Browsing all articles in Blog

Got Punt/Golf? How Football Kickers and Punters can make it in the PGA!

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments No comments

In my last blog I posted why PGA golfers could not make it as a kicker, and as we are in the midst of the current PGA “tour”, and winding down the “tour” of Summer kicking/punting camps and combines I thought you might enjoy this blog, as to how how all you great high great punters can make it in the PGA!

OK, let me be clear; before rushing out and spending a couple of thousand dollars on the latest golf clubs, and those stylish pants and shirts I don’t mean The Professional Golf Association of America but in fact The Punt/Golf AssociationTM!

The Punt/Golf AssociationTM was formed one brisk autumn day back in 1993 with some of the local kickers and punters I was working with while I coaching at our local high school (Blessed Trinity, HS Roswell GA). We were all working on the proper way to ensure we had a good “drop table” for our football drills, and we decided to make a game of this. Now 19 years later I am sharing this “game” with all of you and the reasons behind it (and yes- I still play against my fellow P/GA guys from time to time when we train).

The concept of the game is very similar to regular golf where you are hitting to a pre-determined area on a golf course with the goal of putting the little round ball in the hole with less “strokes” than your competitor, all the while ensuring that each shot you make has consequences’ for ones actions.

In Punt/Golf, the goal is the same, except the ball does not go in a hole, but rather you either hit a certain target, or put the ball through a certain area (say the goalposts) with the goal being you build a consistent drop table along the way, or be able to gauge wind conditions just like Tiger, Phil, and Bubba do on the golf course; while understanding that you don’t need a driver, when you are only 25-30 yards from the target (HINT: this is for all you big punters who love to put the ball into the end zone-thus losing yardage on your punting average, when instead of placing it inside the 10 yard line) .

So how is it played? First, this game is ONLY played AFTER they have warmed-up and at least punted for 30-45 minutes. Then you simply make a game of golf out of it. For instance, the first hole can be an easy par four (that even I at 57 years of age still manage to “birdie” a few times). Start at the end zone line (BTW-if you go over the line it’s a foul like in golf and there is a penalty stroke associated with it) and try and punt the ball down field and THROUGH the football goal posts and make it a “par 4”. Have the other punters/kickers on your team also participate and see how many “strokes’ (punts) it takes you to put it through the posts. Want to make it a bit harder? OK, add one stroke to this par4 to a par 5, by having each player hit either the left or right goal post in the air.

If you would like to make it a par three hole- have it where you are kicking from your end zone out the center of the field where your football team’s logo is placed- where you need to hit the ball in the air IN the logo area. Want something a bit more challenging? Add some cones to either side of a hash mark, or in the middle of the field around the opposing goal posts, hitting the ball from the 45 yard line and have it drop in the cone area in the air- so as a to help you with your directional/coffin corner punts.

Can kickers also participate? Sure. In this game, you might want to start at the 5 yard line on the sideline and try to hit through the goal posts, and each “hole” move the ball closer the goal line, and if you want to make it more challenging, have the kick hit the left or right goal post.

Is this fun? Yes, it can be unless of course you are the countless punters over the years I have “beaten” who are normally full of bantering of how they are going to beat ol Coach Nolan only to find out after the 18 or so “holes” have been completed that they cannot. Heck, I have trained three kids (who will remain nameless that will be kicking in the SEC this year and next who have NEVER beaten me-but don’t want to embarrass them in case their coach reads this) and boy is it fun to gig them!

All kidding aside, as a coach we always focus on what we call “teachable moments”. As I punt alongside them, my focus for them (outside of trying to get into their heads) is for them to realize that as a 57 year old “punter” the drop table I have developed since I was 15 years of age, has helped ensure I don’t “shank” the ball, and even though the days of me hitting 45/4.5’s may be gone, my molding and drop table are usually consistent focus for me as I approach my next “shot”.

Secondly, I look to ensure they are stepping properly, with consistent strides, and not crossing over with their legs after releasing the punt.

Thirdly, understanding the type of touch they need to have (again not having to use a driver when all one needs is a 9 iron) when hitting a certain punt is far more effective then the “ahhhs” from the crowd when seeing a 50/5.0 sail into the end zone for a touchback, or properly ensuring how to turn their hips on a coffin corner ball, thus pinning the opponent inside the ten yard line. Those “ahhhs” come from the true kicking coach, and the “groans” come from the opposing offensive coach who now has to change some of his plays, since that they are backed up.

The “ahhhs” that come from the kids then help them understand that at the current and next level they are trying to get to it’s about their perceptions vs. reality as to how they need to strike a football, manage wind/field conditions and how to hit a consistent “A” ball every time off the “tee” or from their release with the proper hand takeaway drills. They at times will also have their own “groans” as they punt, but its far better for them to have the groan on the practice field than in the real game!

The biggest teachable lesson I take away from this is that from all these great young men who have played the game against “the ol man” (and there are a lot of Dad’s who son’s I have coached that I know are reading this and have seen this) is they love to compete- and hate to lose!

Lastly, after a long punting/kicking workout, no matter how tired they are (and no matter how many times I have beaten them) always wants to stay around and play Punt/Golf with the “ol man”. Hopefully years later when they too become kicking coaches can help and train young men and enjoy a few “rounds” of Punt/Golf in my memory, all the while being called “the ol man” by the young men they will teach!

Coach Nolan++++


Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments 1 comment

While sitting around with one of my redneck SEC football buddies and watching a recent “golf match” one of my friends stated that kicking a football is a lot like hitting a golf ball, and it really did not require a lot of “athletic ability” which of course as you can imagine why I turned and stated to him, the topic of this blog!

First, let’s put some meat around this topic, and to dispel the notion that hitting a golf ball and football are similar in the mechanics, and techniques. Nothing can be further from “reality”, and having been both a golfer and kicker the only similar thing I had in common was that my football jersey and golf handicap were the same number…. 09- but that was in miniature golf!

For instance, as football kickers we only have “two clubs” in our bag (Our kicking foot and plant foot) to hit a field goal, extra point, or kick-off. Golfers have 14 (some even more if you don’t check their bag), and golf clubs and golf balls are made out of the latest Titanium or new highly spun Moon rocks turned into golf balls, and various leather grips for comfort. For the most part footballs are made still made from leather- and not pigs skin (just as a history lesson, the inside bladder was made out of pig bladder, thus the reference to “the ol pigskin” being thrown/kicked around).

Secondly, PGA golfers have a caddie on each hole, helping them with the distance (they now use golf distance/range finders) between each shot, as well as making sure the clubs are kept clean, and their golf balls are free from dirt! As kickers, we thankfully have our goal posts to tell us how far away we are and yard markers, and from a football we only have ONE commercial football we can use in the pro ranks (Wilson) so as kickers, don’t get to have those free balls shipped to us, and our million dollar endorsements to kick with the latest and greatest “X” football on the market.

