Bulletin 17
The Punt Kick – Nick Riewoldt ‘s new kicking style

The response from the last bulletin board has been encouraging and we thank those readers for their interest and support. It seems that the beautiful ball set and drop demonstrated by Nick Riewoldt sparked much interest and most seemed keen for a follow‐up on Nick’s new style. His exaggerated followthrough looks the goods but should you follow suit? Any divergence from efficient technique comes with risks. While accuracy and distance may be compromised it may also leave the musculature open to injury.

Observe correct technique through impact and into the followthrough (fig 3).

1. Back is rounded with the trunk entering the typical ‘crunch’ position under the influence of the abdominal muscles.
2. Centre of mass is located behind the support leg and impact point.
3. At ball contact the knee is flexed, and does not straighten until after impact.

In the time it takes for Nick to achieve his nose‐to‐knee posture demonstrated in fig 2, the ball is already 30‐40 m downfield with the abdominals, having expended loads of unnecessary energy – all for nought. Furthermore, the fluid followthrough so necessary in successful kicking will be negated by this forceful action. The kicking leg must be permitted to follow its natural pathway, neither arrested prematurely nor lengthened unnaturally.

Qualified coaches will be aware of the muscular chain extending down our backs from the posterior neck muscles, through the powerful erector spinae to the gluteal muscles, and thence through the hamstrings which extend to just below the knee. The links of this chain are placed on stretch as we attempt to put our nose to our knee. The greater the closure, the more intense the 'burning' sensation in the hamstrings. Of course it can be eased by bending the knee. In the case of a long followthrough, observation of still frame photography reveals that in many cases the knee of the kicking leg hyperextends briefly after impact. Now the hamstrings are fully stretched and preparing to stop this 'runaway train' ie. the kicking leg.

Look at the hamstrings in fig 4 as they are 'switched on' again to arrest the forward and upward swinging leg. Note the straining tendons of biceps femoris and semitendinosus. The third hamstring, semimembranosus lying underneath would be under similar tension, all three applying a significant force to their pelvic attachment the ischial tuberosity (bum-bone). Little wonder hamstring injuries are so common. Add Riewoldt's impulsive nose-to-knee action to a dodgy hamstring and an enforced 4-6 weeks holiday could be on the cards.

The best advice we can give to all coaches including mums and dads is to avoid this inefficient and unnecessary kicking style. Keep the trunk in a typical rounded 'crunch' position to optimize both force and accuracy and avoid injury. Stick to efficient technique rather than changes of style. Styles come and go and generally they are an attempt to correct some underlying flaw in technique. Treating a symptom (in this case inaccurate kicking), without correctly diagnosing the cause is a recipe for disaster. That's when the real coaches and players stand up to be counted.

 

 

 

 

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