Want to learn what it takes to become a better football kicker? Why not learn from the guy whose proven himself in the NFL, landed a spot in the Pro Bowl, and has the moniker of the oldest player in the National Arena League at 50 years old?
Mike Hollis, retired Jacksonville Jaguar, scrapped his way into the NFL and continues to inspire and train football kickers of all ages–including adult athletes. If you want to become a better football kicker, you can train in person or virtually with Mike through his ProForm Kicking Academy. And soon, you’ll also have the option to train with him via the artificial intelligence-driven app from BeONE Sports.
Whether your goal is to make it pro or just to become the best football kicker in your adult recreational sports league, Mike’s training can help. Coming from a guy who doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an NFL athlete, Mike knows how much a structured training program can help improve a person’s kicking game.
Read on to find out more about Mike’s story and also how you can participate in Mike’s training–in-person, virtually, or with AI.
The Kicker Who Could: Mike Hollis’ Backstory
When you think of a player in the NFL, the first thing to come to mind probably isn’t a guy who is 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds. Sure, there have been a few (Darren Sproles pops into mind for me), but short guys aren’t usually the NFL norm. In addition to being vertically challenged (a trait I also share), Mike describes his athletic abilities as average when he was growing up. Yet, somehow, he defied the odds and became a kicker on the Jacksonville Jaguars with an impressive 81% completion record for field goals.
So how did he do it? Sheer determination and dedication. Despite putting up great stats in high school and being number one in his league, Mike says he was overlooked for college scholarships because of his size.
“It pissed me off a little bit and kind of lit my fire, honestly,” he recalls. “I really wanted to prove these people wrong.”
And so he put in the work. Mike started with a scholarship at a junior college, setting his sights on getting to a bigger university. He eventually got a football scholarship to the University of Idaho, where he broke the record for longest field goal in school history at 56 yards and completed all 68 extra point attempts. But he admits his strength and consistency at the University of Idaho weren’t what they needed to be to get into the NFL.
Mike Hollis Makes the NFL
Still, Mike got the opportunity to train with a couple NFL teams, namely the Atlanta Falcons and the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers signed him in 1994, but he was released after the pre-season. So, it was back to square one, and Mike got creative about creating an opportunity for himself.
When his fellow Idaho alum and punter Eddie Howard was getting interest from some NFL teams, Mike asked Eddie to give him a heads up as to when and where the workouts would be. The Jaguars set up a workout with Eddie, and Mike made sure to set up shop at the other end of the field to”coincidentally” be kicking at the same time as Eddie’s workout with the Jaguars. The plan worked like a charm.
He introduced himself to the coach, and Mike recalls him saying, “I think I remember you with the Chargers. I watched a little bit of you while you were kicking. I could hear you. I could hear the booms.” Mike knew he made an impression, but he had to sit tight a bit longer.
He sent a VHS tape of his kicking to the Jaguars (hey, it was the nineties!) for further review, and then he waited. Eventually, Mike’s agent heard back from them. “Finally, one day, my agent calls me and says, ‘The Jaguars said [they] like your form and technique but you’re not big enough and they want a bigger kicker.’ Again, going back to my size,” explains Mike.
After some convincing from his coach, Jim Gaetano (who is one of the forces behind ProForm today), the Jaguars set up a workout for Mike with one of their scouts. And then, crickets–at least for a little while.
Mike eventually got an invite to train with the Jaguars, so he flew to Florida and the rest is history. He spent the next nine years in the NFL, mostly with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and retired in 2004.
Life Post-NFL And The Birth Of ProForm Kicking Academy
A few years after his retirement, Mike launched ProForm Kicking Academy, initially focusing on the local Jacksonville area and primarily high school players. The younger kids make up the bulk of his clientele, but, of course, I asked him whether adult athletes train with him as well. They do.
“All ages. All levels of football,” says Mike.
And not only kickers aspiring to go pro–although he trains a few of those, too. There’s a 31-year-old rugby player from South Africa trying to play for Jacksonville’s arena football team, the Sharks. And a 41-year-old professional soccer player from Mexico still trying to make it to the NFL.
The split between in-person versus virtual training has become almost even. Mike has some kickers who do most of their training virtually and then will schedule an in-person training to “tune up” their skills.
And women and girls aren’t excluded from ProForm. In fact, their participation has grown. Mike has even set up women’s and girls’ kicking camps through the Laces Out Foundation to promote female sports. In addition, the foundation has donated to a project which fights sex trafficking.
Football Kicker Training For People Who Weren’t Born To Be NFL Players
Mike points out his training might be a little different than most are used to. Typically, a football kicker who kicks with a soccer style will use their power to kick laterally, what Mike calls an “athletic steering kicker”. The guys who are good at this style of kicking, Mike says, are incredible athletes.
“Well, not all of us, including myself [are incredible athletes], and that’s another reason why I played at the age of 50,” Mike emphasizes. “I wanted to prove that it wasn’t athletic ability, it wasn’t size, it wasn’t strength. It was my technique that allowed that to happen.”
He continues, “Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is the fact that the stuff I teach is a very form-specific sort of mentality.”
ProForm Kicking Academy Takes A Different Training Approach
Mike’s form-specific training is a somewhat unorthodox approach. “I get questions like, ‘Mentally, how did you deal with with the pressure when you’re the only guy on the field making a kick?’ and I’d say, ‘This is going to be really strange to hear, but I didn’t care where the ball went.'”
At first blush, that doesn’t make sense. But Mike explains further that not caring where the ball went allowed him to focus more on his form and technique so he could trust the ball would go where it was supposed to–through the goal post. And that’s what he teaches at ProForm Kicking Academy.
“In my opinion, once you get comfortable with your form, the mechanics that I’m teaching you to do–because a lot of the stuff I teach and do, they don’t make a lot of sense and kind of contradict what common sense kicking really is–because a lot of guys think about having to stop and turn and do all this work as I call it,” Mike says. “If you do it the way I do it, there’s just more fluidity. So when you get good at the form and the technique, you’re able to trust it and know it actually works.”
Extra hours in the weight room won’t hurt you in the kicking department, but Mike says building form over strength is more important. Music to the ears of a lot of adult athletes.
“Guys think the answer is to get big and strong and let that do all the work for you. When was the last time you saw a big bodybuilder who is a great golfer?” asks Mike. “It’s not necessary if you just do different mechanics–use your body weight, your momentum.”
Train With Mike Hollis Via Artificial Intelligence (It’ll Cost You A Cup Of Coffee)
Most recently, Mike signed on with BeONE Sports, who created an AI-app that offers a catalog of athletes you can choose to “train” with through your smartphone. It’s a novel idea where you take video of yourself kicking (or passing or throwing a javelin–or whatever), and overlay yourself onto one of the BeONE athletes within the app. Using AI, the app will instantaneously analyze your form with their athlete and point out areas where you can improve.
For kickers who want to hone their skills, they can select Mike from the catalog and train with him for around $5 per month through the app.
Mike thinks training through his academy or with the BeONE Sports app are great options for older athletes, especially for those who are teaching the younger generation. “There are a lot of bad coaches out there who have never kicked a football in their life, and they’re trying to teach their kicker how to kick,” says Mike. So when they come to him for guidance, he thinks it’s great.
If you want to train with Mike through his academy, all his information is listed in our sports directory. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.