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.