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The Pressure Of Being A Kicker


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The kicker is an underappreciated position in football. They score lots of points for their team and receive little recognition. In fact, they are expected to make every kick except for perhaps the extremely difficult ones. And every miss falls solely on their shoulders. A missed reception can be the quarterback’s fault or the receivers or even the linemen for missing blocks or a coach for calling the wrong play. But when it comes to making field goals, unless the snap or hold is off (which they rarely are) a mistake is blamed on the kicker.

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That’s a lot of pressure every time a kicker walks on the field. Kickers around the league seem to be struggling. In fact, 14 teams have new kickers since last year. NFL teams seem to be getting more and more cutthroat with their kickers. In a league where it’s easy to find a kicker, after all there’s one per team with a backup or two, teams can be choosy and get new kickers if they feel the need.

This kind of atmosphere isn’t very conducive to kickers performing well. It could be said that this attitude in the NFL needs to change. But kickers are speaking out about their difficulties with the culture of pressure in modern day football.

Will Lutz Of New Orleans 

Lutz, who kicks for the Saints has an interesting way of dealing with the stress of being a kicker. According to him, a mentor early in his career, gave him a good piece of advice. Kickers make mistakes and the worst thing you can do is dwell on them. It’s better to let mistakes pass by and not be too hard on yourself. If you get in your head and replay your mistakes, you’re bound to make them again.

This mindset has helped Will Lutz keep his focus in a league that is hard on kickers. He uses the golf metaphor of ‘taking a bogey.’ The idea is that we all make mistakes and if you make one, ‘take a bogey,’ and move on. The reality is that being a kicker in the NFL means dealing with quite a bit of failure. It’s essential to have some coping mechanisms.

Kickers Support Kickers 

The amazing thing that has come out of this culture of pressure on kickers is that they supports one and other. The kicker is a very specialized position. They one specific job that is very important to the success of the team. If they fail at this job, all eyes are on them and they are blamed entirely for their mistakes. Other players may feel more of the team aspect of the game. Linemen work as a unit, a quarterback and his receivers are tied to the same outcome. But kickers are on their own. No one else on the team does what they do.

It would not be surprising in the coming years to see more kickers speaking out about the particular pressures that they alone face. Perhaps the NFL might be able to change their culture and support some of the most important players on the field.

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