After reviewing my previous blog where I crowed about making my first real field goal, I am now humbled by the idea of ever having to do it in any kind of pressure situation. I have always known this was at the crux of the kicking battle, both for me and for professional kickers. But my focus thus far has been on building the strength and skill to even get close.
If you follow this blog you know a little about this journey. You also know this last summer it took me physically to the East Coast. While one part of this trip was to visit some of the sites from my book, UNTANGLING THE KNOT, (including the actual Patriots Stadium), another part was to meet with coordinators of the organization Comfort Zone. This organization runs camps across the country for
children who have lost a parent, sibling or direct care-giver.
The connection between a grief camp and kicking a field goal may not at first be obvious. For me it is all tied to the mental strength it takes to be precise under intense pressure. It was a character trait I needed in my hero for UNTANGLING THE KNOT, and one I found in football kicking.
Stephen Gostkowski, kicker for the Patriots, is a great example of this mental strength (though the character, Ryan, in my book is not based on him in any way. To quote a recent article by NESN about Gostkowski, “None of the talk or pressure has fazed the eight-year veteran in the least, though. He’s been rock solid so far this season.” This talk has centered around both his previous year’s accuracy, as well as the need for him to strengthen the current Patriots red zone game. Most normal people would crack under this sort of intense pressure. But I am convinced kickers are built differently, or have fine-tuned their ability to block out extraneous noise (literal and
Certainly Gostkowski’s game has risen to the challenge with him making 11 out of his last 12 field goal attempts (including a 53 yrd one in the game against the Buccaneers).
My visit to the Patriots’ Stadium revealed one tool kickers use to build their precision: A narrower than standard field goal on the training field. My photo of the posts doesn’t do justice to how close together they really are. (A standard NFL goal post is 18’6” wide. While high school posts are 23’4” across. So technically my own field goal attempts would not have made it inside NFL goal posts:>()
So, now I am thinking about how I can use this tool, not only in my field goal training, but also in my life. As I often tell my daughter, practice is what makes us better. Now I can add that narrowed practice makes us precise.
I have decided this is the year of persistence. I have been working hard to strengthen my body in order to get that football over the uprights. And for the first time I finally did it, this week. But my journey doesn't end here. Ryan, the hero in Untangling the Knot, has to have the physical AND mental health to be able to block out the noise of life and kick the ball consistently and for distance.
Okay, so I kicked the extra point three times this week, plus I made 17 yard field goal. But, as Alex Molden told me, kickers train with the noise of a crowd piped in.... with their team mates heckling them.... with the weight of the world on them... So, while I got those 4 kicks through the goal posts this week, I also missed about 10.
Next week I get to travel out to Boston and revisit some of the sites from my novel. I hope to go to the Patriots Stadium and visualize what Ryan had to go through when focusing on each kick. Most importantly, I have been invited as a guest to be at Comfort Zone MA, a grief camp which supports children who have experience the loss of a parent or sibling, like Chloe and Peter did in the book.
As they say... just when you are successful, someone moves the goal posts. Well, in this case, I am doing it for myself. Look for more, after my trip, on how I plan to turn my field goal kicking into a fundraiser to support this fantastic camp.
And, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy my moment of victory!
So... I am not sure what this saying means, falling off the wagon, but I know what it looks like. It is when the weather stinks, and so you stop going outside to do the training program Alex set up. And then, you get a cold, so you stop working out all together. It is when the end of the school year takes over any thought you have of writing, let alone getting on the treadmill.
And now... it looks like being overwhelmed by starting over. Sadly, it has been a month since I last (consistently) worked out. But I plan to check my excuses at the door today and start over. The sun is out, my cold is mostly gone, and school has ended. Yes, there is a fruity drink and a lounge chair waiting for me at the beach. They will have to wait. It's time for me to go find my missing wagon.
This week I had my check in with Alex Molden; which turned out to be especially embarrassing because: 1. As I arrived a professional receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles was on the field practicing (demonstrating how far out of my league I was) and 2. When I finished my training with Alex the field was filled (end-zone to end-zone) with a hundred super fit Nike employees
ready for a strength class with Alex and another coach. I quickly retreated, scared Alex might make me join in.
Along with fixing my technique I found myself with new strength moves to add into my workout routine. As you’ll see from the video (a medley of the new exercises) my core (and arms) still need some work. Pay special attention to the comparison of Alex's buff form vs mine when doing push ups, and to my struggle with the plank move. Plus, I've provided a little gift at the end of the video, in case you didn't get enough of it the first time.
