What do football and golf have in common?
For Detroit Lions punter Sam Martin, it turns out a lot.
Martin was visiting his parents in West Palm Beach this offseason and got a recommendation to meet trainer Kolby “K-Wayne” Tullier at the Joey D Golf Training Center in Jupiter, Florida.
“He works with a lot of golfers, and some NFL guys too, so I was like, ‘I’ll get some work done while I’m down here,’ so I see him and I liked it so much I ended up staying there all offseason," Martin said this week.
Martin said world No. 1-ranked golfer Brooks Koepka and world No. 2 Dustin Johnson worked out there at times while he was there, along with former world No. 1 Justin Thomas. Tullier’s bio on joeydgolf.com says he also works with Cody Parkey and Demaryius Thomas.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.
An NFL punter working out at a mostly golf training center doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but Martin says the two disciplines are extremely similar.
“Kicking I’ve always correlated to golfing,” Martin said. “If your hands get too far in front you’ll pull (the golf ball). If your hips get too far in front you push it. It’s correlated. There’s a lot of core strength and stability stuff (we worked on)."
Tullier and Martin focused a lot on building up his core strength with resistance training.
“I mean, think about it, in your (golf) drive, if your hips are late, you’re going to pull it,” Martin said. “It's the same thing if my swing on my punt leads my body, I’m going to pull it. On a kickoff, if my body is too far in front and my leg is late it’s going to be a push. It’s just like a good swing.”
When it comes to strength and mobility, the same torque and core muscles golfers use, Martin says he uses punting and kicking a football.
“My stability and my core is probably better than it’s been,” Martin said.
He’s hoping that translates to the football field, where he had a down season statistically in 2018. His average yards per punt of 44.7 was the lowest of any season in which he played all 16 games. His 39.2 net punting average was the first time he finished a full season below 40.0.
He is hoping his hang time and length can more resemble the ranges he saw early in his career before he injured his foot in the 2017 offseason and missed half of that year. Martin really hasn’t been the same punter since the injury.
“I had kind of dug myself into a hole mentally,” Martin admitted. “I didn’t waste much time this offseason getting back into it. I jumped right into that part of it. Just building my confidence and to build confidence you have to first perform. Once I started hitting the ball better and training and getting stronger then the confidence kind of came.”
Martin is averaging 44.4 yards per punt in two preseason games with a 39.0 net average.
“I think he’s really just trying to be more consistent every day,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia. “When you become an older player, you’re not the same when you were younger, and that routine becomes really critical, especially for kickers.”
Martin has found a routine he likes and even bought some of the equipment he used in Jupiter this offseason so he could train and adopt a consistent routine throughout the year.
Martin says he feels good and is hoping the work he put in this offseason gets him back to being one of the more consistent punters in the league.