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

Friday, February 24, 2012

'A Specialist's Path to the NFL Combine'

Coach Zauner's One on One Lessons,  
College Senior and Free Agent Specialist's Combines
and PRO Development Camps are:

'A Specialist's Path To PRO Football'
These One on One Specialists Have Bought Into Coach Zauner's
Natural Style of Kicking and Punting For The Past Two to Five Years
It's no secret that all the kicking specialists and athletes invited to the NFL Combine have talent. The real question is, do they have the composure, personality and mental toughness that the NFL is looking for?

The interview process attempts to identify whether or not players possess the necessary qualities off the field that will make them successful at the next level. Through a variety of mental and physical tests, some players will surprise teams with impressive performances, raising their stock in the draft, while others will simply fall through the cracks. Similarly, several players will pass the 'Eye Ball' test while others won't. Every year there are players that pull off that once-in-a-lifetime performance where everything goes perfectly, punching their ticket to the NFL.

Every athlete at the combine is given a grade by scouts and scouting services that essentially rank their skills, abilities and potential. However, most scouts aren't as knowledgeable on some positions as they are others. In fact, a scout I spoke with said, "To be fair, I give ALL college specialists a Free Agent draft grade because of my lack of knowledge of those postitions." So, what does this mean? It gives those specialists not invited to the combine a reason to continue to work and fine tune their skills because there are a myriad of kickers and punters NOT invited to the combine that make their way into the NFL.

It is my experience after coaching 13 years in the NFL that most or all scouts are very conservative in grading all players and even more so with kicking specialists.

In my opinion, the best kicking specialists in the country are not always invited to the NFL Combine. At the same token, those receiving invitations have zero guarantee that they will be drafted or signed to an NFL contract. Every year, I watch athletes who didn't attend the combine make their way into the league. Some examples are Stephen Gostowski (Patriots) 4th Round Pick in 2006 NFL Draft.  Free Agent Specialists: Dan Carpenter (Dolphins), Garrett Hartley (Saints), Connor Barth (Tampa Bay), Brett Kern (Titans), Steve Hauschka (Seahawks) and many others through the years.  All are currently kicking in the NFL and were not invited to the NFL Combine.

I've been attending the NFL draft for over twenty years, and one thing I can say with 100% certainty is that the process is not an exact science. I've seen kicking specialists who I believe failed to impress scouts, get signed with teams and have long careers at the next level. I've also seen athletes who knocked it out of the park, fail to make it to the NFL or any professional team.

Becoming an elite specialist requires more than just a good skill set. It takes passion and determination to make the very most out of your talent and take the necessary steps to perfect your craft. Athletes that are dedicated to putting in the time and effort to give them that "edge" are those who will separate from the pack and realize their dreams of playing at the next level. Most great kickers are not born, they are made and  the even field of competing One on One in practice is where players win the starting job.

One on One Training in Phoenix, Arizona:

In the last couple of years, One on One Kicking and Punting Lessons have assisted Drew Butler (Georgia), Randy Bullock (Texas A & M), Kyle Martens (Rice University) and Brad Nortman (Wisconsin) in having success during their college careers.  Also, last week Carson Wiggs (Purdue University) came to Phoenix for One on One Kicking lessons to improve on his kickoff technique.

As I always say, 'coaches coach and players play'.  The NFL Combine is a huge event with all 32 NFL Teams in attendance including Owners, General Managers, Head Coaches, Directors of College and PRO Scouting, Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Coordinators, as well as various position coaches.

The players are evaluated not only on each individual test, but how they handle the entire four-day process prior to the physical competitions. Special Teams Coordinators and scouts constantly make mental notes on the little things-- how the athletes prepare, their attitudes, their demeanor as they stand and wait for hours. It is imperative that every player recognizes that from the second they arrive to the second they leave they are auditioning. It takes a lot of pressure and focus to remain collected and on your toes the days leading up to Friday afternoon, where you are asked to perform to the very best of your ability in an incredibly intense situation.

Sometimes human error plays a part in evaluating some of the specialists.  Like with kickers, it could be a bad snap, hold or combination of both, and one too many misses can make coaches wonder.  If an NFL coach likes a specialists from his pre-combine evaluation and his potential at the combine, he will do more research to decide if the team would like for their special teams coach to give him a private workout.

The most important factors to a special teams coach on the field is accuracy, hang time, consistency and how he handles pressure.
Coach Zauner with his Five One on One Students at 2012 NFL Combine
I tip my hat to all athletes attending this year's combine and wish all the specialists I've had the chance to work with the best of luck at the NFL Combine, their Pro Days and the NFL Draft. I hope that the One on One Training they received is their 'Specialist's Path to PRO Football'.

Stay Tuned for More of Coach Zauner's Blog!

Follow Coach Zauner on www.twitter.com