Thirdly, and probably the BIGGEST difference is that at all PGA events, there are signs of “Hush Y’all, and Quiet Please” before ANY and all golf shots are attempted. God forbid, a plane traveling at 30,000 feet, or a camera crew member makes a noise on someone’s backswing and you’re thrown out of the event.

I am sure even a cricket making a noise, would get a stare down from a golfer, and later on found by the grounds crew members and shipped to Alaska! As kickers, we have all sorts of noises from fans, band members, wind conditions around the various stadiums (and stadium exits areas) and opposing players, jumping, diving/ trying to block our kicks. Can you imagine if Tiger Woods had to hit a ball out of the fairway with 21 people in front of him? He would go nuts!

Or all of a sudden, Phil Mickleson (my favorite golfer) is trying to hit a 40 foot putt to win the Masters, and all of a sudden Ernie Ells, runs over to one of the PGA officials and asks for a time-out freeze Phil before he putts? Both Ells and the official would be working and playing at Putt-Putt land for the rest of their careers!

Yes I know they have trees, and bunkers, and other “hazards” but are not the same “hazards” a kicker faces, and of course, as kickers we don’t have the time nor luxury of “backing off a shot” if we don’t like the wind or a noise.

Fourth, PGA professionals enjoy for the most part hitting a stationary ball, while a kicker receives a ball from the snapper to the holder, and then kick (well OK, we have a stationary ball when we are kicking off-but that’s about it) to our target line.

Okay, so on the flip side are there similarities between us? Of course there are. Both a PGA golfer and kicker get to sometimes hit incredible “shots” from all sorts of bad lies (“holds” in a kickers view)angles under extreme conditions and outside of the weather there are the “mental” conditions both have to prepare for and train for over years and years of practice working mostly by themselves.

If they are lucky, they can hire a true Professional golf coach who uses Video analysis while working alongside the golfer, and professional kicking coaches who use our Coaching –On-Demand biomechanics’ software and cloud based portals allow the true professional in each sport to almost instantly see what they are doing right, and were small changes incorporated in their “swing mechanics” can make a huge difference as to whether you get to “play on the weekends”. And In Golf and Football, that is the goal!

So to all my redneck golfing buddies and football guys I have played with, the next time a kicker misses either left or right a field goal, just remember that we only get that one shot at the “hole” and there are no par threes, birdies or eagles (except as mascots) on our course. We just have “pigskins”.

Coach Nolan

What is Response to Instruction/Intervention (RTII) for Kickers and Punters – and why it may be the most important instruction you will need to know!

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments No comments

Those of you who are familiar with the old Holiday Inn commercial where a guy shows up to perform brain surgery and announces… Hey, I stayed at The Holiday Inn last night – so he of course is not only rested but can all of a sudden perform “brain surgery” over the surgeon who has spent many years in performing these types of operations… might know where I am going with this as it relates to responding and instructing and intervening when we work with young football kickers and punters.

As many of you know who read my blogs I have been coaching kickers and punters since 1980 (yep – and still at it) but what you may not know is in one of my old corporate jobs, I spent many years in the software education business (K-12) while coaching kickers/punters, and my focus was on implementing Response To Intervention (RTI) and Individual Education Plans (IEPs) software in the general education and exceptional children groups of school districts. Some states have mandated an RTI “tiered process” (which I will address shortly) while every state has an IEP “compliance plan” specific to them so they can report on (since its tied back to real dollars to the district). As kicking specialists, parents and coaches of kickers know, the “real dollars” we are trying to obtain are for our kids are in the football scholarship offers and professional contracts.

What I quickly gleaned from this educational experience was that “students and teachers” and ultimately “kickers/punters and coaches” all are part of a tiered approach of how they “learn” and teach/coach in the classroom (in our case the football field is our classroom).

Learning and teaching take on several different “tiered approaches” and I have always stated there is no “cookie cutter approach” on how I train kids because all of them have different characteristics (height, weight, build, memory muscles, etc., that have been defined (or need to be REDEFINED), and all learn at different times/levels. Each kicker/punter should be placed in a 4 Tiered Plan of a “Response to Instruction/Intervention for Kickers and Punters Instruction/Intervention (RTKPII) plan that is like an inverted pyramid approach and here’s why.

Tier 1– Probably between 75-90 per cent of young kickers (and parents/coaches) start out in this tier. The kicker might be someone who has been kicking for a year or two and has some basic understanding of the “general techniques” of kicking/striking (and no, power is NOT a technique) a football.

They might have had some “instruction” by “Coach HI” (Holiday Inn) who purchased a kicking book or video while staying at The Holiday Inn -or maybe an older teammate who “shows them the ropes” (somewhat dangerous), but generally likes the position of being a kicker and all that it brings with it.

From a special team’s coaching standpoint, some of these high school coaches (and some would argue college) fall into this category. So to assess what tier the coach falls into, one of the first questions I ask a kicker is.. “Who currently trains you?” This helps me evaluate the level of instruction I may need to do for the kicker and my “response” on how to intervene on what he has learned so far; then develop and implement and “test” a kicking solution over a short period of time (3-4 weeks/lessons) to see where they are (kicking/punting “charting” lessons). Finally, before I see how serious a kicker is, it is important that they (as well as the current coach and the parents) are part of what I call Kicker Problem Solving Teams (KPST) who is focused on ensuring the overall success of the kicker both on and off the football field and moves to Tier 2.

Tier 2 – These kickers are usually the top 10-15 per cent of the kickers who are now in the end of their HS Freshman year, and are attending some of the more bigger name camps (Jamie Kohl, Chris Sailer, Ray Guy, Mike McCabe and others) and have been getting some ranking/stars associated with others in the same high school year, and are starting to be on the “radar”. These kids are now starting to target what they want to do as a “specialist” (combo kicker, kicker only or punter only) if they want to play at a D1 college level program.

Tier 2 kickers should be able to chart themselves (a simple notebook can do) on a weekly basis to see where they are in kick-offs, field goals and PAT’s and from various places and distances from the field (this also includes charting with and against the wind) and have a somewhat consistent kicking step and format that works for them. Tier 2 punters should be able to hit consistent punts in the 38 and 3.8 distance and hang-time, be able to have a consistent “drop-table” and step motion, and be able to “turn the ball over consistently.

They might have signed up with NCSA to start the recruiting process, use a local video company that can help or have registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center ($65.00 to join – and is also a great reference point for parents). Tier 2 kickers might have some YouTube Highlight “moments” but I can tell you college coaches do NOT look at these to assess where you are!

