Florham Park, NJ – Excuse Nick Folk if kicking is not the only thing on his mind these days. No, next year’s World Cup is not what’s on the soccer enthusiast’s mind. Though, if you were looking for some in-depth analysis on the United State’s chances he’d be a good guy to talk to. He likes what he’s seen so far if you were curious.
Folk’s distraction comes in the form of twin baby boys named Gage and Davis. Just before the preseason game in Detroit, Folk traveled back to be with his wife as she gave birth to the pair, the couple’s first kids.
“I left on Tuesday afternoon,” said Folk. “My wife had our babies on Wednesday night, and I flew on Thursday on a commercial flight to Detroit. I got there late, and then I flew back, right after the game to go back home to see my kids. So, a lot of unique circumstances for me, but hopefully we can get into a groove, and get the feeling the next couple preseason games and get ready for week one.”
But while Folk can’t help but think of the two now that he is back with the team, he’s not taking his job lightly. Disappointed with the drop in his performance over the course of last season, Folk has adjusted his offseason conditioning.
“I did some things to stay stronger for longer hopefully because I think the first six games I kicked off pretty well, and then kind of tinkered off,” explained Folk. “I just didn’t have the strength, so trying to stay stronger longer throughout the course of the season.”
While Folk has been a fairly reliable field goal kicker for the Jets, his kickoffs haven’t been spectacular. He was near the bottom of the league in both kickoff average (23rd for kickers with at least 60 att) and touchbacks (29th).
This season Billy Cundiff was brought in to compete with the California native. Cundiff averaged over a yard more per kickoff than Folk, and had six more touchbacks in less than half the attempts. Folk has embraced the challenge.
“Competition should bring out the best in anyone,” said Folk. “Whether it be at the quarterback position or the kicking position. If you can’t compete against the best of the best, then you’re not going to make it.”
Competition is nothing new for the seven-year veteran. There has been another kicker with Folk in camp every year he has been with the team. He has won the job all three years.
If he wins the job Folk says he believes adjusting his in-season routine could help as well.
“My first couple years [my days were] Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, so there was that day off in between,” said Folk. “My third year it was Wednesday, Thursday, so I had two days off before the game. Then when I got here it’s been Wednesday, Thursday, Friday with a day off before the game. So we’re trying to build into it with a somewhat better routine for all of us.”
He went on to compare his kicking routine with that of a pitcher, noting how important it is to find the right routine to stay in a rhythm. He then continued his comparison to other major sports, bringing up golf this time.
“If I’m not in a groove, I’m going to have to fight,” said Folk. “It’s like golf. If you’re in a good groove in golf, you’re going to hit it in the fairway, you’re going to hit it on the green, you’re going to make putts. You hear Tiger talk about he has to scramble for a round all the time, where he is fighting for pars. But he’s making those pars, so some days you’ve got to do that.”
But the 28-year-old admits his wife probably has the harder job.
“It’s tough,” said Folk. “The hardest part is I want to be able to do stuff. Help my wife out, but at the same time she’s the one with the goods to feed them, so I can’t do much there. I could do diaper duty and get them to sleep and stuff, but her mom has been helping her out.”
For right now Folk will focus on his kicking, because on the field he is the one with the goods.