November 2017 Newsletter

In this Newsletter:

1. Reflect on the Season and Find Your Great Self
2. Moving up to the Next Level and Embracing the Struggle.
3. Training for the 2018 Begins Today. Get the Ball Rolling.
4. Upcoming Events 
 
       
 1. Reflect on the Season and Find Your Great Self
       
          Most of you reading this newsletter are done with the 2017 football season. Regardless of how it went, there are things that you can learn from it. Look for common elements in good and bad games and you should start to get a feel for what works and what does not.
       
        - How much did you kick during the week leading up to the game? 
        - How much did you kick in pre-game?  
        - How much sleep did you get prior to the game day?
        - Did you kick better when your team was winning or losing? Why? Did you get overly invested into the game, experiencing emotional ups and downs with your team?
        - Did weather affect your performance more than it should have? Did you dwell on the weather too much?
        - Did you ever have several bad kicks or bad days in a row? What was your mindset going into each workout/kick? "I am gonna figure it out"? "I hope today goes better"? "Please get the first down so that I don't have to kick"? Or something else? Whatever it was, remember it and change it next time. Slump feeding mindset is the biggest downfall of every kicker. Recognize it. Bad kicks or games happen. But a streak of them should not. 
        - What was your general mindset on the day of the game prior to it (in school and after school)? Happy, excited, focused on school, thinking about the game, anxious good, anxious bad, etc.?
        - Did your coach’s reactions to your kicks bother you and affect the following kick?
        - Did you have a teammate that you talked to on the sidelines during the game between kicks? Did he help you or did he make you more anxious?
        - Did you take warm up kicks during half time?
        - What did you do on the sideline after kicks? After good ones? After bad ones? 
        - Were you more relaxed on the sidelines when you watched the game or when you were focusing on something else?
        - How much did you kick into the kicking net during the game?
        
        There are so many questions that you can come up with. But the goal of this self-reflection exercise right after the season ended is to identify what affected your kicking environment the most, and in which way. Longer you wait to examine the season, less likely it is that you will recall events and emotions accurately. This may seem silly to you. But you would be surprised how eccentric and obsessive NFL kickers are about their routines; obsessive about setting up their environment for success. I am not asking you to be superstitious. Not washing your socks or shaving for few weeks because you have not missed a kick is silly...and filthy. What I am asking you to do is to start figuring out what environment and what factors are likely to result into you having a good day on the field. You will not have an answer for all those questions. And you will not always find a definitive connection. But start asking yourself questions. Longer and more often you do, more likely it is that you will learn how to bring out your best self when you want it.




2. Kicking after high school / Moving to the next level - Struggle is Real.


          Most kickers would like to kick in college. And many will. But this move to the next level is rarely easy. If you look at the numbers, there are about 15,000 high school football teams in the US. There are less than 800 college football teams. That means that roughly 1 out of 18 kickers will go on to kick in college. And if you are thinking about going from college to the pros, on average 5 or less college specialists will make it to the NFL out of every graduating class. Bottom line is that every time you go up a level, window of opportunity is smaller, and lot of athletes who had success at the previous level do not make it through. This is a mathematical certainty. But another certainty is that the level of struggle will increase. Struggle for what? Everything. Once you arrive to the next level it is harder to get practice reps, it is harder to win the job, it is harder to keep the job, workouts are harder, more is demanded of you physically and mentally, games matter more, coaches apply more pressure on you, fans apply more pressure on you, time commitment is increased dramatically, etc. This struggle is real whether you go from high school freshman team to varsity, or from high school to college. Struggle is harder and more constant. I used to think that once I got into the NFL, I would have this “I arrived” feeling. I did - for about 5 minutes, until I was thrust into a vicious competition against a veteran punter who wanted to keep his job so that he can continue to provide for his family.

