Rain won’t stop our Green Bay campers
The fourth camp in our Summer Series started out on a gloomy Friday morning. A steady downpour at 7am led to drizzle by a 9am start, but finished with simply overcast skies and a mild 78 degrees by midday.
Earlier that morning, we had a couple of mom’s ask us if “camp was still on”.
They don’t stop football games for rain, and neither do we. It’s one of the reasons we schedule our camps on artificial turf fields because the water wisks away much more swiftly and allows for steady footing (no slipping through the plant)… and that keeps things safe and productive for learning. (As well as avoiding the mud from a grass field).
Frankly, adding wind or rain to the mix for us is a bit of a blessing for most kids because we cover some of the mentality needed to overcome any issues faced by kickers and punters. That’s always a good thing. Perhaps more than any other position, kicking specialists need to learn how to overcome adversity, pressure and the excuses that go along with facing them.
How to Handle Pressure:
Try all of these three techniques in handling game pressure…
1) Remember the 3B’s:
BREATHE — inhale for 3 seconds, hold it for 3 seconds and exhale it for 3 seconds. This slows you down, lessens a feeling of panic and resets your mind into focusing on just the task at hand and not the outcome of the kick.
BOUNCE — there’s a lot of nervous energy, especially on the sidelines while you’re waiting to kick. Pacing, or jumping or simply doing a little “bounce” pre-kick can help loosen muscles and tension. Learn to quickly “relax”. A tight kicker is one who’s likely to miss.
BREAK — clapping your hands when you’re ready to go into the game is a good way of telling yourself, “this is the opportunity you’ve wanted.” All the training and preparation in the summer has lead to this chance. Seize it and “enjoy” that moment. Like a starters gun going off, it’s time to run your race. Be great and grateful for the opportunity.
2) Stay in the Game:
If you’re a position player, you may find that you aren’t as nervous to kick simply because you feel like you have more control over the game. That’s certainly how I felt playing QB in college. Miss the kick? Eh, you’ll make a game winning TD or tackle when you’re in next
But if you’re standing on the sidelines waiting to kick or punt — stay in the game. Know the score, the down and distance, follow the game closely… “see what’s in store” for you. Predict (positively) what’s going to happen. You may have just missed a crucial extra point, but are you ready to win the game with a late field goal because your defense gets a turn-over? You might have just shanked a punt, but are you prepared for the upcoming “fake punt” that could net a game winning field goal? The more you’re in the mindset to take advantage of your next opportunity, the likelier you are to actually succeed in that opportunity. Never be the guy who’s “surprised” by the next opportunity.
3) “Bring-It” Mindset:
We love movies where the action star has to overcome impossible odds to save the day… when conditions are adverse, refrain from allowing that challenge turning into a “ready-made” excuse. As quickly as you are able, understand the challenge (wind, rain, storm, bad field, hostile crowd, etc.) so that you can think, “Go ahead and ‘bring-it’… I’m ready.”
Start by asking and answering the problems that you may face (i.e.- rainy conditions):
1) Will my plant foot hold? Test pregame to see. If it does, great, if it doesn’t, you’ll have to cut down your angle a bit.
2) Will my snapper and holder be able to do their jobs? Make sure they have a towel, gloves, whatever they need to get the job done. Do they know they can ask the ref to move the ball a little if it’s placed in a rut or puddle?
3) Accept the conditions for what they are… how they might help (strong wind) or hurt (strong wind). Will you need a holder on your kickoff? It’s not going to be a “record setting” day. Know how far out you can realistically make a kick. A good strike on the ball is always a good thing… but for this day, you may lose 10 yards or more — and that’s OK. Let your coach know and that you’re ready to succeed despite everything.
4) Secretly smile when you know “you can handle it, while the other team may not”. If they’re cold, wet and uncomfortable (yes, you will be, too), but your mind is prepared for the next two hours, the game is likely going to come down to a made or missed kick. Know that this moment is setting you up to be the “star” of your own action movie!
Snap shots of our training at the Ashwaubenon High School game field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Thanks to Counselors Nate Custer and Jack Dummer (both from UW-Whitewater) for coming up to help demonstrate and train our campers.