Bulletin 10
Recruiting Rugby League Players to AFL ‐ When is a kick NOT a kick?

We read with interest the comments of Guy McKenna (The Age, Thursday, Aug 13th, 2009) concerning Karmichael Hunt, ‘… [The] Gold Coast Football Club, I can guarantee you, will not have to go and recruit aspecialized kicking coach for Karmichael Hunt, that’s for sure…’Although it is unclear as to the context of the kick shown below, the photograph of Karmichael Hunt would appear to tell a different story.

It should be pointed out that the purpose of a rugby league kick is to send the ball downfield to an advantage area rather than to a specific target, distance being important rather than pinpoint accuracy. One of the most critical issues in accurate kicking is the ball set and drop. Many coaches argue that the ball must be ‘placed’ on the kicking foot. An observation of any kicking action at any level will confirm that at the instant the player relinquishes control of the football the kicking foot is still on the ground behind the body. Hence the ball cannot be placed on it. The ball is in fact dropped and we argue then that this drop, a skill in itself, must be taught from the outset. From an observation of the photograph below it is clear that Hunt was not holding the ball correctly. Rather than the little finger placed along the long seam, this long seam is held at right angles to the palm, nose up and pointing skyward (arrow). The ball is totally out of balance with the lacing pointing backwards, and beginning to roll to the left, absolute heresy to any dedicated AFL player.

Note the photograph of Riewoldt at a similar stage of the kick. His little finger is correctly positioned, and as the ball is released, nose down (arrow), it is about to fit snugly into the instep of the kicking foot now having begun its forward journey. It is a position which is essential for accurate delivery and to avoid any ball oscillation. With the Hunt drop it will be ‘hit and miss’ as to where it contacts the foot. Contrary to the overly optimistic and cursory assessment of Guy McKenna, it would appear that Hunt will require highly specialized coaching in order to develop the essential patterning of the set and drop and prevent oscillation being imparted to the ball, especially under game pressure.

We note too, the short final stride demonstrated by Hunt. It will result in a ‘pushing action’ rather than the explosive power generated from a longer stride where all kicking muscles are first put on stretch, and their elastic recoil accessed . This elastic recoil will produce a fluid forward sweep of the kicking leg with accurate timing rather than the hurried impact of the Hunt action. For further information on the benefit of a longer stride refer to ‘The Science of Kicking’ Chapters 5,6 and 7.

 

Happy Kicking!

 

 

 

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