Stay Ready During the Game
Unless you play other positions you are going to have a lot of free time in between your game kicks. The big question is what can you do to stay loose and warmed up but not wear yourself out kicking too much into the net.
When the other team has the ball, the chance of your team scoring is low. So use this time to relax. Loosen up your shoe laces, have a sit, chat with a friend, etc. If there is an interception that gets returned for touchdown and you have to kick an extra point, it is only an extra point. You should be able to put it through without warming up. And there will be a time for you to jog out on the field and take one or two practice swings on the way to the extra point spot.
It is up to you if you want to watch your defense or not. Most NFL punters and kickers are not very involved in the game. You have a job to do, which is to kick the ball consistently. If you get too worked up cheering your team on or too disappointed when things are not going well, your kicks will resemble the performance of your team. This is especially bad if you are a punter and instead of being a weapon when your team is struggling you end up contributing to the total collapse. So here is my advice, watch the game if you want but don’t get too emotionally involved in it.
When your offense has the ball there is a chance that there will be a punt or a field goal.
As a punter my favorite thing to do is the tap drill…..somebody tosses me the ball underhand from about 7 yards away. I catch it, take my steps and while holding the ball lower than I usually would I lightly tap it back to them. I try to get a spiral and hit the person in the numbers. I would do this until it gets to be a third down. During the third down, I will go up to the kicking net and hit 2 punts into the net.
As a kicker, no-step taps are good…..place the ball on a tee that is the same height as your kicking block. Place your plant foot about 4 inches farther back than you would have it on a regular kick. Have someone stand about 5 yards from you. Without taking any steps, lightly tap the ball and try to hit your partner in the chest while achieving a good ball rotation. Give yourself few bad holds on purpose – maybe 1 out of 4. You want to be prepared to make a good contact even if laces are in weird place or ball is leaning the wrong way. When your team gets closer to the field goal range take couple full kicks into the net.
Throughout the game try to keep your body temperature elevated by moving around. Avoid standing in one place or sitting for two long. Keep your mind focused on positive things like making a solid contact with a ball and visualizing the ball “jumping” off your foot and going straight.
If you have a bad kick, give yourself a time period to be upset about it – about a minute is good. Let’s call it a “cleansing minute”. Find a teammate, trainer, visitor, or anyone else who is on the sideline and is willing to hear you out. Tell them how upset you are about that kick and everything else that is going through your head. Once your “cleansing minute” is done, your thoughts and emotions about that kick are done as well.
Get Your Team Ready (Holder and Snapper)
As a kicker, your stats are posted after each game. People that were at the game and people that were not will judge you based on your numbers. Even your own coaches, when they look at the cumulative season numbers, will see that you were 8 for whatever on field goals and they will use that number when they talk to college scouts, or media, or all-state team voters, NFL scouts, etc. What nobody remembers is that snap that bounced in the first game, and the one that was high in the homecoming game, and that time when holder missed a tee completely on a 40 yard attempt during the playoffs. You get my point. There are 10 other people involved in a play for which you will end up being evaluated on. So…
It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that the snapper and the holder know what they are doing, that they received enough practice, and that they are on the same page with you.
Every day that you have practice, ask them to come out 10 minutes early or stay 10 minutes after practice. They should work with you to get about…
…15 quality game-focus kicks
1) Move the ball around the field, never take two kicks in a row from same spot.
2)Take about 12 kicks within 90% of comfortable range (Example: if your field goal range maxes out around a 45 yarder, take 12 kicks that are closer than 40 yards and 3 that are in 40 – 45 yard range.)
3) Treat each kick as a game kick. What that means is that snapper and a holder are as focused as you are. Nobody is talking about their girlfriends or plans for the weekend. Have your snapper randomly place the ball while holder and you line up as you would in the game. From there on, try to move at the game speed and make the kick. There should not be any talking between the kicks that would not be a game time talk. Example of good talk: “There is a bit of a cross wind left to right”. Example of useless, distracting talk,” Man, it is freakin’ cold today!”
4) Ask your holder to keep track of the field goals made. You should get the numbers from him at the end of the drill and keep track of them for the whole year.
If you do this 4 times a week starting with the two-a-days in August you will accumulate almost 200 high quality kicks before you even start the season. By midseason, you will be functioning like a well-oiled machine.
Possible problem: Snapper or a holder are not on board with this drill idea.
Solution: Go to the head coach and say ,”Coach, I would like to get more practice with the snapper and the holder. I think I would feel more comfortable during the games. Could you ask them to give me extra 10 minutes of their time?” There is no coach in the world that will say no to your request for more practice time.