It’s often mentioned that a key to success is the ability to block out, forget about, and move on from a bad snap, hold, kick, or punt. Of course sometimes that is easier said than done. How does one put a bad play or game behind them and move forward? We continue our look at responses from kickers, punters and snappers.
John Matich, The Kicking System
"I have always been taught to forget your last kick. I try to keep an even keel in the kicking game, don’t get too high after a game-winner and don’t get too low after a huge miss. Sometimes there are some circumstances that you can't control (weather, snap, hold), but you can't worry about it. It's real easy to get into a downward spiral and get frustrated. It's important that you keep your mind balanced and focused on your next kick. I remembered in college where I made up for a missed kick where I had to wait all week and come back the following week and kick the game winner. It was tough to wait but I certainly learned patience that week. Regardless you have to BELIEVE in yourself!"
Mike McCabe, One on One Kicking
"I didn't let what was said to me from the sidelines effect me or break my confidence. I trained so well each week I would fix or correct the mistake and performed / made my kicks. One thing is not to over analyze the miss. Visualization is the key."
Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders punter
"In a great sports psych book I once read it talked about the concept of being on a roll: the feeling you get when you can't miss. Sometimes it can be as simple as projecting yourself there without having actually done it yet. Once you do something once you have the ability to do it repeatedly, it's just your mind that stops you from doing so. If you can project yourself to that mental state of repeated success, it can be easier achieved from the start.
One thing I'm going to work on more this year is project myself to that state of already being 'on a roll'. If I mess up, you diagnose what you did wrong, then project yourself back to this mental state."
Filip Filipovic, The Kicking Coach
"Blocking out distractions and quickly forgetting missed kicks is something that is practiced. Guys that let themselves get frustrated and distracted in practice will have a difficult time staying calm and focused in the games. Each practice session has a purpose. Some practices, I worked on mechanics and making adjustments. During other practices, I would set high expectations and put pressure on myself to be as perfect as possible. Those are the practices that would prepare me for the games. During "pressure practice", my focus would always be on getting the most out of the next kick. This taught me to quickly move on regardless of the previous kick."
Tony Yelk, Elite Kicking Solutions
"The mental side of kicking, punting or snapping is the most challenging to practice or teach. Yet, it is really what separates guys’ performances on game day. The unfortunate thing is that often guys have to go through failure or a botched play to learn how to deal with an unsuccessful kick, punt or snap. A short memory never hurts either.
What helped me throughout my career, as I weathered some failure or challenges like everyone else, was to never self-doubt. Just because you’re not perfect on game day from time to time, doesn’t mean you lack the ability to get the job done. Learn from it, try to seek assistance in correcting it and move on. You just have to find what works for you to control your anxiety.
The challenge is how to train your mind when practicing. Most guys go out on a Saturday afternoon and joke around with a buddy and hit some balls. That isn’t training your mind to go through your progression and routine, like you will on game day. You need to practice like you’ll play. Routines are extremely important from stretching to pregame kicking warm up. You develop this through repetition.
There are many different mental tips we work with our athletes on. The biggest is breathing technique. Most guys will take large deep breaths. That actually causes an adverse response and speeds up anxiety. Slow shallow breaths are best. Talking to yourself mentally on the field is another way to train your body to relax. When you are practicing field goals for example, talk to yourself, 'steps back, target line, steps over, relax...' This along with slow shallow breaths will help you block out distractions, keep you calm and focused on the task at hand. Calm and focused provides the best environment for positive results."
Craig Hentrich, LEGacy Kicking
"Always remember, it's just a game!"