Being a professional comes down to many things. Mostly the smallest things. The kinds of things that we often say, “DUH.” to when someone explains why professionals are so good. Usually, it just comes down to they work harder than you do. Plain and simple. And that is okay! Being aware of what it takes to make it to the next level is a big step towards getting there.
We have to take a step back and wonder where most big-time kickers came from. Kickers like Adam Vinateri (South Dakota State University), or Marquette King (Fort Valley State University), these guys came from schools no one has probably ever heard of. And that is the beauty of being an athlete, it does not matter what school you went to if you have talent, someone. Will. Find. You.
Professional Kickers Going Viral
The beautiful thing about being a kicker is you can make a name for yourself based on your work ethic. For example, Eddy Piniero made quite the impression when he first posted videos of himself making a 70-yard field goal. I remember seeing it for the first time and being a little blown away at the leg strength he has. It goes without saying he has worked extremely hard to get to that point in his kicking career. A lot of work must go in behind closed doors so that one can succeed in the spotlight.
Another example of becoming famous through hard work and dedication is the trickshot kicker Harvard Rugland. His kicking trickshot video, “Kickalicious.” Has earned over 5.7 Million views on Youtube to this date. After some time, NFL teams realized the potential this player has and gave him a shot with the Detroit Lions. His first field goal was smoked from 49 yards. Rightfully so because he dedicated a lot of time working on his craft.
Professional Kickers Going Viral Continued
I have watched Eddy and Harvard practicing as much as I could find and have made some findings. Eddy is quite young and has an incredibly fast leg, Harvard has figured out how to make his body help him with the kick. Harvard is much older than Eddy and may not have the fastest leg, but he found out how his body kicks a ball best.
That is a huge takeaway from this portion is we all have a way that our body works when kicking a ball. While it was a short career in the NFL, Harvard had a great story. He practiced for years on his skills and was able to showcase his talents for the world to see. And that is a huge inspiration for many, he did not go to a big-time college, he did not have any crazy strength about him. He was simply a talented European who found a way into the professional world of kicking through his talents.
There are hundreds of examples of kickers making a name for themselves from videos online. These are just some of the more recognized names in the kicking world over the past few years. It is fun to see kickers and punters doing big things and getting the recognition they deserve through their hard work and talent.
Why Technique Beats Leg Strength In The Professional Level
We have all seen videos of kickers hitting just incredibly long Field Goals with the wind at their back. While this may seem like something that is necessary…. it is not. Do not get me wrong, I love seeing a football just get hammered from 75 yards away just like anyone else, but how often does that happen in a real game? In all of my years of watching kickers, I have only seen one kick from 70+ yards, by Sebastian Janikowski (of course) and even he missed it. So it does not need to be explained much more, kickers with big legs are cool on video but practically useless in a real game. Find me a coach where they would prefer a kicker who can make 2/10 50 yard field goals over the kicker who makes 9/10 from 40 yards and in, I rest my case.
How Kickers Become Professional
A lot of calf raises.
But Seriously, the reason guys are able to get to the NFL and continue being there is because they continuously compete with themselves. They understand that if they were to get complacent, they would miss 1 or 2 more kicks than they usually do and eventually get cut. Some other reasons the professionals are… well… pros is because they do the little things right. In my last article, I talked about how Stretching leads to improved strength and flexibility. Which results in a more consistent kick. Another way to think about it, the more stretches you do, the faster your leg cam be since you have more muscles available. Since NFL kickers plan on being in the league for the long term, they stretch often to stay physically ready and strong.
Professional Kickers Use The Power of Compounding
Compounding is one of the greatest methods of improvement ever. Kickers in the NFL definitely adopt this methodology. Marquette King (An NFL Free Agent Currently) Mentions he typically does 1 mile of punting drops before he begins any kicking session. That is definitely more than most punters are willing to do in a week or even a month. Let us say for the sake of argument, an average punt drop takes place 3 yards long (which is a pretty big amount of ground to cover).
An average punter may do 200 yards of drops a day (which is pushing it for the average). They are averaging 267 drops a day. Marquette is warming up around 533 drops a day. Then he actually starts to punt. Over the course of 7 days, the average punter would have completed 1869 drops to Marquette’s 3731. In one week of drops, Marquette has dropped around 2 times as many footballs as the average punter. It makes sense when you watch him punt, he has great Consistency.
