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Why Wilko is a kicking perfectionist
Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson
England fly-half

Sometimes when I'm kicking I can get obsessive about seeing results. I'll tell myself: 'I need to hit five in a row from here'.

Jonny Wilkinson takes the stance before a place kick for the Lions
That all-familiar pose

Maybe I'll hit four in a row and just miss the fifth one. Instead of being satisfied with that, I won't allow myself to leave until I've hit five.

An hour and a half later - and having missed loads of appointments and left myself running completely late - I might do it!

That may sound obsessive, but I like to think that sort of thing gives me the extra one per cent that could get me through in really tough situations.

Sometimes I get the most benefit from facing a kicking challenge and telling myself that I can either go home now or really dig in and deal with it.

Sometimes the right answer is to go home.

But sometimes the right answer is to stick it out no matter how painful it is, because it might be something I need to call on at an important time.

I must have practised thousands of kicks, so when I'm on the pitch I know exactly what needs to be done.

When the whistle blows for a penalty, I'm immediately thinking - where are the posts? What's the wind like? How will I line this up?

I'm taking this all in within milliseconds of that whistle going. I call for the tee, get it on, set the ball up and then I'm into a routine.

Jonny's kicking tips
Practise as often as possible - never take your kicking for granted
Mentally visualise the kick going over - imagine the exact path it's going to take
Go through your routine as if it's a training kick - block everything else out and focus solely on the kick

So when my heart's pumping so hard my shirt is moving, I can put it to the back of my mind and not let it affect me.

People often ask me whether you can shut out the noise of the crowd. You can't do that - you can hear the crowd just like you can hear your heart thumping.

You just have to accept that it's there, but tell yourself that it won't affect this kick.

I've learnt to step away and maintain a very composed view of what's going on around me.

I've always been a very instinctive player. I used to worry a lot about taking the right decisions and have everything written down about what to do in certain situations.

I still have those ideas written down, but as I've gained experience I've become much better at using them instinctively - at deciding on the right option and going with it.





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