Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Your Typical New Years Blog...Ok, Maybe Not.

Well another New Year is upon us. I know it sounds so cliché, but really...where has the time gone?? It's crazy.
While many are writing down their New Year resolutions (even more cliché), let's talk about some things to think about in the New Year. So I now present you with: a blog for the New Year touching upon all of the usual cliché suspects! - FITNESS, MONEY, FASHION/STYLE, NUTRITION, MEMORIES OF 2013, ENTERTAINMENT and clearly, your LOVE LIFE...the ultimate New Years cliché blog...ok...maybe not...maybe just AAK's version of it.


Leg snap speed is an essential factor because it determines power and distance in your kick.
So it's always a good thing to increase your leg speed and you do that by increasing your fast twitch muscles in your thighs. Doing lots of exercises that move your legs quickly - stadium stairs, sprints, going fast on an elliptical or stationary bike - that will help with that.

Stretching increases your range of motion, which means you'll have more follow-through on your kick, and you can put more push into your kicks without tearing anything because you kicked too high. On the long shots, you see a golfer swinging all the way through, you don't see him stopping right after he hits the ball. Think of it that way.

Strengthen your lower body and core. This'll help improve balance, leg speed, and kicking power. Stability ball exercises are great for core strength and throw those single-leg squats in as well. Make sure you're strengthening those quads and hip flexors for that distance.


What do you have on your feet? Make sure those cleats/shoes fit snugly. Many kickers wear a kicking shoe that is one-half size smaller than their normal shoe size.

Love Life

Time for a solid bro-mance with your snapper. Get him out on that practice field with you as often as you can. Buy him lunch. Let him win on Madden. Whatever it takes to get him out there with you.


Lay off the sugar. That's all I've got.


If you believe in yourself as a product, and you want schools to believe in that product as well, then invest in yourself. Equipment, camps, lessons etc...the new FIFA just came out? What's that priority list lookin' like?


Fantasy Football...what's more entertaining than that? An interesting look at how it affects your finances...maybe not so entertaining after all.
Check this out.


Memories of 2013

Avoid dwelling on past misses this season. Try to get over any failures as quickly as possible. Being preoccupied with a past miss won't help you. This thought process also applies to the huge successes you might have had this season. Remember that those big kicks you nailed right between the goal posts aren't winning any games for you in 2014. It's a clean slate. Check that ego at the door and focus on the work ahead. So as far as the "memories" go...for a kicker, it's super helpful to have a short memory. Just remember what worked, what didn't work...and for 2014, work on being better.

Here's to a fantastic one!

Train With The Best...To Be The Best.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Iron Bowl, Monterey Jack And How To Silence The Haters

I was sitting watching college football and going through a list of potential blog topics I could write about...and then this year's 'Bama/Auburn Iron Bowl happened...

And coaches everywhere made a note to practice special teams more.

At the end of the game, everybody turned and looked at who? The kicker. I should say kicker(s), plural. Because the 'Bama starting kicker had missed 3 important field goals, so when the big moment came at the end of the game, Saban benched him and put in the red shirt freshman kicker for the 57 yard attempt. Well, the rest is history. Two sacrificial lambs sacrificed to the kicking Gods. And now, Twitter and Facebook are flooded with death threats (what the?!) and horrendous "statuses" aimed at the starting kicker. And I read them all. Pretty horrible.

The cheese stands alone.

I know that kid is hurtin' something crazy. We've all been there. But maybe not on such a huge national platform with America watching and an entire fan base blaming you for ruining their shot at another National Championship to brag about. People forget that that lonely cheese is a human being. He's someone's kid...someone's brother...someone who doesn't deserve friggin' death threats or verbal attacks via social media. So think about that before dishing it out if you're guilty of it.

But, more importantly, how does he get through this? What kind of damage control can be done in that brain of his swirling with all kinds of crappy thoughts? How do all of the lonely cheeses left on the field, gazing at their wide left, failed game winning attempts get through it?

I have a friend who's an actress and I asked her once if she read the reviews after her shows. She said, "No. If you believe the good ones, you've gotta believe the bad ones." I thought that was interesting. And I thought, "Huh. Now that's some good advice for football players everywhere." It's one thing to read the newspaper the day after your game. But do yourself a favor, and don't rush to Twitter to read what every single stranger who's been watching the game from the couch, or the stands, has to say about your performance.

For example, check out some of these gems I found on the Twitter after the Iron Bowl. (The Twitter handle below is not the real one, I didn't feel right using the actual handle).

Soooo...you've got the guys who think they're really clever: "Breaking news: Alabama's kicker attempts to shoot himself. Misses wide left"

The guys who couldn't wait to use one of their "go to" lines that always gets them laughs in the office: "Time for this line again.....Kickers are like lawyers; no one appreciates them until they need a good one." See what he did there...