Tier 2 kicking specialists are now more serious about playing one sport in the FALL – and not wrapped up in trying to be the next All-American in two sports in the same season. Case in point: Ask all the Tier 4 scholarship kickers when you are at a competition camp or at a college showcase how many of them played two sports in the SAME season, and if so, what year did they stop playing and concentrating on one or the other? Yes, Mom and Dad, there are the rare exceptions – and maybe your son is that one – but you have to ask yourself, what sport is Karl the Kicker or Paul the Punter going to be trying to obtain a scholarship in?

A Tier 2 special teams coach is someone that has actually trained and helped obtain a scholarship for a current or former kicker and was at some point in his career actually been a kicker/punter (and no it does not count if the coach “bunked” with the kicker/punter when they were together in college – it does not work like that). They can spot some of the basics and can instruct on some short term kicking remediation and start to formulate a plan with the kicker and his snapper and holder (Example: where does the punter like the ball to be set to by the snapper, or how does the kicker like to have the hold placed on the ground…) Lastly, they can also be able to speak to a College Special Teams coach about the kicking specialists he is working with to start the process – but as we know, to obtain the scholarship, it’s really going to depend on Tier 3-4 kickers, and their Tier 3-4 coaches!

Tier 3 – These kickers/punters are in the Top 5 percent and are headed for either a D1 college offer (or if currently in college are invited to a “State Pro” camp upon college graduation). They are intense and passionate about not only their kicking routines, but also their strength and conditioning, knowing this is going to make them better, and perform at the showcases and National camp and College exposure camps (and finally receiving a scholarship/professional offer). Their kick-offs are almost flawless as they sail into and out of the end zone, while being able to make 45-50 yard field goals from various hash marks and under pressure when it counts, and usually either off the ground or with a one inch or shaved down block. Punters are now averaging in the mid to high 40’s with average hang times in the 4.3 to 4.5’s, and have the ability to place “directional punts” down inside the opposing 10 yard line with great accuracy.

They have a great relationship with some of my coaching “brethren” I have come to know and respect (Jamie Kohl, Chris Sailer, Mike McCabe or regional based ex-college/professional kicker they work with) as well as and knowing the special teams coaches at the top 10 colleges they want to attend, that also have the Education major they want to study when they are finished with college.

They are also highly ranked by these National coaches and have the grades and SAT/ACT scores to back it up.

The one down side is that they might still have to clean-up their Facebook and other social media accounts – how they write on their “wall” and how they leave messages on their cell phone voice mail.. (Hint.. having your voice mail message start with.. “Yo what’s up? I am not here now because I am chillin with my bros” may not be the impression a college coach wants to hear) but for the most part are headed to the “next level” and you are on your way!

Tier 3 coaches are proven kicking and punting instructors who also know how to do a proper film/video analysis and see the small areas of need for improvement. They have kicked at our level; provided a great “Intervention/Instruction Plan” and are more targeted on the “behavioral” side of kicking – what to expect from kicking in front of a couple hundred people to maybe 100,000 people – or understanding the increased training as kickers they will need to know about when they get to college.

Tier 4 – These kickers/punters are in the Top 1 percent of their class, have been to multiple kicking competitions (probably won a few – and even played in one of the All-American games on TV) and knowing the recruiting game when it comes to being able to be in the college coaches eyes as “the whole package when they are offered”.

They also realize that at this level, they are now going to be playing on a National stage in front of maybe 85-100,000 people each week. They take this kicking “craft” very seriously and also are the first ones to Thank Mom and Dad for all the time invested (if they have not , shame on them), and also know that in a short period of time of their college experience they will be trading in their football helmet and uniform, for a college graduation cap and gown. If lucky to play professionally – the next set of Tiers of instruction and training become more intense, and if not, at least the different Tiers 1-4 in football instruction will have helped help them get ready for the Tiered Instruction and training in the game of life!

Tier 4 coaches are the ones who have come to know each of the kickers/punters they have worked with, and ask a Tier 4 kicking specialists to attend one of the coaches National camps where they can highlight just how far the Tier I kicker was a just a few short years ago, and where they are today, or after college can become part of a coaches staff at the HS level (Community Coaching) or joining them when local kicking competition camps are held locally!

Finally, Tier 4 coaches- should be the ones (next to Mom and Dad) who get the passes to sit in the “parents of players” section on a Saturday to watch – and humbly take a few short pats on the back- or at least be at the college graduation ceremony!

Until next blog – Coach Nolan

The three greatest words a coach can hear is … “Thank You Coach” and my 49th and 50th “Thank You Coach” commits are just as nice as my first one!

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments No comments

Recently one of the dad’s of a high school kicker who I am working with and hearing that my 49th kicker/punter (Collin Barber) UGA incoming punter for 2012 and my 50th kicker/punter (Jimmy Hutchinson) who just signed with Auburn as a high school Junior for the 2013 year and both who I have been training for about three years, asked me the following question. “What is the most fulfilling thing that comes from helping a young man attain his college dreams of getting a kicking scholarship?”

My answer was simple. “Thank You Coach” which kind of shocked this dad because many know I am a talker! I explained that over thirty years I started to work with young men who were looking for anyone who could help them get better as a kicker/punter, and I can tell you with almost 100 percent that each time I would work-out with these kids, they always walked away, with saying, “Thank You Coach”.

That always meant a lot to me, because I was hopefully building in them (and which I have always asked) that someday, when they are done their playing days, they too pick-up the coaching gauntlet and can help in any small way to guide and shape not just the kicking careers of these great student athletes, but as a whole person when they come out to the community as a Coach and Father someday themselves.

I believe that I have been blessed with a God-Given opportunity to help young men as a “kicking coach” but having reached my 50th football player who has work hard to gain a chance to play college football, I am humbled by those three words “Thank You Coach” (and yes the occasional parent section tickets to watch and cheer on some of those skinny goofy kids who I now see turn into great young men) is something that is a special moment in the world of a “special team’s coach”. I am also humbled when I see them return to a Friday night football game they come over and say “Thank You Coach”, and yes even on TV!

In parallel to my coaching career, I have spent the better part of my 30 years in the corporate world, as a sales person and then sales manager turned software “junkie” who developed our software products here at VAS. And while my LinkedIn profile might have some great recommendations from people I have help train to become better salespeople and sales leader, my passion and focus has been in the area of assisting college (and professional) bound football kickers and punters!

Further, each of the parents I have come to know and be friends with always stated “Thank You Coach!” Many times it came at the end of a cold, rainy, hot or windy day, and did not seem to matter to them (that like other parents who make the sacrifices in time, and money) that the true sentiment they expressed further showed just how blessed I have been. Hopefully, each young athlete who reads this also says “Thank You Mom/Dad”, along the way, because they have played one of the most important positions – the role of a parent!

In contrast to the corporate world most Moms and Dads are just glad their children are out of their house and productive “citizens” working and paying their taxes. (Boy won’t it be nice if the Government said “Thank You”- but that another whole discussion).

