Are you needing to improve your kick? Or want to take your kicking to the next level?
In this blog I share how you can become an elite kick through various tips and insights, including:
The ball guide and drop
Kicking around your body
Set-shot goal kicking (technique & routine)
As a former GWS Giant, who went on to became a successful Division 1 Collegiate punter in the USA, I know what it takes to improve your kicking!
This article stems from a discussion I had with Ben Stanley of Enhanced Football. Enhanced Football are based in Queensland and help improve all areas of footy.
(Photo credit: Enhanced Football)
Ball Guide & Drop
The horizontal ball lift (seen above) is a core component of what Ben teaches in a kicking technique. With years of analysing the best player’s kicks, Ben has identified the fluency that comes with raising the ball to a horizontal plane before bringing the ball back down to the foot. Ben believes that it makes players guide the ball down longer and allows the contact to occur closer to the body (as opposed to “reaching” to kick the ball).
We both agree that the horizontal ball lift generally occurs when players are running at a higher speed, or when kicking for distance. The best kicks in the AFL know when to use it, and do it without thinking. Based on our understanding of physics and biomechanics we discussed the potential that bringing the ball up before “pushing” it down can get the ball to the foot quicker and creates more force at contact, and therefore more penetration in the kick (an area that needs to be looked into further).
"Different situations require different types of kicks"
When players are kicking at a slower pace or over a shorter distance, they generally opt to hold the ball more up and down or with a slight forward tilt (the same orientation that it will make contact with their foot) - instead of bringing the ball to the horizontal plane.
I am a big believer that different situations require different types of kicks – therefore they should all be practiced. Practice what feels comfortable to you and when you will utilise each technique. This isn't to make kicking complicated, but to have more kicks in your repertoire!
Check out my YouTube video too see drills you can do to improve your ball drop:
Around the Body Kicking
Another style of kick we believe is important to learn and practice is ‘around the body’. Keeping everything straight in your technique is great for learning the fundamental structure and is often the best way to teach beginners. However, keeping everything straight is not always realistic during a game. Often players do not have the time to straighten up and will have to kick by ‘opening up’ (twisting) their hips in the backswing or by coming across their body as they contact the ball.
(Photo credit: afl.com.au)
Additionally, kicking around your body allows for more penetration - as you can get your foot further back in the backswing (I go over this in more detail in another post) and the extra rotation in your hips creates a greater angular velocity which results in putting more force into the ball.
Ben and I believe that it is still important to maintain some structure of kicking 'through the ball' and finishing with your hips through to the target. When players start to ‘slice the ball’ or ‘fall off the kick’ that is when issues occur, and power and accuracy is lost. Therefore, having some fundamental structure and practicing these kicks is crucial.
Some points to remember when practicing kicking around the body are to:
Have your hand more over the top of the ball to get it on the side tilt
Match the ball with your foot (tilted on an angle)
Finish with your hips and kicking foot directed somewhat toward the target.
(photo credit: afl.com.au)
Set-Shot Goal Kicking
For set-shot goal kicking Ben and I like players to do what they feel is comfortable to them. But I suggest players aim to shorten their run-up. This has stemmed from my time as a punter in American football. I learned that 2 steps are all that is needed to develop enough momentum and power into the kick.
I get AFL kicking is different, but for kicks within your range, I believe that 3-5 steps are all that is needed. This allows you to simplify the process and focus on the important part of the kick:
Steady ball drop
Stability at contact
(Photo credit: afl.com.au)
By having a short run-up less can go wrong:
Your momentum going into the kick will be consistent.
You will never be affected by the person standing the mark.
You won’t overthink the situation and make the kick bigger than what it is.
You may think 3-5 steps is too short, but you can create enough momentum into the kick from just 2 steps. Think about when you are kicking to a teammate. You do not take a long run up to kick the ball to them.
I understand it might feel strange at first but try to eliminate unnecessary walking steps and build your momentum earlier in your approach.
Goal Kicking Routine
Having a routine is important, but I do not believe every set shot kick needs to be the same. You should slightly alter your technique for kicks at different distances.
When you get on the end of your kicking range you may feel you need more steps in your approach and to take a natural arc in the last couple of steps to 'open your hips up'. This is fine. Practice where on the field you can keep your run up short and straight and where you will need to add more steps and arc around.
I believe a routine should be something you do before you start your approach. I use the analogy of a basketball player shooting a free-throw or a tennis player about to serve. They may bounce the ball or spin it in their hand before they take their shot. They do the same thing every time (Steph Curry sets his feet takes one bounce then shoots). I am not a sports psychologist, but from my experience, repeating the same motion before your shot allows you to lock in (focus) and eases the pressure as your body and mind becomes aligned with what you have practiced many times before.
How you can improve your kicking
If you would like to REVOLUTIONISE YOUR KICKING you can download my comprehensive AFL Kicking Guide by clicking the link below. It has over 500 5-star reviews! See why people all over Australia and the world are benefiting from this amazing resource.
The Kicking Consultant aka Josh Growden is a High Performance Coach making elite-level coaching accessible and affordable to all - not just the professionals. He is more than just an expert kicking coach - holding a Masters degree in High Performance Sport from the University of Technology Sydney, a Bachelors degree in Sports Science from Louisiana State University, and is a ASCA accredited Strength & Conditioning coach.