Punting Mechanics 101



Coach Greg Montgomery will be working with select athletes this summer in Grand Rapids, MI.

These instruction sessions include a full bio-mechanic evaluation, custom workout program, one on one instruction and film analysis.

Contact Greg at gmonty23@gmail.com or 248-752-7572 to discuss his availability.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fast Results with the Set & Pull



      The initial training session is always the most tedious and time consuming. It ceases to amaze me when I get an athlete that has both the mental capability to digest the principles of the Set & Pull movement as well as the physical attributes to put them in motion.

    I recently worked with a senior high school punter from Arlington Heights, IL , Harry McCollum. Harry, who is headed to Georgetown University, brought with him all the common technical errors that most young punters make.... High drop level, long stepping pattern, bad posture, unstable hips, early release of kicking knee, unstable plant leg/knee, hitting the ball vs putting the ball in the way of a sound stroke ... the list goes on.

    After a couple hours of thorough instruction and film analysis, Harry made huge progress in preparation for the 2013 season. I showed him film of the many other NCAA and NFL punters I've worked with and explained that developing a consistent and repeatable stroke takes both time and repetition. By embracing the many drills that we do in order to ingrain the proper posture and body movements, Harry made exceptional progress. He now understands how to use the Set & Pull movement in order to maximize foot speed with minimal effort.

video


      Major improvements included .... Developed great rhythm, stepping pattern shortened, posture stabilized, drop lowered and closer to the hitting zone, using the drive step to set the kicking leg properly, stabilizing the plant leg, snapping his lower leg/foot 'through the ball' vs 'at the ball' and keeping his head down throughout the kicking process.

    Great job, Harry.

This is why I coach - UG

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mental Conditioning




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        Allowing our minds to get cluttered with ANTs(Automatic Negative Thoughts) is probably the number one reason why athletes' struggle .... on and off the field.


     The more and more I train my college/NFL athletes, the more and more I realize the importance of mental conditioning. All great players experience some form of 'performance anxiety'. And in the end, the level of this anxiety will be determined by our knowledge(or lack of) how the human mind actually works.


     During my playing days,  I was 'my own worst critic'. Not only did I worry about being 'accepted' as a football player, but I constantly dreaded about 'letting my team down'...... This might have served as good motivation.... a 'dangling carrot' if you will. But in hindsight, I would've approached things differently


      Due to the current 'big business' arena of college and professional athletics, there are a multitude of 'stressors' that can trigger 'performance anxiety'.......Money, relationships, academics, pride, EGO, guilt, shame ....... the list is endless. To get our hands around 'mental conditioning', we must first  define performance anxiety


       Performance anxiety is the anxiety, fear, or persistent phobia which may be aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of an audience, whether actually or potentially (for example, when performing before a camera). In the context of public speaking, this fear is termed glossophobia, one of the most common of phobias. Such anxiety may precede or accompany participation in any activity involving public self-presentation. In some cases stage fright may be a part of a larger pattern of social phobia or social anxiety disorder, but many people experience stage fright without any wider problems. Quite often, stage fright arises in a mere anticipation of a performance, often a long time ahead. It has numerous manifestations: fluttering or pounding heart, tremor in the hands and legs, sweaty hands, diarrhea, facial nerve tics, dry mouth. For more information, see (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_anxiety).
      
     Thirteen(13) years removed from the game, I've discovered that when it comes to anxiety, 'our pain is self chosen'..... Meaning ....... we actually choose to let external circumstances(things we can't control) distract us. And in doing so, our  performance(s) can/will be effected negatively. So the real question is "What's the secret to offsetting the ANTs?" ........... The remedy might surprise you. 


     The answer can be found in the story about the athlete who said to his doctor, "Hey Doc, it hurts when I do this"...... and the doctor simply replied,  "Well..., don't do that!". 


     Sounds simple, but the only way to overcome these ANTs is through education, hard work, preparation and practice. The only thing we can control is the 'process' ... the time between 'catch to kick' ...... or basically 1.2 seconds. So when we discover 'how' to focus on 'what we can control'(the process), the 'product' of our actions(results) will take care of itself.


    ......... UG


'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle is a 'must read' on the road to mental wellness ........


    

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Creating 'Lag' Equals Power

     

           Creating 'Lag' is the most important aspect of the punting motion that equates to lower leg speed and power. It all begins with the 'Setting' of the lower leg and knee. As we 'post up' on our plant leg, we violently 'Pull' our  upper leg along the arc of the swing. This will in turn create kinetic energy as we hold our lower leg in position until our knee 'clears' the ball on the way up the arc of the swing.

