Bulletin 24
The Punt Kick – Newton’s Third Law

According to Newton’s Third Law of Action and Reaction, the forces that two bodies exert on each other are always:

OPPOSITE in DIRECTION and EQUAL in MAGNITUDE

To simplify a very complicated law think of the following example. While sitting in a swivel chair, lock the thumbs together and extend both arms straight in front of the body. Quickly rotate your shoulders and arms as one unit around to the side in a clockwise direction. Observe how the swivel chair ‘reacts’ by rotating in the opposite direction, that is, anti-clockwise. It has reacted in the opposite direction with an equal amount of force and in the same pathway. The movement of the chair is designed to counterbalance the initial arm movement. (This can also be demonstrated using a slippy piece of paper or plastic on the floor with your butt on the plastic and the body in a pike position)

Why does the chair react like this? If you cannot apply a force against an object such as the ground to change your position then the body will automatically perform a counterbalancing movement to neutralise the action you perform. So with Adelaide’s Kurt Tippett. Here he is performing a kick for distance with the body in mid-air and nothing to force against.

Action: The kicking leg is driven forward in an anti-clockwise direction.
Reaction: The trunk and head drive forward in a clockwise direction to counterbalance the kicking leg.

Action: As well as driving forward the kicking leg also forces across the line of the body.
Reaction: The left arm drives across the body to counterbalance the kicking leg.

One might assume that with so many rotating and twisting forces, acting in different directions, the body would become unbalanced. Quite the contrary, this mechanism ensures that the head and torso remain square to the direction of the kick retaining the balance of the player. While this is a natural action following natural laws, and able to be performed by any young person without coaching, it should nevertheless be refined for the professional kicker.

Could Kurt improve his action? Even from this photograph it is clear that the left arm should be straight with the hand in line, thumb pointing to the sky and the fingers splayed. This will generate more efficient forces forward and across the body to assist with counterbalance, increase leg forces and overall body alignment.

This is a very simple explanation for a very involved principle. Miller is quoted as saying ‘to be absolutely certain about something one must know everything or nothing about it’. So there are choices, but if you want to be the super coach start reading and applying the principles.

Happy Kicking!

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