Lastly, I am fairly certain that I won’t be on this planet to have my 100th punter/kicker say “Thank You Coach” but maybe – just maybe one of the first 50 I have helped out, after reading this blog and the biblical message from Luke 12:48 which states… “And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.”

Hopefully one of them will hear from one of his kickers/punters those three great words I have always enjoyed…
“Thank You Coach”. ++++

Coach Nolan

Why using Video Analysis (with voice) software will help you become a better kicker/punter

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments 1 comment

This week’s blog is going to touch on the use of video analysis that has been shaping the “new birth” of how many coaches are starting to view sports related activities. By many accounts we were the first pure “kicking” specialists/coaches (pioneers if you will) who viewed pure video “tapes” and game re-plays of our kickers and punters as far back as 1988, providing feedback to our kicking specialists.

Fast forward to today. With the advances of technology along with our new cloud-based platform we have taken video analysis to a new level we believe will be the “standard” as to how coaches and kicking specialist will not only look at video analysis, but will be able to learn and develop from this – many times from their home computer – or right after practices and games using our The Kickers’ Zone™ portal.

To understand this “new birth”, there are two major changes in the evolution of what we refer to as Movement Analysis. The two categories are: Notational Analysis (sometimes called Time in Motion Analysis (TMA) or Match Play Analysis (MPA) where an athlete performs a set of skills that a coach may be interested in viewing to see how they are doing a task (or not doing correctly); and Technique Analysis (TA) or often times called Skills Based Analysis which is our preference for kickers and punters we work with and have built in our software platform.

With Notational Analysis software programs these tasks are “tagged” by the predetermined event by game coders who watch the whole game, then these tasks are loaded into a software program to uncover movement patterns and a set of statistical tables for various strategies to be deployed in during a game (for instance in a soccer match or football game where at half time a coach and players can look at opportunities to expose the opponents weakness in a particular area-or skill).

At VAS we have developed our platform on a Skills Based Analysis/Technique Analysis software to deal with a specific skill (in our case, kicking specialists – kicking, punting, directional punts, field goals and kick-offs) with short bursts in a much more defined role of an clinical/education analysis – or a “triage approach” in a hospital setting or a “Response to Intervention”(RTI) in the education sector where we provide the analysis tools to triage (quickly and accurately analyze the skill area) then offer the needed response (including voice responses/recommendations) to hasten the kicker’s improvement of his kicking/punting technique.

This is designed to not have a wait to fail methodology where a kicker/punter continues to do something that is not going to make them successful over a long period of time-but they don’t know it. Reasoning is “how can I fix something I don’t know is wrong?”
More importantly in the case of getting ready for a national camp such as Chris Sailer’s camps ( or Jamie Kohls ( it is tough to try and take every great tip they provide you in a short period of time, remember it and take it back home with you!

With our Skills Based Analysis tools many times these short bursts of video clips uploaded and downloaded from our portal can offer some great advice to those who do not have a local coach to work with and need some additional help. Currently, we have many young kickers/punters throughout the US who just a few short years ago we could not can’t get to in person to coach, but now today they have a vehicle to do so, and right from their own PC or Laptop! If you are fortunate to have a local coach that works with you that is great, and we hope they are using some type of analysis tool to help shape you as you grow; which in turn you can send to college coaches.

Using our skills based software programs we view this as a teacher/coach – to student/athlete working/learning environment where each can also provide self analysis and feedback to assess the problem and assign the technical and functional skills needed real time when needed or “near real-time” in the “cloud” if we cannot be there on the field.

Lastly, Video Analysis Software (VAS) and The Kickers’ Zone™ software platform is based on our belief that a Skills Based Analysis/Technique Analysis for our kickers and punters offers a better triage/intervention set of “specialists” tools over Notational Analysis for movement discovery and investigations – or to put it in a football analogy try this one; both a kicker and a lineman are important on the field – but by design are greatly different and need a different analysis during practices and post game film breakdown.

The real question to you as a kicker/punter (or parent) is how many times during your game film does your Special Teams’ coach breakdown and analyze your kicking and punting, and how do YOU assess where you were last week to this week? ++++

Coach Nolan

What are the best kicking/punting shoes and what innersoles do you use to gain a “leg up on your competition?”

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments 1 comment

What are the best kicking/punting shoes and what innersoles do you use to gain a “leg up on your competition?”

Today, this blog’s focus is on what type of kicking shoe (boot or whatever you want to call it) works best for you? As I have stated in past article, just like there is not one “perfect way” to punt or kick a field goal (because of many factors we now all know) there really is not a “perfect” kicking shoe (if there were someone would have cornered the market and all the 64 kickers and punters in the NFL would be endorsing them).

As with anything else, we as kickers and punters “prefer” a certain style – and generally ONLY change our shoes if in the event of some poorly struck balls (just like golfers and tennis players who after a poor shot always seem to look at the club or tennis racket and blame it on the equipment) have been coming off our kicking foot lately, and we “need a change for the better”. I am not writing to state that as a kicking specialist we don’t need an “upgrade” once in awhile (or maybe just a new shoe to try out the more serious we become) but the old adage of “if the shoe fits” analogy then its best to stay with what is working (well until you get to college and find out your college has an endorsement with Brand “X” and you might have to wear theirs and not the ones you like).

Before we look at the different styles let’s face one important fact! Shoe companies come out with a new and improved brand of shoe for one simple reason. They want to sell more shoes! What a brilliant concept in our capitalistic society. If we can add an All-Pro kicker who won The Super Bowl wearing the latest and greatest kickers’ shoe- then even more reason to convince Mom and Dad to purchase for their son the latest $400.00 pair of shoes being endorsed-and no doubt within the first time lacing them up and hitting the football field are “crushing the ball” longer and more consistently than ever before (of course, until little Johnny misses a bunch of kicks –and we are back out at it again).

As it relates to the type of shoes out in the “kicking world” most of them (over 98%) are developed for the soccer style kicker who is probably kicking at the HS level in football/soccer, or playing club soccer in the “off-season”. And of course, Johnny Jr. can convince Mom and Dad that the $400.00 pair is now really a good value since he can wear them for a “whole year” (until of course his feet grow 2 sizes in 6 months-then it starts all over again).

