Great day of training last Sunday as we prepare for the 2015 season. A little recap of what we covered so you can review before your first game.
Communicate with your Coach – Your leg needs to be fresh every game day. Do not over kick throughout the week. You are just like a pitcher in baseball… A tired leg will lead to bad technique and injury. Let your coach know if you need rest. He may not like to hear it, but if you are injured, you can’t help your team. Before each game let your coach know what he can expect out of you with the wind and into the wind. “Coach, I can make a 55 yarder with the wind, but only 45 into it. Coach, I can’t get the ball to the endzone into the wind.” This will help him make decisions in the game and put you in a situation to be successful.
The Mental Approach – Studies have shown that visualization techniques can increase performance when done on a consistent basis. Practice visualizing yourself in successful situations. The key to this practice is that you imagine as many details as possible…. What does the stadium look like? How does the crowd sound? What does the grass smell like? How does the wind feel against your face? Put yourself in game like conditions in your mind. Start with being on the sideline and running onto the field, get your spot, take your steps, see your target, take a deep breath, feel the rhythm and timing of your approach, see the ball contact and follow through, finish with the ball splitting the uprights.
Controlling your Anxiety – the body has an evolutionary mechanism that keeps us alive and away from danger called the Fight or Flight response, otherwise known as the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. When we are in a stressful performance situation our thought process will put us in this state automatically. We must learn to calm our mind and body to allow technique and muscle memory to take over.
1st-BREATH, taking deep breaths will slow down your heart rate and relax muscles.
2nd-Let yourself get nervous. Your body can only stay in the fight or flight stage for so long. Don’t fight the fear, let it in and get past it.
3rd-Release negative energy by yelling, smiling, laughing.
4th-Focus on the positive or on the process. Do not let negative thoughts or results take over.
5th-Learn to channel the positive effects of the Adrenaline that is released during stressful situations. This ability will allow you to have greater focus and strength.
Timing from Snap to Kick – your goal should be from 1.3-1.4 seconds from the time your snapper snaps to the time you kick the ball. *In college and the pros they shoot for 1.25 seconds, but the snappers and holders are obviously much better*. Getting the kick off in under 1.4 seconds should be sufficient to avoid blocks provided your o-line does their job.
Watch the holder’s fingers that are on the block. When his fingers move to catch the snap, you start your steps to the ball. This is a reaction that needs to be trained and you need multiple reps daily to train yourself to keep your rhythm to the ball.
Kickoffs – Make sure you have discussed with your coach what exactly he is expecting of you… (Pooch, squib, onside, deep kicks) so that you can prepare yourself for any situation that may arise. Don’t forget to work on onside kicks at least once a week. It could win your team a game. Talk to your coach about your coverage responsibility on kickoffs and make sure you are confident in your tackling technique if the situation should arise.
Punts – Work on your drops every day, especially when you have free time during practice. Practice punting into the wind as well as with, to get a feel for the differences in your drop. Work on your timing from snap to kick daily. Your goal should be to get it off under 2.3 seconds from snap to kick provided your snapper gets it to you under .9 seconds. Work on special situations (Bad snaps, Snaps over your head, punting from out of your endzone). Lastly, Pooch punting is key to field position. My college coach used to always tell us that the 19 was better than the 20….. Meaning, do not punt the ball into the endzone for a touchback.
You have worked hard this offseason. You are ready to perform and help your team. Have confidence in what you do and remember to enjoy every opportunity that you get. Focus on what you are doing (process) and not the outcome. See yourself being successful and learn from the kicks that don’t go as planned, focus on the next kick. Regardless of how you perform, you parents, teammates and the whole WCKA staff are proud of your dedication to getting better. Kicking is not easy, it takes a lot of mental and emotional strength. We are looking forward to hearing about all your success this year and helping you work through any issues that may arise.