COACH ZAUNER SNAPPING COACH
If you’re a coach and want to have a great kicking game – find a great snapper. He will make your life so much easier on the sideline, and your specialists will have a much better career.
My coaching philosophy with snappers is not to achieve the most speed or the fastest snap but to have the best accuracy!
When I was a very young and successful kicking and special teams coach, my philosophy was, and still is, “the long snapper is the most important, or ‘vital’ man, in the Kicking Game.”
Every punt and field goal starts with a snap. If the snapper does his job then it makes it much easier for the punter, holder and kicker to do their jobs!
This statement was based upon personnel experiences as a punter and kicker as I grew up. I was a much better punter and kicker when I had a good snapper.
Therefore, when I started coaching in high school and moved on to college and later to the NFL my philosophy never changed. The first person I would go to recruit or look for was the long snapper. Throughout my career the secret to my success as a specialist and coach has been having great or excellent snappers.
With Snappers it starts with a good two hand placement and grip on the football. This is followed by a two handed pick up and throw delivery. The release point will dictate a snapper’s accuracy. After the release, a snapper’s footwork for his vertical set is paramount for his success blocking a rusher. I try to emphasize good basic fundamental along with tempo, rhythm and balance.
During my One on One punting lessons I reinforce the proper snapping fundamentals with a battery of drills that give the snapper the proper muscle memory to be a successful and be a smooth and ‘Natural Style’ snapper.
It is of the utmost importance for the coach to realize that the center is the ‘VITAL MAN’ in the kicking game, and therefore properllong snapping lessons are the key to both the snapper and the team’s success.
The coach must find an athlete on his squad that can perform the art of centering, consistently and effectively. The center controls the timing of the kicking units.
His snaps should be consistent, automatic, crisp and accurate. If your center does not initiate the exchange smoothly and accurately, his miscues will usually result in a poorly timed or un-rhythmical placekick. Proper long snapping lessons can ensure these skills are developed.
The essence of a great kicking game is a great center. Most great punts and placekicks start with good center snaps, and most bad punts and kicks are the result of bad center snaps. Proper long snapping lessons can maximize the center’s effectiveness.
SELECTION OF CENTERING PERSONNEL:
The regular center and the long snapper do not necessarily have to be the same person; however it is more convenient if they are. The center for the kicking game should possess the following qualities: (1) be able to perform under the pressure of game conditions, (2) want to master the fundamentals, (3) be able to snap the football with speed and accuracy and (4) be consistent.
Proper long snapping lessons can help a snapper develop each of these qualities.
The size of the athlete might be a factor at some levels of competition. However, it should not be a determinate at the lower levels.
CENTER’S RESPONSIBILITES AND TECHNIQUE:
The center's primary responsibility is to get a GOOD SNAP. His other responsibility is to do whatever his coach wants him to do in protection and coverage schemes.
There are two basic techniques for long center snapping: (1) the pendulum swing or center snap and (2) the pick up and throw technique. Each technique has its place and teaching either, or both, should be part of a snapper’s long snapping lessons.
The first technique is good for short snaps, extra points and field goals. The main source of power is from the shoulders. This technique is good because: (1) it gives the center enough power to get the football back to the holder with good speed, (2) it is very good for accuracy; and (3) it eliminates extra body and ball movements that the defense can key on.
The pendulum technique is used in many high schools to snap the ball back to the punter. Learning the pendulum swing should be part of a snapper’s long snapping lessons.
The pick up and throw technique is excellent for deep center snapping to the punter. This technique will allow the center to snap the football with maximum speed because, unlike the pendulum snap, the center is able to use more than his arms and shoulders. He also uses his wrists, elbows and legs as his source of power.
The pick up and throw technique is a more advanced technique that offers more advantages once mastered by the center. However, this technique takes time and patience to learn and master, but it should be part of a snapper’s long snapping lessons.
And this is why proper long snapping lessons are the key to a long snapper’s success.