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49ers Kicker Robbie Gould: Lack Of Fans Will Make Wind Different
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Kickers around the NFL are going to be facing a unique challenge this season that they’ve never had to deal with before, and it’s a situation that could end up having a major impact on kicking games around the league. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly half the teams in the NFL won’t be allowing fans to attend games to start the season, and that’s why things are going to be tough for kickers. Apparently, it’s not easy to kick in an empty stadium. 

According to 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, the biggest change players at his position will face this year when playing in a game with no fans is that the wind in an empty stadium flows differently than the wind in a full stadium.

“I think this year, stadiums will definitely be different from a wind perspective, because the fans usually in most stadiums will knock down the wind,” Gould said this week during an interview on “Good Morning Football.”

When you have a sold-out stadium, that’s means there’s roughly 75,000 fans in the building who are all knocking down the wind, which makes life easier for a kicker. With zero fans in the stadium, winds will be swirling more, which is going to make longer kicks difficult on windy days. 

“So for us, we’ve been practicing more in the stadium just to get used to it, because the wind here at Levi’s will be definitely different than what’s it been in the past,” Gould said. “For us, I think it it’s just a matter of getting used to that.”

During the week leading up to a game, kickers usually watch film that shows how the ball moves in the stadium they’re about to play in. For 2020, this means that Gould and other kickers will have to watch slightly more film to see just how much change there is in ball movement. 

“When you do your game planning for the week, you usually watch a lot of the kicks from that stadium specifically, so you can figure out what end, how the ball’s moving, how’s it going to look,” Gould said. “Also, I think you’re going to have to watch a little bit more film going into these games as you get a couple games into the season.”

Of course, Yogi Berra would say kicking is 90% half mental; for most kickers, they won’t know what they’re up against until they get to the game and put a plan together in their head. 

“I think the biggest part for us is just going out and getting a good game plan in the pregame,” Gould said. “Even if it’s different on film, just go with what we’re feeling that day, but at least we have a feeling of what that might look like.”

Kicking in an empty stadium isn’t just tough because of the wind conditions, it could also have a psychological impact on kickers, which means watching your favorite team kick a field goal this year could be an adventure. 

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