…at one time or another.
As the image above would show, failure and kicking go hand-in-hand (or foot-in-foot, for that matter). It doesn’t matter how good you are, at some point in your kicking career, you’ll miss exactly when you don’t want to. Which is anytime your miss, btw.
And sometimes you’ll miss a bunch — and that’s called a slump.
Trouble is, when you slump, it’s right in the midst of the season. Your confidence wanes and your ability to bounce back is really put to the test. Take Mason Crosby of the Green Bay Packers this past season. Even though he actually finished up going 25-34 on FGs and 49-51 PATs, “everyone” knows he had a “bad year”.
Why? Because on national TV in Week 5 of the season, he happened to miss three field goals in one game vs. the Bengals. Two that would have won the game. High profile kicks that are missed cause coaches to lose faith …and fans to turn on you.
And yet, he made a 49-yard FG to win that very same game!
Most of us would just look to crawl under a rock and give it up. Maybe that’s why Mason has been in the league for 15 years.
But why? Why did he miss?
I think I know… aside from the fact that we are all human. We goof sometimes — typically from a lack of focus. I’m not talking about laser beam eye focus that can get you over-anxious and jittery. True focus is being in “the Zone”. Fully aware, but comfortable with the task at hand. Relaxed and confident that your chances of success are high.
Crosby had a new holder AND snapper and they had been faltering on their part of the play. Snappers that zip the ball for an easy catch and placement with perfect laces and a holder who catches clean and spots perfectly, that’s “all you have to do — every time”.
The snaps weren’t horrid, nor were the holds, but they weren’t “pro”. I believe that Crosby had lost some faith in their ability to get the ball in place to kick. He started worry about something that HE HAD NO CONTROL OVER. All that you can do at that point, is to kick what’s presented to you. It’s why we constantly talk about “getting a good strike” on the ball and nothing more. Amazingly, your leg, foot and plant will all adjust ever so slightly to re-work a kick that’s gone wrong at the snap or hold. Believe in that… not thinking ABOUT THAT prior to the kick.
You know when it’s you, and when it’s your teammates that have botched the kick. Chalk that up to experience. If it’s your snapper or holder, get with him on the sidelines (after a little time has passed) and work to put positive thoughts and actions into his head. Typically, a few breaths, a back slap and a couple of easy sideline snaps will do the trick. The fact that he will understand that you’re not irate at him will be crucial. You better not be, because your next attempt will be worse than the first.
And if it’s you who’s missed the kick, don’t snap back or pout —begrudgingly accept the good wishes of your teammates, nod and be calm, even if you feel horrible inside. Find an open space and do some air swings or hit a couple of balls into the net. Don’t over-analyze (easier said that done). Trust that your form is fine and that all the work you’ve put in actually means something.
And then you do something incredibly smart and brave… ready, this is the big secret…
‘Pray” and expect that you get another chance to make the kick. Assume that your team will put you in position to win. Even if there are only a few seconds to go. Maybe the other team fumbles and you’re in… one chance to go from goat to hero.
Just like Mason Crosby did.
By-the-way, the Packers seem to be content to have Mason kick in 2022. They would be wise to do so.
Attending Mike Farley’s Kicking Camp is a great way to test your mettle with other area kickers. You can’t help but feel pressure to perform — but our camps offer a “safe environment” to actually learn how to handle pressure.