A Kicking coach has an integral part in a successful kickers career. For decades, kickers have been recognized as an independent breed. The position of a kicker is hard to coach unless one has been there done that. Since that is the reason, football teams struggle to find ways to improve their kickers. While practicing live reps is great, kickers are responsible for improving their technique. That can be tough when no one is watching over your shoulder. This post will shine some light on kicking coaches and the pros and cons of each.
What the Heck is a Kicking Coach?
Well…. It is obvious, right? To be honest, there are multiple types of coaches, the money-hungry coach, the fame-hungry coach, the clueless coach, and the mentor coach. Each coach provides some sort of a style to the kickers. All of these coaches will be addressed later in the post, so stick around you silly goose. While each coach has most likely created a name for themselves, it may or may not be for the right reasons.
When the kicker shows up, all players are equal. It happens all the time in the NFL, a team drafts a kicker because of some big thing they did, only to find out that they are not what they promise to be. Simply put, having a high ranking, getting drafted, or getting a prestigious award is great. However, what is that kicker going to do in order to prove their worth?
Do not be fooled by all of the flashy things most coaches provide; rankings, stars, big Instagram posts, or anything else that is flashy. The main point is to find a coach that does not give a hoot about rankings. When a kicker shows up on a team, the rankings will not help you become an all-conference kicker.
There never has been a perfect answer for what separates a high ranked kicker from one that beats them out in practices. The only logical reason for beating a “better” opponent comes down to having a chip on the shoulder. These small reasons for winning is a bigger purpose to succeed versus the hotshot kicker. Again, the main thing that matters is the kicker who has more work ethic and continuously gets better, almost always wins in the long term. Underrated Kickers and punters become who they are because they have to work that much harder in order to prove themselves.
The Money Hungry Kicking Coach
- They have a lot of connections
- They might know a little on how to help the kicker
- These coaches understand how to get the kicker to the next level
- They are the most expensive
- These coaches do not genuinely care about their players
- They are usually pretty selfish coaches
- Usually not a long term person to see as they are expensive, and have little interest in helping when the talent goes away
This kicking coach is known for the size camps he/she runs, the amount of kickers they “train” to get them to where they are. Or best of all, the coaches who do not even show up to their own camps because they were busy somewhere else.
These coaches may have an idea of what they are doing, but in the long term, chasing money will result in bad news bears. It is important to keep an eye out for these coaches because they do not actually care about the well being of their students.
In reality, the better their kickers become, the more money the coaches potentially make since that kicker IS their marketing campaign. Likewise, a money-hungry coach usually runs camps so large, instruction is kept to an absolute minimum. Meaning for every 30 kickers, there might be 1 coach for instruction. This is most definitely not the way to run a business. A proper coach focuses his/her plan on the PLAYERS, not the money.
The Money Hungry Kicking Coach Continued
If they simply focus on their students, and their success, the money will follow. It really upsets me when I see kickers/punters return from a kicking camp of over 350+ specialists. In the end, they learned nothing, their leg is a noodle, and they are now out $500+ for a few hours of kicking. Even after these big camps, unless the kicker is among the top 10 on the day, they may have (not always) wasted money on a camp to get little to no attention, exposure.
To be honest, most kickers might need to look into alternative ways to spend their money on camps. It is either $500 for a 1-day “Exposure” camp or $350-500 for a 3+ day camp. Not all camps are created equal. Some have better experiences than others, the only constant is they are not cheap. The most important thing a kicker can do is do their research and really think if this camp is necessary to attend. Or is it better to spend their money on an actual mentor, which we will talk about later? The next type of coach is a fame-hungry coach.
The Fame Hungry Coach
- Might actually know some connections
- When the kicker is thriving, they are pushing the kicker’s name out there
- The kicker, for the time being, could receive quality instruction for a while
- Once the kicker starts performing poorly, that coach might never reach out to help them
- The price can be higher because of their “Brand”
- They are focused on growing their brand, not on the people
- The culture at these events is very self-absorbed
This coach is essentially one big lie. They post pictures with only the top dogs in order to impress kickers thinking about joining their “team. These coaches create a fake environment to reel in kickers with high hopes of a prosperous career. They often post pictures of kickers who have made it to the NFL, college stars, who are thriving only right now, etc.
These coaches mainly care about who is doing well right now and they push aside the ones who are not performing. When Roberto Aguayo was thriving in college, any coach who has worked with him claimed him as “theirs.”
Now, after his bump in the road in 2017, Aguayo does not have any kicking coaches claiming him now. Aguayo should not have a problem making a comeback into the NFL. It might have been an overwhelming experience and a lot of pressure to be a 2nd round draft pick. Nonetheless, it is only up for him from now on.