     Acting like the action of a whip, our upper leg continues up the arc of our swing as we release the lower leg through the impact zone. In order to take advantage of this stored energy, proper spine angle, alignment and posture needs to be maintained throughout the the punting motion.

When done properly, we're mimicking the 'lag' action that takes place in every golf and baseball swing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Punting w Soccer Balls Promotes Balance

   One of the hardest things for punters to 'unlearn' is throwing the drop out away from the body. This promotes an early release of the knee; therefore reaching(with the lower leg/foot) for the ball. By promoting a hitting position closer to the body, the ball is simply placed where to foot will be as the knee is pulled along the powerful arc.

   I recently worked w Western Carolina punter Clark Sechrest in Charlotte, NC. One of the first things I do, after teaching the principles of the Set & Pull movement, is have the punter strike soccer balls into a net. I'm finding that working with soccer balls serves a few purposes. 1) It promotes 'letting go' and allowing the lower leg to snap naturally, 2) It takes the athlete away from being 'results oriented'; eliminating the mindset of trying to hit a good punt, 3) By not worrying about 'results', the athlete can remain in a solid hitting position w solid balance and posture, 4) By using a soccer ball, the athlete doesn't get bogged down with trying to swing a certain way in order to make the oblong football spin down field.

    By not worrying about hitting a football,  I find that the athletes can groove the proper mechanics, ingraining the feeling of being a 'ball striker' versus a 'hitter'.We snap our leg violently and simply put the ball in the way.

  Notice Clark's short steps, balance and  body position as he effortlessly strikes the ball .....

video

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Catch to Kick

                                                                          

           In a typical NFL game, the punter has 1.2 seconds to punt the football. I'll say it again. From catch to kick, it takes One Point Two Seconds to complete the punting process. No time to think. Only time to react. Muscle memory takes over and it seems like a blur. 


       We must learn to 'slow it down'.  And in order to do this,  your mechanics must be sound and mind totally clear.

            As you can imagine, anxiety is very common in professional sports. And athletes handle this in many different ways. Why do we get so stressed out before(and during) games? This is supposed to be fun. What are the triggers? How do we deactivate the source? Is it possible to play 'stress free'?  In a word, yes.

       When I played, I did my best to block out the pressure. I used to take a deep breath and just do it. But no matter how hard I tried, I always struggled. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? For me it was the frustration of not knowing EXACTLY how the mechanics worked and playing with pain. The constant desire to prove myself. Never wanting to let my teammates/coaches/fans down. Wanting to be 'perfect'. My unquiet mind.

       It turns out it all was an illusion. I created the pressure by constantly focusing on the 'results' versus the 'process'. And I truly didn't know exactly how the punting motion really worked. That's because it's never been taught....... until now. The Set & Pull 5.0 ........ The Move.

       This is why I enjoy coaching so much. Sharing my wisdom. Giving punters the tools to be great. My 12 years removed from professional football have been spent dissecting both the mechanics of the punting motion and the mental skills needed in the punting game. How the body and brain work under pressure. How to relax and allow our body to unfold naturally. How it serves no purpose putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Worrying about things we can't control. Wondering if the coaches are happy with our performance. Wondering if the wind will be blowing left or right on game day. Wondering if we're going to get a good snap. Hoping we'll have a good drop.  Wondering. Thinking. Worrying.

          Relax.  Read and React.  Pay attention to the process. The results will come.

      The trick is to entirely remove 'results' from our mind. We have 1.2 seconds. The catching of the ball, the setting of the leg, the pulling of the knee, the release of the drop and the snapping of the leg. All in 1.2 seconds. It happens that fast.

       I've learned that our minds are extremely powerful. I've learned that we're actually in control of our thoughts. 'The Zone' is a skill that needs to practiced.  Learning to 'watch our thoughts', quiet our minds and stay in the zone can lead to unbelievable results on and off the field.

       There's a saying -  "If you  have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you'll end up pissing on today".

     Focus on what you can control. The present. The process........  The Catch to Kick.


    This what I do.

    This is what I can teach you.

    UG



Saturday, December 31, 2011

NFL Punting Mechanics and Analysis

                                                   


           As a swing coach, the most important(and most difficult) thing to do is understand each players 'stroke' and know how to diagnose the inconsistencies. The exact  mechanics of the punting motion and leg action has to be defined to each and every punter. I try to emphasise the important of balance and the need for one fluid motion. I've found that if the proper posture(neutral hips) is maintained throughout the entire punting motion(catch to kick), the steps, drop and leg snap will follow in harmony. 