The guys who read what they think is hysterical and then tweet it themselves, trying to make it seem like it was their brilliant mind that came up with it: "@Kickerguy just tried to commit suicide but he couldn't kick the chair out from under him!"

The guys who think that snark makes them smarter than everyone and also like to reference movies: "Saban's post-game meal will consist of his kicker's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. Probably."

And the ever so classy... : "Your life is pointless. I truly hope you are defiled and murdered @Kickerguy. You don't deserve to live f@@"
Wow. So ugly right? That one really blows my mind...social media has made everyone a little too accessible...which has some really great pro's that go along with it, BUT it also gives stupid people access to people they never before had access to.

SO, the first step in damage control - Set. Your. Boundaries. And that begins with adjusting the settings on your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Keep the vampires out. Protect yourself. Preserve your mental toughness. If you've had a bad game and you feel you MUST, because curiosity is getting the best of you, and you need a "pick-me-up", have someone you know and trust filter through the crap and read you the positive supportive ones. And then let it go. Don't believe the crap, and on the other end of the spectrum, don't believe the hype either. Trust me on this one.

And when all is said and done, the ONLY status I want you lonely cheeses to believe and know is this:

It's always about the next kick.

Train With The Best...To Be The Best.

PS. This guy also has a solid handle on damage control...I recommend doing what he does here... http://www.beatsbydre.com/hearwhatyouwant

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Divide and Conquer

I went back and looked at some of the tips we post on Facebook and Twitter and I stopped on this one: "50 focused reps are 10 times better than 150 kicks without thinking about what you're trying to improve."

Let's take a look at this.

Throwing *BEEP* at a fan and seeing where it lands...what does this accomplish? OR is calculating the precise steps needed to achieve a specific goal the smarter path? There's a difference between doing something and doing it completely. Achievement doesn't come by how much activity is done, but by task completed.

If you're shanking the ball consistently, something obviously needs to be corrected in your swing. So, do you just go out and kick 100 balls and hope that it magically corrects itself so you can say, "I practiced"? Or do you break it down and take fewer but much more strategic swings?
Do you go into the gym and just lift a lot of weights randomly and think it will definitely change and reshape your body the way you want it to? No. Because it won't.

Ask any expert and they'll tell you, to increase your productivity, focus on one thing at a time. That being said, a certain discipline is required to say yes only to the most important thing at the moment.
And I know you can sit on your PS3 or XBOX for hours practicing your kicks on FIFA, so you've got no excuse.

You're called specialists for a reason. Because you specialize in something.

So, before you head out to practice, be prepared.

1. Select your one point of focus, the task you want to accomplish.
2. Put all your attention to that one task.
3. Stay with this task uninterrupted, until it is finished.

Dividing your tasks into milestones helps tremendously. It keeps everything from getting muddy. Clears out the clutter. And honestly, this can go way beyond football. Applying this same philosophy to your life can also be a cool thing. Am I right? Uh, does a one-legged duck swim in a circle?

So yeah, milestones. Set those milestones for yourself. That shank that keeps happening. Apply the tools to fix it. And let that be it. Now let's focus on the height. Distance not looking good? Make those swings all about that. Just always focus on something, whether it's the little things or just on being better. You can ALWAYS get better. You're never "done" with practicing. You will never be perfect. Not as a human, and not as a ball player. But the smart move is having a game plan, each and every time. A team isn't going to run out onto the field without a strategy and game plan...and it doesn't make any sense to practice without one.

Upon sitting down to write this, I did some research and I read a ton of quotes...all very philosophical. But then I thought I'd just keep it real with my own super professional and philosophical quote, which answers our initial question...

Throwing *BEEP* at a fan and seeing where it lands... just leaves you with a bigger mess. And the need for a nose plug.

Train With The Best...To Be The Best.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Journeys, Consistency, and a Cup of Coffee

Consistency. People are generally more comfortable knowing what they're gonna get. Makes sense. I mean, look at how Starbucks has done with this theory. People like knowing they can walk into a Starbucks in Oregon and get the same Pumpkin Spice Latte they're gonna get in Orlando, Florida. Consistency brings comfort.

This is also true in football...particularly in a specialist's world. Coaches, players, and fans are that much more comfortable when a specialist heads onto the field and they know they're good for the 40 yard field goal. They're good knowing their 3 point lead with 45 seconds left is safe because their punter is gonna deliver horrendous field positioning to their opponent. And they're good knowing their snapper is going to contribute in making the previous two possible.

Consistency is key. Consistency is also "clutch". And EVERYONE wants those "clutch" guys on THEIR side. Because when push comes to shove, and the game is on the line, you sure don't wanna see those "clutch" guys march onto the field in the wrong uniform.

