The month of July is a tumultuous one for kickers and punters. For some it’s when they start working for the upcoming season, for others its where they work on polishing their skills. For all its a dangerous part of the year.
NFL linebacker Bart Scot recently commented that the end of two-a-days is an unnecessary softening of NFL players. For kickers and punters endnig two a days would be a welcome relief.
In July, when kickers and punters report to training camp, hell week, whatever you want to call it, their season rests in the balance of how hard they push themselves. Fatigue, deadleg, and other more serious injuries can occur during the first weeks of football practice during a season. While there are multiple reasons they are all simple. The human leg is not prepared for such a dramatically increased workload.
Throughout all of our interviews, with semi-pro or pro kickers, a common theme on advice from them is not overkicking. After kicking 1-2 times a week during the offseason the leg is not prepared to do two practices a day. Conservatively, a kicker or punter does 50+ kicks in a single session during summer on their own. At an average of 1-2 workouts a week their legs are accustom to about 100 kicks a week with multiple days rest.
At the time of the start of organized team football practices, kickers and punters increase their workload to 40+ per practice. With current California laws stating you cant have consecutive two a day practices you would say 7-9 practices a week week totaling 280-360 kicks in the first week. This is also not including potential scrimmages with game situation.
Increasing from 100- around 300 with no real rest is a recipe for disaster. Pitcher’s in baseball go through this in Spring training and it can cause a slow start to their seasons. Just like Pitcehrs, kickers and punters must think the same way. Your legs are like a gun, as they have limited “bullets”.
Your job during Football Camp is not to impress, show off, work on increasing distance, stength or speed, its to stay healthy and polish up your technique youu worked on during the Spring and Summer.
Two specific tips are invaluable.
1.) Know your limitations.
At all costs do less than 20 kickers per practice. If possible aim for 25-30 a day. You will feel obligated to do extra work and kick more based on how hard everyone else is working. Focus on stretching, mental drills, your steps, your ball drops, etc. They are countless other pieces of technique you can work on besides full kicks that can help you out.
Regardless of how you feel after each practice, make sure you recover and rest properly. This includes loading up on three things; Rest, Water and Ice.
Rest- make sure you are getting as much sleep as you can. Most times you will be tired enough and this will take care of itself.
Water- regardless of wherever you are youu will get dehydrated and even get cramps. The more water you drink the faster your body will keep your muscles hydrated and even repair themselves faster.
Ice- Even if you dont hurt, dont feel sore, or think its weak, load up on ice or a cold bath. While scientists have yet to discover the specific cause ice helps you recover faster. 15-20 minutes of ice on your legs will do wonders for the next week.
Follow these simple tips and you will be able to survive and be more prepared for the start of the season. Push yourself and you are more than likely to hurt your chances on having a great season.