On Thursday and Monday between my PRO Development Camp in St. Paul Minnesota at Macalester College I worked with Darek Johnson who will be a junior this year at Eden Prairie High School.
In July I received a call from David Johnson about his son Darek. The family had just moved from one part of Minneapolis to Eden Prairie and Darek was going to be attending Eden Prairie High School this coming fall and wanted to try out for the football team as a kicker.
David told me that his son Darek is a excellent high school club soccer player. What David and Darek also wanted to know could he also be a excellent high school field goal kicker. Eden Prairie High School is one of the best football programs in Minnesota and Derek wanted to be the kicker.
David and Darek know that Eden Prairie football team currently has a very good senior kicker. Their question to themselves was how good Darek could really be after a couple of kicking lessons and to see if he could compete with the senior kicker or continue to practice and be the kicker for the 2011 football season.
In minutes I could see that Darek has some natural kicking ability. Matter of fact he showed up at the first kicking lesson and started kicking his field goals off the ground. Most high school kickers use a 1 or 2 inch block when they start kicking but Darek told me that he only used a tee for kickoffs.
I thought to myself that was pretty impressive!
As we continued the lesson I asked Darek a lot of questions. I could tell that this young man had some natural kicking ability but didn’t know much about field goal kicking fundamentals. His approach was long. His foot position on the ball was inconsistent and he was just trying to kick the ball hard. He was kicking out of control.
At the end of the first lesson I introduced Darek to some kicking drills and basic fundamentals so we could get them on tape. I wanted him to see how he kicked compared to the Pro's.
During the first kicking lesson I took a lot of sequential photos and video for our video review. At their house we did a video review and I analyzed Darek’s form. I showed Darek video of several NFL Kickers I have coached or trained: Gary Anderson, Garrett Hartley, Matt Stover, Josh Scobee and Sebastian Janikowski.
I introduced Darek to my mirror drill and gave him a couple of things to work on until we would meet again on Monday. Darek is excellent at kicking soccer balls but kicking a football is slightly different. There is a little more precision needed with field goal kicking.
On Monday I could tell that Darek had been working on his assignments. He was kicking with better form and hitting the ball much better. He was finally starting to achieve better foot position on the ball. He was starting to hit the sweet spot of his foot to the sweet sport of the ball. He was feeling success!
By the end of the second kicking lesson Darek was kicking up and through the ball much better and under control. His kicks were going higher, further and straighter.
We ended the second lesson working on some kickoff technique. Darek was once again a quick study. I gave him a two, four and six step approach and by the end of the lesson he was hitting some of his kickoffs inside the 10 yard line.
His leg was tired and we needed to stop. I told him with a little more work and a fresh leg his kickoffs will be going to or into the end zone.
It was a pleasure meeting Darek and his father David. Mike Grant, Head Coach at Eden Prairie High School and his program is one of the best in the state year after year. Mike has an excellent program that produces good specialists every year
I am anxious to see how well Darek will compete with the other kicking specialists at Eden Prairie High School.