Are you a prisoner of your practice reps?
I once knew a talented FBS kicker whose first three kicks in any session, game, or practice would determine how the rest of his day went. If they were great kicks, he went on to have a great day, but if they were bad kicks, watch out - he was miserable.
In golf, Dr. Bob Rotella calls these players, “prisoners of their practice reps”. I hope, for your sake, if you are one of these players you hit your first three shots perfectly.
But, what if you don’t hit your first few kicks great? Don’t you still have a game, practice, or session you need to perform well in? What should you do?
Firstly, warm-up reps are there to warm you up. Sometimes a warm-up will look flawless, and other times it will look uglier than you’d like. You don’t wake up the same person twice, therefore, you won’t warm up the same way twice either.
It helps too, to be warm-up agnostic. This means you stop putting so much weight on how you feel during your warm-up routine. Not every rep is do or die.
It is possible to have pre-game warm-ups that went perfectly only to have so-so games and warm-ups that went terribly but led to a career setting in-game performances.
Is there a correlation between warming up well and performing well? I am sure there is. But, it isn’t always an exact science.
Part of you needs to trust, believe, and be convicted of this:
No matter what happens today, the swing I bring to the field will always be good enough to get the job done.
Does this mean you may hit a few so-so balls that still go in? Or, maybe you miss a kick once in a while? Sure. But, it means that you know that you are enough. You can stop flailing to impress coaches, and yourself all the time.
Great kicking just looks really boring. The ball just keeps going straight.
You don’t always need a great warm-up for that.
Don’t be a prisoner of your practice reps. You won’t always feel great warming up, even on days you need to perform at your best.
While you do want a thorough warm-up, it is possible to warm up well and perform poorly or warm up poorly and perform well. If you can choose, choose the latter.
If you are feeling really out of it, be sure to hit your first few warm-up kicks into a net, not an open field so coaches cannot see the ball flying all over the place. In college camps, one erratic kick that almost hits a coach can spell doom.
All of kicking, like life, is a quest to realize you were enough in the first place without kicking.
The less you need kicking to be a happy person, the easier it will be.