the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kicking Under Pressure

by special guest blogger Michael Husted:

I received a call last week from a D1A school just getting out of Spring Ball. They needed a kicker badly. They brought a kicker in on scholarship last year, but he is having trouble kicking under pressure. The head coach stated that he was one of the best that he had seen when kicking off of a “holder,” but when he has a snap and a hold, he struggles.

In my years of kicking, coaching and evaluating, I can tell you that this kicker is not alone. Many people can kick when there is no pressure, when they are on the field all by themselves. However, it changes when there are people watching, during practice, and during the game. You always hear people say that he is a great “practice” player, but not a “gamer.”

At the Aguiar/Husted Pro Camp, during our Pro Day, we have two kicks where we operate a “Snap, Hold, Kick.” It is interesting to see how many people react/kick differently when there is a snap and hold. In theory everything should be the same, but for most, it is not. Managing pressure situations is what separates “men from the boys.”

At the National Camp Series, the high school event that I started a few years ago, we base it off of NFL style workouts. Why? Because, instead of just going out there and kicking in front of someone to impress them and get a better subjective ranking, we want to place specialists in pressure situations so that they can not only position themselves for college exposure, but more importantly, prepare them to perform and be successful when it counts the most:
  1. At the end of the game and you have to drill a 38 yard field goal to keep your team’s playoff hopes alive
  2. Your heels are near the end line in the end zone and it is an all out rush to block your punt
  3. You have two guys stacked over you, have to snap a perfect ball and then execute a text book block so your punter can get the kick off
If someone misses a kick, putt, free throw, what will they do the next day? They will go out and shoot 500 free throws, putts, kicks from that same location. Will this make a difference the next time they are in that situation? Most likely, not. Why do they do it then? Because, it is what they know and it is “easy” just to go out and go through the motions.

We spend a lot of time kicking on the field or strength and conditioning, but we don’t spend enough time on mental fitness. We should all be training, mentally, just as much, if not more than we kick or exercise. I can tell you first hand that I wish that I would have mentally trained harder than I did. It wasn’t until the end of my career that I began recognizing the value. If only I would have started sooner…

Now that I have started coaching kickers and punters full time, I emphasize the mental game. There are many ways to train your brain, just like there are many strength and conditioning models. However, the biggest thing is to be consistent in your training. If you aren’t spending much time mentally training, then you need to start incorporating that aspect into your training. It won’t be easy, but neither is kicking a last minute field goal in front of 79,000+ people…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great insight, thanks

Post a Comment