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I always loved football growing up. I just happened to play soccer as well. Most kickers start the other way around, but as my soccer skills improved, and my height and weight didn't give me hope that I would be a star athlete (5'4", 80 lbs in junior high), I realized that kicking was the best position for me. In fifth grade, I started to work on my kicking with my mom and dad. We bought a red sidewinder tee with the Jan Stenarud kicking manaul inside. It was a simple little booklet, but it is still a great resource for anyone getting started.

I quickly learned the benefit of practice. Before school was a good time, as the park was on my way to junior high, and close to my house. I enjoyed it, and I got better the more I practiced. I would go to the park as much as I could, hoping I would be prepared enough for a real-life game situation. Looking back, I should have invested in a push mower. It would have paid for itself, with all the super long grass fields I've kicked on over the years. Kicking came very natural to me, and I was really anxious to get into a game and attempt a kick. I would have to wait a few years before that happened. We didn't have tackle football until junior high in my hometown. I asked the coach if we could try an extra point. He told me that it was too difficult at that level (then we played a team that kicked their PATs, and I was furious!). I worked strictly on punting and kickoffs that year, as well as the next year. Finally my freshman year of high school, I would get my chance. Unfortunately, the field we played on had college width uprights, so I was happy to make half my PATs. It was a great learning experience and got me ready for the "big-time' (Varsity football). I kept at it, and slowly gained distance on my kicks. My freshman year, I could make a 30-yarder. My sophomore year, I was able to hit from 35 yards out. By my junior year, I was starting to grow (close to 6' tall) and was hitting about 40 yarders. By my senior year, I had grown (6'2", 160 lbs) and could make 50-55 yarders on a good day. I was an All-State kicker my senior year, hitting 5 of 7 FGs, with a long of 37 yards (not what you would call headline grabbing stats!)

I was determined to continue playing in college, and I would not settle for less than Division I. No scholarship offers came my way, so I decided to stay home and walk-on at the University of Iowa. My first year, I was redshirted of course. I spent that year putting on weight (now 6'4" and 185 lbs). By my senior year, I was up to 217 lbs. I had always been good at getting to the gym. I would sometimes spend a little too much time lifting and not enough kicking. I had good leg strength, but lacked the accuracy that comes from perfecting the fundamentals. I would kick thousands and thousands of balls during the summer months, and still struggle making chip shots. During one afternoon, i stood at the 50 and kicked a FG in both directions. Then I walked up to the 20 yard line and pushed it right. I was so determined to be a threat from anywhere on the field, that I lacked the consistency needed to make me a successful college kicker. Iowa had to use two kickers, one guy kicked PATs and FGs inside the 30, and I kicked off and attempted FGs outside the 30. I did quite well, since that was all I had been practicing over the years (6-9 career over 50 yards). Unfortuantely, my philosophy of "if I can make it from 60, I should be able to make it from anywhere" didn't work out.

I felt I had the natural ability to kick in the NFL, but my accuracy needed some serious work. I only kicked inside the 30 that whole winter prior to the signing period. The New York Giants took a chance on me, and I was kicking as well as I ever had. They were able to correct some inconsistencies in my approach and make me focus on doing it the same each time. I wasn't able to make the team, but it was a great experience, none the less. I played in the Arena league (made my first game-winning FG), went back to NY as a punter the next year, then played in some semi-pro leagues, and on two championship Arena2 teams (the most successful teams I've ever played on, we went 37-1 over two seasons). So I actually didn't get to kick a game-winning FG or play on a championship team until after college.

One thing I would have changed if I had to do it again, was my practice time. I don't know if there was anyone who spent more time on the field kicking than I did. I felt that if I outworked my competition, I would be the most successful. That wasn't true. I did not practice wisely. Had I focused more on each and every kick, I wouldn't have had to spent two hours and 150 balls trying to get my approach correct each time I went out. I chewed up my fair share of fields (the Iowa groundskeeper and I were not fans of each other). If I missed a kick, I would set it up again immediately, and fire off another kick. If there is a kicking style out there, I've tried it, and been somewhat successful with it, based on the shear amount of time spent on each technique. Imagine if I had spent that time perfecting my first kicking style. A great saying that I wish I understood at the time is "quality, not quantity". I spent way too much time trying to find a technique that did it all (accuracy and distance), instead of focusing and practicing the 95% of most kicks (short FGs and PATs).

I think I can bring some great "lessons learned" to the Network. I have had an opportunity to kick at all levels of play, and have had success and failure at every one. You know the feeling, when there are days that you can't miss a thing and want to turn pro immediately, and others where "the broad side of a barn" is nearly impossible to hit.


When I first heard about the " Network", I thought it was great. However, after thinking about it more, I was concerned. I wondered why Doug & Tommy would share so many tricks of the trade with kids who are going to be trying to steal our jobs some day!
-- Mike Vanderjagt

Doug and Tommy's Frequently Asked Questions: "When I punt, the ball comes off my foot in a tight spiral and has great height, but I can't get the ball to turnover at the top of it's trajectory, I was wondering if you have any tips or drills to solve this problem?" -- Click here to read our answer

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