Emphasizing ‘A Natural Style of Kicking and Punting’®, Coach Zauner’s teaching philosophy facilitates an environment where kicking specialists develop the skills, technique, and confidence to achieve their maximum physical and mental potential. At an amateur and professional level, Coach Zauner, LLC programs and events provide a kicker, punter or snapper ‘A Specialist’s Path to PRO Football'®...Coach Zauner, LLC Mission Statement

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jake Webber & Justin Kahut

Two kickers, Jake Webber, Portland State (left) and Justin Kahut (right), Oregon State University were in Scottsdale, Arizona the last two days for some One on One Kicking Lessons. The two are buddies from their days together at Oregon State. However, Jake transferred and is now playing for Head Coach Jerry Glanville at Portland State.

Actually, about a month ago Coach Glanville called me and asked if I could help his kicker Jake Webber be a better directional kickoff man. I said, "send him down."

Jake is about 6'4 and a big raw kicker with some potential or upside. After working with him for two days I don't think Jake really knows how good he could really be.

Jake was excited to be here because he wants to get better and also knows Coach Glanville is watching and waiting to see how much he has progressed.

I believe Justin and Jake were both amazed at how much progressed he made in two lessons. It was like day and night. In the photo below, Jake was kicking, crunching and pivoting trying to create a kick.

After two days of drills, Jake was making much better contact on the ball and hitting balls high, far and straight. He was now kicking and skipping through the ball and made much improved and consistent contact.

At the end of both lessons we worked on Jake's kickoff technique with an emphasis on kicking directionally. Coach Glanville said, "I want my kickers, kicking the ball to or outside the numbers to help our coverage teams and my man Jake keeps kicking the ball down the middle of the field."

In the photo below we are working on Jake's kickoff approach and technique so he can execute directional kickoffs with better accuracy and consistency. I believe Coach Glanville will be very happy with Jake's improvement on not only his kickoff technique but also his field goal technique.

Justin Kahut, is the kicker at Oregon State University. He kicked the winning field goal in this past year 2008 Sun Bowl in El Paso Texas, when #24 ranked Oregon State beat #18 ranked University of Pittsburgh in a low scoring 3 to 0 win.

When Justin heard that his good friend Jake Webber was coming down for some One on One Kicking Lessons Justin decided it was a also a good idea for himself.

Justin like Jake has not received a lot of kicking instruction in the past. Basically, Justin does a short warm up and starts kicking. When he started kicking in his first lesson balls were flying every where in the wind.

In the photo below I showed Justin that he was not getting the proper foot position on the ball and he was cutting a lot of his kicks.

I also pointed out in the photo below that Justin's approach angle and distance varied on almost every kick. I asked Justin his field goal stats for last season and they were not very impressive at I believe he said 68%.

Justin has the potential to be a pretty good kicker but has no system. He was mis aligning his kicks and had a inconsistent approach while crunching a lot.

In the two lessons we got Justin to figure out his 'Perfect' Triangle so he had a consistent approach. We next worked on him lining up his kicks better drawing a 'Target Line' through the goal posts to his target.

Finally, we worked various drills trying to get Justin not to crunch so much on impact. In the photo below Justin was starting to kick up and through his kicks better and was eliminating the crunch and cut motion on his field goals.

At the end of the second day Justin was kicking much better and was very happy with the results.

Both boys were very happy that they came down and enjoyed the One on One Kicking Lessons. They also enjoyed the 60 to 70 degree weather and the good Mexican food here in Arizona.

Both Jake and Justin were a pleasure to work with and both said they enjoyed their One on One Kicking Lessons and want to come back this summer.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Abdollmohammadi & Shadle

Over the weekend I had three very good kickers in town for One on One Kicking Lessons. Brooks Rossman (Kansas State), Romeen Abdollmohammadi (Washington State) and Pat Shadle (Syracuse).

Romeen Abdollmohammdi is the former Washington State University kicker in 2007. Romeen came down to Scottsdale last November for some One on One Kicking Lessons and has returned to get an evaluation on his progress.

Romeen is about 6' and about 235 pounds with a very strong leg. Romeen has improved nicely on his form and technique from the last time I saw him in 2008.

In the photo below Romeen is working on my One Step Drill. During our three day session we continued to work on drills that emphasize perfect muscle memory for Romeen's style of kicking.

Last year when I worked with Romeen he was kicking and falling off his kicks. In the last three months he has been working hard to kick and skip through the ball because when he does kick and skip up and through the ball he crushes the ball high, far and straight. In the photo below he is kicking some 50 yard one step field goals.

