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Advice on how to approach the College summer kicking camps

Advice on how to approach the College summer kicking camps -

With the summer quickly approaching, I wanted to share with everyone my advice on how to approach this time with all of the different kicking camps out there, because there are A LOT of them! Obviously it is not feasible to make it to all of the events, nor is it cheap to do so. If your goal is to play at the next level in college, it is very important to come up with a good plan now on how to approach these camps. Map them out so that you can utilize your time and finance your money appropriately. Also, know what you are attending and what the purpose of the event is. If the camp has a kicking company or instructor running the camp, I’d like to believe their will be a teaching & a film element to go along with the “showcasing” where you will walk away a better kicker. If not, there’s a good chance that you won’t take in a lot of quality instruction at the camp, and more than likely will just “showcase” your talents for the coaching staff, which is totally fine as well. Just know what you are going to so that when you leave, you are not disappointed!

Nowadays, the majority of colleges have their own kicking camps. Some camps are run by the university’s assistant coaches, while others bring in a kicking instructor to run the event. This is very important: The main objective of these camps is to get in front of the college coaches so they can see your talent level. Think of it more or less as a tryout. In most cases, the coaches will not offer a full-ride scholarship to someone that they have never seen kick in person and more importantly for the kickers, they need to see you kick off of the ground! For this reason, I strongly encourage the kickers & punters who attend my camps and private lessons to go to these college camps. Some kickers and/or punters will be offered on the spot if they perform extremely well, while not performing well can really hurt you if you had hopes of earning a scholarship at that particular school.

How many should I attend?

If schools are awarding scholarships to kickers and punters based off of great performances at their kicking camps, why shouldn’t I attend as many as possible? First off, the majority of these university kicking camps take place during the month of June so it is tough to make it to a lot of them. Here’s what I recommend…pick out maybe 4-5 camps that you can feasibly get to. Hopefully they are spaced out and not all in a row. Attending too many events can lead to injuries from over-training. Even if it does not lead to injury, more than likely your leg is getting tired which will result in you not kicking to your max potential.

Which ones should I go to?

This is important because there is no point in flying across the country to a camp at a big-time SEC, Big Ten, or ACC school if you are a Division II or III level kicker. I always encourage my kickers to dream big and go try to play at the highest level possible, but to also be realistic on your talent level and that what you are going after is obtainable with your skill level. Maybe you are on the verge of being a Division I type kicker…I would then tell you to attend a few smaller Division 1 school’s camps and maybe pick out one larger school and attend one of those. The coaches from these schools will invite you to their camps. Just like anything, it is also a business. The coaches receive money for the summer camps…the bigger the camps, the more money they receive…so YES they are going to invite as many of the kickers and punters to their camps as possible! Just because a big-time school invites you to their camp, does not necessarily mean you are a potential “prospect” of theirs. Be smart when choosing which events to attend!

Another important aspect of deciding which camp to attend is that you should be aware of the kicking situation at that given school! They may or may not be looking to even scholarship a kicker or punter that year. You need to do your research and see who on their roster is already on scholarship and what year he is in school. Call or email the school’s Recruiting Coordinator or Special Teams Coach to see what their plan is for a kicker or punter in that year’s recruiting class.

Should I just attend these camps heading into my high school senior season?

The most important time to attend these college camps is going into your senior season. These are the guys who are receiving offers from great camp performances. It is also very beneficial to attend going into your junior season, or sooner, and here’s why. Recruiting continues to change over the years and athletes are beginning to get recruited earlier and earlier. The sooner you can put yourself on the college coach’s radar, the better! Also, attending the camps a couple times before the summer heading into your senior season allows you to become more of a veteran at them. You will feel more relaxed and will know what to expect because you’ve been through it before. I remember the first time I worked out in front of NFL personnel, I was pretty nervous. Now I’ve been in so many different combines and had a bunch of different workouts with various teams, that it doesn’t faze me anymore. I know what to expect and am calm under the pressure. This is very important especially at the kicking and punting positions!

In conclusion, be selective and smart about how many and which events you are attending. These camps are very important. The best advice I can give you is to keep working hard to get as good as you possibly can! Don’t worry so much about kicker ratings and ranking systems out there. Get with a kicking coach you can trust and one that you believe in his coaching. It’s good to attend a couple summer Instructional camps so that you are constantly working to improve your technique. This also gives you the opportunity to compete with other kickers and punters in friendly competition which is more similar to game situations. It is tough to emulate game situation kicks while kicking by yourself! Then you attend these summer college camps and show the coaches what you can do! This is the single best way out to there to earn a full-ride scholarship! Just remember to take your time and make each and every kick count, because you might not get many in front of coaches. I once flew to New York for a workout with the Giants. There were three other kickers there. We each got 4 Field Goals & 4 Kickoffs! There is little room for error, but that’s why the reward is so high!

I hope you found this information helpful. Going through this as a player, helping athletes go through it as a kicking coach, and now seeing it as a college football coach, I have a good outlook on everything and want to share as much knowledge as possible with the young kickers who aspire to play at the next level. Please let me know if you have any questions. Good Luck!

