Functional Training for Kickers & Punters / Workouts for Kicking

As a professional kicking coach, regularly I am asked about how kickers can improve their flexibility and further extend their kicking distances.  Over the years, I have noticed that kickers and punters lack functional strength. Punters in particular, who have a natural ability to kick the ball fifty yards consistently, often lack the proper extension and height on their follow through.  In order to help with these issues, I start every kicking session with a dynamic warm-up and functional core strength routine to help loosen and warm-up the players.  By combining functional training along with dynamic flexibility it helps add distance and consistency to kickoffs, field goals and punts in a matter of days.

As a professional kicking coach, regularly I am asked about how kickers can improve their flexibility and further extend their kicking distances.  Over the years, I have noticed that kickers and punters lack functional strength. Punters in particular, who have a natural ability to kick the ball fifty yards consistently, often lack the proper extension and height on their follow through.  In order to help with these issues, I start every kicking session with a dynamic warm-up and functional core strength routine to help loosen and warm-up the players.  By combining functional training along with dynamic flexibility it helps add distance and consistency to kickoffs, field goals and punts in a matter of days.

Typically kickers and punters frequently make strength and speed gains in the weight room but when they try to kick a punt or kick a field goal there’s no improvement. This is a common scenario because kickers and punters are given the same workouts as offensive lineman and wide receivers and don’t train based on their specific position.  For instance, when kickers kick they are ultimately balance on one foot. Kickers should always start on balance and finish on balance in order to have consistent kicks. After a summer of pure strength training, kickers and punters legs are stronger, but throughout the season their  leg power diminishes and they tend to compensate by trying to kick harder which can lead to injuries. Neglecting the dynamic flexibility can easily send a kicker back to the weight room without him realizing that it could be something else in his work out routine that needs to be addressed.

This is why functional training and dynamic flexibility are an important part in training. What does functional training and dynamic flexibility mean? It means core, balance, rhythm, and dynamic movements in multiple planes.   In any sport the core is the centerpiece of power.  Whether performing squats in the weight room or tackling the running back, athletes rely on their core to help them perform their required action.  .  Kickers use abdominals, hip flexors and their hips to perform a successful kick.  By adding in some functional core strength, a kicker can add power to their kicks.

To give an example of a functional based balance exercise: Stand on one leg — close your eyes and touch the ground with both hands lightly. Stand back up to a standing position, but continue to keep one foot off the ground. Repeat.  Do 10-15 reps per side.  You’ll find out its not that easy.  In this exercise you use the core of the body and the balance works the smaller intrinsic muscles of your ankle and foot. These elements are neglected in a regular strength program.  As kickers know, locking your ankle on impact is an essential part of a successful kick; therefore you need to have strong ankles.

Another element that you can include is adding functionality in your warm-up.  Try warming up with dynamic movement. The dynamic warm-up promotes hip, lower back, and hamstring flexibility, which are key elements of a healthy and consistent kicker. In a normal warm up kickers run around the field a couple times, perform a few leg swings, conduct a few static stretches and start kicking.  They repeatedly forget about their lower back, groin and hip flexor areas. Getting high extension on punts and a good follow through help kickers get more distance on their kicks.   As kickers enter higher levels of competition they will want to prepare the body properly to kick and achieve their highest level of performance.

To give you another example of a basic exercise is the Frankenstein walk.  Put both hands out in front of you and kick your right leg to your left hand. Then do the opposite, kick your left leg to your right hand.  Try to keep your leg as straight as possible. Try this slowly to start and as you get warmer, reach higher and higher.

Here is a few simpler dynamic warm- up exercises:

1.     Scorpion Kicks Lay flat on the ground on your stomach, hands out to the side, bring your right leg to your left hand, then do the opposite)
2.       1 Leg Balance Touches   Balance on one leg.  With a slight bend in your balance leg, touch both hands to the ground. And return to your starting position.  To increase difficulty try with no shoes or a balance disc, cushion or board.  The non-working leg should not touch the ground at any time during the movement.
3.       Dirty Dogs   Rest on all fours (both knees and hands on ground).   Lift your left knee and foot up off the ground as high up as it will go.  Return to starting position.
4.      Lunge Elbow to Ankle  Perform a regular lunge,  with your hands  on top of you head, touch your elbow to your ankle.
5.      Frankensteins Walking with stiff legs, kicking up foot to opposite, oustretched hand

The kickers that I am coaching right now are on a functional training program. They have all given me the same feedback –They feel more flexible and can kick further.

Before you continue to try these exercises. Continue to keep with your current strength and conditioning program (squats, bench, lunges, etc). But don’t over train, you need to take out a running session or another workout from your current program to include this types of workouts.  Your body will continue to develop outside the weight room.  Working out every day and not giving yourself ample rest can also hinder any results that have been achieve in the weight room.

Copyright 2007 The Kicking System All Rights Reserved.

Any information in this article may not be reproduced without expressed written consent of The Kicking System

About the Author John Matich, MA,  Owner, The Kicking System, LLC

*  Current Kicker for The San Diego Shockwave (NIFL Arena Football) *  Free Agent Signee of the Minnesota Viking (2001) Pre-Season
*  MA in Sports Management from the University of San Francisco
*  Four Year Starter at Boston College (1995-1999)
*  2nd place All-Time Scoring at Boston College
*  Camp Director for the SDSU Kicking Camp
*  Kicking Coach at Mesa Community College, San Diego, CA, Oceanside HS, La Jolla Country Day School
*  Native San Diegan and former kicking standout from Mira Mesa High School (1995)
*  AFCA Member since 2006
*  Coach for the NFL Youth Program JPD, Junior Player Development
*  Speaker for the Frank Glazer Clinics
*  Speaker for Irvine Sports Clinic – National Football Foundation (2008)
*  Coach for the Champion Sports Academy (San Diego Hall of Champions) & USA Football Coach School

Published by The Kicking System

San Diego Football Football Kicking Coach and Soccer Coach. Private Lessons, Kicking Camps, SoCal Recruiting expert (619) 994-2364

7 thoughts on “Functional Training for Kickers & Punters / Workouts for Kicking

  1. Great Article Coach! I see that you are in San Diego. When I was the Special Teams Coordinator at Texas Tech I stumbled upon a great way to work with kickers to help out their Structural Alignment. You should check out The Egoscue Method. The guy that runs it is located in San Diego, I highly recommend it as an addition to what you are talking about.

    Check out their fitness bootcamp, lost of players in NFL and College use their system. http://www.egoscue.com/

  2. I agree with with your conclusion. I am going to do some research and post it here for clarity. Stay tuned and I’ll be back with the info. I made sure to bookmark the site so I’ll be able to find my way back. LOL Also, if any of you women need lower ab exercises don’t hesitate to come on over.

  3. Hey are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own.

    Do you need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

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