“We kick into a tree”

A few years ago during a high school football game our kicker made a clutch long distance field goal that helped secure the win for our team. I was very excited and when I went to congratulate our special teams coordinator, I found him sort of laughing to himself.

“What’s so funny” I asked.

“Coach…we kick into a tree!” He replied.

Unfortunately we are not privileged enough to have uprights at our practice facility, which puts us at a tremendous competitive disadvantage. However complaining about it will not help us make field goals during competition. After all, our opponent doesn’t care that we don’t have uprights.

We practice field goals by kicking into a large tree that contains a lower branch roughly the height of the cross bar. We don’t complain, in fact, we embrace it! We actually made T-Shirts that say, “We kick into a tree.”

A new coach on our coaching staff recently said after reviewing our special teams playbook, “That’s the most extensive Special Teams Playbook I’ve ever seen!”Our special teams coordinator doesn’t focus on the negative or blame others but instead focus’s on what he controls. His attitude and attention to detail (work ethic).

Life deals us all a tree to kick into. We all face a unique set of circumstances that are not fun to deal with and are not fair. However the next time you start to complain, ask yourself this question, “Will complaining about this help solve my problem?” Remember there are certain things we cannot control. Complaining about them only waists time and energy, two very precious resources! Focus on what you control, your effort and attitude!


Coach Nelson serves as a high school football coach who is pursuing his doctorate in Sport and Performance Psychology. He has worked for division 1 athletic departments, professional sport franchises, a Fortune 100 Company and has won numerous awards for his LEADership abilities.

His mission is to positively influence the world through Love, Effort, Attitude and Discipline (#LEAD). To learn more about the LEAD philosophy follow him on Twitter Levi Nelson or reach out via email at rln10@zips.uakron.edu He’d love to learn about or help you in your journey!