How I Prepare: Punter Sam Martin

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Sam Martin is more of a punter with a plan this season instead of his rookie year, when he showed up each day and decided what to do.

“It’s different,” Martin said. “You can say it all you want but once you’re here, it’s a 16-week season, almost like you’re going through the motions. That’s what separates guys who have discipline to do the same thing they are doing Week 1 that you do Week 16.”

Consistency has become Martin’s key after a rookie year where he showed promise as one of the top young punters in the NFL and offered a look into the “method to my madness” each week.

Martin starts his Sundays on the field before almost everyone else, trying to picture what will happen a few hours later.

He starts on each 35-yard line and runs through six kickoffs on each side, running through the motions without kicking a ball. He imagines three to the left and three to the right.

Then he starts to focus on his punts. He starts in the end zone and starts to walk in an “S.” At the 10-yard line, he’ll be on the left hash. The 20-yard line, the right hash all the way up the field.

“Always done it, mental imagery, vision,” Martin said. “It’s good, good to do.”

Most of Martin’s preparation during a week is in his head – ending with his Sunday walk.

The first thing he does Mondays at the team’s practice facility is head to a meeting room by himself and watch all of his punts, kickoffs and holds from the day before. Unlike offensive and defensive players, his film study isn’t as extensive. After all, there isn’t much he can watch and most of what he could do wrong he knows immediately.

After watching film, he does a heavy lower body lift along with a core workout. Monday nights are typically reserved for a 90-minute to two-hour massage, mainly focusing on his legs.

While Tuesday is a day off for players, Martin goes to the facility for around an hour for recovery. He’ll stretch a lot that day, use a foam roller on his legs and spend time in the hot and cold tubs.

He kicks Wednesdays and Thursdays. Typically, he says, there are about 10 scripted punts during practice. He’ll kick on his own as well -- especially if he needs to refine some of his steps or leg swing. In a week, he says he does between 60 and 80 kickoffs and punts during practice.

Wednesday is also cardio day for Martin. He does one of three things. If he rides the bike or uses the elliptical machine, he trains for 20 to 30 minutes. If he chooses interval running, he’ll do 10 to 15 sets of 13 to 15 miles per hour for 30 seconds followed by running at 8 to 9 miles per hour before revving it up again.

“After that, I get in the tubs at the end of the day,” Martin said. “If I do straight cold tub, it’ll be like 10 to 15 [minutes]. I’ll do intervals with that with hot to cold. If I do contrast, I’ll do five in the hot, three in the cold for the first one and then I’ll do two and two or three and three five times back and forth.”

Thursday is similar to Wednesday, except instead of cardio, he lifts his upper body and does core work. Between Wednesday and Thursday he’ll watch a little more tape of himself and some of his opponent.

He does not watch opposing returners, except how they line up for a punt on the left hash mark versus the right hash mark and the middle of the field. He’s mostly focused on what the defensive fronts are looking like.

Friday is another recovery and stretching day. He also goes to his chiropractor -- the one who set him up with his massage therapist -- for five or 10 minutes to fix his alignment. He uses Friday as another mental visualization day.

Saturday is a day off until at night in the hotel. Then, in his room on Saturday nights, he starts his visualization again. He runs through kickoffs, pooch punts, punts backed up in his end zone, catching the snap, dropping and then 6-second hang times on 75-yard punts.

“Maybe 10 minutes worth of scenarios,” Martin said. “I might do it a few times. If I’m just watching TV, I might just start doing it or if I am watching film, I’ll watch a punt on film and then I’ll visualize what I want to happen.

“Then I’ll unwind for two hours and do it again.”

Then he wakes up Sunday, heads to the field and begins his game day and week again.