightening out (fading) and continuing to carry, it is actually curving back.
Shown in the images above, for a right footed kicker your spot should be bottom quarter of the ball and slightly on the left panel of the football. Translate that to a left footed kicker, just the opposite, bottom quarter of the ball and slightly on the right panel. This is where the big part of your foot should be connecting with the football. It is the fattest part, and will give you the best possible result creating slow rotation and more distance. I included an image from one of our sessions with Coach Bailey while he was at MSU for a great example of foot angle and how it should be rotated forward slightly so the big part (navicular bone) of your foot will be the first thing that will make contact with the ball.
Connecting closer to the middle or far panel (right for a right footed kicker and left for a left footed kicker) will result in your ball curving back or missing kicks wide because you will be swinging around the football. Lets get those strong fades flying!
These tips will increase your distance on FGs and Kickoffs if done correctly! Become an asset on special teams! If you have any questions or comments please contact us or comment below. We hope to see you at future training sessions and camps!
Social media plays a major role in our lives, whether that be connecting with friends, getting news, or promoting your business, it has undeniably changed how we live. Recruiting has also been impacted by social media and it can be a very useful tool for you in your journey, if used effectively. In this post, I wanted to give you some tips on how to make the most of your social media presence, and find yourself making a difference at the collegiate level!
Which social media platform should I be using?
Twitter is often the best place to find college coaches and connect with them via DM. You may occasionally find some on Instagram or other platforms, but Twitter so far as been the most effective.
What should my profile look like?
Be aware of how you present yourself on social media. This includes your username, bio, posts and videos. Your username should very simply be @yourname or you could possibly add a grad year, but make it as easy as possible for a college coach to find you. Next, your bio should include your school, your grad year, and your position. You can also add your contact information along with a link to your updated game film (or a link to both). Again, we want to make it very easy for coaches or recruiting coordinators to quickly find film and the information they are looking for.
Who should I be connecting with?
Please check out our "Recruiting Timeline" in the recruiting portal to see where you should be at in the recruiting process depending on your age. A great place to start in your search is to make a pros/cons list of important factors to you. These could be do they have my major?, will I have an opportunity to play early?, or what is the distance from home? Any factors that may influence your decision can be listed out. Then start researching your top choices and see where they fall in line with your important factors. Based on this, you can find almost all coaches contact info on their website. Be on the lookout for special teams coordinators, special teams quality control, special teams assistants or recruiting coordinators. These coaches will be the talent evaluators who report to their head coach and will most likely be the quickest to respond.
How should I initiate the conversation?
Understand that coaches receive possibly dozens of DMs a day and so they will not have the time to read through a huge long message about your life story. Keep it short and to the point while also including the important information.
I didn't get a response, what's next?
Just because a coach doesn't get back to you doesn't necessarily mean they aren't interested. As mentioned previously coaches are very busy and receive hundreds of DMs, emails, phone calls, etc. It could also be that they just haven't checked their messages yet. If it's been a few days and no response don't worry. If no response after a few weeks, try reaching out again with a short message asking if they had a chance to review your information, and that you are still very interested in their school and football program.
Don't get help up on one program, or be stuck on playing FBS level football. Search for opportunities at all levels. You can make a big impact and get a great education at smaller schools as well. Understand where you are at in your ability, but know you will grow and develop. There is an opportunity waiting for you out there, go get it!
Brought to you by the coaches at Torgerson Kicking & Punting, this is a new blog meant to focus on common errors or misconceptions in the technique of young specialists. Throughout training sessions we have noticed similar errors and misconceptions from athlete to athlete with slight variances. So, we wanted to develop this blog as a place for athletes and their families to learn about these, even if they can't train with us in person. We look forward to hearing your feedback, please comment below on what you think of the content and hopefully this helps you become a better specialist and improve your craft! Please also don't hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or comments!