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.
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.