the study of the kicking components within sports

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year's Kicking Resolutions for 2011

Four kickers recently discussed their goals for 2011. They play in different leagues, their circumstances are different, and their goals are distinct, but in each case they touch on the recurring fundamentals and themes of a career in kicking.

Graham Gano,
Washington Redskins

NFL veteran of 23 years, John Carney refers to kicking as "a learning process that never stops". In a recent article, Gano discussed his ongoing education.
“I learned a lot. It was definitely a good learning experience. I’ve never had a season like this, so it’s definitely good to learn and then get it behind me. It ended on a touchback, so that was nice. But I definitely would’ve liked to have finish field goal-wise.”
Coming off a challenging second year in which he led the NFL in missed field goals with eleven, Gano plans to refine his technique for 2011.
“I never had a problem mentally. I’m very mentally strong.  I think it’s just technique. I can put the ball through from 60-plus. I just need to work on my mechanics. This season I’ve had definitely fired me up, so I’m looking forward to this offseason and getting better....
I’m a three-step kicker, so my first jab step - the first step in the process - has been a little off this season, so I’ll probably switch to a two-step and should be a lot more consistent. [Taking three steps] is just something I’ve done my whole career, gets my momentum going. But now I think I have the leg strength that I don’t need that first step....
Coach and my teammates have been great. Even Sunday on the sideline they were telling me, ‘Hey, you’re going to win this for us'. It helps to have that confidence, but I’ve got to start doing better on the field.”
Tony Smidl, Wisconsin Wolfpack

When we asked Tony what his New Year's kicking resolution was, his reply was quick and simple:
"Not miss ever including practice!"
We didn't ask him to elaborate why. Perhaps he wants to make certain he stays in shape. Perhaps he's focused on developing and maintaining the muscle memory needed for kicking success. Or perhaps he just really enjoys practices. Regardless, deliberate practice (and lots of it) is one of the essential ingredients to becoming an expert in kicking (or in just about any endeavor).

Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders

Coming off his first year in the CFL, Rob has specific goals for year number two.
"My goal for this year is to improve on my numbers from last year. I'd like to kick mid to high 80's and be over 75% from beyond 40 yards. On top of this, I'm going to improve my overall fitness which will help my body going through an 18 game season with two preseason games plus playoffs!"
The latter part of his resolution is not uncommon for first year players at any level - be it a freshman in college or a rookie in a pro league. Endurance increasingly becomes a factor as seasons grow longer and workloads increase at each subsequent level.

Carlos Ojeda, Utah Blaze

Not only has Carlos developed muscle memory for kicking, he's also developed strong New Year's resolution memory:
"The same resolution I had last year, and the year before, and the year before that, all the way back to my first season in high school... to split the uprights on every kick. Be it practice, warmups, preseason game, home game, away, playoffs, championship game, blowouts, close games, tryouts, goofing off, whatever... even in my head -- Every time I line up to attempt a field goal or extra point in 2011, I expect it to go in."
Technique, practice, and fitness are certainly important. But just as important (and some would argue even more important) is the mental aspect of kicking. The ability to block out distractions. Moving passed prior failures. Continually maintaining confidence.

This article sponsored by the National Camp Series.

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