Coach Kohl from the Kohl's Kicking Camps presented three times at the Chicago Glazier Clinic and did a great job. Kicking is an area we admittedly have yet to develop a core excellence in and Coach Kohl showed us why or better yet, maybe why not. Like most youth football coaching staffs, we used some common sense, trial and error and hoped for the best. As you might expect, we had better than average results when we had good “natural" kickers and weaker results when we had average natural kickers.
Punting Goals For Youth Football
Obviously the goal of a youth coach should be to have good results with just average players and great results with better than average players and I'm firmly convinced that this a reasonable goal when it comes to the kicking game as well. I'm more firmly convinced of that now after listening to Coach Kohl and other kicking coaches this clinic season. At every clinic I went to I sat in on the kicking sessions, often they were the lightest attended sessions in the clinic.
Progression Punt Teaching
I was pleased to come to the conclusion that like any teachable football skill, the punt is best taught in a progression. Like many poorly taught football skills, many youth football coaches teach a player to perform multiple fairly difficult tasks nearly simultaneously and that certainly describes how most of us teach the punt.
The punt consists of a number of very specific and coachable tasks: the lineup, the stance, the readjustment, the catch, the grip, the ball “mold", the “drop table", the approach, the plant foot, the drop, the contact fit and lock, the extension and follow through. The youth football player can be taught every one of these concepts and we can even link them together into an integrated movement. We as coaches just have to teach each specific step and perfect each step in our kickers, one step and concept at a time.
Coach Kohl has kicking camps all over the country and has no problem if coaches want to attend and watch free of charge, those are listed on his web site. He also has two kicking DVDs that I bought and highly recommend. They can be purchased through “Championship Productions" you can find them on the web.
While coach Kohl and others aren't coming out with anything brand new, it is important to understand the intricacies of punting, the key points and how to teach it in an easy to understand progression based manner. I'm not going to spell out all of his coaching points and methods here on the blog, but we certainly plan on applying coach Kohl's concepts next season with both our punters and kickers.
The Drop Table
Two simple to understand and implement concepts is the “Drop Table" and the “Drop Angle". These are commonly agreed upon kicking terms, the drop table refer to the height the ball is kept at from the time of the catch to the time of the drop. It is an imaginary “table" that the ball should never go below. The drop angle refers to what angle you drop the ball at to your kicking foot. All the experts do agree that the drop table should never go below the waist. If the ball is constantly moved to various elevations after the catch, the ball is often thrown out in front of the kicker where he has to catch up to the ball or even tossed up rather than down if the ball height is varied with the punters stride.
Smooth and consistent is what you are looking for here, arms fully extended, the drop table never varying or going below the waist.
The Drop Angle
The drop angle is very important and very easy to correct. The drop portion, like any other progression move is isolated and practiced and coach Kohl and other kicking coaches have a plethora of drills to practice this portion of the kick. One of the key coaching points of the drop is that you want to drop the ball at 11:00 if you are right footed kicker, not in a straight line or 12:00. If you drop the football straight down and not at an angle, quite often the back tip of the ball is going to strike your shin first before it touches your foot and you get what punters call a “double hit". When you “double hit" the kick will be a short end over ender, with the ball not receiving the full force of the punters foot, ankle, leg and hips. By dropping the ball at 11:00, the back tip of the ball just misses the shin on the drop and the first contact of the ball is to the top most portion of the face of the foot, the protruding hump bone on the top of your foot “the sweet spot" for all punters.
Our goal as coaches is to make sure our players have the tools necessary so that they will maximize their potential while playing for us. For my teams this means the kicking game too. We will excel in this very important part of the game next season, I assure you.
Don't be intimidated by kicking, it is something you learn to teach just like anything else.
Remember, field postion is a key factor in developing a solid defense in youth football. While we have not had to punt very often in the last 8 seasons due to our prolific offense, we need to establish competency in it for when we do need it and for the benefit of the kickers. We aren't going to settle for mediocrity in any part of our game or just hope some natural Ray Guy Jr. type player shows up on our field for our first practice.
Dave has a passion for developing youth coaches so they can in turn develop teams that are competitive and well organized. He is a Nike “Coach of the Year" Designate and speaks nationwide at Coaches Clinics. His book “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan" was endorsed by Tom Osborne and Dave Rimington.
With over 15 years of hands-on experience as a youth coach, Dave has developed a detailed systematic approach to developing youth players and teams. His personal teams to using this system to date have won 94% of their games in 5 Different Leagues.
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