December 28, 2022

The Ball Kicks Itself: inside the minds of NFL place-kickers.

posted by rumple to football at 12:41 PM - 2 comments

I've often wondered how good a kicker could be if they legitimately did not care about missing a kick. Just follow the same process every time and collect your check.

posted by rcade at 08:37 AM on December 29, 2022

Great article. I love reading about special teams in general.

I trained for tryouts as a PK in high school, coming over from the soccer team, but I couldn't make the football team. We had an old school HC who said every player has to play a field position, there's no such thing as a kicking specialist. If you want to kick, you also have to learn a position on offense or defense. Or both.

At the time, soccer style kicking was fairly new - the Gogolak boys were still somewhat of a novelty. The coach thought I kicked sissy style. He wanted a good old Lou Groza toe kick guy. He also made sure I had the absolute worst footballs to practice with. They were shorter and fatter than the good footballs and kicked like waterlogged wood regardless of the inflation pressure. I'm also left footed, and that was just not appropriate.

Just for the heck of it, I practiced toe style kicking on my own and got it to where it probably would have been good enough to satisfy the coach, but he saw to it that I was cut from the team by playing me at safety in our practices, up close to the line, destined to get flattened by our big RB's coming through the hole. I couldn't make the team as a field player, so no kicking for me. Even though I volunteered to also do the punting.

The team played in a typical late 60's / early 70's HS division of conservative offenses and low scores, and a lot of games were won and lost on missed extra points. I watched the team lose a few times due to long snapper and PK suckage and knew there wasn't much I could do about it watching from the stands in civilian clothes.

Special thanks to my brother who held for me and helped catch and retrieve footballs and also to the school administrator who decided not to bill my parents when a practice football went over the high fence behind the goalposts and broke a second floor science lab window.

posted by beaverboard at 11:47 AM on December 29, 2022

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