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Eau Claire Campers Face 20+ mph Winds

The night before our first camp of the season, Eau Claire experienced a wave of thunderstorms that brought driving rain, high winds, hail and even a tornado just to the south.  The next morning, skies were clear and the sun shining at 75 degrees… alas, remnants of the wind from the night before were more than lingering on into our camp.

I played my entire high school and college career on a field that was on a plateau.  The winds were always strong (10-15mph), typically from the side… so I’m used to it… but our 18 kickers/punters adjusted quite well to the conditions by working on a few drills that can really improve your game. 

Post drill:
Set up 7 yards from the outside of the goalpost on the end line. Set your tee there and kick directly at the post (attempting to hit it).  At 7 yards away (the length of your snap), kickers should be able to get the ball up at least 10 feet (if not higher) to hit the post.  This is outside of a blockers range to block your kick. Use your normal PAT approach to the kick. Your focus should be on great form and a good strike on the ball.  At only 7 yards away, no amount of wind (OK, maybe a tornado) can push your kick off of its path.  Hitting the post means that the basics of your kick are sound.

Sideline Drill:
Move your block to the corner of the sideline and the goal line. That’s a 28 yard kick and your goal post will have shrunk down to just 10 feet wide. Your focus is on getting a “good strike” and choosing a proper target (which may be slightly outside of the posts).  The idea is to simply make the kick. Most kicks have a force that is strong enough to not be affected by the wind for about 20 yards.  After that, the wind begins to take over as the energy of your kick wanes. This drill is a great way to dial in your kicking consistency without straining your leg. Take your time on your steps and STOP while straight behind the tee.  You have time in a game, use it to really study what you want to do.  It’s the only time you get that opportunity (and straight on kickers, you’re already there — don’t forget to visualize your kick from this spot, either).  Relax, and drill it through!

Wind Drill:
On a windy day, get a holder and kick directly into the wind.  You don’t need any posts.  (You may even be kicking diagonally across the field).  The point is to kick head on into the wind.  Why?  Because it magnifies your mistakes.  If you hook or slice the ball slightly, the wind will really take it.  However, if you strike the ball cleanly, it will veer very little off of its path.  Making kicks that allow you to shag balls with ease is a pleasant benefit to one of the best tools in your kicking arsenal.

 

< LEFT:  Litchfield, Minnesota Kicker, Garrison Jackman, doesn’t let the wind effect his sideline drill kick. Notice the American flag behind the post flying sideways. Were Garrison 10 yards further back, he’d have to play the ball outside of these narrow posts, but at this range he chose to play it off of the left post. It stays true through virtually the entire kick! Nicely done!

Sparta High School’s Isiah Futch strikes the ball cleanly, but doesn’t get enough momentum into the kick allowing the 20+ mph wind to drop his ball short of the posts. Notice that the flags are waving directly into Isiah.  This is a tough kick, but believe in your ability to get a “good strike” on the ball by powering through!