the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Kicks, part 1

What is your earliest recollection of kicking a ball (any kind of ball)?

Over the past few years, a dozen kickers and punters responded to our typical interview opener as follows:

"I remember collecting the mini footballs they threw out at halftime of the high school games and using those to kick in my backyard after school."
"When I was seven years old my father bought me a football and a tee. I grew up in Gary Indiana and there was an empty lot behind our house. I began kicking from my back yard to the empty lot, and back and forth. Initially there was just the telephone wire in the alley between the two lots. I would try to get enough height to kick it over the telephone wire. Then I advanced, if you can call it that, to the point of erecting a makeshift goalpost in the empty lot (it was like a sandlot). People used to get new carpets wrapped around bamboo poles. We had that happen, so I used two bamboo poles as the uprights for a goalpost – stuck them in the sand in the open lot. I used one of my mother’s clotheslines for the crossbar. That was my makeshift goalpost and I would spend hours kicking the ball back and forth."
"It goes back to probably when I was five or six years old when I started playing soccer. Soccer was my actual dream until I got to high school in my senior year. I kicked a football and realized that there was so much… there’s nothing like playing in front of a hundred thousand people and they’ll all screaming at you on one kick, whereas in soccer you’re getting a lot of fans but it’s a team effort and everyone’s screaming at the team. I just like the pressure that was put on you in those type situations and the thrill of kicking a game winning field goal. There’s just nothing like it!"
"Probably just in the front yard playing a little soccer with the neighbor kids. I can’t remember when exactly, at what point or one particular moment. I never was in soccer and wanted to play with them."
"I played soccer as a kid, just like every kid in America now, but not super competitively. I actually moved way from soccer then when I was a youth and began playing football. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I really started to think ‘hey, this is something I might be able to do’. The kicker graduated from our high school, and I was a wide receiver and a quarterback, and just said I’d give [kicking] a shot. The rest is kind of history. It was sort of by chance, sort of by opportunity."
"I started out playing youth soccer. I was probably playing soccer by the time I was eight, or around that age. I played soccer all the way through high school. I moved to Iowa when I was about eleven years old, so then I ended up playing club ball. We had to drive to Omaha, which is 45 minutes from where I moved, a small town named Harlan. I played club ball all the way until I got into high school. Our high school did not have a soccer team - everybody in my small town wanted to play football. I had been playing football since junior high, where I was the quarterback and also happened to be the kicker because of my soccer background. It was a natural progression - I just kind of fell into kicking. But I had been kicking objects, whether it was footballs or toys in frustration from a young age."
"Probably in fifth grade at neighbor friend of mine. He joined a soccer league and needed someone to kick a ball back and forth with. I thought it was sport that I was not interested in, but I kicked it back and forth with him just to be a good friend. We kicked up and down the street for a long time during his soccer season. By the end of the season I decided ‘hey, this is pretty fun’, and I joined a soccer team."
Steve Hauschka
"I always remember being a good soccer player. I started playing soccer when I was two or three. We had those soccer nets, like the hockey goals were soccer nets. I remember being the goalkeeper and being able to shoot at the other goal from my goal. I kicked the ball pretty well from a young age."
“Probably when I started walking. I was the youngest of four boys, and all my older brothers played soccer. So I’ve been kicking a ball my whole life. There were soccer balls all around the house.”
 “Back in my junior year of high school, the head football coach for our school was my P.E. teacher. Two days before their first game the kicker got hurt and quit. So the coach came up to me, knowing I played soccer, and said, ‘Do you wanna kick for us Friday?’ I wasn’t interested, because of the pressure of doing it after never having practiced it and having to kick two days later. But he ended up coming to me again and saying, ‘If you want to pass my gym class you’re going to be out at practice’. So I was out at practice that afternoon before soccer, and ended up kicking the ball that afternoon and did extremely well. I kicked in my first game Friday night and kicked a 32 yard field goal. That was before I even knew how to step off or anything.”
“I grew up playing soccer, so my first memory of kicking any kind of ball around would be when I was about three years old. My older brother played soccer as well, so he and I would go out and kick the ball around.”
“I think I was about five or six years old, at a YMCA soccer league. I kept kicking the ball over the goal. From then on I kinda knew that I had a big leg from a soccer standpoint, before I made the transition to football.”


Anonymous said...

Great article! And great blog!

Packkicker said...

I can recall my first memorable kick based on a dare while at Echo Valley School in Prunedale, California in the 5th or 6th grade.

The school was built into a hillside and terraced on 3 levels. On the top level were the school buildings, middle level were basketball courts & lower level the football & baseball fields.

I was challenged (dared) to punt/kick a football from the top level over the buildings & BKB courts and to reach the football fields. Well, I did it successfully during a recess and a school teacher caught me and sent me to the principal where I received discipline of 6-8 "swats" from a paddle for "endangering" students with the airborne football. LOL. I was a legacy at the school thereafter & admired for both my athletic kicking prowess & my not crying after the paddling corporal punishment. :-)

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