Bulletin 13
A More Accurate Drop Punt Kick – The ‘Place Kick’ as a Useful Teaching Tool

An interesting letter appeared in the print media recently (Herald Sun, ‘Your Say’, April 17th 2010) relating to ‘Right time for place kicks’. The tenet of this letter pertains to the reintroduction of the place kick as an accurate tool of the trade. Thomas Hogg, responding to an earlier Herald Sun report “Shots at goal going astray, April 13th 2010, recommends the reintroduction of the place kick as a means of ‘… helping to overcome a pathetic inaccuracy in front of goal currently plaguing all AFL teams’.

First thoughts were to discard this suggestion as a relic of the past but as movement analysts, and being aware that other football codes achieve high levels of accuracy with this kick, we wondered whether in fact it does have application in the modern game. The drop punt kicking action is a highly complex sequence of phases not least of which is the co-ordination of the ‘set and drop’ and subsequent ‘impact’ with the foot. So difficult is the co-ordination of this combined movement, we wonder perhaps if there is some logic in Mr Hogg’s suggestion to reintroduce the place kick and thereby separate the two phases.

The complexity of the set and drop is demonstrated by Josh Hunt of Geelong where the propensity for error is obvious. Here the ball is dropped from waist height to make contact with the foot just above ground level. The slightest oscillation during descent will result in an inaccurate foot contact, greatly exaggerated by the time the ball reaches its intended target. Logically, the separation of these two phases, and taught separately in junior or other developmental ranks would have some merit.

The introduction of the ‘part-whole’ method of coaching, and the breaking down of the skill into its component parts will make it more manageable for young players. The separation and elimination of the set and drop, and concentrating on developing a consistent leg swing to a stationary ball, would result in movement patterning to achieve accurate muscle memory. It is indeed even possible to introduce at the outset, a round ball which would again produce a more consistent outcome.

Eliminating the complex set and drop, and permitting the junior player to concentrate only on the leg swing against a stationary ball, would enable the player to hone the skills of elongated final stride, accurate foot placement, and attainment of the full ‘V’ position of the kicking leg. Not only could the place kick therefore be used as a useful learning strategy, but could also be introduced in the game situation to further consolidate muscle memory.



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