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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chris Rogers Kicking Lessons

On Monday and Tuesday Chris Rogers who will be attending Sacred Heart University this fall was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a Kicking Lesson.

Chris who has been a good soccer player growing up and through high school will be attending Sacred Heart University and will be trying out for the football team this fall as a kicker.

When Chris's father (Andrew) called me about two weeks ago he mentioned that Chris was a very good soccer player and a natural kicker. However, he mentioned that Chris had limited instruction in field goal kicking.

When Chris arrived in Milwaukee for his kicking lesson, he mentioned that ever since he received some formal kicking instruction he was struggling with his field goal kicking and kicking off technique. He was not sure why his kicking ability had declined.

As I watched him warm up and go through the kicking drills he had learned during his previous lesson, I noticed that he was very mechanical. He was kicking and crunching a lot. As Chris was trying to kick up and through the ball with his kicking leg, his entire body and torso was crunching or hurdling downward. (See Photo below)

After he kicked the ball and skidded forward he would pop out of his crunching position and lean backwards. He was never under control anytime during his kick. (See photo below)

Ten to fifteen minutes into the first lesson I stopped him from kicking and took him to the press box to watch some video. I knew I had to do something drastic to change how he was kicking if he intended to be a kicker in college.

I showed him some video of kickers I had either coached in the NFL as a Special Teams Coordinator or trained as a kicking coach and consultant. I showed Chris video of several natural kickers that had been soccer players and later became NFL kickers. I showed him video of Gary Anderson, Matt Stover, Eddie Murray, Sebastian Janikowski, and Garrett Hartley.

Next, I showed him the video and sequential camera photos I had just taken of him kicking during the first 15 minutes of his kicking lesson. He was amazed how much different his style of kicking looked from the Pro's.

We went back on the field and I started with some basic fundamentals and some form kicking. I also had Chris try a couple of field goals and asked him to kick the ball like he was back on the soccer field kicking a soccer ball.

Chris finished the first day of kicking with his torso a little more upright and actually kicking up and through the ball. He was actually starting to look more like a field goal kicker. The balls started to go straight and have a little more elevation. When he started the lesson his field goal kicks had very little elevation and were being pushed mostly right.

When I asked Chris were he was aiming, he answered - right. I told him he was actually kicking the ball pretty much were he was missing - wide right. We later addressed his perfect triangle and target line issues.

After, the first session we again review his kicking form. Chris had improved. I told him to go back to his hotel and work the mirror drill. I gave him a couple of teaching points and told him to do a couple of hundred reps that evening and the next morning.

The second day Chris started out kicking with much better form. I felt he was making good progress however, Chris did not hold the same opinion. He was a little frustrated. At times he was feeling his head and body still crunching. He wanted instant success.

The second day I once again reinforced that changes don't happen overnight. As I tell everyone changes in muscle memory take time. Most of the time it takes punters and kickers three to four weeks to make the adjustment. Many soccer players can have a quicker turn around because of their natural ability to kick a ball.

I told Chris to be patient. I told him to go back home and work the drills and try to kick all his field goal at a shorter distance and kick at about 75%. When you kick at a reduced percentage it is easier to work on better form and eliminate a crunching problem.

At the end of the kicking lesson Chris was kicking up and through the ball and ending up down field on balance and in better control.

It was a pleasure meeting and working with Chris. I work with a lot of kickers that have the same problem. Chris in two days made significant improvement. The secret to his turn around will be Practice, Practice and more Practice. I wish him the best of luck this upcoming year and making the team at Sacred Heart University.

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