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Dealing with Pressure Situations
Jan Stenerud
Article posted on 7/1/2005

The NFL Playoffs get underway this weekend. That means the place kicker's job will become even more pressure-packed than usual. Over the years, I developed three keys that were very helpful to me in crucial situations.

a) Try to visualize or "feel" what it's like to stand on the sideline watching your offensive teammates getting you in position for a game-tying or game-winning kick. You have to try over and over again to visualize this situation, "feel" the moment. Once the coach says "field goal team" on game day, you should feel prepared because you have visualized and felt the moment many times over during the week.

b) Develop a routine and make sure you go through the exact routine every time you attempt a kick. This is much like a pro golfer going through his routine while lining up a putt. Instead of worrying about the importance of the kick, you are busy focusing on your routine.

c) The third helpful key in pressure situations is to "slow down" when you are awaiting the snap from center. We all "speed up" under pressure and tend to move at a quicker pace. By slowing down, you can better focus on the task at hand - making the winning kick!

Keys a) and b) you should practice all season long. Soon, they will become automatic for you. Key c), "slow down," is something you only really need to think about on game day.

Nobody ever told me or taught me these things, they were tactics I learned through experience. I am glad to have this opportunity to pass along this knowledge to you. I believe these keys will help you be successful when your team needs you the most!

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