We mentioned in a blog post the other day that Matt Nagy was using pressure to help the Bears select their next kicker. The idea is that if the kicker can perform under such pressure on the practice field, he should be able to perform on the field during the regular season. The kicker position is perhaps the most difficult position for a few seconds per game.
Bill Belichick and Vince Lombardi were two other coaches that put the heat on during practice. Belichick is famous for his instructions on the field. Not only how he might want something to be done, but what he wants the players to focus on. With the opposing offense one yard away for a touchdown, a defensive player who plays too close to the line of scrimmage might be called for encroachment. That infraction might costs the team half the distance to the goal or six inches, but may get the team an opportunity to stop a drive. Risking the same penalty from the 40 yard line might give the offense 5 yards and put them in decent field goal range. Belichick wants his players to know the risks. Players get drilled and are expected to understand the importance of just doing their job the way they should. Practice for the Patriots can be intense and painful. Players would often say that playing in the game was easier.
Lombardi’s practices were exhausting. Often working on the same play over and over again. Fine distinctions in execution would be drilled and tested again and again. Lose your concentration and earn the ire of the coach. The heat was on and often it was at the highest intensity during the hot summers in training camp. Players were under pressure and they were experiencing great conditioning at the same time. Lombardi’s players often looked at the games as much easier than the practices.
Image Copyright William Potter from Pillars of the NFL by Patrick McCaskey, sportingchancepress.com