Still, I'm hopefuly that the training might be helping. I went out to practice field goal kicking this week and actually made it over the soccer net. Of course, that’s not technically a field goal. But at least the ball went straight and up, rather than slicing to the side and then rolling.
On the other hand, I’ve begun having some doubts. Why am I doing this? Is it worth it? Wouldn’t it be more fun to be hanging out in the sun at my favorite French bakery, eating chouquettes (balls of puff pastry baked and sprinkled with rock sugar), and writing? Duh!
As I wrote my Overheard at… blog post yesterday though, the problem became clear; I am missing a purpose for my challenge.
In UNTANGLING THE KNOT, Ryan (the kicker) and his family are still dealing with the loss of the wife/mother. I think maybe the reason that so many people are enjoying the book is because they can relate to this pain, whether through direct personal loss, or that of others. Even more, this sympathy is magnified when we encounter grief in children.
So, though at this point I am not sure what it will look like, I would like to turn my personal challenge of learning to kick a field goal into something that will help children who have experienced the loss of a family member. I’m gathering ideas, so please comment if you have any. And know that this is only the beginning of the journey, and I sincerely appreciate your sharing it with me.
The sun was shining last Thursday when I had my first training session with Alex Molden. It seemed a good omen for what lay ahead; a morning spent trying to understand the proper ways to strengthen my body.
I’m pretty sure the reason former NFL and college football player turned athletic trainer Alex Molden agreed to help me on my journey to learn to kick a field goal was because, after watching previous Vlogs, he was worried I was going to hurt myself if I didn’t get into better condition. Certainly I had my own concerns about this. (See my previous video where I discussed the possibility falling on my bum while kicking like Charlie Brown.)
No worries of falling on your bum though if you are Alex Molden… watching him stand in his loaded position and bounce his fist against his steely buttock muscles convinced me I had a long, long way to go to feel like anything other than a Duck (and I don’t’ mean the U of O kind here) when standing like that.
Here are some highlights from my training session. If you want to track my progress check out my training log; hopefully it will help me stay motivated or I imagine my next session with Alex might not be so gentle.
Back out on the field, I have my new cleats, check; my regulation size football, check; even my tee, check – double check. I’m ready to go. And yet, I still can’t get the ball through the uprights. Humbling, sure – but even more, this is starting to become frustrating.
And so, I am even more humiliated when I watch a young kid kicking his football through the field goals once, twice, many multiple times. Seriously? The father is so sure of his child’s kicking skills, in fact, that he is holding the
ball for him, something that my husband is now refusing to do. Good thing I bought that tee.
There is nothing for it but to walk down to the other end of the field and ask for this young kid’s help. This video shows that the pointers her gave me even worked- at least a little bit. On the other hand, I managed to destroy my tee. Anyone want to come hold the ball for me?
One aspect of taking up any new hobby is having the right gear. The fact that I still wear gators out on the ski slope tells you that this isn't typically something I concern myself with. So in this case I knew I needed some professional help to get outfitted.
I am very grateful to the young sales guy at the sporting goods store for not laughing in my face when, dressed in my heels and jewelry, I showed up asking what I would need to kick a field goal. You'll see in the video that Levi, the salesperson, turned out to be very helpful, even showing me where on the ball I should kick (A particularly embarrassing part).
I hope you continue to enjoy this rather humbling journey.
”I think they are laughing at me.”
Of course the guys tossing around the football like they just finished an NFL game were laughing at me. I looked
ridiculous. For the first time in my life I was attempting to kick a field goal and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was late, Sunday afternoon; so fortunately there weren’t that many people to witness my humiliation. On the other hand, I guess I better get used to it… I have a long way to go. But let me explain.
As you have probably heard by now, my new book, UNTANGLING THE KNOT, is being released February 13th. Yay!!! There are two main characters in the story… the heroine, a wedding ceremony coordinator for a church, and the hero, a widowed father of two who also happens to be a kicker for the Patriots Football team.
So, in an effort to relate to the physical and mental strength required of Ryan, the hero, and because hey, it sounded like a fun New Year’s resolution, I decided to learn how to kick a field goal.
The bonus for you is that I also decided to publish my humiliation in blog posts here, on the UNTANGLING THE KNOT page of my website.
I am all about journeys... and I think this is one you won't want to miss. So check back regularly and see wht it takes to conquer something that is completely outside my element.
Here is the first video so you can see what I am up against. Feel free to laugh all you want… by the end of the year I will be kicking it all the way through the goal posts (and from more than 10 feet away:>)
Kicking like my Hero
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks; well I am about to prove them wrong.
I hope you enjoy the journey.
Check here for a daily update of how I am doing in my training to kick a field goal.