Taylor Mehlhaff

Email: Taylor@TMKicking.com

Phone: (855) TM-Kicking

Website: www.TMKicking.com

The University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee -

Recently I’ve had quite a few athletes and parents asking about my coaching situation and upcoming events. I wanted give you a quick update on this Fall and what’s next.

This past year I had the opportunity to coach at the University of Tennessee through a Special Teams Quality Control position. After being brought in to help run Tennessee’s Specialist Camp this past summer, I was asked to join their staff as a coach. Although I was not planning on getting into coaching, this was an opportunity I could not pass up.

Our team found ourselves in many close games against some of the best teams in the country. Each week it seemed we couldn’t quite finish the game and get over the hump against the likes of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi State, and Missouri. From a Special Teams standpoint I was able to learn so much from a number of guys on our staff. I learned how to effectively prepare week in and week out while also getting the chance to see how recruiting is run at this level. My knowledge and experience also helped our specialists. In 2011, Tennessee finished last in the SEC in Special Teams. This year, we finished 2nd behind Florida at the end of the regular season. We also dramatically improved in all phases of the kicking game finishing 3rd in Kickoff Coverage, 3rd in Field Goal %, and bettering both our Net and Gross Punting averages by 3.5 yards. Our Specialists bought into the system and worked like they had never done before. I was extremely pleased with their progress and know they now have a great foundation to continue to build upon.

With success, come more opportunities. At the end of our season, I was presented with a few options to continue my coaching career. I will be coaching at another program in 2013 and am excited to get started! Stay tuned for more updates!

Mid-Season Thoughts...

Mid-Season Thoughts... - Now that most high school teams have reached the mid point of their regular season, I wanted to share some thoughts with you. Part of my goal with teaching kickers and punters is to share my experiences with you so that you can learn from them by not making the same mistakes I did; as well as mimic some of the things that helped me to be successful.
Many of you have gotten some opportunities to kick some field goals, while others have not. If you have not, just be patient…your time will come. Don’t let your guard down…meaning don’t stop working hard because you think your team won’t ever attempt a field goal. Make sure you’re prepared and ready to go so that when you’re called on, your team can count on you! For those of you that have gotten some attempts, some have taken advantage of their opportunities and performed well, and others are sitting back scratching their head wondering what has gone wrong. I’ve taken many phone calls and have received emails from parents who are worried about their son’s performance because of blocked kicks or missed field goal/PAT attempts. Everyone wants to know how he or she can turn their season around for the better.
First of all, we have to remember a few things. In high school, it is very difficult for a kicker to put together a great statistical season. In many cases you are playing on a very sub-par football field, you’re lucky if your holder even knows which hand to hold with and what is the proper knee to be kneeling on, and if your snapping situation is anything like mine was in high school, you have a wide receiver tossing them back there. The field goal unit just isn’t quite as sharp as it should be because you don’t spend enough time on perfecting the operation in high school. If you took the time during the summer to make sure this wasn’t an issue…you’re more than likely being rewarded for it now! In college it’s a totally different story. You spend countless hours every single day during training camp making sure the operation is flawless.
Do not beat yourself up if you miss a kick or two during the game. It’s not what happens during the course of the game, but how you respond to it. Everybody misses kicks…even the top kickers in the NFL. If you miss a kick, forget about it. It’s gone and over with…you have to move on to the next one. Trust what you’ve always done and keep your confidence! You want to impress a coach or scout?... bounce back from a miss by nailing your next kick! If you hit a big field goal early in the game, forget about that one too. You have to move on and focus on your next attempt or next kickoff. The 42-yard field goal you made in the first quarter will not help you make the 38-yard game winner at the end of the game.
Do not get caught up on your stats and how it will effect your recruiting. If you let this happen, you will put too much added pressure on yourself and you will not perform well at all. It does not matter if you miss a bunch of field goal attempts. Coaches at the next level realize that it’s difficult to put up great stats. Having good high school stats can definitely help you, but not having great stats won’t necessarily hurt you. What is important is to consistently show your leg strength and power on kickoffs. If you bang a couple kickoffs through the uprights on kickoffs, that is what will get people talking about you! The coaches at the next level believe they can take a guy with a strong leg, and develop him into a field goal kicker.
An example of this, my senior year I went 6-14 on field goal attempts…granted many attempts were beyond 50, but that still is not very good for someone who was ranked the #1 prep kicker in the country by many people, websites, and publications. What I did do well was kickoff. With a field goal percentage just below 50%, I was still fortunate enough to receive multiple scholarship offers from all over the country.
For the seniors out there, make sure you are sending out as much game film as possible to college special teams coaches and recruiting coordinators. Be PROACTIVE in the recruiting process. Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen, or it will pass you by! Market yourself as well as you can…it can only help! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through facebook or by email at taylor@tmkicking.com. Best of luck the rest of the season!

Taylor



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