For the most part, I am not going to focus on Brand “X” over Brand “Y”, because simply I have not worn them all and tried them all (nor have the kickers I work with nationwide). But here are a couple that have what we refer to as “Functional Differences” over some others.
• First, they must be lightweight (no more than 11 ounces-)
• Made of a solid leather (no cheap plastic ones) Kangaroo Leather is a great leather
• Side laces over front laces with no “shoe tongues flaps” over the laces for better ball striking-especially on punts (and yes a favorite of mine is the kicking shoe from Mike Doan’s company Wizard Kicking…( and no am not getting any commission back from Mike on this-but with full disclosure our son uses them to kick!
• Innersoles that are not “glued” to the shoe so you can replace the innersoles (I will touch on this below).
• No more than a ½ cleat (depending on what level you are playing at High School and colleges) that will allow you to “step through the ball deeper” especially if you kick mainly on real grass (Here is also a hint for you. If you think the cleat is “catching” the grass/turf too much – try some sand paper and shave it down a bit on your kicking shoe on the inside of the cleats-and don’t worry it won’t throw you off balance)
• No replacement screw-ins just stay with the molded low cleat bottom versions.

Lastly, one of the biggest “mistakes” I see from younger kickers (and their parents) is not understanding how important it is to the kicker use a proper set of innersoles or the term Orthotics. As I have stated we are all different kickers with all different types of kicking shoes and how we react. As you become more serious in your kicking game, you will see just how even something as small as proper innersoles and Orthotics can make a big difference!

Improper shoe measurement/innersoles are becoming more and more serious for almost every athlete who depends on his/her feet to make a living. Companies such as Dr. Scholls ( throughout the US have placed small kiosks in stores such as Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens where one can simply walk in and have their feet “fitted” for the best innersoles to meet their specific needs. New Balance ( also offers a computer generated a biomechanical way to ensure proper innersoles are matched for ones feet, and the serious implications arising from foot strains and muscle fatigue and loss of kicking power that bring on stress to a kicker’s joints and soft tissues. Others like Superfeet ( and SpencoRX ( offer great tips and advice on various issues, from arch supports, to dealing with fallen, flat, or low arches and the proper support that might be best for you as a kicker, and how by using innersoles can assist in overall better balance and increased kicking stability and ball striking.

In conclusion, taking your kicking game to the next level requires a kicker nowadays to not just assess how they kick- but more importantly what “kicking tools” they need to ensure that in the end they are bringing everything to the game to succeed-or as some bright person stated a long time ago… “It’s the little things that really count”. +++++

Coach Nolan

Got Football Kicking/Punting Soreness? Check out Functional Movement Screening (FMS)!

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments 3 comments

This blog is going to look at something that I researched not only as a kicking coach for over 26 years, but more importantly, as a Dad of a High School Football combo kicker/punter who HAD been having chronic problems from hip flexors to long term muscle soreness, after kicking.

As a backgrounder, about a year ago I was working with about 10 of my High School College-Bound kickers/punting specialists who were all complaining of kicking soreness (many who were also playing competitive club soccer; to include DA and SPL/RPL during the same season as football – but that is another blog discussion) as well as being told by their High School Head Football Coach/Strength Conditioning/History/English Teacher that as kickers and punters, they were “just not working hard enough in the weight room”.

More heavy dead lifts and box squats were what they needed to get them to “the next level” – whatever that means (to me did they mean the next level of pain – the next level of improper kicking etc. or potential season ending injury that happened to a D1 college kicker last year – who nearly broke his back from improper lifting and was out for 6 games (4 of which were lost on the kicking game).

So as I do in all my tasks of trying to educate our kickers, I reached out to my network of “experts” (specifically related to body building and strength/conditioning): Mr. Al Vaughan (our Chief Physical Fitness Officer here at VAS – who has been ranked as high as 3rd in the World in body building) and another great local Atlanta sports trainer who our son had worked with in the past, Mike Berringer – CEO and owner of Rapid Performance ( for some help and guidance.

Both told me about something called Functional Movement Screening – (FMS) – where many college and NFL Professional Teams have been experiencing great success with their athletes! After researching this, and hearing from some of the professional athletes and teams who had used FMS, I turned to a local certified FMS team called The Starting Block ( and the two men who run it; Dr. Jeff Paul and Tim Johnson.
We then set-up a free FMS 7 test “screening” for our kids with the Starting Blocks guys, and along with the parents and kickers were just blown away with how the screening showed that these kickers were not “weak” but in fact because of the screening results these young athletes just COULD NOT perform some of the weightlifting techniques; which quickly dispelled the notion that as kickers/punters we did not want to train lifting the 500 lb dead lifts as the linemen everyone else was doing. They just could not do that exercise based on how their muscles and bone structure was currently being worked and the “muscle memory” they had been using.

I also want to point out, that those who know me, will attest I spent a lot of time in the gym (and have the “gams” to prove it) and strongly believe that EVERY kicking/punting specialists needs an effective strength conditioning coach/program that addresses the Twitch Fiber, and Short Fiber leg work-out for our kids to become better and stronger kickers – but also more EFFECTIVE kickers/punters.

I won’t bore you with the details of our boys’ successes but can tell you that each kicker (and more importantly their parents) stated what a HUGE difference in leg extension, flexibility, overall better kicking/punting accuracy and less soreness in their legs after kicking and weight training exercising upon completing their FMS tests! Personally, our son has pain free for first time in about four months- and continues to show greater flexibility and strength in his core workouts.
The one final piece The Starting Block team gave us was a specific set of daily and weekly workouts for our sons’ to do at home and even take these workouts to their high school coaches/strength conditioning and tell them just what our kickers could/could not do (more importantly how can they argue with the success the NFL is having in combating potential long term injuries with multi-million dollar star athletes who if they can be back one or two weeks sooner-can be a game changer?)

Lastly, since The NFL uses FMS at some of the college/professional combines to “screen” potential high draft choices for possible related “hidden” potential injuries of a multi-million dollar potential draft pick who is going to cost a team several million dollars (BTW- for the 2011 NFL Football Season the average Punter last year made $858,000 and the average Kicker made $1.3-look this up again) I would encourage you to go to the FMS website or call someone from Mr. Gray Cook’s staff to find out more about FMS- because as a coach and a Dad of kickers our son and the other kids who have gone through FMS, it really can kick your game up a notch to the next level! ++++

Coach Nolan

Is this how your football coach/special team’s coach view you as a kicker – or is this how you view them?

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments No comments

Ok – now that your kicking season is just about over, and have seen the enclosed picture of “The Three Stooges” attempting a field goal while reading my question above how would you answer that question?

If not you’re not sure here’s a couple of additional questions to help you out.

Does your coach (or special team’s coach) have a real clue when it comes to which hash mark you are more effective from kicking a field goal or kickoff (directional kick) from and which will have better results during a game? (If they do not, then they are the ones in the picture)

Do YOU as a kicker/punter during the game tell your coach (or more importantly at the BEGINNING of the season) which side you prefer to kick from? (Hint- in coaching we call this a “teachable moment” where you as the kicker teach your coach where you are more effective). If you have not, then YOU the kicker belong in this picture!

