Have you ever heard of Jan Stenerud? Do you know the story of how he became the first kicker to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame?
You may have heard this…
Jan came to the United States on a ski jumping scholarship to Montana State University. One bright summer day, he and his buddies were out at the 50 yard line of the football field just screwing around. While the football coach was running the stadium steps, he noticed a lanky kid kicking field goals in both directions using a method that was unknown to him — soccer-style.
The coach proceeding to convince Jan to give football a try.
Now read this…
Jan was born and raised in Norway. His older brother was the goalie on Norway’s National Soccer Team. In short, his brother was really good and Jan was just his “little brother”.
Can you imagine the banter in the Stenerud back yard?
“Jan, I need you to try to get it passed me,” said his older brother. But Jan, being younger and smaller, didn’t muster much of a challenge to the “superstar” goalie. “C’mon, try hitting the corners, fake me out, make it hard for me!” he would extoll.
Kick after kick after kick… controlling how hard and in what direction he would try to sneak a goal in… and occasionally he would succeed.
But soccer wasn’t Jan’s passion, ski jumping was.
You know, the national sport of Norway. That’s right, the sport we get to see once every four years where crazy guys climb up a 90 meter jump, ski down a 45 degree slope and launch themselves on two boards into the sky, only to land (when it goes right) gently back on the ground some 200+ meters away.
Over two football fields!
Think about what that means — you have to have the courage to go out alone and conquer your biggest fears. You have to focus on one single spot to jump from and hit it perfectly, or basically you die.
Combine the soccer training with the ski jumping and wallah, an NFL kicker is born!
Great body control, technique to place the ball right where you want, courage enough to compete, nerves enough to face real pressure and humility to know that if you survive, you’ve had a pretty good day.
Jan told me once, “I’m just four kicks away from losing my job.” Think about that, too. Here’s the HOF Kicker from the Kansas City Chiefs (and Packers), who understands that with only 32 positions available in the world, missing a few too many times means the team will be looking for someone else.
Still want to be a kicker?
Follow Jan’s path, or make your own. Jan trained for a job that he didn’t even know existed. This may not be recommended training for you, but it just goes to show you that you don’t have to be the guy who started out with all of the tools in your toolbox. You just need to be the guy who is persistent enough to continue to compete for the opportunity to succeed — over and over again.