October 2015 Newsletter

In This Newsletter:

  • End of the season is almost here
  • Planning for the off-season


End of the season is coming

          Football season is short. For those of you who will not make it to the playoffs, it will be over in few weeks. Regardless of when your season will end, it is important to finish the year strong. You have heard coaches use the phrase "finish strong" many times. But what does it actually mean? For kickers and punters, it means increasing drill work during practice, and cutting back on full kicking reps while maintaining full focus in both practice and games. 
          Your stats for the year will include games when your team got blown out by 50, games that you crushed your opponents, last 3 games off the year that were meaningless because you are not going to playoffs, or high pressure kicks that you will have in state championship game. Stats are stats. If kicks are being measured and recorded, you better bring your full focus and do your best - regardless of the context.
           You have been kicking non-stop since August or possibly longer. There is no need to keep wearing your legs down with 200+ kicks per week that you are probably averaging. Whatever you lost in strength and freshness throughout the season, you gained in increased smoothness and comfort in games. So feel free to cut back on your kicking reps by 25 to 50%. Make the total amount of kicks that you take in one week somewhere between 100 and 130. This way you will get some of your leg freshness back while maintaining sharpness of your skills. 


Planning for the off-season

            Improving as a kicker is somewhat simple. You need to kick. More you kick, and more you kick in an efficient manner, more you will improve. Off-season is a beautiful thing if you choose to take advantage of it. Your coaches pretty much leave you alone to do whatever you need to do. You can kick as much or as little as you want. You can play other sports, lift weights, run, etc. Whatever you choose to do, do not make a mistake of taking long periods of time off from kicking. Once or twice per week is fine during the winter months if you are playing other sports or having a hard time finding an indoor facility. If that is too difficult to fit in, find a way to get a few kicks in several times per week. I have seen guys set up nets in their garages, basements, back patios, etc. Take advantage of mild winter days - sunny day in 20s with no wind - it is warm enough, go out and kick. You don't need a long warm up. Get few no steps kicks in and start kicking at 50% effort, working your way up to full power or close to it. 

           Attend a camp or two during winter months. It will help you get on track with your training and help keep you motivated to keep kicking. It is easy to put kicking on the back burner if you know that you will not have to compete for a long time 

            Once March comes around, it is time to pick up the pace a bit. Start kicking three times per week and try to maintain that until the season.

            You probably heard me say it before...kicking is a muscle memory skill. And it takes time and repetition to build muscle memory. This is why you can't cram for a football season like you would for a Biology test. If you are a very focused kicker, you are probably getting only about 30 full-focus, high-quality kicks per your practice workout. Those 30 kicks will take a lot out of you physically and mentally. You will take more than that in most of your workouts. But most of the other kicks are not going to be your "full focus" kicks. If you start kicking in December, and you kick 4 times per week, with 40-50 kicks per workout, you are getting 120 (4 x 30)  "full on", "rapid improvement", "muscle memory building", "sweet spot of training", "high quality" kicks. If you keep that up through July, that will amount to over 4000 high-quality kicks. But, if you wait until March or later to get started, thinking that you will have enough time to get ready, you will cut that number in half or more - which will likely mean 5 yards or more of distance not gained, and at least 25% less consistency improvement. Also, when you are trying to catch up, you are getting more kicks per workout that you need, which increases wear on your legs...but it does not increase your number of high quality reps. This usually means that your next workout will lack high-quality kicks because you will not be fully recovered. And that is when you risk overuse injuries, diminished returns on your practice time, mental burnout/frustration, etc.

            So do yourself a big favor. Find time and ways to get some kicking in throughout the year...even if you are kicking your pillow across your bedroom with solid kicking mechanics.