Strength & Performance__________

Bobby O’Mullan: 4DU Strength & Performance Director

4th Down University Strength and Performance

You’re a kicker looking to elevate your game through weight training. Congratulations! You’ve already separated yourself from the majority of your competition. Weight training for specialists is a bit of uncharted territory. In the past, the weight room has been a place where most position groups get buried under back squats and power cleans, while specialists were given step-ups and told to stretch. In some weight rooms, specialists aren’t even required to show up. The point is there’s no outlined correct approach. Which is exactly why you’re here.

4th Down University Strength Training Bobby O' MullanWhen getting started with weight training it’s important to identify the purpose. As specialists, we don’t need to worry about adding on a ton of muscle for protection against big hits. Justin Tucker probably wears a size small game pants, yet he can bomb a 66yd field goal in-game. Let that tell you, muscle size does not directly relate to muscle strength or power.

There are of course the exceptions to that rule in the Steve Weatherford’s and Jamie Gillans of the league. I’m a firm believer that walking around 145lbs soaking wet is no way to go through life but being 6’3” and 200lbs+ does not need to be our primary focus. Whether you’re just getting started or have 10 years of experience, the goal remains the same. Do things in the weight room to increase your performance on the field. What those things are and how we go about them is dependent upon your training experience, and what stage of your career you’re at. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to approach training for anyone within their first 3-5 years of lifting.

If you’re just getting into weight training the good news, is you have the potential to make a massive amount of progress, and you can get results from doing just about anything. Where most specialists get themselves into trouble is pursuing kicking specific training too early. Well-intended parents take their high schoolers to some guru who straps cables to their ankles, bands around their hips, and has them stand on a stability pad to do exercises. Not that sport-specific exercises are always a bad thing, but if your kid looks like a newborn deer performing bodyweight lunges then there’s still plenty we can get out of building a better foundation. Think of it as a pyramid. The height of your peak is limited by the width of your foundation. Many specialists try to build their peak without first building some foundational strength.

Strength Training Bobby O' Mullan

Your first few years of training as a specialist should look significantly like any other position’s lifting program. You need to build strong legs, you need to build your upper body, you need a strong core, you need to stretch, you need to sprint, and you need to be in shape. Each of those components creates a strong foundation from which you can enhance the skills of your position. If your legs are stronger, your potential for kicking further increases. Stronger legs also correlate to increased resiliency, which can help longevity. You can’t train your legs every day because you need time to recover to make progress. Upper body training allows us to give your nervous system an additional strength stimulus without taxing the legs. A stronger core helps translate your rotational force throughout your leg swing. Stretching helps maintain your full range of motion, which improves the potential force production of your leg swing. Sprinting adds a velocity stimulus so that your body doesn’t just train to move heavy weights slowly, but it adapts to apply that force quickly. This helps in the carryover from lifting to kicking. If you’re better conditioned, your capacity to tolerate work is improved. You can therefore manage longer practices and maintain quality reps throughout.

The only place I recommend adding some specialization for young specialists is through additional adductor/groin and lower leg exercises. While most other positions may work on neck, grip, or low back exercises, specialists can take care of their typical trouble areas.

The best routine is one that best fits your schedule. Three full-body lifts per week in the off-season and two full-body lifts in-season are a good place to get started. If you can only make two lifts in the off-season work, then do two. Don’t follow a routine that you’ll only complete 66% of. If you have the time to lift four days a week and do upper body and lower body splits, then go ahead. If you’re consistent, you’ll see results.

See example General Preparation off-season lift below…

4th Down University Strength Training Bobby O' Mullan

Personalized Training for 4DU Specialists

Train For Success:

Training in the weight room is no longer exclusive to the bigs and skill positions on the field. Any specialist (kickers, punters, long snapper) who wants to elevate their game needs to be training. It’s not enough to go out and practice a technique a few times a week. If you want to stand out from the crowd and make it to the next level, you need to spend time taking care of your body.

What Separates Us From The Rest:

At 4DU, our training is geared toward improving on field performance. It doesn’t matter if you possess 60yd+ FG range when leg strength begins to regress over time through daily use. Furthermore, strength doesn‘t matter if you’re when a quadricep gets pulled after over-working. We start each 4DU specialist with a structural balance phase in order to clean up any imbalances they may have from left to right. This approach improves longevity of performance and can help athletes to maintain the same strength from preseason through a championship game. As we narrow that gap, the focus shifts toward building a foundation of strength. The stronger you get as a specialist, the more force you can get behind the ball. Next, we work on making that strength, violently explosive. It does you no good to be strong and slow. Specialists are explosive athletes and each is required to generate as much force as possible in the shortest amount of time. Incorporating jumps, sprints, throws, and moving light weights fast is one way to help transfer your strength into explosive kicking, snapping, and punting power.

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