Can you pick out the kicker?
Trick question… anyone can be a kicker or a punter. Anyone.
There’s no specific body type. No special pre-requisite or predictor of who is going to be a great specialist and who is not… other than the willingness to learn and spend a bunch of hours by yourself perfecting a skill that few can master.
Typically, the kid who becomes the kicker (and I use kicker to refer to kickers and punters, btw) is the kid who starts “messing around” with the ball and learns that he/she can actually kick it further than other kids and have some control over where it’s going. Often, that means soccer players who see NFL kickers doing something similar to their sport and figure, “what the heck, I’d like to make a million dollars, too.”
So what’s a coach to do if that kid never shows up for the team? Who’s supposed to be the kicker?
The answer is, “You make one.”
Take a look at the guys who are NFL kickers and punters. You’ll find that most of them are not (as most people think), one sport specialists. They are, in fact, great athletes who played multiple sports in high school. It takes real athletic ability to kick a ball consistently a long way. Look for a kid with surprising quickness and the ability to vertical jump. That explosive power can be transferred into a kick.
You’ll notice that pro kickers are typically 6’0 tall and about 190 pounts, while punters are 6’3 and 215. There’s more power in punting, more finesse in kicking, but the striking motion is very similar. Ultimately, kicking distance is determined by leg strength, firmness of contact AND leg speed (as in, the speed from your butt to the ball). The faster that speed, the farther the kick.
It’s very much like a baseball hitter. It’s nice to be a big bruiser and hit home runs, but Hank Aaron (the real home run king) hit 755 dingers in his lifetime and was only 6’0 and 180 pounds. Hanks ability to strike the ball solidly at tremendous speed is what made all the difference.
It’s just the same in kicking.
The last key in “making a kicker” is that he/she will actually WANT to kick. It takes a lot of practice. Often, alone on a hot summer day with no one to shag a ball. You kick ’em one way and punt ’em back the other. Sound like fun?
To many of us…. YES!
Oh, and back to the goal of becoming an NFL kicker?
Don’t lose the dream, but know this — it is exceedingly difficult to accomplish. There are 32 jobs in the world, and about 12 of them are available each year. So let’s not use that as “the goal” just yet.
Here’s your real goal: “I’d like to play for my high school and have the chance to help our team win games.”
This goal is true if you’re trying to be the starter, or you’ve been the starter since your freshman year. A specialist needs to do whatever it takes to help the team win games. Forget the stats, go for the win. Your coach will love you, the team will love you, and know what, you’ll perform better than if you’ve been focusing on stats the whole time. That’s what Mike Farley’s Kickers Camp is all about. Taking the ability you have and translating into something that your high school team can take capitalize upon.
Everyone will be happier for the effort… and the humility.