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

Monday, August 31, 2009

The 'Fred Mitchell Award'

A new award has been created for Elite Division II and III College Kickers, and I have the honor to be associated with it.

Starting with the 2009 college football season, the annual Fred Mitchell Outstanding Place-Kicker Award (also known as the Fred Mitchell Award) will be provided to the nation’s top collegiate place-kicker. The recipient will be chosen from among the approximately 150 Division II and 240 Division III football teams.

The Award is named for Fred Mitchell, the record-setting place-kicker who was also a Wittenberg University Athletic Hall of Famer, author, philanthropist and Chicago Tribune sports columnist. The recipient of the Fred Mitchell Award will be chosen based on excellence on the football field and in the community.

I have been asked to be on a blue-ribbon Selection Committee who will evaluate place-kickers that are nominated by Division II and III schools.

There are nine members of the Pro and/or College Football Hall of Fame on the Selection Committee including Tom Beck, George Blanda, Kevin Butler, Lou Holtz, Paul Hornung, Marv Levy, Steve McMichael, Don Pierson and Gale Sayers. Several former football players that are active in their communities are also on the Selection Committee including Carl Allegretti, Sean Gothier, Jeff Michalczyk, Mark Murphy, Rob Perry, Bob Thomas, Todd Wilkins, Rob Zvonar and myself (Coach Zauner).

There are also eight former college or NFL place-kickers on the Selection Committee.


Fred Mitchell is a long-time Chicago Tribune sports columnist who enjoyed a distinguished career as one of the nation’s first prominent small-college place-kicking specialists at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

During the mid-1960s, Mitchell set the NCAA “College Division” record for career points scored by kicking while playing in the Ohio Athletic Conference for the legendary Bill Edwards, who later was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Edwards had previously served as head coach of the Detroit Lions (1941-42) and as an assistant coach to Paul Brown with the Cleveland Browns. It was with the Browns that Edwards tutored Pro Football Hall of Fame kicker Lou Groza.

Mitchell, who was named to the Lutheran College All-America team in 1968, was inducted into Wittenberg’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.

Mitchell played semi-pro football with the Columbus Bucks while teaching English and coaching football and track at Grove City (Ohio) High School. One of his players, defensive end Gary Burley, went on to play nine years in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons. Burley started in Super Bowl XVI for the Bengals.


This year, the Award’s Watch List will be released in August; the winner will be announced in mid-December; the school of the Award winner will receive scholarship funds and the Fred Mitchell Award trophy will be presented in February at the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter Awards Ceremony at Halas Hall.

I can only say it’s a gratifying feeling to be in the company of the talented people who will be selecting the recipient for this award. It is just more icing on the wonderful football career I have been so fortunate to have enjoyed over the years.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rankings Services and Scholarships

Today I received an email and telephone call from a very elated father, Sam Lichtenstein. Sam's son Ryan was one of my One on One Lessons this summer in Scottsdale, Arizona. Sam was informed that his son Ryan was named the starting kicker at Syracuse University.

Ryan, who is a freshman walk-on from Gateway High School in Monroeville, PA recently beat out a freshman scholarship kicker who was ranked a top kicker at one of the many 'elite' kicking camps held throughout the country.

The irony of this was when I first met met Sam and his son Ryan, they made it a point to tell me how disappointed they were that Ryan, who was one of the top kickers in the state of Pennsylvania, had not received any kicking scholarship offers from any universities.

Sam said he was concerned Ryan may have been passed over for a college scholarship because he had lost his 'rankings' after he had stopped attending one of the kicking camps that 'ranked' players. To him, it seemed that colleges and universities rely on these 'rankings' to award scholarships to kicking specialists.

Sam said Ryan had attended some of these camps during his sophomore year, but stopped going because he realized the camps were more about competition, rankings, and not about coaching.

But regardless all of this, here he was after a few months and a few One on One lessons, securing a starting position at a major university. Ryan's dad has reason to be elated!

This situation with Ryan re-enforced an issue which I hear about from many parents who bring their sons to me for One on One lessons and one, as a former college special teams coach, is of particular concern to me. And that is how some colleges and universities seem to base their scholarships awards to kicking specialist's base on these so called 'rankings' from kicking camps around the county rather than on a kicker's talent and ability.

Rankings which seem to be based primarily on how 'big' a kickers leg is, how many times a player attends one of these camps and how many private lessons they take from a head instructor. Rankings which have no consistent standard conforming with college or professional football requirements, as illustrated by the fact many of these kicking specialists are ranked kicking off 'tees' while others are not.

