Billy Cundiff; The human side of kicking
As I mentioned in my last blog, in which I wrote about Michael Leahy and his article; about kicking; 'Kicked around: Inside footballs loneliest position' , it was really great to see a writer write about the ‘human side’ of a kicking specialist.
Billy Cundiff was certainly a good choice for his article.
I have a lot of respect for Billy as a kicker, and I enjoyed working with him and it is clear he deserves all the success he has achieved.
I also really enjoyed reading how Michael portrayed him.
My own experience with Billy Cundiff goes back a few years. We both live in Arizona, and after a few casual meetings and conversations on different practice fields, Billy gave me a call because he thought it might benefit him to have another set of eyes look at his kicking technique.
This idea was reinforced by his agent Paul Sheehy, who believed more teams should be looking at Billy then were calling him at that time.
From the first day I liked Billy. He was always professionally both on and off the field.
After the first day of kicking, we went back to my office to analyze Billy’s kicking technique. I meticulously went through the video we shot that day and we discussed that days kicking session. It’s important to note Billy is not only an active kicker, but he also runs his own kicking camps and is very knowledgeable about kicking.
However having knowledge about a subject, and being able to apply it to yourself, are often two different things. I know this from my own experience.
Years ago I was an aspiring kicker and punter trying to make it in the league with the Minnesota Vikings & Houston Oilers, and I learned very quickly it is very hard to coach yourself no matter how much knowledge you have on kicking.
That is why most pro golfers –including the most successful golfers on the PGA tour- have a swing coach!
After I analyzed the tape Billy and I thought we had a handle on a few things he should address to improve his technique. So I went about looking for a ‘solution’ for him to implement.
It’s important to note, that when implementing any solution to a kicking issue, a kicking coach is only as good as his student. And Billy was a quick fix.
He attacked each drill and mastered it in a very short period of time, and soon he was on his way to getting the muscle memory needed to have the best swing for his style of kicking.
After two days of individual kicking lessons I believe Billy was feeling better about the direction of his kicking.
Billy Cundiff Attends 2009 Coach Zauner's Free Agent Specialists's Combine
A couple of months later I invited Billy to my first Coach Zauner’s Free Agent Specialist’s Combine in Phoenix, Arizona. Billy attended, and it was clear to everyone there -especially the coaches- Billy was the best on the field.
He was signed to an NFL contract a couple of months later by the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. During the latter part of the 2009 season Billy signed with the Baltimore Ravens and ended the season strong. In 2010 Billy is not only having a successful field goal season but is leading the NFL in touchbacks and is on track to set an NFL Kickoff Touchback Record.
And the reality is, all kicking specialists have a ‘human’ story to be told. Unfortunately few kicking specialist’s stories ever get to print the way Billy’s has.
And that’s too bad, because there are some really good stories out there.
Though I can’t say I know the stories of all the kickers I’ve worked with as well as Michael learned about Billy’s story (for example I never knew how quickly Billy’s wife’s heart pounds during Billy’s kicks) I have learned a great deal about the kicking specialists I have worked with.
And one thing I have learned about them -as Michael so eloquently pointed out- is every kicking specialist has a human side. And part of that human side is about all the other humans they are connected with; their wives, their children, their friends and their parents.
And my guess is, that just like Billy Cundiff’s wife, every single one of those ‘connected’ human hearts is furiously pounding when 'their' kicking specialists is attempting a field goal, a kick or a punt.
Because that’s’ the human side of kicking.