On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week former University of Wisconsin and Baltimore Ravens Long Snapper Matt Katula was in Scottsdale, Arizona for a One on One Snapping Lesson with his former Special Teams Coordinator - Coach Gary Zauner.
But not too many NFL Head Coaches, GM's or Personnel Directors seem to take caution with this concern. They just figure that all a specialist has to do is just kick, punt or snap and they shouldn't be getting hurt or injured anyways. In recent years more and more kicking specialists are getting hurt and I believe it is a direct result of the 80 man roster rule. Not too many NFL owners or front office people are concerned about changing a rule because of a kicking specialists.
Last season the Ravens brought in two kickers and punters to compete for jobs however, Matt was the only snapper. During training camp Matt took all the reps while the kickers and punters competed for the starting positions. During mini camp Matt acquired a sore elbow, which many trainers or doctors refer to is a 'tennis or pitching elbow'. The elbow continued to get worse as the season went on.
A Side Note:
During my 13 years in the NFL as a Special Teams Coordinator with the Vikings, Ravens and Cardinals there were a couple of years I had to go to camp with just one kicker, punter or snapper.
Matt Katula works 'Perfect Laces Drill'
Snaps to Drew Butler 'Ray Guy Award Winner'
Morgan was in as the snapper with the Baltimore Ravens and Matt was out! Life in the the NFL.
Matt had been with the Ravens for 5 years. He was devastated. Matt was no different than any other player or coach in the league. He had settled into Baltimore with his wife and two daughters and acquired a ton of new friends. But, as I tell all my friends the letters NFL mean 'Not For Long'!
Life goes on as Matt and I have both learned. When I got fired after the 2006 season with the Arizona Cardinals I was devastated. My wife Michelle and I had just moved across the country to live in Arizona and I was fired after one season. I felt with my background and football coaching record I would get hired again. Well I didn't!
I needed to do something so I rekindled my career as a Kicking, Punting, Snapping & Special Teams Coaching Consultant. Two other times in my life when I was out of coaching I took what I do best and started my own business; Coach Zauner LLC.
I specialize in kicking, punting and snapping lessons. The One on One Lessons help a kicking specialist that is committed, take his game to the next level or in the case of Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff, get his game back to the highest level.
I have also started two combines. In February I have my College Senior Specialists Combine and in March I host my Free Agent Specialists Combine. Both combines have helped a lot of kicking specialists get the exposure they want and need. In 2009 (17) of the (41) participants signed contracts with either the NFL, CFL or UFL.
In 2008 after I worked some individual kicking lessons with Billy Cundiff he attended my 2009 Free Agent Specialists Combine. There were 32 NFL, CFL and UFL coaches and scouts in attendance. Billy performed leaps and bounds above the rest. His kicking game was back and eventually so would his life in the NFL.
Billy was seen by almost every NFL team and all were impressed with his performance at my kicking Combine. Billy got his confidence back and waited for the calls. Because he was a veteran many NFL teams didn't want to sign him because of the salary cap. They wanted to go to camp with a rookie. However, when the season started NFL teams wanted the best available kicker and that was Billy Cundiff.
In 2009 Billy had short stints with the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns when their kickers, Jason Hanson and Phil Dawson went down because of injuries. Later in the year because of Billy's kicking success with the Lions and Browns the Baltimore Ravens signed him. Billy ended the 2009 season with the Ravens and is there today in the 2010 season kicking better than ever.
The Matt Katula Story:
On Tuesday and Wednesday I video taped and showed Matt exactly what had happened to his snapping technique because of the injury. I had some video in my files when I coached Matt back with the Ravens when he was snapping perfectly on both field goal and punt snaps.
I compared Matt's old (2005) video to his recent video. I analyzed Matt's form and technique and discussed with him what I felt was the best game plan to get him not only back in perfect snapping form but back in the NFL.
Matt (Chicken Wing) One Handed Snapping Form
Matt (Two Handed) Follow Through Technique
Two Handed Finish
During Matt's two day One on One Snapping Lesson we addressed both phases of his snapping game. I gave him a set of drills to work and perfect his field goal and long snapping technique. The drills will help to replace the old muscle memory with the new and 'Perfect' muscle memory. The new will replace the old or bad muscle memory in a couple of weeks as long as Matt is diligent with his practice routine.
As I tell all kicking specialists, it takes at least two to three weeks of drill work to address a kicking, punting or snapping problem or flaw. The key to all specialists getting better is Practice, Practice and more Practice.
In the words of Vince Lombardi: "Practice doesn't make Perfect. Perfect Practice makes Perfect."
I believe the One on One Long Snapping Lessons were not only good to repair Matt's snapping technique but maybe more importantly his confidence.
After just two days of working with Matt I know he has the talent and skill level to be back in the league. I always felt that Matt even with his unique (one handed snapping) technique was a Top 10 Snapper in the NFL. Now with some drills and better technique and with his athletic ability I believe the sky is the limit for Matt.
Click below to listen to Matt Katula's testimonial after working a One on One Snapping Lesson with Coach Zauner in Scottsdale, Arizona.
During my NFL coaching career I have been lucky to meet and coach some great players and people. Matt is one of my all time favorite specialists. He has a great personality and is very likable. Both Matt and I are from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area... two cheese heads. Maybe that is why we connect well.
Whatever the reason, it was once again a pleasure working with Matt. After 5 years in the league Matt has hit a bump in the road. I am hoping that our work together and my expertise will get Matt back on the road to success and back in the NFL. Best of Luck to Matt and his supportive wife, Allison!
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