Sunday July 7th I met up with 2 of my students to work on their long snapping. The first lesson I held was with a new student Weston Berg of Stillwater MN. Weston attends New Life Academy in Woodbury MN where he is a tight end, linebacker, and long snapper for the team.
Weston has a tall build with long levers which is great for long snapping. With the right training I think he could be rated as a top long snapper in the country!
Today's lesson with Weston was mostly an introduction to a new style of long snapping. Weston has been snapping for a few years but was only using his arms to snap the ball. He was able to get a decent spiral with accuracy but lacked speed in his snaps.
We started the lesson with the basic warm up including a dynamic stretching/warm up session followed by release drills and some basic instruction on grip along with proper release. Weston is a very smart athlete and picked up on everything I was teaching him very quickly.
After the warm up we jumped right into leg lock. I believe leg lock is one of the most important aspects of the long snap! I know that obviously if you can't get a spiral your not going to be very good but since Weston was able to snap a spiral we jumped ahead a little. Leg lock is not an easy skill to learn, but once it is mastered it will add a significant "pop" to your snaps. We did a few drills to learn this as well as slowing it down and breaking it up into smaller sections in order to learn it.
One drill I like to do a lot is to use a band to add resistance to the slow motion aspect of learning not only leg lock but the arm motion involved.
Weston made huge improvements today which were very evident in not only his snap speed, but his snap location and spiral!!
This is Weston's snapping before we started. Not bad but needed improvement!
He used only his arms to propel the ball back to the punter which technically works I guess... but as a long snapping coach I know that every special teams coach out there wants the snap to not only be accurate, but fast as well!!
Here is Weston's snap after an hour lesson with long snapping coach Kyle Stelter. Notice his snap looks more smooth and you can really tell a difference in the speed! Targeting and snap location will come as he becomes more confident with the new form. There will also be a bigger increase in speed as he masters leg lock and his hand speed improves!!
I will be seeing Weston again very soon for consistent long snapping training to help him get to the next level.
My second lesson of the day was with Semi-pro long snapper Nick Clements. Nick plays for the Lake Superior Rage near Duluth MN. Nick and I have been working for over a year now and he has been making steady improvements every time.
The first time I saw Nick he struggled to get the ball back to the punter at 15 yards as well as was unable to snap a tight spiral. Over time he has become a very reliable long snapper at this level and is extremely accurate.
During Nick's lesson we worked on using the field goal post as a target working on hitting the pole and then working on footwork for blocking. Nick rarely missed the pole and when he did it was a great teaching moment as he was over thinking and too tense while snapping.
Long snappers should be confident yet relaxed when snapping. Ask any snapper that has ever snapped in a big game, they will tell you that there is no need to put any extra pressure on yourself. Prepare yourself during the offseason and practice so you can trust and rely on yourself during games.
If you are looking for great long snapping instruction that will not only give you the right tools physically to succeed, but the right tools mentally, then you should check out Special Teams University!