         Why is this relevant to you right now? It is because I know that many high school seniors are not happy right now. Your high school career is over. You want to kick in college. But a lot of things seem pretty uncertain. This is not an easy feeling to carry around. But it is just a part of the struggle that never stops as long as you are kicking. Again, this uneasiness is just a part of the struggle. There are more people who want the job than there are jobs to be had = it will be a struggle, be ready to fight. So don't stop kicking and give up on football because recruiting process did not go as smoothly as you thought that it would. Don’t quit because of the struggle. Embrace the struggle and that uncomfortable, uneasy feeling in your gut. Bring a fighting mindset to it.

          You are not getting recruited? Start promoting yourself fearlessly and aggressively. Call and email college coaches. Email your senior highlights. Email your skills videos. Email your stats. Show those coaches that you know what you want and that you are willing to fight for it. Expect to hear “No, thanks” many times. Cross the school off and keep firing away. There are almost 800 college football programs. Do you want to play? Do you want to play anywhere? How certain are you that every school knows about you and decided against you. You want to earn the right to continue this struggle? Keep getting after it until you get what you want.


3. Next step for the class of 2019 athletes…and others.

         
          By completing your junior football season, you have officially entered the most important time for high school specialists who are looking to kick in college. Next spring and summer you will kick in front of college coaches and kicking coaches who will establish your value as a college prospect. Game film often does not show your full potential. So coaches rely on the impression that you make in person to decide on how you measure up against other prospects in your class. This means that the time period between now and next summer is the only time that you have to train focused and train consistently in order to show your absolute best. It takes thousands of kicks to make a significant improvement. So get going. 

This is what I suggest you do training-wise:

Kickers:
1. Start practicing kicking field goals off the ground. If you are having difficulty, start with no steps. Even though you will most likely kick field goals and PATs with a block for your senior season, you will have to kick off the ground at kicking camps and college evaluation camps.

Punters:
1. Work on your hands. Have someone toss you the ball, catch it with arms extended, quickly spin it and adjust it to find the correct grip.
2. Make your drop perfect. Put a football in a heavy traffic area of your house. Every time that you walk by it, pick it up and drop it few times. Punter who drops the ball poorly is a poor punter. Fixing a bad drop is easy to do with some drills. If you choose not to fix it, you deserve every shank that comes your way.


Every kicker and every punter of all ages:


1. Take advantage of every warm day this winter. Get out and kick. Warm means 35+ degrees with mild wind.
2. Get a kicking net for your basement/garage. Hit some kicks into it frequently - some easy full kicks, some no steps…just keep putting your foot on the ball frequently. For easy kicks and no steps, warm up is not needed. Wizardsports.com has many for as low as $110.
3. Take something off your plate. You can and should play another sport in addition to kicking. But you can’t do basketball and baseball and travel soccer, and have energy, time and focus to improve as a kicker. I know that being overbooked is the new normal. But it is not the most effective way. Allow yourself some down time. 
4. Hit a heavy bag (not literally). Just like boxers who spend time punching a heavy bag to develop power, you should kick a bag (light bag) to develop kicking power. Football agility pad being held by someone works. Do not kick an object in fixed position (resting against a wall) due to a risk of injury. Video of this drill and many others can be found here. 
5. Get some professional training. Attending a camp or two will help you sharpen your technique and keep you motivated to stay in good kicking shape during the winter months. We host five winter camps in the Midwest, weekend indoor small group training in Chicago, and individual training in Chicago. Details at TheKickingCoach.com


4. Upcoming Indoor Events

December through April - Chicago Small Group Training, Chicago Fire Pitch. Saturdays at 7PM.
December 3rd 2017 - Ohio Winter Event, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio
December 29th 2017 - Michigan Winter Event, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan
February 19th 2018 - Illinois Winter Event, Avantis Dome, Pekin, Illinois
March 10th 2018 - Ohio Winter Event 2, Tiffin University, Tiffin, Ohio 
March 25th 2018 - Iowa Winter Event, William Penn University, Oskaloosa, Iowa