Romeen has improved from lesson one to lesson two on his form, technique and even his consistency. However, Romeen knows he has to eliminate that occasional 'Stray Bullet' kick. He still on occasion reverts back to his old form and badly miss hits a field goal here and there.

During the video review he sees what the problem is and is trying to correct it. Romeen has worked hard and has improved. In my opinion Romeen has the potential to be an NFL kicker if he can eliminate those 'Stray Bullet' kicks.

Romeen is very coach able and will work hard to take his kicking game to the next level. He's getting closer and closer to achieving his goal. He has been a pleasure to work with and I wish him the best of luck pursuing an NFL career.

Pat Shadle was in town a couple of weeks ago and came back to Scottsdale this weekend because he was working the Ray Guy Kicking Camp and is hoping to kick well enough to get put on my web site Pro Personnel Section.

In addition, Brooks Rossman was in Scottsdale after working Chris Sailer's Camp last week in Vegas.

I guess I must be doing something right when I keep getting many of Chris Sailer and Ray Guy Kicking Academy Counselors coming to me for instruction.

Pat kicked on Friday over at Scottsdale Community College and showed me some improvement from the first session. Pat has a good field goal leg with some pop but was a little too inconsistent for me with his technique and accuracy.

On Sunday we went over to Chaparral High School and I put Pat through a field goal and kickoff workout. Pat had a pretty good day. During his warm up he crushed a couple of 50 plus yard one step field goals.

Next, I put Pat through a 10 kick field goal workout starting at the 30 yard line and progressed back to the 50 yard line. Pat was 9 for 10 on those kicks.

The next part of my workout is what I call my Bonus Kick section. I give each kicker another 5 or 6 kicks on field goals at 50 plus range. Pat was 3 for 5 on those field goals with a range from 52, 54 and 56 yards. I gave him a chance at a 58 and it hit the cross bar and fell short. This gives a kicker a chance to demonstrate to NFL Scouts and Special Teams Coaches the range he has.

Pat finished his workout kicking 9 kickoffs. Three down the middle and three more directionally to the left and right corners. In this section Pat was just average. He hit a couple of good kicks near the goal line with good hang time but needs to improve on his consistency. This is the biggest part of his game that needs attention.

It was the end of the day and I we still needed to review Romeen and Pat's video. I was sure glad the weekend was over. Three kickers for three days keeps me busy.

It was again a pleasure working with Pat and I was happy to see he has accepted coaching and has made steady improvement. I believe Pat will impress NFL Scouts with his kicking ability at his Pro Day and I wish him the best of luck in pursuing a career in the NFL.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kansas State Brooks Rossman

For the last 3 days I was in Mobile, Alabama watching and evaluating the kicking specialists at the Senior Bowl.

The crew from ESPN Sports were also down in Mobile to watch practice and giving insight to fans around the country about the players in attendance and how teams might look at them for this years 2009 NFL Draft.

After 3 days watching and evaluating the kicking specialists at the Senior Bowl I am back and working hard giving more One on One Kicking Lessons.

This weekend I have Pat Shadle, kicker (Syracuse), Romeen Abdollmohammadi, kicker (Washington State) and Brooks Rossman, kicker (Kansas State) all here this weekend. It's been very busy.

Brooks Rossman, Kansas State senior kicker was here in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday and Saturday for some One on One Kicking Lessons. Brooks called me last week and asked if I could fit him in this weekend because he was driving from San Diego back to Kansas and wanted me to take a look at his technique.

Lately many players around the country either called or visited wanting my opinion, evaluation or some One on One Kicking Lessons. All I can say is that's great for me and I love my job. Matter of fact Jonathan Phillips, University of Florida, senior kicker called last night and he wanted to know about the same thing.

After working the last two days with Brooks Rossman I must say this young man has some NFL potential. I thought he was pretty impressive. He had nice form and tempo while kicking field goals and had excellent trajectory on his kicks.

After our first kicking lesson and video review I pointed out and showed Brooks a couple of minor flaws that I had noticed. He was unaware of a couple of these things and was very receptive to working to improve or correct the points I mentioned to him.

In the second lesson I worked my One Step Drill and addressed a swing flaw. We also made a couple of minor adjustments. After the adjustments were made Brooks was stripping the ball right down the center of the goal posts.

At the end of the two days of kicking Brooks leg was a little sore and we were unable to work on his kickoffs. However, what I saw on the first day was just OK. I know when he comes back in a couple of weeks we will work again and straighten out that part of his game.

