Major Phases of the Kicking Skill
By: Stuart Lierich
It is fair to say that the grip and subsequent drop of the football to the kicking leg are paramount in determining accuracy and distance. This perhaps is the most important step in preparing to kick. It is therefore a step that requires a player to master before any efficient kicking on a consistent basis will be achieved under game conditions.
The shape itself of the gaelic football determines where most players will naturally grip a ball. Modern coaching, as with batting stance/grip in cricket, makes accommodation for the natural comfort of a player. Our recommendation of grip will cover majority of players being able to competently deliver the ball from the guiding hand to foot with negligable variation in ball movement. This is a critical element in leading up to impact with the football.
Please remember that we are developing muscle memory for all new skills and as such will feel awkward to a youth footballer until autonomous.
Our kicking template proposes that the grip will be with 1. Two Hands to begin (imagine the firm grip just of a handshake) on opposing sides of the ball. Symmetry is the key in creating alignment to the kicking leg.
2. The placement will be just below the centre of the ball where the kicking hand can easily guide before drop. (Fingers pointing downwards with index fingers centred). This grip offers ball security, but allows a player to easily change mind and continue to carry or pass by hand. A correct grip will allow comfortable raising of the ball to facilitate a guide path for the ball to follow toward the kicking foot with technical alignment.
Ball Set and Drop
A player's ability to control the ball onto their foot and subsequently the impact zone (refer below), must be correct for the kick outcome to be effective/accurate. The ball is set with a straight arm position just above the waistband level. There is little doubt that a higher level will result in lower accuracy rates.
The player must guide the ball down (in alignment with kicking leg), with the guiding hand cradling the ball, and with the release point being at the time the kicking foot leaves the ground, thereby giving the player time to generate power to kick the ball.
During this element the arm on the non kicking side releases from the ball and swings up and back in an arc, acting as a counter balance and preventing body rotation.
The most important part of this element is that an oval shaped ball is VERTICAL (even slightly angled backwards), which will allow the player to contact the BOTTOM THIRD of the ball, causing the ball to spin backwards.
Lower Leg Acceleration
To kick a football with penetration a player must generate significant lower leg speed during kicking action. This is generated by a player's ability to take a steady and long last stride, while taking their kicking foot back behind them. At this point a player should swing their foot forward in an 'explosive' action to make contact with the ball. This requires a quick knee extension , not a large 'wind up' of the lower leg.
A player's foot will need to be FIRM when impacting the football, with ankle fully extended. This creates the hardest and stable platform for the ball to make contact with. It is essential that the ball is impacted at the ankle joint, roughly around the 'hump' on top of the foot. NOT toes as some coaching will recommend. Contact further down the foot on the smaller foot bones will involve a less stable platform to kick and less efficient contact will result. There is no need to concerntrate on 'pointing the kicking toe' as a firm platform will cause this to happen automatically.
The way a kick looks, sounds and feels is very important in the final outcome. A drop punt style kick should always spin backwards in a vertical plane. This ensures the flight path will remain consistent. (A backward spinning ball will not always go straight but it will travel further and will be predictable). If a kick has been made correctly it should feel light on the foot. The foot will be firm and absorb all shock. The kick will not feel as if it required great effort from the player. The kick will sound like a 'thud' not a 'slap'. Players should become familiar with the 'feel' of a good kick outcome so as to aid reinforcement.
Stuart's Accountabilities include:
Technique and Match Performance Analysis, Skill Development, Training Design, Education of fundamentals, Kick Program Design and Implementation.
Accredited Rugby League Coach.
Wrote the Kicking module for the Rugrats Rugby (UK) Coaching Resource.
Provides One-On-One Kicking Lessons and Tuition to Individual players of Rugby League, Union and Australian Rules Football.
Providing Coach Education on the subject of Kicking at Community Football Clubs in Australia.
Consults to several Rugby League football clubs providing match video analysis of Kick Performance.
Elite Player Development Coordinator at Brisbane Easts Tigers RLFC
Ex Australian Rules Footballer having played in a second tier competition in Australia to the Elite AFL. Club was Norwood FC competing in the SANFL in Adelaide. (senior debut 1992)
Have coached at 'colts' level SANFL at Norwood (2001)
A junior Australian Rules Footballer with representative honours
Currently studying the Diploma of Sport Development