There has been much talk lately about women competing for positions in traditional male sports. Will it happen? Let’s hope so. The current focus has been on kicking in the NFL. Based on recent statistics, this seems like a pretty good job to go after. According to a 2019 article in the New York Post, success rates of field goals AND extra points have both dropped by 5% in the last five years. Is it possible that the pressure is getting to these specialists? That they can’t handle owning the moment. We will get back to that notion.
In the summer of 2019, soccer superstar, Carli Lloyd gained a lot of attention when she visited the Philadelphia Eagles training camp and boomed some pretty big kicks. We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Carli has over 120 goals for Team USA in her illustrious 15-year career. Her most memorable one came in the 2015 World Cup final when she blasted a shot from midfield over the unwitting goalie’s head. While distance and accuracy demonstrated in that moment were electrifying, it is actually a short controlled kick that might provide the most hope for a female NFL kicker.
OK, this is the part where we take a few liberties. What is the most pressure packed moment in sports? Many would argue it is the shoot out at the end of a tie game in soccer (which happens quite a lot unfortunately). You are standing alone facing an opponent whose sole job is to block your shot. You are guessing. The goalie is guessing. The world is on the edge of its seat. Waiting. Watching. You step up. You commit to a plan. You kick it past the diving keeper. Many will remember how the 1999 World Cup ended. If you have a few minutes to spare and want to see what real sports pressure looks like, check this out.
Now, back to the NFL kickers. They are indeed specialists. They are often single sport athletes who were plucked from forlorn soccer coaches because, well, it is football and it is America. They kick through high school and college, often without a lot of competition. When they make it to the NFL, they are the best at what they do in their specialty, but in the big moment, many fail.
Contrast that with the top soccer players. They are all over the field. All the time. They are anything but specialists. After running up and down the field for over 100 minutes, they are asked to stop, slow their heart rate and change to a controlled environment. It goes from a team sport to an individual sport and the pressure is all their own. The top women playing soccer have done this their entire playing life. Is it a stretch to think that some could convert their skills to a static kick like a field goal or extra-point? So, if the primary requirements of the NFL kicker are accuracy, leg strength and focus, there is no reason to believe that we won’t soon see the first woman in the NFL. Even brands are taking notice.
Any woman who tries out for the NFL will have a ton of pressure on her and will have to face critics and doubters but if she comes from an elite soccer background, that pressure will be nothing she can’t handle. As for Carli, she is hoping to make it to the NFL and a lot of fans and at least one brand, Secret deodorant, are behind her all the way. We are too!
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