the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Mind Over Foot, part 1

While it may not be simple to achieve, the mechanics of kicking are well understood. This includes the positions and motions of the entire body for not just the kicker, but also the long snapper and holder. Equally if not more important is the timing and synchronization of those involved. These are concepts that are relatively easy for players and fans alike to wrap their minds around. Less easy to understand is the role of the mind itself. Several recent articles we tweeted all touch on this subject. It is a subject matter that applies to anyone who kicks a ball, regardless of in what country they kick.

In Canada, Calgary Stampeders kicker Sandro DeAngelis commented:
"As a kicker, you do a lot of talking to yourself, as weird as that sounds. It's a lot of positive self-talk. You can let the doubts creep into your head or you could start to think about things, but honestly, as a kicker, you have to take care of yourself in between your own ears.... The best analogy I could use is a goalie in hockey -- you're out there on your own island and you're your own best friend. You have to be able to realize the doubts or the negative thoughts can creep into your head, and you have to do your best job to make sure they stay out."
In the United States, University of North Carolina kicker Casey Barth discussed his recent struggles:
"I guess I'm just getting a little antsy. In practice, I make just about everything, so it's kind of frustrating when I'm going out there and not hitting the ones I know I can hit.... [older bother and kicker Connor] talked to me a lot after the game, on Saturday and Sunday, just about the mental part. Like visualizing the night before, he said that really helps him a lot. He actually saw a sport psychologist, and she really helped him with the visualizing part and that really gave him a lot more confidence in the games."
In Australia, sports psychologist Dr. Noel Blundell explains:
''Once the kicker gets nervous or anxious, three critical things happen. Tension in their neck, shoulders or arms affects the ball drop. They also get tight in the thighs and legs, which effects the swinging action of the kick. And their concentration is distracted, making it difficult to focus on the target.''