Oct. 8, 2004
Being a kicker is a lot different than playing any other position on the football field. Much of my preparation comes down to being able to block out everything that’s going on around me and just being able to concentrate on kicking the ball.
During the week in practice, all the kickers are always kicking as a big group. While guys are kicking, we’ll be talking or throwing a football at them. Someone watching us would think that we are just messing around, but there’s a bigger purpose to what we are doing. That’s working to clearing everything out of our minds and focusing on each kick. It helps in games when the time comes and I am backed up in the end zone for a punt and the other team’s student section is right behind me, yelling at me. Basically, I have earplugs in and just block everything out and do my job.
In high school, I played on the golf team and that really helped me with my kicking game. Much of what we do in golf can be used in kicking. The golf swing is similar to the leg swing of a punter or a kicker. I work on keeping my head down with the rest of my body still, then comes contact with the ball and the follow through. It’s just like your foot is the club and the football is the golf ball. Playing the two sports really helped me.
When game time comes, I just try to relax as much as possible and clear everything out of my mind. I just let my body go out there and do what it knows how to do. Everything that I’ve practiced for is already programmed inside, so then I relax and just let things happen.
I like doing all the field goal kicking and the punting because it helps keep my leg warm and keeps me focused. I don’t get a chance to get cold because I am constantly moving preparing for the next situation that I could be in.
When the defense is on the field, I have to assume that we are going a turn it over to the offense and score, so I am practicing extra points. If the offense is out there then I’m warming up for punting. I always have to ready for something. That keeps me busy on sidelines kicking into the net. I’m always ready for what might happen on the next series.
Enjoy today’s game versus Purdue – Go Irish!!!
– D.J. Fitzpatrick