Match day is the most intense pressure environment for all players and particularly for kickers. As a kicker you experience the same hurt, pain and fatigue as your teammates, but you must also be able to deliver precision, skill, power and composure at critical times in the game. Converting toil into points on the board, gaining territory and relieving pressure.
In a previous article Pressure Practice, we spoke about making your practice purposeful. Repetition of a skill has its place, but to be effective, your training sessions must reproduce match conditions as closely as possible. This will help you deal with pressure easier on game day.
You can’t expect to cope with pressure on game day if you avoid it in your practice sessions.
So, here are a couple of recommendations to help you as a kicker prepare for match day pressure in addition to those we shared in another article How to replicate match behaviour.
Find someone or a group of players you can practice with to not only help accelerate your learning, but to put each other under pressure. Make it fun with competitions between you, allowing you to find enjoyment of being under pressure which will have cross over into a game.
Now we come on to having a process vs outcome mindset. This means to focus on specific parts of your kicking technique and the process of delivering that well, and the outcome will take care of itself. This is a skill to learn just like any other and mastering it at training will help you put it into practise easier in a game.
What does ‘focus on the process’ mean to you?
This is what Caity Mattinson said:
“As long as I get my hand placement right and I kick through the ball, the ball will go where I want it to go” – Caity Mattinson, England