January 27, 2013

Long Snapping Lesson with Jordan Winegar and Travis Shackleton

Sunday Jan 27th I was able to meet up with freshman long snapper from St. Croix Central High School Jordan Winegar, and Senior long snapper from Baldwin-Woodville High School Travis Shackleton.

Jordan just started attending long snapping lessons last month while Travis has been a student of Special Teams University for 4 years.

Travis was one of my very first students. When I first got started coaching long snappers, the head coach at Baldwin-Woodville High School brought me in to work with a handful of young men that he thought would be good candidates to be his long snappers.

A couple of the guys I was able to work with really took what I said and worked hard at it. One of them was Riley Anderson who is now the starting long snapper for the UW-Stout Blue Devils and the other was Travis.

When I first started working with Travis he had trouble getting into a stance and even getting a spiral because of injuries he had with his hands. Even though he was not the best snapper in the group he saw that there was chance of him playing here and he wanted to help his team as much as possible. Over the years Travis has taken what I taught him and transformed himself into a D1 caliber long snapper.

Jordan Winegar is a beginning long snapper who is a hard worker. Every time we meet he makes strides in the direction of becoming a better long snapper. The biggest problems we have run into so far is his lack of flexibility along with the difficulties of putting a complete snap together.

A lot of beginners have the same problem with putting all of the motions correctly together. If it was easy, everyone would do it, but its not. I have prescribed Jordan a healthy regimen of stretching which will help him be able to hit correct positions better than he can right now.

In the mean time he has been working on his hand positions and I can tell. Every once in a while he will get a wobbly ball but he knows how to correct it and keeps correcting himself.

Sit up snaps working on tight wrists and targeting

In todays long snapping lesson we started with a nice easy warm up and talked about the importance of upper body speed. If you look at some "old school" long snappers that play in the NFL you will notice that they do not use their legs like Special Teams University snappers do. But how do they snap so fast???

They are able to snap the ball back so fast because they have tremendous upper body or chest speed along with quick hands. During our straight leg warm up I had my guys focus on speeding up their chests to get their ball to go faster. You could really see a difference and they were definitely happy with the results.

Travis working on having a fast chest during straight leg snaps

After the warm up we went on to work on leg drive. It seems no matter how many times you work on leg drive there is always something minor you could fix in order to make it even better.

Today we fixed Travis's leg drive by having him shift his weight slightly forward so that he was able to get his heels up a hair more and drive off the balls of his feet better. After working this Travis went from a 6 inch leg drive to a 12 inch leg drive.

Before we corrected it he was catching his heels on the turf which was slowing him down and killing his leg drive.

Working leg drive. This is before we corrected Travis's weight distribution.

The next thing we worked on was full snaps with Travis and breaking down the whole motion of long snapping for Jordan. Like I mentioned earlier, Jordan was having trouble putting it all together.

When we slow it down for him it is way easier and his brain has a better time focusing in on the little things he has to do right. The more we can do this the faster he will catch on. While Jordan was using the band to work slow motion snaps I was able to work with Travis on straightening out his body so that he could snap straighter along with sinking his hips a little deeper in order to get more power out of his leg drive.

There is a fine line between being too deep with your hips and losing power and being too high with your hips and losing power. It is all about your body and where you can generate the most power.

Making some corrections with Jordan. He is hitting better positions with his hands but is limited by his flexibility.

Both snappers had success today and both made good progress. They both have things to work on before they come back to another lesson but if they focus on what we worked on today and work hard at it they will progress quickly to the next level.

- Kyle Stelter

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