As most teams reach the middle part of their season by now, I'm getting a number questions about mid-season training and college recruitment. I'll try to keep this short and sweet and will label each category so you can find information that pertains to your interests.
1. Injury Prevention-
As the season progresses, many athlete's bodies start to wear down. Especially if the athlete plays both soccer and football. As a kicker it's important to keep your legs as fresh as possible. As the weather gets colder, keeping flexible, is also important. Here are a few things I recommend. 1) stretch before and after practice. Try to get out to the practice field early enough to spend at least 5 minutes stretching. Then stretch after practice. Don't worry that most of your teammates leave right away without stretching, it's YOUR body that you are caring for, and you want to perform that best that you can. 2) Use the team ice baths. As cold as they may seem, TRUST ME, it works. In college, I use to wear out my hip flexor and lose power in my punts. I started ice baths my senior year and never got injured. Here is a link that talks about the benefits of ice baths: http://www.runaddicts.net/tips-tricks/ice-bath-therapy-speed-up-recovery-and-enhance-performance
3) Here is a technique I learned from an ex-NFL punter, that is unique, but it will keep your legs fresh. Lay your body on the ground. Elevate your legs perpendicularly up against the wall. Close to 90 degrees. Keep your legs up on the wall for 15 minutes. The idea behind it is that this will flush out all the old blood in your legs. When you are done, slowly sit up, and new fresh blood will pump back into your legs. The next day your legs will be feel fresher and not heavy. Now make sure you watch TV, read a book or study while doing it because by the 8th-9th minutes it can get a little boring. You don't need to do this every day, but maybe 1-3 times a week, but at least the day before the game.
For aching and sore arms, backs and limbs, I'd recommend using Medic Ice. It's a better version Icy Hot. It will last 4-5 hours and offer hot and cold pain relief. I've given sample packets to a number of my students, if you'd like more information, please see the following link. http://www.specialteamsfootballacademy.com/products.html
2. Weight Training
- Like I mentioned above, your legs will start to wear down throughout the season. Part of what keeps you kicking farther besides proper technique, is having strength, flexibility and quick leg whip to drive the ball. During the season, there isn't a need to be maxing out. Just try to maintain strength. If you back squat 250 pounds, just do enough to maintain strength, like 200 pound. Do enough to push yourself, but not strain your muscles. As a kicker, the areas of your body you want to focus on are your legs & core. Having big biceps only impresses the girls, but doesn't really help you with your kicking. You want to develop strength and power in your quads, ham string, glutes, hips, hip flexor and abs, plus balance and endurance. Core strength is the most important aspect of kicking. Strong core muscles help you to control your kicks. And the combination of core strength and flexibility allows you to kick high, while keeping your body upright. Any ab workouts help, as well as doing back workouts (to keep muscular balance in the front or back). Plyometric workouts help a lot to develop fast twitch muscles. Box jumps, balancing exercises and running ladders all help. For specific drills, please contact me, otherwise you can contact your strength coach.
Don't get overwhelmed with kicking stats. I know that I do ask for stats, but I do so to help showcase kickers, punters, snappers & returners performances. Most times the attention goes to the QB, RB, WR, and very little on the kicking team. I'm trying to help create more attention to our specialists. Many times these are the positions that most coaches recruit later on in the process. Many college coaches know High School kicking units (kicker, snapper, holder, and blocking line) aren't always the most polished and practiced. What is important is to consistently show your leg strength and power on kickoffs, field goals & punts. If you blast a couple kickoffs through the back of the end zone or through the uprights on kickoffs, punt a few long or high punts, that will get their attention! The coaches at the next level believe they can take a guy with a strong leg, and develop him into a kicker or punter. Don't get me wrong in that having great kicking stats help a lot, but don't lose hope if your team has only attempted 1 FG all year.
4. College Recruiting-
For the seniors out there (and some Juniors), make sure you are collecting & sending out as much game film as possible to college special teams coaches and recruiting coordinators. Be proactive
in the recruiting process. Don’t sit around and wait for things to happen, or it may pass you by! Market yourself as well as you can. I am also here to try to help you market yourself and get your name out. You can list me as a referral on any material you send out. (Just please give me some heads up). I have filmed many of my students in private & small group lessons, so I can send you that film if you'd like to use it. An instructor that I team up with for camps, Tom Feely of Feely Kicking, has a great service that I feel is very cost effective in helping you promote yourself. He can do an email blast to all coaches in any division at a very reasonable price (cheaper than the mailing costs to mail out film). I can give you more details about this as well. I will give you his phone number and email if you want. Make sure if you create a highlight film, to make a digital version of it, so you can also send it by an email. Youtube.com or Vimeo.com are probably the best options for uploading film. Here is an example of what I created after my senior year of college football to send to the NFL scouts. You obviously want to put your best kicks first, and the ones that showcase your big leg. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCpmBOjeqLg
Now in reference to what I was saying in the 3rd point. If your high school team isn't that good and you aren't able to get a lot of kicking in, attending kicking/punting/snapping evaluation camps become very valuable. There are a few options out there. As you probably know, I'm a coach/evaluator under the NationalCampSeries.com network. They do a great job of promoting specialists. We put on evaluation camps throughout the year to help you showcase your abilities if you aren't able to on Friday nights. You will get a FREE profile & bio on the website and can upload your highlight film to this. Here is an example of a Bio. http://www.nationalcampseries.com/profile.asp?id=1846&eventid=1
But doing these types of evaluation camps can really help you show your strong leg. More details to come on that later in the week, but there will be a regional evaluation camp on Oct 16.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me