What Should The Specialists Be Doing At Practice?
By Guest Blogger Taylor Mehlhaff
I recently saw this online and thought that I’d write a blog post this week on the topic. Being a former specialist myself, I can laugh at this because that is truly what it’s like at many schools! With very little guidance and knowledge of the kicking positions, these guys are left on their own. I’ve worked with Minnesota’s punter over the years (who’s a great kid, works extremely hard, and is having an All-Big Ten type season) so I know he’s done a little more than this to put himself in the position he’s in.
I believe keeping your legs fresh and healthy during the season is the most important thing a kicker or punter can do. They must get their work in during the week, but be smart about it. If your legs are tired, your mechanics can suffer, and when your mechanics go in the tank, the results of your kicking reflect that.
In college, I have my guys kicking, punting, & snapping 3 days a week, and then obviously game day. Tuesday and Wednesday are our work days. We will get in roughly 12-15 field goals & 4-6 kickoffs. This is similar for the punters. We will hit roughly 15-20 punts during these days. Remember,this is all quality over quantity. If you take your time and make each rep like it is a game situation, you will be fully prepared during the week. Thursday is our day to polish everything. We will again get 12-20 kicks in for the kickers and punters.
So what should they be doing during the rest of practice? It’s not feasible to be kicking for the entire 2 hours you’re out at practice, so you have to find ways to better yourself without wearing out your legs. I have our guys doing visualization drills. They put themselves in different game situations and visualize themselves having success. Practicing proper muscle memory drills is very beneficial. If you can make proper mechanics a habit, then you don’t have to think about anything when you are out on the field…you just let it happen.
In addition, punters work on drops, footwork, holds, fielding snaps (can use jugs machine), Aussie punt drops, etc. Kickers work on onside kicks, surprise onside kicks, mortar kicks, field goal steps, kickoff approaches, mayday FG situations, etc. Snappers can work footwork, downing punts around the goal line, getting off of blocks, different rushes, pressure snaps, etc. The three of them can also work communication for FG’s. When they run onto the field, communicate the yard-line you’re on. Is it a half yard-line? These things are very important…especially if you have a snapper that can give “perfect laces” on each snap. There is much for these guys than just simply punting, kicking or snapping a ball.
Give your specialists some guidance and they will put in the work they need to be successful!
To learn more, visit TMKicking.com.
You can also download Taylor’s E-book “Kicking For Success”. Available for download on Amazon & Smashwords.com.