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Dealing with Pressure
Sean Riley
Article posted on 11/14/2007

Dealing with pressure at the high school level is very important. The first thing you need to realize, is that this is just a game and it is meant to be played as such. Having said that, many young kickers do not have the advantage of a kicking coach. Unfortunately, that leaves you at the mercy of coaches on your team, whom most likely have no idea about being a kicker. So they will put added pressure on you. Do not forget that all of our teammates will have a hard time understanding the kid who doesn't look like he is doing anything in practice. You will hear comments like "All you do is kick", "You should have kicked the ball harder", "Speed up so you can kick better", "Our whole season is riding on this kick, so don't miss it".

I am writing this article to tell you to tune all those comments out. You are a high school kid, enjoy it. There is nothing you can do, or any kicks you can miss, that will change that.

Now, how do you handle the immediate pressure of a kick. There are a few simple steps to remember how to kick through pressure.

The reason I say this is because too many times you get caught thinking about insignigicant things. For example: Is my shoe lace tied correctly? Did I do enough kicks in the net before this kick? What happens if I miss? Is my holder going to catch the ball this time? You get the picture...

#2 Visualize
This is pretty simple, picture yourself already making the kick. Your mind is much more powerful than your body. Often times you see kickers lining up and using their arm to kind of point at the goal post. That is a form of visualization. A great technique I use is to stare at the goal post when you are on the sideline, and say to yourself, "Down the middle". Once you get on the field, you put your block down (or make your mark), look right down the middle of the goal post, take your steps, gather yourself (deep breath, tap your toe, etc) and than tell yourself again "down the middle".

#3 - Tune everything and everyone out
This is easier said than done. One simple technique is to repeatedly mumble to yourself, or say in your mind "down the middle". If you do this over and over, while you are waiting on the snap, you can not hear anything else, because your mind is telling you down the middle. Now if you say it too loud, your holder may think you are a little crazy. Than again, we kickers are all a little different anyways.

These are just a few tips to handle pressure in a game. Always remember you will miss kicks, it is not the end of the world. Every NFL kicker misses kicks. The best field goal percentage of all time is a little over 80%, which means they missed 20 out of 100 kicks. You can not dwell on the misses. When you miss, do not get down. Make your adjustment, and get back out there and make your next kick.

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Doug, I asked you a couple of years ago if I should pursue kicking, and you encourged me to. Well, because of you and your site, I went from not knowing anything about kicking, to being 1st team all-league my 1st season, and 2nd team all-ohio in my 2nd season (I was never coached, I only used your site). I'm now planning to walk-on to a D-1 college. Thanks so much!
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