Professional Kicker Compounding Continued
Now that we have established that he has 2 times as many drops, think about how that plays out over the long term, he has twice as much experience in all situations, most likely twice as much confidence, and he is most likely able to do it blindfolded at this point. Little by little, the small actions that he is taking results in major jumps in his game. He is the only person I have ever seen that is able to hit a 5.85 Second hang time in punting. It really does come down to how he outworks his competition in small ways that add up to huge improvements in the long term.
Visualize and Then Attack #MovieQuotes
Professional kickers have utilized the methods of Positive Visualization in order to better rely on their natural abilities to perform. By simply overthinking you can cause your body to react in many ways that you may not have planned. Professionals handle the habit of overthinking by simply visualizing what they want to do, how to do it, then they do it. That is it. The more complicated things become, the harder it is to kick the ball. That is why professionals became so incredibly good at what they do, they are confident in their abilities and they know when they go out on the field, their team is getting 3 points from you being on the field. No matter the situation, it is a kicker’s responsibility to become adapted to any and all situations.
Now the best and highest recommended method for becoming a confident player is to get comfortable being in the moment. professional kickers need to have a grasp on their mental attitude in order to prosper. By letting your mind wander and thinking of what could possibly go wrong, it usually only leads to more things going wrong.
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.Ekhart Tolle
Visualize and Attack Continued
Becoming present in the moment is not an easy task as it becomes difficult to step away from what was making you so upset. As you go through these times, realize they are only temporary and you are in control of your emotions. If you let your emotions take control of you, it becomes easy to think about how hard your life is. Meanwhile, the one who is able to be in the moment relieves themselves from any extreme anxiety and stress. Stop your brain from making matters worse than they actually are. Line up and hit that pigskin through the beautiful yellow posts for 3 points.
How Professionals Turn To Meditation For Being In The Moment
Josh Lambo, Kicker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, when asked if he meditates, said, “I have definitely been studying mindfulness, and Meditation is a part of that. Just being able to stay in the present moment and not let any situation get too big. You never let get your highs get too high, your lows are too low, and just be very much in the moment. I think that helped me a lot last Year.”
A lot can be said about the benefits of meditation. What it really boils down to is how prepared are you in the moment. Through all the “Boring” moments of breathing, meditation may be your best friend. Being able to control your breathing is an incredible skill and is overseen by many. You do not have to be perfect when practicing a method like meditation, you only have to try.
As mentioned in a previous article Meditation comes in many forms. I would even argue that kicking is a form of meditation. A method of breathing that is gaining popularity is the practice of Wim Hof breathing. by the end of 3+ Rounds, you may forget why you were stressed in the first place. Your body mind and spirit connect on a much deeper level allowing you to tap into your natural self. Your conscious self.
How You Can Become a Professional Kicker
First things first, if you want something that not many people have, you have to do what not many will do. That means waking up early. You have to stretch daily. You need to become obsessed with improvement as it is the rawest form of progression. If you truly want to get better, it has to be the core focus besides your relationship with God. Eric Thomas said it best when he said, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” That means finding a mentor, film yourself kicking, learn something new daily, always strive for more!
When you feel as if you have maxed out your potential talent, try finding other ways to improve. This can be done through workouts, (increase the weight/intensity) stretching, technique. There is always something to improve, keep your head down and keep moving.
The Power of Journaling
When you dream of something, you wish it would happen, when you write it down, it becomes a reality. This translates to kicking because you can log your experience during your practice, game, Workouts, whatever. And in a few weeks, or months, you can look back on when you were doing well or not. The ability to connect the missing dots becomes possible when you can look back on previous moments. It is also an incredible stress reliever because no one knows you like, well, you. So write until your pencil is steaming from all of the great ideas. Write away young padawan.
Get a Mentor
All successful people have found someone who has been where they are. Or know how to get to where they want to go. You need someone who can guide you, teach you, embarrass you, humble you, lift you up. Someone who is a second family member, someone who knows what is required to become a champion. Having a great Kicking Coach, not only fast tracks you to the Professional status, it put you in contention for the NFL. And if you do not have a mentor already, find one online, and drive 2 hours to find one.
Again, When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful. Find. A. Way. Make it happen. Otherwise, you will live the rest of your life wondering what could have been if you never gave it your all. Make a goal and apply consistent steps to get there! You can do this, now get to it! If you enjoyed reading this article, please share this so we can continue to grow! Also, if you have any suggestions for what we should write about next, let us know!
Thanks for reading and stay amazing!