There's no easy path on the "journey of clutch". That's what we'll call it. The "journey of clutch". It's hard work on top of more hard work. It's practice in 400 degree heat. It's running and swinging til your legs feel like they're gonna fall off. It's drills til it gets dark. It's working on your mental game as much as the physical one. It's being consistent in the training, so that THAT consistency is as much a part of you, as the number on your back when you take the field. And it doesn't happen over night. Oh and here's the thing, the "journey of clutch" never ends. Go ask a hobbit the average time allotment for a sensible journey. They take a while. You never get to rest. The grind doesn't end. Ask the guys playing on the college and pro levels. But you love it, so it's worth it. And anything worth having, takes work getting.

Yeah, the "journey of clutch" is a long one. Those hobbits got nothin' on a specialist. Bilbo Baggins? Wimp. So, pack snacks. Maybe you could even stop at Starbucks, they've got some great ones. Hipsters aren't the only ones who can appreciate a good latte and a croissant, you know.

And YOU thought you had nothing in common with hobbits and Starbucks.

Train With The Best...To Be The Best.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Heart, The Win Column and Why Belt Loops Matter in Football

A great man once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Let's talk about snappers.

No glory in their job. None of the stats. None of the fanfare. And yet, a team lacking a skilled long snapper can be seriously undermined. Scholarships for snappers used to be rare, but have become more popular as colleges begin to recognize the importance of special teams. And justifiably so. Special teams can make or break you in the game of football.

It takes a certain type of individual to step onto that field each practice, each game, knowing that all their work typically won't get them an ounce of credit or recognition from the folks in the stands. And yet, those warriors show up. They put the work in. And they do it for their team. Every team has that QB, or running back or wide receiver that gets all the press. That puts up the stats. That the crowd loves. Even the kickers and punters are getting love! But the only time that snapper gets acknowledged is when he screws up. So I'd say it takes a lot of guts and heart to continually put yourself in that position. The unsung hero. They're out there for the love of the game...for the team. And you know what? The team would collapse without them.

Nope, there's no stat column for these guys. There's no post game interview...no "celebrity". But there's also no extra point. No game winning field goal...there's no high deep punt setting the opposing team up with horrible field position...there's no check in the "win" column. Ah so wait, maybe we've just stumbled upon it. THAT'S the stat column we've been looking for. So every time you see the check go in that "win" column, know that a snapper had a lot to do with it...though you won't hear about it at all. Like I said, it takes a certain type of individual. An exceptional individual. The epitome of "team" member.

A belt holds your pants up, but the belt loops hold that belt up.

Take care of your snapper. Don't be caught with your pants down.

Train With The Best...To Be The Best.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stretching, Adjusting, Adapting....and Tutus.

flexibility: flexi·bili·ty: 1. Capable of being bent or flexed; pliable. 2. Capable of being bent
repeatedly without damage. 3. Responsive to change; adaptable.

Interesting. Three simple definitions. Even MORE interesting when you look at it from three different angles.

Ok, let's examine. First angle , the obvious. "Capable of being bent or flexed; pliable."

You're a kicker, punter, a snapper...that means you clearly need to get your stretch on...let's be real. And that's no easy process. Rome wasn't built in a day...and flexible muscles aren't either. It's a commitment. And not a "pain free" commitment by the by. So just go in knowing it's a necessary evil and bite the bullet. Make stretching a part of your day... go hop into a yoga class or pop in a dvd...or a ballet class...don't scoff at that idea...I can see your eye rolls from here...but the reality is, a lot of the top college and NFL players have said yoga and ballet have helped elevate their game...so give it a try sometime...but uh, maybe just pass on the tutu. Either way, get a SOLID stretch session in everyday.

Ok, let's look at it from our second angle, shall we? "Capable of being bent repeatedly without damage."

How do you respond to pressure? How do you respond when a team ices you? When something goes wrong in your form, how do you make sure you only make it a bad kick, and not a game-changing disastrous kick? Bad stuff will happen, but who can still put those ugly kicks through the uprights, or punt a 40 yarder end over end, or wobble a snap back right on the hip? Don't let setbacks affect and damage you and your mental game.

And now our third angle... "Responsive to change; adaptable."

Are you coachable? Are you adaptable to changes in your form? Are you the type of player coaches WANT to coach? Solid character can get you places. On AND off the field. Absorb like a sponge. The learning never stops. No matter what level you're on.

Flexibility. It can mean much more than just the obvious to a specialist when lacing up the cleats...just leave the tutu at home....no one will ever know.

Train With The Best...To Be The Best.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Please Open Your College Football Hymnals to Page...

Be in the moment. That's what they say. Every day of your life. Obsessing over what the future holds, or what the past left in it's wake, won't let you give focus to what is most important- the PRESENT.