You are the starting kicker and you have proven to the coaching staff, you can kick an extra point with your eyes closed and with one arm tied behind your back. It’s the first quarter of a game, and your coach decides to “go for two” after your team scores a touchdown because the other team went for “two” and made it. Clearly, he does not understand the game is four quarters long- so he belongs in this picture-nor has he watched the opposing team’s own kicker.
It’s the end of the current football season and as the kicker/punter you have a choice of attending one of the national/regional football kicking camps (or purchasing our KickersTime software) or buying the newest 20 inch rims for your car/truck- and you choose the rims. Then you definitely belong in this picture!

As the head coach/special team’s coach you yell at your punter coming off the sidelines when his punt is returned for a touchdown letting him know “its definitely all your fault” for not tackling the returner” even though six of your team mates missed their tackles. If that is the true “picture of what happened, then the coach belongs in this picture.. Conversely, if you as a punter/kicker have no clue as to how to tackle a player-then you are the one in the picture (Hint- it’s all about “personal accountability)

As the field goal kicker- you have just kicked a 50 “yarder” deep into the fourth quarter of a very important game, putting your team up by one point and on your ensuing kick-off, you either hit the ball out-of-bounds (unless of course if your coach tells you to do it) because you can’t wait to get home and post on Facebook how great you are or looking ahead for the next morning’s local newspaper. You take your mind off the current moment you need to concentrate on and if you do, then you really are the one in the picture!

Lastly, as coaches, players and parents involved in these “special team’s moments” we all look forward to ensuring that effectively communicating before, during and after each “teachable moment” that comes our way in the end we don’t become the ‘”stooges” that we are sometimes called! By not understanding and communicating the special team’s game plan- then we have really placed Larry, Moe, and Curley in the position as coaches/special team members and kickers, and that would be truly be a real Three Stooges episode!

Who is your 12th man on the Football Team? My vote is the Special Teams Coach/Kicking Coach!

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments 4 comments

With apologies to the Texas A&M Aggies and their “The 12th Man” stadium (which is where this term started from way back in 1922 and the first 12th man- E. King Gill) my vote for the 12th man in football is the Special Teams coach/kicking coach and here’s why.

As we approach this upcoming football season, crazy football fans dressed in their favorite attires and marked-up faces and bodies will enter High School, College and Professional stadiums many believing they are the true 12th man on the football field!

They approach this game very serious and yes many offer their guidance and direction in pre- and post game coaching recommendation as it relates to the game. Stadiums all across the country pride themselves on being that 12th man in hopes of chilling the opposing players to their bones (and yes to try and freeze the kicker) when they come into such great names as The Swamp, Death Valley, The Big House, and yes my favorite place- The House that Rockne Built- with Touchdown Jesus having the best seat in the house!

So, with my apologies to all of the fans and stadiums’ mentioned above my vote for the 12 man goes to the Special Teams Coach/kicking coach who usually has double/triple duty during the game and many times is overlooked outside of his own coaching staff. As this blog will focus mostly on the “special” teams coach at the local level, I also believe it is extremely important to give a real shout out to the National Kicking/Punting and Long snappers coaches who work tirelessly on trying to develop our son’s talents, because many times the local high school does not have an experienced coach to work with them! They are a real part of the successful one/two combination of the 12th man!

As a former player and coach I can personally state that many times the Special Teams coaching position and the special teams units are overlooked as to where we fall in the total mix of a game. For instance in high school football- the special teams are usually “practiced” towards the end of the day- and mainly due to how the opposing team does or does not do their special teams-and to paraphrase Chuck Knoll (the great Pittsburgh Steelers Head coach) I don’t waste time on the other team, I worry about my team.

In college some of the better teams who are consistently ranked in the Top 25 –all have Special Teams as well who are ranked in this same category. For instance this past year’s teams’ such as Oregon, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, and Florida State had tremendous Special Teams who were equally recognized for their play on special teams. So is there a correlation to these two?-Or more importantly does the head coach and his staff see the real value here? I think so, and as a coach, and dad of a kicker, when we are looking at college programs this is a critical piece to do some research on, as to how they approach the game.

And you know why? Because for the most part they as a coaching staff and their players are viewed as “specialists” and for the most part are called on in real “special situations”, that many times change the dynamics of a game.

For instance- a well placed “coffin corner” (for those of us older then 40) or “directional kick” (I like this better than a “pooch” kick-since the word “pooch” in the dictionary is slang for a dog- and no where should any self-respecting punter in football be kicking a “dog” and besides it does not sound right-maybe we should have “pooch throws” and “pooch runs” as well then and see how long that lasts) placing our opponents back towards their own end zone- instead of punting the ball into the end zone with a fresh start out on the 20 yard line, changes the offensive play calling signals. As they say, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out, but many in the stands don’t see these dynamics until a turnover happens, and the punter is now getting high fives on the sidelines (or at least a nice “atta boy”).

How about a critical field goal right before half time to lift the spirits of a team that might have been struggling and just looking for a “special” little lift! Conversely, a blocked punt/field goal has the same effect for the opposing team and their “special teams” (just ask Frank Beamer from Virginia Tech), or even on the really “rare” occasions where the sun has beaten down on the head coach’s brain who decides in a tie or close game to put up a “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone instead of going for the short almost sure kick, has turned some members of the marching band to even go “Huh?”

Cases in point; just ask Coach Charlie Weis during the Notre Dame/Navy game just a few short years ago (2007) when instead of going for 24 yard field goal on a 4th and 8 tried (and failed), causing the game to go into triple overtime; which then Notre Dame lost. (Hmm, do you think I have recovered from that one yet?)

Also, a very well timed on-sides kick masterfully done by the members of the special team, or a critical kick-off sailing 60, 65, or 70 yards (depending on high school, college or professional) and making a team march 80 yards for a score (not including a field goal) has changed many a late night contest from cheers to horror in just more than a couple of seconds!

Here’s some additional “stats” for all you stats lovers out there. Since 2007, when the NCAA decided to move the kick-off back to the 30 yard line, kickoff specialists have kicked 32,936 times- and out of all those kick-offs only 281 were returned for touchdowns (or 1 out of every 117 kick-offs) whereby 78.9 per cent have been returned. How about Punts you asked? Ok, teams punted 28,857, with 279 being returned for touchdowns (1 out of every 103 times) or only 38.9 per cent (so for all you coaches who don’t think “hang time” is important-you might want to reconsider based on these numbers).

Lastly, I want to tie the above statistics’ into some other sports that also have “specialists” that might be bit more meaningful for the head coaches and special team coaches who don’t believe that they need the best players on the field during those “special” times.

For instance in ice hockey, there are specialists who might come on for a man advantage scoring opportunity- and as we all know there are “penalty killing players” on the opposing team. In baseball we have “pinch hitters/runners and “closers” and utility men, and in basketball during a tight game there are “specialists” who come in on ball sides of the ball to ensure the outcome of the game in either one’s favor, and certainly in soccer- players in a tight match that could possible go to “penalty kicks” (PK’s) are brought on the “pitch” to ensure they are the ones taking the PK’s at those “special moments”. If there is one thing I know about from asking these coaches in these various “special” situations is that they practice these situations a lot- during the week and even more so in post season play.