There are no kicking 'block or tees' for field goal kicking in college football.
When I was college coach and recruited kickers, one of the biggest obstacles for a high school kicker transitioning from high school to college was kicking off a one or two inch block to the ground. And I don't believe this has changed through the years.

During our initial conversation, Sam told me he believed that these camps that evaluate and 'rank' kickers seem to be more about about competition and rankings rather than coaching. He also said it concerned him because even though Ryan had attended a few of these camps and was 'ranked' well, he lost his ranking as he stopped attending them.

And to Sam, that meant that Ryan's loss of 'ranking' would mean his chances of receiving a scholarship would be jeopardized.

Sam is not the only father who has said there seemed to be a correlation between the number of times a kicking specialist attended a camp and how many private lessons they took, impacted the rankings they received.
It appeared when they stopped attending these camps and feeding the 'money tree' their rankings would diminish.

Many parents have told me the same thing.

Unfortunately what this means is that parents, who want to improve their son's chances of getting a scholarship, have to be able to afford many camps, travel expenses, lessons, or they have to watch their child move down in the rankings.

The 'ranking' issue is not the only issue parents have expressed concerns with.

Many fathers have told me the camps that 'rank' players, seem to offer 'little to no' actual coaching. They say their sons get to compete and get ranked at these camps, but rarely get the instruction needed to improve their technique to make them better kickers, punters or snappers and take their game to the next level.

The troubling part of this is it seems many universities and colleges around the country recruit their kicking specialists, and give scholarships based on these 'rankings'. This, regardless the fact that the kicker may or may not have the skills and techniques necessary to compete at a college level.

This certainly brings up an interesting point.

When a major university invests tens of thousands of dollars a year in scholarship money on an a potential kicking specialist or athlete, you would think they would want to recruit the 'best' kicking specialist possible and not just the one that was recommend through a 'ranking' system.

When I was recruiting kicking specialists or football players I know we wanted to invest in the best players possible.

I was a college coach for eleven years and it was my goal to only recruit walk-ons who had the potential to be excellent kicking specialists. After a kicker would walk-on I would work fundamentals and drills with these players and refine their technique.
We only gave the scholarships to players that earned it. We didn't give scholarships because I was told they 'ranked' highly at some camp run by someone I didn't know.

In my opinion football scholarships are investments for the future of the college or university football program. A university can't afford to make too many mistakes or have too many bad investments, and this is why they should be recruiting the best player, not the best 'ranked' player.

The key to any kicking specialists or athletes development is fundamentals, drills and technique, not 'rankings'.

I am very happy for Sam and Ryan. Ryan has worked hard and diligently on his kicking technique to be the best he can be. His hard work has paid dividends. He has now secured a starting position and must work hard to keep that position.

This situation has shown me or again proved the point that kickers and punters with good fundamentals and technique will -and should- prevail over players that -in my opinion- can seemingly buy their rankings.

Sam and Ryan realized that One on One Lessons were a path to a college scholarship and perhaps in the future a path to playing professional football.

In August Coach Zauner once again worked with Ryan in Pittsburgh before he left for Syracuse.

Click below to listen to Sam Lichenstein's testimonial about his son Ryan working with Coach Zauner.

Two days later Ryan was awarded a 'Full Scholarship' as the starting kicker!

"Congratulations Ryan"

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Berger & Sundberg Training in AZ

After a four day golf vacation at my cottage in the White Mountains of Show Low Arizona I was back working Monday and Tuesday in Scottsdale giving One on One Punting Lessons with Mitch Berger and One on One Snapping Lessons with Nick Sundberg.

Mitch is training and getting ready for any upcoming tryout with a team that might need a veteran punter. Nick also is staying in shape after recently being released by the Carolina Panthers after three months competing against two other long snappers.

As for me I love coaching and assisting players to take their games to the next level. Mitch has been punting extremely well and improving every day. Mitch needed to start working with a snapper and Nick wanted to get some work in.

It was a perfect match for all of us. I was coaching two excellent kicking specialists that are trying to refine their technique and more importantly want to be coached.

After working on some individual drills we moved to punting situations. Mitch worked on some Open Field, Directional, Pooch and End Zone Punting situations.

Nick first worked on some warm up drills then progressed to some 10, 12 and 15 yards snaps. We emphasized snapping balls and hitting Mitch exactly on his hip. I must say that Nick was a machine.

