the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kicker Empathy

While a few kickers are literally (biologically) brothers, all kickers are in some ways figuratively brothers. While it is certainly not uncommon for people to feel a bond with others in situations similar to their own, even when they don't actually know that other person, this seems to be especially true with kickers. Perhaps it comes from playing a position that is often treated as an outsider to varying degrees by team mates, coaches, fans, and the media. Perhaps it simply comes from the basic human desire/need to kick a ball, as evidenced by the billions of people who have done so around the globe and throughout history. Or perhaps this is a question better left to the kicking philosophers to ponder.

The empathy between kickers is probably most evident when things go wrong. Or simply put, when one kicker misses a big kick, other kickers feel the pain. Unfortunately for the San Diego Chargers, their kickers have been there twice this year. The first occurred last January when Nate Kaeding missed three field goals in the playoff loss to the Jets. Many kickers responded in the days afterward, including long time NFL kicker Matt Stover who commented:
"For Nate to miss those, I really felt for him and understood some of his pain. So I prayed for the guy and I understand as a kicker that you're going to say, 'I'm going to do everything I can for this team to get the ball through the uprights and not go out there and ever think about those situations.' You don't go out there ever thinking you're going to miss a field goal."
The second instance occurred just yesterday in the loss to New England. This time the kicker was not Kaeding, who is currently sidelined with a groin injury, but rather was recently signed Kris Brown. Although he had made two field goals earlier in the game, Brown was called upon with 27 seconds remaining in the game and the Chargers trailing by three points. What would have been a potential game tying 45 yard attempt was pushed back to 50 yards due to a false start penalty. The attempt hit the right upright and was no good. Brown commented afterward:
"It’s tough for me, because I think the quickest way you earn guys’ respect is when you go out and perform and come through in situations like that. I take pride in being a guy who goes out and expects a lot, and who comes through in situations like that.... I went out there, hit it, it came off my foot pretty good. It just stayed right down the hash mark and hit the upright."
Empathizing on the other sideline was Patriots' kicker Stephen Gostkowski:
“I never root against another kicker... unless it’s for the game.
It was a really tough situation. He’s only been with them a couple of days. It’s hard to develop any chemistry [with holder and snapper] in that time. To have to make a kick of that magnitude, from that distance – I felt kind of bad for the guy. He was an inch away from making it. It just hit the right post.... I feel for him. He was put in a tough spot, and he was pretty close to coming through.”

1 comment:

Coach Brent Grablachoff said...

great read Mike. I am on the same lines as Stephen Gostkowski. Kris was an excellent kicker for the Texans and unfortunately he only had 2 days of prep time to try to 'gel' with the holder/snapper. It would be like asking a new high school kicker to practice with the holder and snapper for a week during summer practices instead of the normal month and a half prep time for a game. He wouldn't be ready and the unit would not be in sync. There's a lot to do with timing, confidence and trust. If any of those are off, no matter how awesome of a kicker you are, there is that little doubt that creeps in and can make for a miss. Either way- 50 yards is not an automatic kick any day, even in the NFL. It's a bummer they had to draw that penalty to move it from 45 to 50, What If it was 45 still? Maybe the ball would of snuck in? haha.

Post a Comment