So for all you Special Team coaches and athletes here’s my salute to you who as the 12th man on the field who truly “get it” and consciously spend the time during the week going over your special teams unit, assessing your talents and being able to have them shine on the football field during those “special situations”.

Coach Nolan

The Pros and Cons of National Kicking/Punting “Camps” – Part II

Posted Posted by admin in Blog     Comments No comments

This is the second part of my blog regarding the Pros and Cons of the National Kicking and Punting camps.  With every “Pro” of assessing something there are always “Cons” and not all the “cons” have a negative “connotations” associated with them.

 This week my “Cons” words are:  “Conversation, Constructive, Condemn, Connections, Conditioning, Confused, Consistent, (and I could have used more). As stated last week my apologies to Mr. Webster and his dictionary on how I have used these words but hopefully you can see my point.

Con-versation – How many conversations do you have with your kicking coach either at your school or from the camps you attend and no I don’t meet the little tweets, bleeps, or SMS text messages, related to not just your kicking goals but your academic goals and where you want (or need) to do.  Here’s the point! You and your parents are trying to secure a scholarship (hopefully your grades are top-notch as well) to kick/punt or snap a football in college – and you need to learn how to effectively communicate this with your kicking coach – the college colleges, and their recruiters. Here is a great example. While at a training camp with another camp director my friend receives a call from a college coach seeking to see who he might have to offer as a punter. When the punter is offered the cell phone to speak to the coach – the coach asks about his punting average, his hang time, and his SAT and “core” academic scores in his GPA – this young man did not have any of those answers – and yes, I do expect a 17-18 year-old should know this.

 Why? Because I will bet you he knows has last score on Call of Duty (COD) with his buddies from last Friday night or the amp size of his woofer/tweeter in his car stereo or rim size of his special wheels on his car/truck or even his “ranking” on a certain kicking site! College coaches, when you are fortunate to speak with them have ADHD (in this case Athletic Director Headache Disorder) and have a boss to report to, and wants to make sure what they are hearing from their conversations with the student athlete is a serious conversation so he can a conversation with the AD and the admissions people.  Lastly, you need to ensure you are “conversing” with prospective college coaches and I will address this later on but one of the best ways is to look to organizations such as the NCSA who can help you understand the process and the NCAA rules around these conversations.

Con-structive – Is your current kicking coach constructive (or more destructive) when he is working with you? Does he try and tell you to do something based on what he thinks may be better for you, even though you might be having better results from your end – or does he offer constructive tips (and actually shows you how to do it – or provides video on what he is seeing) that in the longer term can help you out? Nothing is more frustrating to the kids I have worked with who attend a competition camp – and then all of a sudden are told to do something different right there during the competition!  I can tell you, “Change Management” is not something a bunch of 16-17 year-old master in one afternoon.

Con-demn -One of the biggest problems I see with camp coaches is that they some times want to condemn one coach over the other, without really having a holistic view of how long that kicker and his coach have been working together. If I was to offer some advice to them, they might want to include in the camp questionnaire a question about “what coach or you working with (or have worked with) and what other kicking camps have you been to?  Now, if the kicker has been working with is someone I call Coach “HI” (Meaning he must have stayed at a Holiday Inn and read a book on kicking/punting and is now a “kicking coach” then I might be a bit more lenient on the camp director – but quite frankly is not very “professional”).  Over 20 years ago, I started to use a “blended learning model” which is designed to look at all the various ways to coach – and blend each of the “best of the best” into my coaching style. Today, our technology takes this even higher, with our “digital learning” applications. These experiences tie-in to my “conversation” paragraph above – and also my next one – “connections.”

Con-nections – I would put this up there with one of the most important pieces that a national kicking camp director should be able to help you with. There should not be any doubt in your mind as to in this day and age that connections are king!  A well placed article from, or Rivals or having an updated profile from NCSA – along with a recommendation from a national kicking instructor does open the doors. But as I stated in my two examples of Durant Brooks and Eric Maust that was not the case. Some of these coaches have connections into more regionally based schools and some more nationally – and lately these “camp” coaches have been going on site to college “showcase” tryouts to better become more “regionally based”, but in the end if they have a personal connection to the head coach/special teams coach the better!  Believe it or not, many head coaches will “connect” a prospect with another coach – BUT usually only happens out of their conference setting, and for obvious reasons.  For instance, I am very doubtful Coach Mark Richt at Georgia would be recommending a kicker to Auburn Coach Gene Chizak, and probably even more doubtful Coach Chizak would recommend a kicker to Alabama head Coach Nick Saban!

 With connections – the trick here is to ask this one simple question-and is based on your son’s top five picks for a school (and hopefully they are looking at what field/major they want to pursue).Who do these camp directors know from these five schools and what success have they had in placing kickers there in the recent past?  Your son might be also best to look at the kickers who are at these schools and research where (and when) the past camps they attended-and any testimonials associated with them. Also, from a connections standpoint, have your son research the connections from those top five schools and find out who from his current high school went to that college/university who might be able to lend a hand – or even members of your local church/synagogue that might have been an Alumnus from that school. And yes, Moms and Dads seek out your connections on LinkedIn to see how they can help!

Con-ditioning – I have been to some great camps (and Mike McCabe from One-on-One kicking I will give some great credit to in this regards). Mike at the end of every training session brings together his “campers” and there they go through some deep conditioning exercises. Also Coach McCabe has some of the older kids who have graduated college speak to the whole conditioning piece and letting them know that at college – there are no more free rides of kicking/punting and then headed off to the showers as in high school, or to your soccer practice. If you are now (or trying to get on the roster) realize one thing – someone else is helping paying for you to attend college – and they want your flesh and sweat in return!  I will address this in my “perception vs. reality” later on but you are part of a different team in college than you were in high school – and so you will need to get your body AND mind conditioned to play at this level. Get on a proper conditioning regiment that includes in season and out of season conditioning drills with a great local person, or work in some conditioning with the older kids who have just return home from college who are specialists as well. Believe me, you will learn a tremendous amount from them.

Con-fused – Do you get confused when a camp coach tells you something about your kicking/punting/or long snapping abilities? If so, you need to have a conversation with him (without a “confrontation”) shortly after the camp to ask if he can clear up the confusion you have on what was stated. Probably one of the biggest challenges I see for camp coaches is in how they gauge their success with their “returning” campers, and do they offer any type of assistance in clearing up the confusion-or do they just tell them to “tweet” them later on, because they have to head out and catch a flight to the next camp!

