Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Yoon Focused On Routine, Not Record Book

September 13, 2018

The countdown is officially on for Justin Yoon as the senior kicker sits just 34 points away from breaking Allen Pinkett’s Notre Dame record for career points. 

Yoon will also have a chance to break Kyle Brindza’s school record for career field goals as he’s 14 away from the No. 1 spot. 

“Some guys on my team will always talk about it,” Yoon stated. “It’s exciting, but at the same time, you have to keep it to a minimum. If that gets overplayed, it will keep you distracted from what you have to do on the game field. 

“My friends will remind me going to class, and I’m like ‘This isn’t what I need,’ but I do appreciate their support.” 

Last Saturday, Yoon moved into fourth place on the all-time scoring list, and oddly enough, he passed running backs coach Autry Denson on the list.

“I just heard about it today from one of my teammates,” laughed Yoon. “Coach Denson hasn’t said anything. I appreciate everything he has done for us. He takes care of us and not just the running backs. I really respect him for what he’s done for the entire team.” 

It’s been a wild ride with several clutch field goals, and it will be hard to forget big makes at Clemson and NC State, but perhaps it will be the celebration that most will be remembered 10 years from now. 

Yoon and former long snapper Scott Daly started to bow after makes, and the fan base quickly embraced it. 

“My freshman year, Scott Daly mentioned we should have a celebration,” explained Yoon. “I was just coming in, so I was thinking I had to do well. I thought it would keep me excited about things and we continued to do it throughout the year. 

“I don’t know how it got to the bowing, but it did. It’s entertainment.” 

When it comes to the present, Notre Dame sits 2-0, but special teams have been a wild ride to this point, outside of Yoon’s kicking. 

Sophomore kicker Jon Doerer has struggled at times with kickoffs, but Yoon is right there to provide guidance and advice. 

“All he should be looking forward to is making sure he focuses on his goals,” stated Yoon. “I’m pretty sure he set some goals for himself and each ball he kicks, he should focus on that. He has the leg strength, and everyone knows it. It’s a matter of bringing it upon himself to focus on what his process is, whether it’s hitting the ball right or if he’s taking the proper angle.

“We’ve been doing that a lot with him. Coach (Brian) Polian and I have been talking to him a lot to make sure he’s focused.” 

Yoon admits he’s been in a funk in the past and it’s merely something every kicker has to work through.

“Everyone goes through a stage where they don’t know what’s going on,” Yoon explained. “It’s more so of not getting freaked out. As you continue to play and gain experience, you understand your body more than anyone else. 

“I think he’s at the point where he’s starting to get it. I think if he continues to pursue it, he’ll get better.” 

For Yoon, the process of staying out of a funk starts with his routine. He makes sure it’s the same every time, including making sure his holder is dialed in.

“When I go out, I normally tell my holder ‘Same thing. Nothing changes,’” stated Yoon. “It gives him composure. With holding, it’s hard to focus, but once you get that locked in mentality, nothing should change. 

“It’s the same routine for me. Back three steps, side twist twice and the biggest thing for me, is making sure I focus on hitting the sweet spot of the football. Those are the key points for me.” 

As for that bubble of blocking out distractions, it took Yoon a little longer to develop, but it starts with trusting himself.

“I would say it took me a while, but a lot of it has to deal with how you mentally prepare yourself, said Yoon. “Right before you’re about to do your goal, a lot of people end up thinking ‘Oh, what if this happens.’ You can’t distrust yourself. You have to trust that you’ve done it and that helps me build the bubble around me where I don’t know what’s going on.”

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