Let's take a quick look at what I believe is now the 4th most popular religion in the world...College Football. Wait. You're telling me it's not actually a legitimate religion?? Then clearly you have never been to a service at Doak Campbell Stadium...The Swamp...The Rose Bowl...or Bryant-Denny Stadium. These places where we worship Gods named Bobby Bowden, Bear Bryant, Herschel Walker, Desmond Howard...and Johnny Footba...wait, scratch that one.

The college football layout is the epitome of living in the present. For a team to be successful, they can't be constantly focused on the future and what big games they have weeks ahead in their schedule. They're focused on their present opponent. Yes, of course they have goals. And these goals require preparation. But to reach those goals, they need to handle the present task at hand. Every game matters. Their season is on the line at every given moment. And that team needs to be present for all of them.

As far as the individuals go, a smart player isn't focused on plays that were called and executed 20 minutes ago. They're mind is in the CURRENT play and its follow through. When the kicker steps on the field to take care of business, they can't be thinking about the kick that went wide right in the first quarter, when this kick in their "present" could mean the game...could mean the conference...could mean a bowl win...could mean the national championship. No. The mental game needs to be just as strong as the leg kicking the ball...maybe even stronger.

A good way to challenge oneself, is to force yourself to constantly LIVE in the present. Not just on the field - but in day to day life. Notice things. Notice life.

When in conversation with people, engage, look them in the eyes. Don't look down at your phone. Don't be distracted by the TV. Appreciate them. Be in the conversation...be there.
When reading or studying, don't be checking your Instagram feed every 4 minutes. Or sub-tweeting your emotions on Twitter. Be in your book...be there.
When you're outside running, pay attention. The air, the sky, the smells, the sounds. Be in that PRIVILEGE of being physically able to run...be there.
When you're in the gym, don't just speed through your reps in a rush to get through it. Pay attention to each rep and how it's affecting your body. If you want your muscles to get stronger, respect them - and the work that goes into it. Be in your workout...be there.
And when you're out on the field and you're lining up, don't be in the first quarter. Be in the present. For it's the present that matters most, so...be there.

If you learn to truly live in the present OFF the field, it can only help you with that razor sharp mental presence every player needs ON the field. And distractions will no longer have the power to cloud your focus.

Here's a thought-
Respect the past. Prepare for the future. But definitely LIVE in the present.
Life. Be IN it.

Train With The Best...To Be The Best.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Saving The Best For Last Is No Fantasy

Ok, so it's that time of year. The season we all live for. I'm thinking that maybe the "powers that be" could just shorten the season names up for us...we can keep the summer and the spring thing...that's all fine...but I'm thinkin' we can just chuck the fall/winter and call it what it really is...FOOTBALL season. See what I did there? Makes sense right? And THEN the kids will only have to memorize three seasons..I'm only thinking of the children...it's a win win.

FOOTBALL season, you guys. Hallelujah. It's back. And with that, comes fantasy football. I thought we could take a quick look at THE most pivotal position on all of our fantasy teams...the kicker. I mean, at least in OUR own minds it's the most pivotal position. Especially with TEAM AAK guys representin' in the league.

Here are some solid simple thoughts:

Pick your kicker last. You guys know this right? Makes sense. We eat dessert last don't we? Fireworks designers put the big burst at the end, don't they? We ALWAYS save the BEST for last. I mean, except when picking teams in kickball...but that's another blog entirely...and probably years of therapy...but I digress.... so yes, CLEARLY because kickers rule, is why alllll strategies point to picking the kicker last.

The more an offense scores, the more action a kicker will get. So go with one of the guys on one of those offensive powerhouses so you can snag some points. Do that research on who those teams were. OR I could be nice and just tell you the eight highest-scoring teams last year were New England, Denver, New Orleans, Washington, Green Bay, N.Y. Giants, Atlanta and Houston. I knew I could be a nice person on occasion.

Pick a kicker that's NEEDED to kick field goals. Unfortunately, an extra point just doesn't rack up like a field goal. So this would tell us to look for teams with a solid running game...not the "big passing for touchdowns quarterback" teams.

Know the strong legged guys. Especially if the league you're in gives bonus points for distance. Yeah, Sebastian, we're lookin' at you...but he's working with a risky Raiders offense about as consistent as Amanda Bynes these days soooo....

And now finally...stop reading this...stop futzing around with your fantasy team...and get yourself out there on the field, into your backyard, or over to the gym and make yourself better so you can be one of the guys we all save for last...but not for kickball.

Train With The Best...To Be The Best.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

All American Kicking to Begin Elite Evaluations on Sundays

AAK will begin it's new Elite Evaluation Sunday Camps in August 2013. Please check the website for more information and registration.