The Clueless Kicking Coach
- They might actually have some knowledge on how to help
- They might be just starting out so their prices may be significantly lower
- These coaches are hungry to help
- Low barrier to entry meaning anyone can be one
- They have a one size fits all mentality for technique
- The tips might hurt you more than they help you
- They might not be a credible source of help
- This coach could be seen as damaging to the kickers future
This coach may or may not be the perfect example of finding a need and fulfilling it. Sure any kicking coach might have a tip or two to throw a kickers way. A common misconception is there is one way to kick a ball, and if it is not their way, you are doing it wrong. Now, this goes without saying that this could not be farther than what should be done.
A good coach understands what their kicker’s weaknesses are and address them effectively. The “my way or the highway” mentality is sure to get that coach a cap on their long term growth. This means after 5 years, they might have little to no progress as they once did. Since their method has a right or wrong way to do one thing, it severely limits their coaching abilities.
It is painful to watch coaches completely believe they are hot stuff since they went to a big School. The name of a school is one thing, what they did while there is another.
The Clueless Kicking Coach Continued
The clueless coach may have valuable tips, however, it should be known that these coaches are there to help but are taking a wrong approach. They go about business the wrong way. Kickers should (but not always) have a mentor who can guide them on the right path. More on these coaches later. For now, just know the clueless coach is not a bad way to go, as some help is better than others.
Now there are cases of clueless coaches taking a great kicker and punter. That coach makes them worse than they were when they started. Worse in relation to not having the technique for consistency. It might be hard to find a clueless coach that has enough good points to actually help. That is why finding a good mentor should help out more than all three coaches combined.
These are the golden ones. These coaches have built an amazing culture from the ground up. While many other coaches might say these coaching styles get them little to no exposure, that could not be farther from the truth. They typically recommend a game plan for a kicker if they decide to go to the next level.
If you find a kicking coach who is a mentor and all you see is referral after referral, that means they are a high-quality coach. So instead of spending hundreds or in some cases, thousands of dollars on a kicking camp, spend it on instruction. For example, if a kicking coach charges a 2-hour session for $125, that means it would take 4 two hour lessons in order to equal $500.
In simple terms, a kicker receives more high-quality instruction, more frequently, and with a potentially better coach. These coaches show you Workouts that benefit you, not hurt you. Leg Workouts should be a foundation in future development. In the long run, this coach will help you develop at a much faster pace technique-wise than any “big” coach most likely would ever care to do. These kicking mentors will not give you their one size fits all technique mentality. These coaches WILL give you the instruction that YOU need.
The Mentor Continued
- Have an understanding of how to guide you
- Understand the technique required to get you to the next level
- Believe in you
- Do not see you as a dollar sign, they genuinely want to help you
- Have a lot of people they are trying to help so one on one instruction might be hard sometimes
- Limit to the number of times to meet
- It costs money
The mentor might show you Stretching Routines, Drills, Mindsets, Professional habits, Ball Contact tips, and much more. They are there to help you become the best version of yourself without expecting much in return. These coaches understand that the quality instruction beats out the big-name kickers any day. While some of them might have a big leg, Consistency beats Power any day.
Having a mentor means someone who can talk with you for an hour about how to handle a situation. The best part about having someone like that on your side means you do not have to travel the road alone.
A wise mentor always says, “technique is the focus, not how far the ball goes.” The beauty of this simple saying is each kicker trying to impress someone focuses on their power and tries to absolutely hammer the ball. While every now and then, those kickers hit a good ball, the more impressive kicker usually has better form.
If a coach has to decide between two kickers, one who has a repeatable form should be the better kicker than the one with power. In the long run, kickers with only power do not last. When the kicker with better form can always get stronger. Over time, the better technique can become just as strong as the kicker with all power.
The Mentor Continued
In 2010-2013 there was a kicker for Alabama named Cade Foster. This kicker had an absolute cannon for a leg. On high school film, he consistently puts the ball through the uprights on kickoffs. On-Field Goals, he makes over 45 field goals with no problem.
Well, there might be one problem, his technique was not the best. So in high school, he may have been a stud. Eventually, when his performance began to slack as all kickers have from time to time, he did not have basics to go back to.
Things got worse and worse for him. Soon, Cade got injured because his body worked against him, not for him. While I have nothing against the guy, he is doing well now as he is practicing law. However, Cade might have made it to the next level if he worked with a mentor.
Kicking mentors provide a sense of understanding, guidance, and assistance through the bad times. They celebrate on the good times, laugh through the mistakes, and give the kicker the best path for THEM. If you enjoyed reading this article, please share this so we can continue to grow! Also, if you have any suggestions for what we should write about next, let us know!
Thanks for reading and stay amazing!