Playing mind games

Stamps kicker Sandro DeAngelis still ranks as the most accurate placekicker in CFL history. (Sun...

Stamps kicker Sandro DeAngelis still ranks as the most accurate placekicker in CFL history. (Sun Media/Jim Wells)

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Calgary Stampeders kicker Sandro DeAngelis depends on a wall of blockers to keep opponents out of his face.

Keeping any lingering frustrations or shreds of doubt from entering into his head? Well, that's up to him.

"As a kicker, you do a lot of talking to yourself, as weird as that sounds," DeAngelis said. "It's a lot of positive self-talk. You can let the doubts creep into your head or you could start to think about things, but honestly, as a kicker, you have to take care of yourself in between your own ears.

"The best analogy I could use is a goalie in hockey -- you're out there on your own island and you're your own best friend. You have to be able to realize the doubts or the negative thoughts can creep into your head, and you have to do your best job to make sure they stay out."

DeAngelis still ranks as the most accurate placekicker in CFL history, but the Stampeders' special-teams ace has been uncharacteristically inconsistent in recent weeks, missing a field-goal attempt in three consecutive games.

He was off the mark on a 43-yarder three weeks ago in Edmonton, failed to split the uprights from 45 yards out the following week in Hamilton and rang a 25-yard attempt off both crossbars when the B.C. Lions paid a visit to McMahon Stadium last Friday.

That's a tough spell for a guy who's made 83.7% of his field-goal tries since joining the Red & White as a rookie in 2005, but DeAngelis doesn't spend much time celebrating his successes or moaning about his misses.

"I pride myself on trying to never miss, ever," he said. "But regardless of whether you made your last kick or you missed your last kick, the next kick is the most important one. The life of a kicker is a very short-term memory. If you're sitting there dwelling on whether you made the last kick or missed the kick, you could have that game-winner sitting in front of you, and whether you have negative feelings or positive feelings going into that one, it really shouldn't effect you."

Perhaps, DeAngelis is a victim of his own success.

The Niagara Falls, Ont., native is a four-time all-star. His trophy case includes the 2006 CFL Most Outstanding Special Teams Player award and the Most Outstanding Canadian nod from last year's Grey Cup game.

Even after missing three times on his last eight attempts, DeAngelis is 29-of-34 so far this season. His 85.3% accuracy rate puts him third on the eight-team loop, behind Toronto's Justin Medlock (87.9%) and Winnipeg's Alexis Serna (85.7%).

When DeAngelis misses, people notice. He welcomes the pressure.

"I set the bar very, very high for myself," DeAngelis said. "I expect to make every kick but, with that being said, I know sometimes I'm going to miss. It's one of those things that if you set the bar very high for yourself and you achieve those goals, people are going to set the bar very high for you, as well. That's a position that I like to be in because it means you're doing some good things and it means that you're consistent.

"I'm my own worst critic and whenever I miss a kick, I'm mad at myself. But at the same time, I realize you can't dwell on it because the next kick could be the most important, potentially the one to win the game."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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