Kickin it with NCS Kicking Coach Tom Feely
Kickin it with NCS Kicking Coach Tom Feely of Feely Kicking
NCS: Tell us about your kicking business.
Tom Feely: The Feely Kicking School genesis was born out of unplanned necessity. When 12 year NFL Veteran Kicker, Jay Feely was a 9th grader at Jesuit High School, he was drafted into kicking for his High School team because of his soccer background (sound familiar?). As a high school football coach, I wanted to help my son become the best at his position. It was 1990 and kicking coaches were very few. Non-the-less Jay and I went on a quest to learn from the kicking gurus of the day. By the end of the Quest we had developed our own new style of kicking, which helped Jay become a high school All American. I, Coach Feely, began teaching others on my team the new style, and saw kicker after kicker,punter after punter, even several long snappers go on to Division 1 Football, and eventually the NFL. The rest is history.
NCS: Why did you join the National Camp Series and the KIX System?
Tom Feely: Since the beginning, I have embraced the concept of creating a standardized platform for evaluating athletes in an objective way, that can fairly provide an unbiased assessment of the individual’s. NCS does exactly that, and to my knowledge, non of our competitors come even close to those objectives, most do not even try.
NCS: What was your high school kicking experience like?
Tom Feely: I played during a time when everyone played at least three sports! I played four sports throughout high school and three during college. My father, was a college coach of two sports, and when he was in college he lettered 16 times (4 sports times 4 years). We all would finish one season on a Friday night and start the next season the next Monday morning. That was just normal… sports never ended, they only changed with the seasons. During the only time that I wasn’t playing a sport, I was preparing for the upcoming football season. As Larry Fitzgerald once said, and this statement applied to me perfectly, “I wasn’t the fastest, the strongest or jumped the highest, but I was hard pressed to find someone who worked harder.”
This attitude carried me a long way as an athlete, and a coach.
NCS: What was the kicking scene like when you were in high school? Where there a lot of camps to attend?
Tom Feely: Camps did not exist anywhere! Kickers were usually large offense or defensive lineman. They kicked straight on with their toes. This was the norm …. it was even true in the NFL. A 35 or 40 yard field goal was considered long field goal in those days. It wasn’t until the 70s that we saw the very first soccer style kickers. No one understood them, their style of kicking, as well as their accent. Consequencly, kickers were considered strange and not a part of the football fraternity. Things are changed dramatically since then. More and more of the NFL kickers are rugged football athletes, thus challenging the stereotype of “The Kicker”.
NCS: What was your college kicking experience like?
Tom Feely: For me, college was a stark contrast from high school. I went from a team that never lost a game in four years of high school, to a college team that went one and nine during my freshman year. I had to learn how to lose without losing my personal self-confidence. By my senior year of college, we went from being the doormat to champions, with a 10 and 1 record! These experiences on both ends of the spectrum help me understand better dynamics of a winning versus losing perspectives. This led to my interest in Sports Psychology, which in turn led to my pursuit of Ph.D.in that discipline.
NCS: Did you pursue kicking at the Pro Level? If so, how was that experience?
Tom Feely: No, I recognized that my value was in the pursuit of education on and off the field.
NCS: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a kicking coach?
Tom Feely: Without a doubt the most rewarding experience for a kicking coach is to see one of my students whom I have been coaching since they were in high schoolschool become an NFL athlete., this is happened to me at least five times now. Most have not had a long NFL career, but it’s always great to see their pride as they navigate through the waters of a preseason NFL experience.
NCS: What is the most frustrating aspect of being a kicking coach?
Tom Feely: I think the most frustrating aspect of being a kicking coach is the lack of knowledge on the part of many high school and college coaches with regard to how to handle and coach their kickers, punters long snappers and the entire special-teams game strategy. So frequently I witness, or hear about coaching practices that are detrimental to their own success as a team. It is one of my goals to help bridge that gap in knowledge, hopefully making a difference for my students.
NCS: If there is one thing that you could tell aspiring kickers, punters and long snappers out there, what would it be?
Tom Feely: I have two messages, both equally important:
To always strive for perfection in everything you do, you will never achieve perfection but in the process you may end up being excellent.
The true test of you as a man is not whether you fail, but how you react to that failure.