Ok, I’ll say it. I hate punting! Yes, I hate punting because we did not score or make a first down, but it scares me to death to send the punt team out. It’s probably my fault as a coach for not spending more time with the punt team. Not probably, it is my fault, and the cause for my own angst. We’ve been very lucky the last two seasons punting. Last season as a 4th grade pee wee team, I think we punted the football maybe 5 times the entire season. Mainly because we are a good running team and never got ourselves in trouble, but I know the percentages are going to catch up to us this season. Plus, I will only punt if we are backed up inside our 25 on a 60 yard field. So, my goal this season is to perfect our punting game.
I want to focus this post on the punt and long snap, because in my opinion, these are the two most critical areas in punting besides punt coverage for youth football teams.
The Long Snap
In Jr High, my 8th and 9th grade coach was a long snapper in college and just missed getting picked up by the Houston Oilers as a long snapper. I was the Center and Long snapper in 8th grade. On the long snap, Coach O’Neal taught us to pass the ball through our legs like a QB throws a pass. He had us grip the ball like a pass then set the ball on the ground with the laces on the ground with your opposite hand on top of the ball. Our stance was a little wider than normal, and we would look through our legs at the punter. He also had us extend the ball forward just enough so it wasn’t uncomfortable. You had to practice quite a bit to get the stance, grip, and ball extension just right. On the actual long snap of the football, he had us pull the ball through our legs, keeping the ball low on the ground, and once our elbows were close to our thighs we started rotation and passed the ball through our legs to the Punter. He said once you got good, you could use your thighs to help catapult the arms through the legs to get more power on the snap. For some real long snap instruction visit LongSnapper.com and see pictures and watch videos by the Chicago Bears long snapper or visit LongSnap.com another NFL long snapping instruction site. Or below you can watch the Philadelphia Eagles Long Snapper, Jon Dorenbos’ instructional video on long snapping.
Pee Wee Football Punters are not very accurate. It’s really a gamble to send a pee wee punter on the field unless you get very lucky and get a natural punter. I did some back-up punting in High School but never saw any game time, thank god. I was nervous at 16 / 17 so I can imagine what it must be like for a 9 / 10 year old punter have 10 players running at him while he is trying to receive the snap and then punt. Plus, all the pressure is on you to make a good punt and in most cases not a very good game situation backed up on your 10 yard line. Not an easy task for a 10 year old. So, go easy on your 10 year old punter. I think Punting is an art not a science. But since we must start somewhere, let’s start with the science.
Punting starts with the punters footwork, his steps. I am a proponent of the two step approach. Its quicker, gives the punter fewer steps to mess up and you can move the punter a little closer to the long snapper making the snap shorter. You can also use the two step approach in a quick kick, so I teach a two step approach to my pee wee punters. I can go into more detail here but George Jakowenko previously with the Bills and Raiders has a great instructional website on punting and kicking at Goodfor3.com so visit his site for expert advice. Sorry I could not find a good punting video, if you have a link to a good how to punt video, please reply to post
Have a great season.