Both players are working at a very high level. I can't believe that Mitch and Nick are not in an NFL camp. I know most teams like to give young kickers and punters a chance to prove themselves so they can save money for the salary cap. However, I don't think there are 32 snappers better than Nick Sundberg.

Some times all players can do is practice, stay in shape and hope to get another chance. Nobody wants a player to get hurt however, it is a part of the game.

Just the other day I was watching Sports Center and saw the Bengals kicker Shayne Graham got hurt in the game and Chad Ochocinco had to kick an extra point and kickoff. On Saturday their special teams coach called me asking for a couple of names of young kickers that they could bring in to workout.

They brought in a couple of young kickers and signed a rookie kicker out of Wake Forest. Every team has a short list of veteran and rookie specialists. This time Sam Swank was in the right place at the right time.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Matthew Greenblatt One on One

On Monday and Tuesday Matthew Greenblatt and his father flew from New York to Phoenix, Arizona for some One on One Kicking Lessons.

Matthew was a high school soccer player in the state of New York but never played high school football. All his free time was devoted to his high school and club soccer teams.

Matthew is attending the University of Michigan and has aspirations when school starts in September to tryout as a kicker for the football team. Matthew told me that he has never had any type of formal training as a kicker but has a lot of soccer foot skills. He is here is Fountain Hills, Arizona because he wants to be the best he can be.

During the first lesson Matthew went through a brief stretch and warm up and just started to kick. When I asked him about drills he replied, all I do is just kick. He told me he is here to learn as much as he can to get better.

I could quickly tell that this young man has some talent but absolutely no fundamentals. He marked off his steps and approached the ball from a long distance and kicked at the football like a kickoff. Sometimes he kicked and skipped and other times he kicked and hurdled.

Many soccer players that have never played organized football usually try to kick a football like a soccer ball. They usually try to punch, chip or pass a kick and don't use their hip. Many soccer players also don't lock their ankle or knee.

After the first lesson we went back to my office and reviewed Matthew's video tape. Matthew had never seen himself kick and was very surprised at what he saw. I went over many video tapes of other NFL kickers and stressed fundamentals.

I showed and taught Matthew several drills in my office and I told him to go back to his hotel and work the drills as many times as he could before the next lesson.

We started day two at one end of the field working my end zone line drill. I could quickly tell that Matthew had been practicing my drills. In combination with my end zone line drill I also introduced my foot position, one step and target zone drills.

I put together a teaching progression specifically for Matthew that would introduce him to the kicking fundamentals and several important drills. Matthew was a quick study. Quickly during the one step drill he started using his hip more and was kicking and skipping up and through the ball much better.

After an hour of kicking drills we progressed back to the field and continued to work on Matthew's perfect triangle. Matthew's approach the first day was too long and he was taking too many steps. We shortened his approach and worked on his alignment.

Matthew was now kicking with much better technique. The balls were flying with much more height and distance. Most of his kicks were now traveling from 47 to 53 yards and he was kicking with less effort. He was beginning to look like a field goal kicker and not a soccer player trying to pass the ball through the goal posts.

I must say it was a real pleasure meeting and working with Matthew Greenblatt. It is always a very gratifying experience for a coach or teacher to see improvement. In two days his performance was like night and day.

Matthew is very dedicated to kicking and getting better. I wish him the best of luck in his future kicking endeavors.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Tomas Silva Western Ontario

On Monday and Tuesday Canadian Tomas Silva of Western Ontario University in London Ontario, Canada was in Scottsdale, Arizona for some One on One Punting and Kicking Lessons. Tomas is the back up combination kicking specialist and is trying to get better to compete against the incumbent.

On Monday morning Tomas punted first and after his session stayed and watched a fellow Canadian, Mitch Berger go through his One on One Training Lesson.

Mitch is a 14 year veteran NFL punter and is coming off a season playing with the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mitch Berger with Super Bowl Ring

Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Super Bowl Ring

Tomas informed me before he came to Scottsdale that he has had absolutely no formal coaching instruction for punting and kicking.

During his first session he started to warm up and punted some balls down field. Tomas actually hit a couple of nice punts with good distance. As he continued punting each ball he kept falling backwards after each punt.

As I continued to watch his punting technique and more specifically his drop I noticed he was pushing the ball outside his punting leg. He was more or less trying to wipe a spiral. He hit a lot of pretty good punts but started to hit some stray bullets or shanks.

For a specialist that had no formal training I could tell that Tomas had some pretty good pop in his leg but not a lot of technique. That is why Tomas came here to see me. To learn the proper fundamentals and drills and to refine his technique and take his game to the next level.