Brooks was very complimentary about the lessons and loved the video review sessions. He said he learned a lot and will be back. He wants to be ready for his Pro Day in March. At the present time he probably isn't on too many NFL Scouts lists. If he keeps improving he will be on my top 10 list.

Click below and listen to Brooks Rossman testimonial on working with Coach Zauner:

I wish Brooks the best of luck this coming spring and hope he keeps improving and impresses the NFL Scouts at his Pro Day.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Senior Bowl Practice

Wednesday January 21st at the 2009 Under Armour Senior Bowl practice. The two question I ask myself as I watch the players and the kicking specialists practice at this year Senior Bowl is; "How Good is this group of kicking specialists compared to previous years and also compared to the rest of the other specialists around the country this year?"

During the morning practice I watched the North Practice. The kicking specialists are Kevin Huber, punter from the University of Cincinnati, Louie Sakoda, kicker / punter from the University of Utah and Mark Estermyer, snapper from the University of Pittsburgh.

Kevin Huber exploding up and through a pre practice punt.

Louie Sakoda hitting some warm up kicks before practice starts.

Mark Estermyer snapping to Huber during warm ups.

In the afternoon practice the kicking specialists for the South Team are Pat McAfee kicker / punter from the University of West Virginia, Thomas Morstead, punter and kickoff specialists from Southern Methodist University, and Jake Ingram, snapper from the University of Hawaii.

Thomas Morstead holds for Pat McAfee during a field goal period.

Thomas Morstead hitting some kickoffs to return men in pre practice.

Jake Ingram working on his snapping technique during practice.

Either during or after practice I introduced myself to all the kicking specialist. They all immediately recognized me from either my name or my website or face book photos. My wife Michelle and Craig have done an outstanding job branding my name and getting my face out into the kicking world.

I had a nice conversation with each player. They all have seen the website and really like it. Many asked me about my NFL Combine or Pro Day Training Lessions. There was no hard sell from me. I just explained to them what I had to offer and wished them the best of luck in this years draft.

It has been my experience that when a kicking specialists wins the Ray Guy, Lou Groza Award or gets invited to the prestigious Senior Bowl he believes he is one of the best in this years draft class.

What he doesn't seem to understand is that there are no kicking jobs open in the NFL at the present time because every team ended the season with a man at his position. And they also don't know what other kicking specialists are out there that haven't received all the attention of the NFL scouts and might be a sleeper in the draft.

I am now comparing these six players to all the players I have watched and seen during the season and the players that I am giving One on One Lessons and training in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I have the benefit of viewing and comparing this years class from around the country to previous years and also with those in the free agent market.

Some of these players showed me some potential. I thought each had some flaws in their technique and could get better with training. Some will get trained by others and I wish them the best of luck. Two or three are interested in working with me.

Last years group of kicking specialist that attended the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine were all setting at home on Sunday afternoon during the NFL season. Brett Kern, Garrett Hartley, Brandon Coutu, Steve Hauschka, Connor Barth, and a couple other free agent kicking specialists made rosters.

Why? Because many in the world of kicking don't know how to evaluate kicking specialists talent. That's a blog entry down the line... I must go to practice.

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2009 Under Armour Senior Bowl

After a full week and weekend of One on One Lessons Kicking and Punting Lessons, on Tuesday I was headed to the 2009 Under Armour Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is played in Mobile, Alabama and is coached by the staffs of two of the NFL teams.

This year Head Coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals and staff are coaching the North Team and Head Coach Jack Del Rio and staff are coaching the South Team.

The Senior Bowl usually has 90 to a 100 top rated players in the country on their rosters. They also have some of the top rated kicking specialists. This year the kicking specialists in attendance for the Northe Team are snapper, Mark Estermyer (Pittsburgh), kicker, Louie Sakoda (Utah) and punter, Kevin Huber (Cincinnati). On the South Team their is snapper, Jake Ingram (Hawaii), kicker, Patrick McAfee (West Virginia) and punter, Thomas Morstead (SMU).

I am very interested in seeing and evaluating the techniques and potential of these players compared to others around the country. I have not trained or worked with any of these players yet however, I want to compare others with their talent level.

I have also come down here to maintain my contacts with some of my old coaching friends and stay in touch with the NFL Personnel Brass and Special Teams Coaches.

Matter of fact, I met with my old friend Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons Head Coach for a while at his hotel. As we talked in the Bar and Grill several people came over to congratulate Mike on his outstanding season and 'Coach of the Year' Award.