Finally, one of the biggest pieces that parents get confused on is the whole recruiting process – and who gets picked first, and when, and what happens if your son is not picked up with the others in his class at the same time. The world of college recruiting really belongs to the pros in this sense, and as much as I applaud some camp directors who want to have a one-shop stop for your son including building his profile, this needs to be done by professionals. In this case, I would recommend the team at NCSA – since I am “convinced” they are the best at what they do for you and your son!

So know that I have positioned my views, here are the “cons” that parents have told me have turned them off, and my views as well.


 1 – Having a “kicking coach” at one of the camps telling you – everything you are doing is wrong! This is the number issue I hear from parents and kickers nationwide (hopefully all the kicking instructors reading this will take heed on this). Listen, there is no cookie cutter way of kicking/punting (I cant speak for long snappers) and there is no “perfect” kick or punt (we are human beings-not robots) but I find it sad when a kicking coach does not know a kicker (or even what coach he has worked with locally) and wants to change everything they are doing in a 4-5 minute “camp assessment” during their first meeting.

This would be akin to me going up to a kicking coach and telling them that after 26 years of coaching, my way is the only way – after watching them put on a “camp” in the first hour is wrong (and believe me there are a lot of mistakes I see-but keep to myself).

To illustrate here is a simple test that I will use. If I was to take any one of my kickers/punters and have them kick in front of the coaches I know and asked them each to provide me an “analysis” of what the kicker was doing, no doubt I would get three to four different “opinions”.

 How do I know this? All one needs to do is look at how a kicker is ranked and the verbiage each of these coaches use in their assessments. Unfortunately, there are many young kickers (and their parents) who take their different “advice” and  leave camp more frustrated then happy; sadly becoming disillusioned with the camp they attended and never return. It might be another reason why you don’t see post camp “surveys” being done on how to rate the camps over another and what they liked and disliked; which I think would be “constructive”.

 2 – Going to one camp, so you can get rated higher – and the whole rating/ranking system can be a real “con”.  Listen, if you don’t know it by know, this is the secret of some of the camps (notice I did not state all). As stated earlier, we are human beings and one of the things we like is “a familiar face in the crowd”.

Here the “familiar” face in the crowd is usually the recent DI kid who just got offered by “Big State U” and who has a “shout out” in front of the other campers. We use them as “interns” or even paid coaches to help out on local camps – especially if a kicking camp is normally located on one side of the coast-and the headquarters of the kicking camp is in another part of the country, and wants to build name recognition in the region.

The “rating system” which is not really a “system” but a more opinion based application designed to see how players can “stay” at a certain level of the ranking is usually based on the amount of “camps” they attend. All one needs to do is go to the various kicking websites and see how the players are ranked. I would be willing to bet a $1,000.00 of my own money (which I will give to your favorite charity) if there is ONE camp out there that had one player attend one camp and be ranked number one throughout their “camp” years.  I (and others) can tell you that in the end, going to one camp only over your high school period is not the only way to successful D1 offer.

If you want further proof of how the rankings are a bit goofy, take the latest case of the punter I have been working with and many believed was “ranked” number one in the country (Collin Barber). If you go out to the and websites, you’ll see they don’t even show a ranking for him – and neither do they for several of the other top punters, kickers and long snappers many just showing “NR” (not ranked), but in the end the University of Georgia brought him in for a kicking camp and Coach Richt offered him on the spot!   

My point is that you can find all kinds of 5 stars QB, Linemen, tailbacks, and Defensive players, but you can’t find ONE kicker/punter/long snapper who has a five star ranking – but Collin didn’t care or need these rankings. He just went out and performed!   The last piece of advice I will provide is that unfortunately as parents (what I coined as “Water-cooler parents” back in 1981) look at these rankings as the sole determination of their kid’s success, and the coaches know this (and this is across the board in just about every youth sport). Recently in a conversation with Joe Burns from NCSA about these rankings he blew me away that even after several kids had been offered full rides at major universities – they were STILL concerned they were not ranked as high as the others. Now that is a shame!

3 –      Kicking with a two inch/one inch and off the ground by your senior year in high school is a MUST to get a D1 offer! Some of the current kicking camp coaches themselves when they played in college enjoyed being able to kick off a tee until the NCAA in 1988 banned it, so to be honest there is no hard and fast rule as to what a college coach has stated HAS to happen by your senior year-(if there was ALL of us coaches would be telling you the same thing). The fact is if you can kick a football into the end zone as a 16-17 year old player high school athlete with a 4.00 hang time on a two inch block/or field goal or punt a football 45 yards with a 4.0 hang time – ANY college coach will want to speak with you PERIOD! Why? Because they know from experience you will no doubt get stronger with age, and gain more experience working with other college kickers when you show up on campus.

Now are there some tips I provide my kickers? Absolutely. I encourage them to at least buy a one and two inch block (that is why many of the on-line kicking companies offer a “package deal”), and yes, try and work in a one inch tee going into your senior year (whether it be during practice or in games), and finally have some advance videos from off-the-ground kicks to be able to show college coaches either in a practice setting when you are rested (and yes hopefully using our KickersTime software), so when they ask you already have some done or you can be pro-active and send them some of these videos.

Again, your focus is getting recognized so that is what you should be doing and “concentrating” on that aspect of your kicking game. One last point to consider. If your kicking camp coach tells you about the one inch tee to ground by your senior year, kindly ask him how he approaches making (and assessing) a high school field goal going through the goal posts (which for you kickers and parents may not know is 23’4 wide) compared to the 18’6 in college-especially if in these camp competitions’ one kicker hits it off the ground DIRECTLY down the middle – and one kicker just makes it inside especially if you are kicking at a local high school. Unless you are using the Bison Adjustable High School/College goal posts (which run about $6,000.00) he won’t have an answer to who is the more “accurate” kicker and who should be the winner on THAT day. But to add cover he doubt he will tell you that is why you will need to go to the Super/Duper All-American camp at the University setting where you’ll be kicking with the 18’6 wide goal posts (well that would be more answer anyway).

4 – Perception vs. Reality. Do you really need to attend a camp to obtain a D1 offer?  Well, as stated earlier, both Durant Brooks and Eric Maust had one camp visit between them and recently another D1 top prospect signed who had never gone to a kicking camp. For Durant and Eric they both shined in their roles, both on and off the field and you cannot find better young role models than these two punters in my humble opinion.

Are they more the exception than the rule? Maybe, and maybe not. Another “con” related to perception vs. reality is if you are not kicking the ball out of the end zone every time-then you need to get back in the weight room and do ten thousand leg lifts – and many times could not be further from the truth and may not be the problem. I will address this in a coming blog on Functional Movement Screening for Kickers and Punters-and some great success our kickers are having using this but for now – best of luck over the summer with your camps, school competitions, and lastly stay CONFIDENT!

 Coach Nolan