Athlete / NYJSM Interview / Jeff Reed

Interview with Jeff Reed

September 17, 2008

Matthew Vasey, MD

Height/Weight: 5-11/225 | Birthdate: 04/09/1979 | Birthplace: Kansas City, MO, USA | Team: Pittsburgh | College: North Carolina | NFL Experience: 7

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Dr. Vasey's Interview with Jeff Reed

Dr. Vasey: Having had the opportunity to wear a black and gold, #3 jersey back in the day for the H.B. Plant High School Panthers, insight into the professional life of an NFL kicker is of great interest to me. I can recall most of my practices consisting of sitting in the bleachers with the female trainers pleading with coaches for a "One-Bar" facemask while filling my helmet up with water and pouring it on my head under the hot Tampa sun. Needless to say my kicking career lasted but a senior year season. As for the 32 men who live the dream of kicking in the NFL, I have much love. Jeff, thank you very much for taking the time for this interview, it is greatly appreciated.

Dr. Vasey: What sort of diet and exercise regimen do you maintain in the off season?
Jeff Reed: In the off season, I maintain a lot healthier diet ... wraps over bread, protein shakes, etc. During the season I eat smart but a lot looser because I eat what maintains happiness. As far as for exercise, I do cardio five times a week at a thousand calories a day. Whether it is running or some cardio machine, either works. I get out in the heat a lot more also to acclimate myself, which burns more fat as well. Lifting weights includes higher reps and less weight with some resistance work included for leg speed.

Dr. Vasey: How does your diet change during the regular season and/or prior to games?
Jeff Reed: During the season I eat smart but also eat unhealthier than the off season because that's what makes me happy. Prior to games our team has a set meal that includes fruit, veggies, pasta, filets, chicken breasts and a variety of breakfast foods and protein shakes.

Dr. Vasey: What are regular season practices like for a kicker in the NFL?
Jeff Reed: During the regular season, I kick Thursdays and sometimes Fridays. I lift four days a week with Mondays being heavy leg days and Tuesdays being heavy upper body days. Wednesdays include resistance work with the strength coach and heavy cardio. I do cardio five days a week during a normal week in the regular season, but it is not as intense as the off season. Core work is part of the everyday routine. The day before the game is a total day off!

Dr. Vasey: How much time is spent stretching and warming up?
Jeff Reed: I spend about 30 minutes a day warming up on cardio equipment and stretching. Flexibility is a tremendous part of my profession.

Dr. Vasey: Is there any training with respect to tackling on special teams?
Jeff Reed: As far as for kickers and punters, being healthy is the single most important factor in this profession. We are taught how to tackle but don't actually practice it.

Dr. Vasey: Do you place more emphasis on strength or cardiovascular training?
Jeff Reed: I think it is a combination of both. Cardio is extremely important because of the length of the season and sometimes the length of the games. Strength is equally important because the colder it gets the more distance and hang time you lose in kicks.

Dr. Vasey: What sort of role do ice/heat/anti-inflammatory medications play in maintaining your optimum health?
Jeff Reed: All are very important! As much as it is tough to admit, the older you get the tougher it is to roll out of bed in the mornings. Treating your body even when you are not injured takes a little edge off of the potential injury or injuries. Ibuprofen is probably the single most used anti-inflammatory in this profession.

Dr. Vasey: What particular exercises do you find to be most important for your success on the field?
Jeff Reed: Behind the scenes work, using resistance bands to strengthen hips and core results in distance on the field during practice and games, kicking footballs in heavy reps is not necessary. Strength training is important, but not nearly as important as people think. Mastering your skill is number one!

Dr. Vasey: Do you have a mental/physical routine that you use to help you focus out on the field before a kick?
Jeff Reed: Always think positive! The second doubt crosses your mind is when temporary failure sets in. Go on the field knowing you're the man and things will work out pretty well for the most part. Opponents and crowd noise should only drive you more to be successful. Kicking is 90% mental! The other 10% comes from mastering the skill and believing in yourself ... hard work pays off, although at times it seems like a struggle.

Dr. Vasey: Looking back at your playing career what has been one of your most memorable moments?
Jeff Reed: Super Bowl experience is number one! All the hype you witness on TV is really true. That is something no one can ever take from me. It made me a better overall person off the field as well. Honestly though, every time I get a chance to step on the field and kickoff or attempt a kick is memorable. I realize that I am one of thirty-two people in the world that does what I do ... it's crazy!

Dr. Vasey: Do you have any advice for young high school and college kickers with professional aspirations?
Jeff Reed: Most importantly, education and family make a person what he/she becomes. We always want to play a sport for a living, but we should always have a backup plan. After six years in the NFL, I still have an idea of what I want to do after football. Don't depend on your athletic talent to get you through life. Injuries happen too often. On the flip side of that, chase your dreams and don't let anyone tell you that you CAN'T do something!

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