            That being said, I've had great success this year as Bio-mechanics Adviser to Cincinnati Bengals' P Kevin Huber, St. Louis Rams' P Donnie Jones and New England Patriots' P Zoltan Mesko.  

           The following is an analysis of St Louis Rams All Pro punter Donnie Jones prior to the 2009 season. Since being the first punter in NFL history to average over 50 yds gross and 40 yds net in 2008, Donnie has proven to be one of the premier punters in the NFL. Take note of Donnie's posture and drop preparation(inset). By maintaining this posture and preparing the drop 'out in front', the odds of making solid ball contact are greatly increased.

                 

      
THE ART OF PUNTING



        Rhythm, timing and patience are the key elements required to execute an effective punt. From catch to kick, punting is one fluid motion. After all the work, after all the repetitions, after the mental  preparation, we must trust the process while in the heat of battle. A great punt is the product of trusting the process. An 11 yard block point is a product of trusting the process. A 1.2 second “catch to kick” is the product of trusting the process. A punt with 5.0 second hang time is a product of trusting the process. As in all aspects of life, we have to let go in order to gain control. We can’t squeeze it, white knuckle it or force it to happen. We have to let it happen. Less is More - Once a consistent rhythm is minimal physicaeffort by allowing your lower leg to properly release which will violently snap your foot through the hitting zone established, less effort actually produces better results.  We need to take a deep breath, relax, trust the process, and finish.




                                    INTRODUCTION
             

              Field position is one of the key ingredients to winning in the game of football.  An effective punter that can change field position is a priceless commodity. The process of punting has four major elements: 1) The Posture/ Body Angle, 2The Footwork, 3) The Drop and 4) The Leg Snap. Mastering each element will be only made possible by being mentally and physically prepared to compete every time you step on the field. By following faithful daily routines of drill work and conditioning, the punter will be able to repeat the one fluid motion needed to achieve effective hang time, distance and placement.

        Maintaining the proper body angle, “letting your hands work on the grip“letting your get feet into the ground on the approach, "floating the drop" to the hitting zone, the patience of  "waiting” on the leg snap and finishing the kick will give you the best chance of becoming an efficient punter.

       Due to the aggressive nature of the game of football, patience and timing are skills that are only mastered through mental preparation, repetition and muscle memory. The philosophy of the “Set and Pull ” technique is to maximize foot speed with minimal physicaeffort by allowing your lower leg to properly release which will violently snap your foot through the hitting zone.





                      PLAYER ANALYSIS


     Donnie Jones is a great  athlete with sound flexibility and technique. He has worked exceptionally hard to master the "Set and Pull" technique in order create exceptional leg speed. Donnie's success is directly due to his focus on the process. He has contined to do the  work necessary to be consistent mentally as well as physically. After years of snapping his leg properly, he knows what it feels like to do it right . Donnie knows he needs to start his "RHYTHM" as soon as the snap hits his hands. His get-off times are quick and his hang times are consistant because he works the drills daily.
     
      Donnie's make exceptional progress working on the following : 


1) "LETTING" YOUR FEET GET INTO THE GROUND - As he receives the snap, start his rhythm - keeping his steps short and  behind him on the approach,


 2) WORK YOUR HANDS and FLOAT(STICK) IT adjusting his drop during his approach and floating it outside his left knee with more urgency (keeping it on the “PRO SIDE”)


3) STAND TALL - by bending at the waist and maintaining his body angle and  stable/neutral hips(neutral hips won’t slide),


 4) SET IT - setting his leg properly and keeping it set prior to leg snap,


 5) GET UP THROUGH IT- integrating his plant leg into the process, pushing off up and through the ball as the kicking leg snaps, and most of all, 


6) PATIENCE – WAIT ON IT - waiting on his knee to clear, snapping his lower leg up versus down. On film, he should be snapping his lower leg "up and through" the ball in front of his body vs down/behind his body.

   Donnie knows to embrace the drills and workouts as well as really focus on his concentration. Mental toughness is needed to replicate the technique consistently. A good rhythm of “Catch to Kick” will be needed to be successful in the 1.2 get off range.  Starting his consistent rhythm, working his hands effortlessly, setting his leg,  letting his feet fall into the ground on approach , floating his drop, and finishing his kicks will be the focus point.


Good punting - GM