the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mind Over Foot, part 8.1: Collegiate Punters

It's been said that kicking and punting are 80% mental. Along those lines, we gathered feedback from some punters who've also spent the last few years immersed in academia. Members of this year's senior class from FBS colleges around the nation weighed in on the following question:
"What's the most important thing you've learned during your college career regarding dealing with pressure and the mental aspects of punting?"  

Andrew Shapiro, Fresno State
"I've been addicted to punting for three years now (ever since that became my role for the team). I watch film of other punters everyday, I watch my own film, I read about it, like I said I'm addicted, but after three years of punting and three years of frustration I have learned one thing, pressure only gets to you when you think about it. Confidence has been the key for me. Whether it's walking out to the field singing a song, or for me, I distract myself by looking at the front and trying to figure out who is coming or not. Whatever it is, just relax and take your mind off of the situation. In the end, in general, it was me, the perfectionist, the competitor, the special teams captain, who was creating the pressure. The minute I relaxed and took in the moment my punting sky rocketed."

Justin Brockhaus-Kann, South Florida
"Only way to deal with pressure is to be confident that I will succeed. Only way to be confident is to simulate situations in practice and to prepare as much as possible. Experience also helps with pressured situations. Mentally you have to be tough. There will be good hits and bad hits, but you must be able to put them behind you and move on. Staying focused every day is important."

Jeff Locke, UCLA
"I've always been a big believer in focusing on one specific technique point in games. Whatever I had the most trouble with in practice that week or in pregame warmup, whether it was smooth steps, flat drop, or swinging up, I would focus on just one single technique point while I punted in the game. This focus helps to not think about the pressure of the situation, and thinking about more than one technique point has never worked for me."

Will Atterberry, North Texas
"Never try to do more than you can. Live with what has been placed in front of you and try and forget what is going on around you. Take a deep breath before the ball is snapped, and release slowly as the ball is snapped to you. Let your mind slip away and just let your body take over and do what it has repeatedly done in practice."

Josh Hubner, Arizona State
"Most important thing hands down in dealing with pressure is to trust the guys up front to lay a good block and get you a good snap. If you trust them, it's much easier to trust yourself in regards to doing what you know you're good at. If you have confidence in your own ability to hit the ball right and not focus on what can go wrong and focus on what you're supposed to do, it makes punting that much easier. Confidence is key."

Dalton Botts, Miami
"Don't think, do your job and do what you are trained to do. Work on all situations in practice and take that training to the game. I encourage the teams fans we are playing to yell at me and tell me I suck because I love the pressure/hate. It makes me prove them wrong."

Joshua Brisk, Florida International
"Stay cool, calm, collective, and have a short term memory. Everybody remembers the last kick you take."

Trey Barrow, Missouri
"To me, it's all confidence. When you get out there in front of 70-100,000 fans, you have to know you're able to get your job done. This will allow you to be confident, and deliver your best consistently."

Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
"Pressure comes from an extreme importance you put on each punt. Like the phrase people use 'putting something on a pedestal'. I've always been one that plays well when relaxed so I do not put any extra pressure on a given situation during a game. Confidence to me is the most important quality a kicker/punter can have! To be able to always know your ability and talent is enough and to have confident in what you do has a major effect on consistency. I was once told 'the thoughts in your head will rule your world'. This is one quote I've always kept with me and know to be true. The more you tell yourself you will be great, and you will see success, the calmer and more collected you become. You eventually expect success which eliminates all negative thoughts. Replace positive & confident thoughts with negative ones and you can imagine what damage it can do mentally. ALWAYS stay positive even when things aren't going perfect. And remember, Football is NOT everything in life! Enjoy it and throw away the pressure, it's a game that is meant to enjoy!!!"

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