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The Mental Aspect of Kicking
Stefan Nickel
Article posted on 2/17/2008

It's a rainy day. The score is 21-21. Only four seconds on the game clock. The ball is on the 20-yard line. Coach yells "Field Goal!" I run on the field. I line up, snap, hold, kick. The ball is...

This situation happens on many football fields during a season. It doesn't matter if it is a team playing in Germany in a non-paid amateur league, or if it is a team playing for a high-level college, or a team playing in the NFL. The kicker has to go on the field and has to do their job. The pressure on the player is the same. Everybody on their team expects that they will make the kick.

In practice, your coach might know that you can make it from the 35-yard line constantly. So the upcoming 27-yard try should not be a big deal, the coach thinks. But what is going through your head in that situation? If a player isn't mentally prepared for this situation, it will likely cause him to miss the kick.

Many players I coached asked me: "Coach, how can I handle this situation?"

Honestly, I don't have the answer for that, but I do have some advice.

1) When you go to sleep before your game, think about the situations which can happen during the upcoming game. The key is to only think about the good things. That means you will play a perfect game in your mind. Every field goal kick is high, right down the middle and good. Try to get this information into your subconscious mind. This is like saving a movie clip on the hard drive of your computer, to watch over and over again.

2) On game day, if it is 3rd down on the opponents end of the field, you know that a field goal could be coming. On the sidelines, stand at the 50 yard line, looking at the goal posts. Visualize the kick going through the uprights and into the stands. Now, when you run onto the field for a kick, keep looking at the goal posts. Get used to the feeling that the posts are coming at you closer and closer. The goal post will seem like a barn door when you finally get to your spot.

3) Try to clear you mind. Don't think about what you have to do, or what might happen. Concentrate on this moment, and don't think about the consequence after the kick. If the coach of your opponent will take a timeout before you kick, try to be in your own world. You are the man. Be confident! If there is any doubt that you won't make the kick, then you probably will miss it. Your mind is very powerful, so use it to your advantage.

Hopefully these few tips will help you deal with the pressure and nervousness of kicking in a game.

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