After his first lesson Tomas watched Mitch Berger go through his punting workout. I was stressing almost some of the same fundamental coaching points to Mitch. I told Tomas to watch and listen.

After the One on One Lesson we reviewed Tomas's video. He had never seen himself on tape and was a little amazed at what he looked like on video. I pointed out some coaching points and showed him my Drop Progression and One Step Drills.

I showed him video of two other Canadian Punters Mitch Berger and Jon Ryan. I mentioned that punter's fundamentals are pretty much all the same but everyone has a little different style.

When Tomas made good foot to ball contact and punted up and through the ball he hit some excellent Power Zone Punts.

We went out on the field again Monday late afternoon to work on a couple of drills. That night Tomas worked on more drills back at the hotel.

Tuesday morning I could see that Tomas's drill work on the field and at the hotel at night was already paying dividends. He was not only getting better at all the drills but was also looking smoother and punting with better technique.

We spent the remainder of time on Tuesday working on Tomas's field goal and kickoff technique.

In Canada the college kickers get to kick field goals using a one inch block. Tomas showed me a good strong leg. He hit many of his field goal 55 to 60 yards off the one inch block.

Once again I tried to stress kicking fundamentals. We worked getting Tomas's perfect triangle. He hit some great balls but needed to get a more consistent. He like many kickers had an inconsistent plant which produced a inconsistent foot to ball contact.

Another reason for his inconsistency was he was taught to aim and kick way to low on the ball. If any kickers target and contact on the ball is too low it will cause the ball to have too much spin. Too much spin reduces the distance a ball will travel.

Once Tomas started to kick with the sweet spot of his foot to the sweet spot of the football his kicks flew straighter, higher and with more distance. Tomas was smiling at the end of his two days of One on One Lessons.

It was a real pleasure meeting and working with Tomas Silva. He improved in all phases of his kicking and I wish him the best of luck this upcoming season.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Hall of Fame Induction

Saturday night Michelle and I attended the PRO Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium where the Hall of Fame Game between the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans took place on Sunday evening.

Saturday morning and afternoon it rained all day. However, the football Gods stepped in and threw a red flag and penalized the weather 15 yards for foul weather. Then an hour before the event started the sun came out and the weather was beautiful all evening long.

There are so many stories that go with an event of this magnitude and being a former special teams coach and current kicking consultant I am not qualified to write long stories. However, I am a pretty good photographer and took some great pictures.
Enjoy my photo gallery from the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Michelle and I had pretty good seats on the field. The stage was filled with many of the past PRO Football Hall of Fame Players.

Rich Eisen from the NFL Network was the Master of Ceremony and did an excellent job announcing and directing everyone through the entire evening. Rich started the evening by introducing all the PRO Football Hall of Fame Enshrinees and their presenters.

Two of the Hall of Fame players that were inducted have since past on. The families of "Bullet" Bob Hayes (Dallas Cowboys) and Derrick Thomas (K.C. Chiefs) had the sons accept their inductions on their behalf.

The very popular ESPN announcer Chris Berman presented Ralph Wilson Jr.. Chris did an outstanding job presenting Mr. Wilson, 90 year young owner of the Buffalo Bills. Chris started the ceremony and everyone after also did an outstanding job.
There were a lot of great speeches by all the presenters and inductees. I must say all the Hall of Fame Inductees were 'Hall of Fame' people.

Enjoy my photos of the PRO Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Mr. Ralph Wilson, Jr. - Buffalo Bills Owner

Randall McDaniel - Vikings Offensive Linemen

Roger Staubach presented "Bullet" Bob Hayes

Carl Peterson presented Derrick Thomas (Chiefs)

Rod Woodson - Steelers Pro Bowl Corner & Safety

Bruce Smith - Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl Defensive Linemen

Randall McDaniel speaks at his private Induction party

Randall McDaniel with Vikings & Tampa O-Line Buddies

Randall McDaniel, Vikings Snapper Mike Morris & Coach Zauner

Randall McDaniel & Coach Zauner

At the end of the evening I finally got my photo with Randall McDaniel. Everyone had a great time and I know everyone was very tired. We said our 'thanks' to Randall McDaniel's wife, Marianne and I know she was exhausted and wanted to sleep for a week.

The private party went until 1:30AM. Michelle and I caught a bus back to the hotel for an Sunday departure from Pittsburgh to Arizona.

