Strength Training Tips For Your Specialists

By FirstDown PlayBook on Apr 3, 2021

This blog is a re-post by Taylor Mehlhaff from 2018. We don’t spend enough time here talking about the very important specialists on your team. So here are some things to be considering this time of year.

Taylor was a 2007 first team All-American 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 Wisconsin.

Kicking power comes from the combination of these 3 things; leg strength, leg speed, and flexibility. We can get bigger and stronger, as long as we maintain that range of motion and flexibility.

Strength and conditioning for kickers and punters is often overlooked. I believe that in order to be the best kicker you can be, you also need to be the best athlete you can be. Think of yourself as a total body kicker. The analogy I like to use is that of a baseball pitcher. Take for instance a pitcher with bad throwing mechanics that is utilizing simply his arm to throw the pitch. His fastball might hit 80 mph this way.

If he learns to maximize his potential by getting his lower body into the pitch and using it to his advantage, he might hit 87 mph. This same theory holds true for kickers and punters. Kicking and punting power is the combination of leg strength, leg speed, and flexibility. If kicking power was simply leg strength, the NFL defensive lineman who squat 700 pounds would be the kickers!

Here are a few things to think about with your training:

1. Train fast, to play fast

Kicking is one explosive movement. Train like an athlete through explosive movements. Weight training, Sprints, Box-Jumps, Agility work, Core exercises, etc. Going for a 3-mile run may be good for your cardiovascular health, but unless you are trying to lose weight, this is not going to make us a more powerful kicker.

2. Athletes should use Dynamic Stretching before they kick, and Static Stretching after they kick.

-Get in the habit of stretching at least 20 minutes 3-4 times a week.

Always stretch following your kicking/punting sessions.

-This not only aids in recovery, but helps avoid injury, and can make you a stronger athlete with the increased range of motion.

3. Resistance training

-I have found that doing leg swings and hip mobility exercises in the pool are very beneficial.

-This not only aids in recovery, but also strengthens the legs through water resistance while helping to improve range of motion and flexibility as well.

4. Do not over-train!

-This has been my toughest thing to overcome. I always want to do everything I can to put my body in the best kicking shape possible.

-Listen to your body. If something does not feel right, find out if you’re just sore or if you are injured. There is a big difference!

Watch this video for more from Taylor on strength training this summer!

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