Friday July 26th I was able to meet up with Edina MN long snapper Jackson Hunzelman. Jackson will be a senior this year for Edina and wanted to work on his long snapping skills in order to help his team and hopefully get noticed by some college teams in the process.
I first met Jackson when he attended one of my camps last year in Vadnais Heights MN. He had long snapped before but had never had any formal training. That camp was mostly for exposure so we did not have a lot of time for making adjustments but he did alright charting.
There were a few things we were able to work on after camp that helped him out and he wanted to meet up again to better himself for this upcoming season.
On Friday we met at East Ridge High School in Woodbury MN to get some long snapping work in. We started with the usual dynamic warm up to get his body ready for the explosive force long snapping puts on the body. After the warm up we started back at the basics taking him through tight wrist/release drills. After a few minutes of drills I could already see a very noticeable difference for the better in his spiral and placement of the ball.
The next aspect we worked on was the arm movement while snapping. As a long snapping coach I have come across a few different styles of long snapping. One in which the snapper "drags" the ball on the ground and then releases it. The other style, where the snapper picks the ball up on the way back to the release point. Don't get this confused with a hitch....these guys are not picking the ball up and THEN snapping, they are pulling the ball back at the same time they are picking it up creating a whipping action with their hands and forearms.
I have found the whip technique to be biomechanically superior to the drag technique as it adds more speed to the snap. We drilled this new technique and watched as his snaps went from slow and wobbly to faster with tighter spirals!
After I thought Jackson had the upper body motion down we introduced the lower body action of locking the knees and sliding the feet. Once again, as a long snapping coach I have encountered guys who have been taught to not only drag the ball on the ground, slowing their snaps down, but also to not move their feet when they snap.
When you snap a football using your entire body and being as explosive as you can, your snaps will be faster than someone who just muscles the ball back there with their upper body. We worked the lock and slide with Jackson for a while. He seemed to be getting the basic concepts but they are hard to put together right away.
Towards the end of the lesson Jackson was able to put together the arms and the legs to complete a full snap with the new form. The form looked great but that was only lesson #1 and we still have a lot of work to do to get him ready!
I look forward to working with Jackson Hunzelman again during our next private long snapping lesson.