USD says ‘icing’ causes NFL kickers to choke
// Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6 a.m.
// / Union Tribune//
Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding, who has been very successful during the regular season, has missed many key kicks during play-off games.
The rest may do him little good. Same goes for other NFL kickers. An opposing team’s coach can simply “ice” a kicker and make it harder for them to put the ball through the goal posts.
A new study by the University of San Diego says that kickers are less likely to make a field goal in a high pressure situation if the opposing team’s coach calls a time out just as they’re about to tee things up. The technique is called “icing.”
Psychology professor Nadav Goldschmied reviewed data from six National Football League seasons (2002-08) and found that kickers who’d been iced scored only 66.4 percent of the time (73 out of 110 kicks). By comparison, kickers who were not iced had an 80.4 percent success rate (131 out of 161).
Oddly, the study also says that “when the kicker’s own team called a time-out” the kicker had a success rate of 83.3 percent (45 out of 54).
The university says “other factors such as experience, game location or game score were not associated with success.”
“The prevailing wisdom is that icing works because of negative thoughts regarding potentially missing the kick that overwhelm the kicker during the extended time period,” Goldschmied told us by email. “However, we found that an added time per se (e.g., if the time-out was requested by own coach) did not yield a deterioration in performance.
“Thus, an alternative proposition that I am advocating is that preparing for the kick is taxing by itself (when the kicker is iced – i.e., time-out is requested by the opposite coach – he prepares for the kick twice, thereby extending the preparation time). Other studies show that, in general, extending the preparation period results in worse performance.”
The study, which was done in collaboration with UC San Diego, will appear in the September issue of the journal The Sport Psychologist.