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In-Season Training and Practice Planning For Punters and Kickersby: Bill Renner
Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, Lake Braddock High School, Burke, VA
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A coach’s dilemma: what do you do with punters and kickers during the season? It’s a dilemma which has existed for a long time. It is especially true at the high school level but to varying degrees at the college and professional level as well.
A kicking specialist’s schedule should be given as much – if not more – consideration than any other player on the team. The kicker is the only football player who can singularly decide the game. But how many coaches have the experience in this area to give them a plan that will position them to be at their best on game days?
Each kicking specialist should have an ‘in-season’ practice plan which shows them the correct drills to do, the number of footballs to kick daily, how to correct technique errors and how to practice in kicking game situations. Coordinating these to coincide with your special teams period, and making sure the kicker and punter are not just sitting around, can be accomplished with a schedule that carefully considers these variables.
Along with a lack of knowledge on how to create this kind of schedule, most coaches do not have the time to learn these kicking and punting coaching nuances. There are other pressing issues they need to consider as well on offense, defense and special teams.
How do I know? I have an extensive 32-year background in coaching and training punters and kickers at all levels. But regardless of my experience as a high school head coach for 20 years, even I found it difficult to find the time. I can only imagine that other coaches were experiencing the same thing. However, because I believe the kicking part of the game is so important, I decided to see if I could find a ‘solution’ to this problem.
Consequently, I devised an in-season practice workout book for kickers and punters that laid out their workout for them each day. It included charts, field goal distances, punt situations, number of balls to punt or kick, and other activities. Specialists would record their results and I would meet with them and review their workout book any time I felt the need. This was especially important if they were not kicking well. Implementing this approach gave me a chance to properly prepare and coach the kicking specialists without taking away from my other duties (See Punting Workout/Ball Striking Chart).
Once the specialists had a practice plan, they were not “standing around” or “goofing off”. And, in fact, they felt more engaged as part of the team since they had a structured practice plan like everyone else. And even though they still went off on their own to kick and punt on another field, at least everyone on the team, coaches and players, knew they were actually working.
Other important results of this program were that it made it easier when the special teams period came for the players to respect their work. Also, it made it easier for the coaches to live with a missed field goal because they knew they were preparing like the other positions. Coaches also knew the specialists were ‘doing the work’ and making their ‘best’ effort.
It is a well accepted fact, that, regardless of the sports activity, athletes are only a product of the repetitions they have done. And the level of success an athlete achieves is directly determined by the quality and quantity of those repetitions. The punting and kicking training programs I have developed gives athletes the quality and quantity of repetitions needed to perform to their maximum ability, and to help their team win. It certainly has with my teams.
Coach Bill Renner is currently the Head Coach at East Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, NC. He has been a high school head coach for 20 years and is recognized as an expert in coaching punters and kickers. If you are interested in contacting Coach Renner, he can be reached at email@example.com or through his web site www.BillRennerFootball.info
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