Some of those people where Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips (Dallas), Ron Rivera (San Diego), Billy Devaney (St. Louis) and a host of other NFL assistant coaches.

Mike and I have a long time relationship going back to the early 1980's. I am very happy for Mike and proud of his achievements.

Today, I am heading out to both practices to evaluate the kicking talent.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Charles Conigliaro One on One

On Saturday, Sunday and Monday Charles Conigliaro and his father Doug Conigliaro were in Scottsdale, Arizona for some One on One Kicking and Punting Lesson.

The Conigliaro's came all the way from the cold and frigid weather of Massachussetts to the beautiful warm and sunshine weather of Arizona. The weather for the last three weeks has been from 65 to 75 degrees everyday.

Charles is a high school sophomore and would like to be the kicker and punter at his school. So, Doug brought his son out to me and said he wanted Charles to receive some very fundamental instruction. A matter of fact in the first lesson Charles was trying to soccer style place kick using his toe like a straight-on kicker.

When I saw Charles using this unusual technique I quickly realized we needed to start with the very basic fundamentals and build up from ground zero. For three days we split the lessons into half of the time working kicking and punting fundamentals.

When Charles first start kicking field goals he hit some balls end over end however, on many he wrapped his foot around the ball and hook and spirals many off to the left.

I showed Charles many photos and videos of the proper foot position and proper soccer style kicking technique. We worked foot position drills hard to break Charles habit of wrapping his foot around the ball and kicking weird flying balls.

On the last day Charles was starting to have success. In the photo below you see Charles starting to get his foot in a little better position on the football. On about 3o kicks he hit 27 of them end over end and through the goal post .

Charles also ended the three day session by kicking and skipping through the ball rather then kicking and falling off to the side or backwards. He was know looking more like a soccer style kicker.

Our One on One Punting Lessons again started with basic fundamentals. Grip, Drop, Drop Progression, and Punting Fundamentals. In the photo below you see Charles working drills to get the ball dropped directly in front of his punting leg.

In Charles first lesson he tried to punt the ball by placing and dropping the ball outside his leg and trying to wipe a spiral. In the photo below we worked a no step drill trying to get Charles to drop the ball on top on his foot.

In the photo below you see Charles working a drop drill trying to drop the ball directly out in front of his punting leg and on top of his punting foot. Notice the difference where the ball is hitting on my foot in the photo above and where the ball is hitting on Charles foot.

Both balls ended up as spirals. However, punting up and through a ball that hits on top of your foot will go a lot further then wiping a spiral.

Again the last day was a success for Charles punting the ball. At one time he hit 6 spiral punts in a row and turned over 3 of them.

As you see in the photo below I was continually making sure Charles was placing the ball directly over his punting leg and trying to punt straight up and through the ball.

After three days of kicking and punting Charles had finally received success and was a happy camper. He knows the basic fundamentals and knows what he needs to work on. He has a DVD of all my teaching points and said he will work hard to get better.

I must say my lesson with Charles made me use all my resources as a coach and teacher. After working with all the talented kickers and punters around the country I was back working with a beginner.

Charles has passion for kicking and punting. Working with Charles was a pleasure and a very gratifying experience for me as a coach and teacher. My student learned and got better each day and that's all a teacher wants. Seeing improvement and success.

It was a little frustrating at times for both Charles and myself but in the end we both had success and are very happy.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Berger & Katula in AFC Game

In Sunday's AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh I am proud to say I have two of my hand picked specialists playing for the right to go to the 2009 Super Bowl. Mitch Berger, Punter for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Matt Katula, Snapper for the Baltimore Ravens.

Mitch Berger (Pittsburgh Steelers) had been cut 6 times when I signed him as a free agent when I was the Special Teams Coach with the Minnesota Vikings. He is now in his 14 season as an NFL Punter with two Pro Bowl appearances.

In the photo below are my Minnesota Viking Specialists in 2001. Mitch Berger (left), Gary Anderson (right) and Brody Liddiard (kneeling)

For the past two summers here in Scottsdale, Arizona I have been training Mitch and helping him to get his punting skills back to form after a couple of injury plagued seasons with the Saints.

Matter of fact, I helped Mitch land his last two jobs with the Cardinals and Steelers by making calls and recommending him to their personnel departments. I am very proud of how hard Mitch has worked and the success and achievements he has attained throughout his NFL career and I wish him the best of luck on Sunday. Go Steelers!

