Punting Tips With Taylor Mehlhaff
By FirstDown PlayBook on Mar 24, 2014

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By Guest Blogger Taylor Mehlhaff

Taylor was a 2007 first team All-American Place Kicker at the University of Wisconsin. He was a sixth round selection by the New Orleans Saints in the 2008 draft. Taylor is currently working with the Special Teams at the University of Pittsburgh.

Today I want to share some tips on punting for you.  Of the three aspects of kicking; field goals, kickoffs, and punts, I believe punting is the most challenging for young athletes to pick up.  When hitting a punt, essentially we’re hitting a moving target.  With that being said, it’s easy to see why this can be the most difficult aspect to pick up on.  You see many punters become good when they go off to college and really start to dive into their technique.  When it becomes their job and they get to work on it each and every day…that’s when they begin to take their game to the next level.  With out getting into all aspects of the punt today, I want to share with you the most important parts of it. 

It all starts with the catch!  You hear over and over that the drop is the most important part of punting, but if you don’t field the ball cleanly from the snapper to start, the entire operation will be off.  This makes many punters panic in an effort to have a great get-off time, and the result is a poor punt!

Catch & Mold

We want to be an athlete here.  Catch the ball out in front of your body with your HANDS!  Do not catch the ball with your body.  The whole idea of punting is to be as efficient as possible.  This will help us to develop consistency.  After catching the ball, IMMEDIATELY extend the ball with your arms to about hip level of your punting leg. While doing so, spin the laces so that they are facing upwards towards the sky. The ball can be held many ways. The most important thing to remember is to hold the ball loosely in your fingertips as opposed to having the ball way back in your hand.  This helps us at contact.  Right footed punters want to tilt the ball slightly inside at about 11 o’clock.  Left footed punters want to tilt the ball slightly inside at about 1 o’clock.  We do this so that the ball fits our swing.  Because everybody’s swing is slightly different, this tilt of the ball can be slightly different.  Nobody swings perfectly straight up, so we do not leave the ball perfectly straight.

Good Drop

The Drop 

This is the single most important aspect of the punt.  You MUST give yourself a flat drop in order to have a chance of hitting a great punt.   With the ball extended at hip level of our punting leg we want to drop the ball perfectly flat in the direct line of our leg.   Remember, our bodies are smart.  If you drop the ball inside or outside of your hip line, your leg will chase that ball.  The result will typically be poor because this means you will more than likely have to swing across your body to try and “save it”.  The key to a great drop is to hold the ball as long as possible before letting go for the kick.  What makes the drop difficult are all the variables that come into play.  Sometimes you have a crosswind blowing the ball “inside” or “outside” of your drop area.  Many times the nose of the ball will dive down.  All of these things will contribute to making the execution of a good punt difficult.  I see many high school punters who drop that ball at chest level. This means that the ball has to travel more than 3 feet before they make contact with the ball.  Most punters make contact with the ball at knee level.  Those three feet provide far too much room for error.   Work on your drop over and over again.  Without a doubt, this should be in your warm up routine.  You can make yourself a better punter by simply working on your drop every single day!

Email: Taylor@TMKicking.com                  Website: www.TMKicking.com                    Phone: (855) TM-Kicking

Book: “Kicking for Success” (Available for download on Amazon & Smashwords.com)

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