Football: Punter/Kicker Gear Guide
Eastbay Cleated Copywriter, T. Scharfenberg | Date: 6/26/2013
Punters and kickers need very specialized gear. Pick the right equipment, including your all-important cleats, with expert tips.
With all the equipment out there, it can be difficult to know what is right for the needs of your position. Eastbay’s experts teamed up with top players at this year’s pro football combine to get insider information on what you should look for in your football equipment. You can see their video interviews, by position, within the Eastbay Field Tested. Right here, you’ll get a summary of our advice on your equipment needs and our top product picks.
Being a punter or a kicker means your equipment needs are completely different than anyone else’s on the field, especially when it comes to cleats. Top punters like Alex Dunnachie (P, New York Jets) told us that, first and foremost, they look for very specific material qualities. “I look for something nice and soft that’s really going to stretch to my foot. I wear my cleats one and a half sizes smaller to get that compression fit and a nice pop.” In order to get that effect, look for a true leather cleat, often only found in a soccer cleat style.
Our Picks: To get just the right feel, a lot of kickers swear by the Nike Tiempo Legend FG. Brad Wing (P, Philadelphia Eagles) told us, “I like Nike Tiempos. Not a lot of padding around the foot, laces off a little bit. You don’t want anything to mess up your contact with the ball. I like them, and I’ve stuck with them forever.” Another plus of the Tiempo Legends? The kangaroo leather is the ultimate in soccer cleat uppers, molding to the shape of your foot for a consistent, clean strike. For adidas athletes, the adiZero F50 TRX FG soccer cleat is also available with a leather upper. The calling card of the F50 is its ultra-light weight, at only 5.8 ounces. It uses Goleo calf leather to fit snug and remain soft throughout use.
Few kickers want or need gloves during the game. However, there will always be games when you have a lot of downtime. For this reason, you may want to keep a football-specific, cold-weather glove as part of your gear. It’ll keep you comfortable on cold game days, and if there’s some added grip, you’ll be better able to handle the ball.
Our Picks: The Under Armour ColdGear Off-Field Gloves are the perfect pair for staying warm on the sideline. Athletes know ColdGear® insulation is great for warmth, but what really sets these gloves apart is the logo treatment on the palm. Multiple, tiny UA logos cover the palm and add a small amount of stickiness. This can give you enough stability in your guide hand to get in a few solid warm-ups before stepping onto the field.
If all goes according to plan, you shouldn’t be taking hits or having to worry too much about your pads. For that reason, you should be more concerned with keeping your pads mobile and light than on gathering tons of heavy, protective gear.
Our Pick: For a minimal pad set, we suggest the lightweight Douglas CP QB/WR Shoulder Pad. Open-cell foam disperses any impact you might feel. The flexible, contoured shell and free-moving arm flaps are built for upper arm mobility, helping you keep your proper kicking form.
You’ll want to keep your compression light and easy moving, just like your shoulder pads. The best way to find that is to choose flexible padding that doesn’t add bulk. You can also consider a style with removable pads so that you can choose your protection level by deciding which pads you want where.
Our Picks: McDavid’s Hex™ compression is designed to bring athletes low-profile protection that still absorbs heavy impacts. In the Hex Tank, 9mm pads protect the ribs and spine. The sleeveless style keeps weight off your arms though, so you’re free to get just the right hold and upper-body rotation. Pair it with the HexPad Thudd Short for the same protection over your thighs. Both of these pieces contain hDc™ moisture-controlling fabrics to regulate your core temperature and keep you focused on your big moment.
No add-ons needed here, unless you have a very specific injury that requires support. Otherwise, all you’ll need is the required mouthguard. Follow the same rules here as with the rest of your gear: light, flexible, and minimalist.
Our Pick: We recommend the Nike Amped mouthguard. It contains a conforming fit groove and rear molar bite pad to cushion around the teeth. It’s a boil-and-bite mouthguard, so its fit can be customized, reducing the mass that some guards hold.
Your biggest concern is your lower body. Between cold weather, repeated downtime, and periods of overuse, your legs take a beating. We suggest an accessory that helps relieve the stress from all these factors: recovery clothing.
Our Pick: The 2XU Recovery Leg Sleeves use pressure to promote blood flow throughout the legs, removing lactic acid and getting your legs back to top shape quickly. Depending on where you’re feeling the pain, you may also want to try the CW-X series of recovery shorts, tights, and socks. They contain support bands that target compression to key muscles areas. The increased circulation can reduce lower body fatigue so that you’re not hurting at tomorrow’s practice.
Use your socks to treat your feet like the stars they are. Look for a pair with added underfoot comfort to help block some of the pressure coming from your cleats.
Our Pick: The Nike Football Performance Sock brings a contoured fit and arch compression to keep your foot comfortable from end to end. Thicker cushioning in the forefoot takes some of the blow when you balance on the ball of your foot repeatedly. The Close Fit Rib System keeps a snug fit, so your socks aren’t slipping or rotating, either.
Individual training is all about staying ahead of your competition. While your teammates are running tons of repetitions during the game, you’re not that lucky. So outside of practice, you may want to get some extra reps in, along with some extra knowledge.
Our Picks: When you don’t have a training partner, the Wilson NFL Pro Kick is a great aid. This all-metal design is useful for placekicking reps during individual training. You can pair it with the Playing Special Teams DVD to give you good mental prep as well. The DVD gives instruction from pro coaches and players on everything, including punts, kickoffs, and returns.
There are many more styles of football equipment at Eastbay, including more for punters and kickers. Use our guidelines to find the gear that will allow you to stay comfortable and move freely. Avoid anything that restricts or weighs you down during those clutch moments.