Kicking camp held in Russellville
By Bart Moss
For the FCT
The 26th annual Shoals Kicking Camp was held at Russellville High School last week.
Over 40 high school and college placekickers and punters attended the annual event to hone their skills for the upcoming football season.
Mike King, the camp founder and lead instructor, has been working with kickers for over three decades and also works with UNA’s special teams unit.
“We are very appreciative to Russellville High School for allowing us to use their facilities,” King said.
“This is central location for a lot of our campers. Russellville has great facilities for us to spread out and get a lot accomplished in a short length of time.”
King brought the camp to Russellville High School when Perry Swindall was head coach of the Golden Tigers. The camp has continued under successive coaches.
“We are excited to have Coach King and his staff conduct his camp at our school,” Russellville head football coach Mark Heaton said.
“Special teams are one-third of the game of football and can’t be overlooked by teams that want to be successful.”
In his three decades of working with kickers, King has seen the evolution and importance of the kicking game increase.
“I’ve seen the straight-on kicker basically phase out of existence in the college scene,” said King.
“The emergence of soccer-style kickers has revolutionized the kicking game. They tend to be more accurate and get more distance on their kicks.
“Kickers, like other athletes, have gotten bigger and stronger over the years. Colleges want their placekicker to hit kickoffs into the endzone consistently, be accurate within 50 yards on field goals and be able to hit the long field goal if called on.
“Punters need to be getting hangtimes of four and a half seconds or better and punt the ball at least 40-45 yards down field. They also need to be able to pin their opponents deep in their own territory with specialized kicks.”
King also said if a young person is interested in kicking they need to get involved in a soccer program at a young age, work on fundamentals and short kicks, and work hard.