I believe this is a first class event. The committee and all the volunteers associated with the PRO Football Hall of Fame should be complimented on the performances for creating such a successful Enshrinement Festival. It was very organized and first class all the way.

I would highly recommend to any football fan who has a chance to attend this festival or just go to the Hall of Fame and see the history of football.

It was an honor to be invited to this event by Randall and Marianne McDaniel and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hall of Fame Inductees

All I can say is the PRO Football Hall of Fame has been quiet the experience to date. Friday evening my wife Michelle and I had a great time at the Enshrinees Dinner.

I have seen and talked to a lot on NFL people from the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell, Ray Anderson (NFL VP of Football Operations), and Mike Pierella (Head of the NFL Officials) are some of the big names.

After the dinner I was lucky to first run into Jan Stenerud the only kicker to date that has been inducted in the Hall of Fame. Jan and I worked the River Falls Kicking Camp together for about three years in the late 1970's.

Later in the evening I ran into Warren Moon. Warren was one of the quarterbacks when I was the Special Teams Coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings. Warren is now announcing for the Seattle Seahawks.

Next, I ran into Willie Brown and Fred Biletnikoff (Oakland Raiders) Hall of Fame players. Willie and I coached together at Long Beach State for Hall of Fame Coach George Allen. Willie later became Head Coach at Long Beach State. He presently is coaching with the Raiders.

Next, I ran into Paul Krause, Minnesota Viking Hall of Fame Safety. I met Paul when I was coaching for the Vikings. We have played several rounds of golf together back in Minnesota. It was good seeing and talking to Paul.

Hall of Fame Kicker - Jan Stenerud

Warren Moon - Hall of Fame Quarterback

Willie Brown - Hall of Fame Corner Back (Raiders)

Fred Biletnikoff - Hall of Fame Receiver (Raiders)

Paul Krause - Hall of Fame Safety (Vikings)

Marv Levy - Hall of Fame Coach

Hall of Famers - Troy Aikman and John Maddan

Emmitt Thomas - Hall of Fame Defensive Back (Chiefs)

2009 Hall of Fame Class on Stage

At the end of the ceremony each PRO Football Hall of Fame inductee was give his yellow Hall of Fame sport coat to put on in front of the crowd. In the photo above Randall Mc Daniel (Vikings) has just received his new Hall of Fame jacket and is wearing it proudly.

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Kicking Displays in Hall of Fame

This blog will be dedicated to kickers and kicking displays that are in the Canton's PRO Football Hall of Fame.

So, I guess the best way to start this blog is with a photo of Jan Stenerud the only kicker to date to be enshrined into the PRO Football Hall of Fame.

At the Enshrinees Dinner Friday night I saw Jan and we talked about the good old days.

Back in the late 1970's Jan Stenerud and a young Coach Zauner worked the River Falls Kicking Camp together. The River Falls Kicking Camp was the first kicking camp in the country for kicking specialists to attend. The camp would have 250 to 300 kickers and punters at each camp.

Jan Stenerud and Coach Zauner

Besides trying to enjoy the entire Hall of Fame experience, my main goal as Michelle and I toured the Hall of Fame was to take photos of all the kicking displays. For those that read my blogs I have posted many photos of interest to the kicking game and specialists.

Once again I will not be able to write a lot on each photo. Enjoy my PRO Hall of Fame Kicking Photo Gallery.

Shoe Display of Lou 'The Toe' Groza

Ben Agajanian Display 'Booten Ben'

In the photo below Tom Dempsey kicked a 63 yard field goal and set an NFL Record with a modified squared toed shoe. Tom was born with a club foot and had a special shoe made for kicking.

Tom Dempsey (Straight-On Kicker) Display

Pete Gogolak - First Soccer Style Kicker in the NFL

Mark Mosley - Last Straight-On Kicker Display

Jan Stenerud's Kicking Shoe

Jerrell Wilson Punting Display

Garo Yepremian (Miami Dolphins) Display

In 1998, I was the Special Teams Coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. Gary Anderson was our kicker. In 1998, Gary Anderson set NFL Records with 40 consecutive field goals, most points scored and having a 'Perfect' Season. Mike Morris was the snapper and Mitch Berger was the holder.

Gary Anderson Kicking Display

Jason Elam (Denver Broncos) Display (63 Yard Field Goal)

Seven Field Goals in One Game Display

Jason Hanson Display (Most Field Goals Over 50 Yards)

My next blog will be dedicated to the Hall of Fame Enshrinees Dinner and Induction Ceremony.

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