The NFL developed the PUNT, PASS & KICK program specifically for physical education teachers and coaches so that they may better teach the fundamentals of punting, passing and kicking a football, as well as the teamwork needed to successfully play sports.
Regardless of a player’s ability, we encourage you to promote fun and appreciation of the game while teaching and developing important skills. The NFL thanks you for your interest and participation in the PUNT, PASS & KICK program!
Class 1: Passing
There are two ways to help participants improve results when passing a football – teach them to have a solid grip and a good throw.
The best way to show participants a proper grip is to have them place their ring finger near one end of the laces and their thumb directly opposite the middle finger on the other side of the ball. Have them leave a space between the palm of their hand and the football, and emphasize a comfortable grip.
Have the boy or girl point their shoulder and their hip opposite the throwing arm in the direction of the target. Then show them how to release the ball from the side of their head with a complete follow-through across the body. As the throw is completed, their chest and head should be pointed right at the target.
Tip: Stretching and Warming Up
Stretching helps reduce the chance of muscle strain and tear by raising both the core and deep muscle temperatures to allow for greater flexibility potential in the muscle tissue. Teach kids to stretch and to pay special attention to specific parts of their bodies that may need extra stretching. This will prevent injuries and pulled muscles. It’s also beneficial to warm up muscles prior to stretching – try a slow jog for three to five minutes.
- Stretch slowly and with control
- Don’t bounce up and down
- Stretch to tension, but not to pain
- Breathe slowly and rhythmically
Lesson 1: Winning and Exercise
Winning means giving all you that you’ve got in both mind and body. Set goals and try your hardest even if your team is losing. Understand that sometimes you have to fall down a few times before you can make that perfect play.
Class 2: Punting
Although many players have the ability to hold a round ball and kick it high in the air, their first attempt to punt a football usually ends up with what we affectionately call a "shank," meaning the football goes off to the right or to the left. This is natural because of the awkward shape of the ball, combined with the child’s instinct to punt as hard as they can, neglecting accuracy.
Demonstrate the proper punting technique by showing how the punting foot hits the ball on the shoelaces, with toes pointed. Hold the ball flat with its laces pointing upward, then turn the nose down toward the punting foot at a 15-degree angle. Make sure players keep their eye directly on the football, trying to watch the ball come off of their foot while following through with the kicking leg.
Tip: Staying Hydrated
It's important to teach players to drink the right fluids, such as a sports drink, before warming up and while they are playing. Even one percent dehydration (about three spoonfuls of sweat) can affect an average 80-pound child, slowing them down and increasing the risk of more serious heat illnesses. Remember, by the time they are thirsty, their bodies may be starting to overheat. As a general rule, kids should drink until they think they're not thirsty any more, and then drink four to eight gulps more.
Lesson 2: Attitude
Playing sports teaches winning attitudes, such as teamwork, responsibility, respect and sportsmanship. A good attitude helps players set goals and stay positive even when their team is losing. A winning attitude makes a winner, so be sure to encourage it on and off the field.
Class 3: Kicking
Of the three PUNT, PASS & KICK skills, kicking is the most natural technique for a child. Most players have kicked soccer balls or played kick ball in gym class and are familiar with the motion. They often have a basic understanding of how to approach a ball and kick it off the ground.
Difficulties arise when a child has to kick a football off of a tee and in getting used to the smaller size of a football.
To help players learn how to kick a football:
- Place the ball on the tee at a slight angle toward the kicker, with the laces facing out.
- Demonstrate how to kick off soccer-style by taking a three- or four-step running start, beginning at an angle to the ball, rather than directly behind it.
- Finish the run by placing the non-kicking foot right next to the football. This foot should be pointing toward the target.
- Continue the kick by swinging the kicking leg across the body. As the kicking foot hits the ball, the toe should be pointed down, and the laces of the kicking shoe should contact the ball about one-quarter of the way up the ball.
- Remind players to keep their head down and watch their foot hit the ball before following through.
Tip: Getting Flexible
Warming up prepares the body for what’s to come and improves overall performance by making muscles aware of the type of movement they will soon be doing. Keeping joints flexible with a full range of motion is important in promoting overall health, balance, mobility and posture, and in preventing injuries.
Lesson 3: Training
Training means practice, practice and more practice. Training also means putting safety first. Make sure players stretch and warm up before practice and teach them about staying hydrated. Remind them that even the best athletes didn't become great overnight and that while training is hard work, the pay-off is great.