When I was the Special Teams Coach with the Baltimore Ravens I went to the Wisconsin Badger Pro Day to see Matt Katula #70. Matt was young man from Brookfield, Wisconsin, which is a suburb from my home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I had known about Matt since he was a junior with the Badgers and I kept my eye on his career. After the 2004 draft I talked the Baltimore Ravens into signing Matt as a free agent. They were hesitant because they had drafted another snapper a couple of years ago and didn't feel we needed to waste money.

So, on the promise I made to Matt that I would give him a chance to beat out the other snapper he gave up a $5,000.00 signing bonus with another NFL team and signed with the Ravens for $00.00 (zero) signing bonus. I had faith in Matt, he had faith and believed in me.

So, in Sunday's game Matt will be snapping for his 5th year with the Baltimore Ravens. I am very proud of Matt's success and achievements and I wish him the best of luck. Go Ravens!

Matt also has helped me for the last four years with our Kicking Specialists Camp in River Falls, Wisconsin. Matt is a teaching Pro for snapping and he does a great job with the high school kids. This year the Coach Zauner Kicking Camp in River Falls will be June 27 - 29. Check out details on my website Kicking Camps.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two Aussie's in NFC Championship

Today in the NFC Championship Game here in Arizona there will be two Australian Punter's going head to head. For the home town Arizona Cardinals there will be left footed Ben Graham and from the visiting Philadelphia Eagles right footed Sav Rocca.

Arizona Cardinals Ben Graham is a former Australian rules football player, who attended Deakin University in Geelong. Ben played 219 games for the Geelong Football Club in the Australian Football League from 1993 to 2004. Graham was renowned for his long, accurate kicking and known for his torpedo punt.

Graham signed with the N.Y. Jets in 2005. In this 2008 season he started with the Jets and was release. Signed by the Saints and played in one game and was released. On Sunday he's playing in the NFC Championship game. Go figure!

Saverio 'Sav' Rocca is the Philadelphia Eagles Punter. Born in Melbourne Australia and his background is also from Australian Rules Football. During his 14 year career in Aussie Football he became one of the greatest goal kickers in the history of competition.

Sav was noted more for his ability to kick accurately from great distance which ultimately led to his tryout with the Eagles. When he converted to American Football he made the history books as the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL, taking the mantle from fellow Australian Ben Graham.

So, on Sunday people around the world will watch the NFL Championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles and many won't know the the two punters got their start and training as Australian Rules Football Players.

Both punters are noted for their Aussie Drop Punt Technique. The Aussie Drop Punt Technique is being used more and more by American Punters when they need to punt the ball down inside their opponents 10 yard line.

A little information on the Aussie Drop Punt:

Darren Bennett was an Australian Rules Football player from Sydney Australia before making it big here in the United States as a football player with the San Diego Chargers.

Darren came to San Diego in I believe 1994. I was living in San Diego at that time working my kicking consulting business.

Bobby Beathard who was the General Manager of the San Diego Chargers called me up and asked me to come over to their training facility at the stadium one day to check out some rugby player.

It was Darren Bennett. He was not a rugby player but an Australian Rules Football Player. Most people don't know the difference and neither did Bobby.

I watched Darren take a bunch of steps (way to many) and boom several punts high and far. He was the real deal. However, he ran about 5 to 7 yards before actually punting the ball.

Bobby and special teams coach Chuck Priefer watch and smiled. They asked me what do you think. I said sign him and let me work with him. They did sign Darren to a contract.

However, I was unable to work with Darren because a couple weeks later I joined the Minnesota Vikings as their special teams coach. I did recommend for them to send him to NFL Europe to get some playing experience.

In 1995, Darren played for the Amsterdam Admirals. He did very well and started his career in 1995 with the San Diego Charger.

Darren was a two time Pro Bowler with the Chargers in 1995 and 2000. He had a great career.

Darren Bennett is credited for the introduction into the NFL of the "Aussie Rules kick" or "Drop Punt" as it is known in Australia. Instrumental in the advancement of Australians into the NFL , currently half of the punters in the NFL make use of the Aussie Rules punt in pooch punt situations.

Below is a photo series of Shane Phillips (Melbourne, Australia) demonstrating the Australian Drop Punt Technique. Shane was my assistant for six months. Before he left to go back to Australian we got together and put together an Instructional Drop Punt Video. It will be on my web site in 2009.

In these two photos: The Grip and Drop

Below: First Step and Setting up the Drop

Below: Two Hands / One Hand & Drop

Below: One Handed Drop

Below: The Perfect Nose Down Drop

Below: Punting Straight Up & thru the Ball

Below: Punting thru the Ball

Go Cardinals!

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