Bulletin 2
Punt kick – Inappropriate technique

Welcome to our bulletin board for July. Avid readers of the sport pages of our daily papers will have noted the concern expressed by Mike Sheahan over the ‘brittle nature’ of the ‘Franklin – Roughead partnership’ (Herald Sun, 14 July 2008) with strike rates of 50% or less in a set kick for goal. Unacceptable at this level!

Sheahan states that Franklin ‘…has an obvious flaw in his approach starting out to his left…’ and approaching in a step-across, wide and very oblique pathway. We agree with this, which is not to say that the player should not use an oblique approach but rather that the curve needs to be more moderate. For precise detail, see Bulletin 1, ‘Kicking for goal – What approach would you use?’).

In addition Sheahan comments that Roughead ‘…kicks off just two or three tentative steps’. His concern is well founded. Research demonstrates that the energy transferred to a kick with an approach of 5-7 steps is the same as that transferred with any greater number of steps. Hence, it would appear there is no advantage to be gained with an approach exceeding 7 steps. However it should not be less than five steps. This is primarily due to the need to transfer sufficient energy from the approach to the kick and to provide enough time for the player to become well balanced during the approach.

We are constantly reminded of the lack of basic knowledge that exists at all levels of the game. For example many coaches persist with the notion that the ball must be placed on, or guided to the foot. The same terminology is delivered to young players who are usually instructed by Saturday morning mums and dads. We know that in fact the ball should be set with a straight arm lift to a position around waistband level with the hand cradling and guiding the ball into alignment with the kicking leg. The ball is then dropped onto the foot platform.

In scientific terms it is anatomically impossible to ‘place’ the ball on the foot and impressionable minds receiving insistent instruction to do so will develop a mental picture of this inappropriate action that can only lead to persistent problems later.  Therefore to instruct these youngsters to ‘place the ball’ on the foot presents misinterpreted or misleading information. 

Witness the stop frame of Jonathan Brown on this page. It is immediately apparent that this player relinquishes control of the ball at approximately hip height, when the kicking foot is still well behind the player. The thigh/leg is only just commencing its journey forward to meet this dropping ball. This is important in terms of timing the drop with ball/foot contact. Any such disturbance or mistiming will induce misalignment of the falling ball.

Look at the image again – the set has this ball falling vertically nose first and side seam vertical. It will nestle beautifully onto the instep as the leg whip is completed approximately 0.14 seconds later. Most players achieve this orientation, only if the little finger of the guiding hand is placed along the side seam. This grip alone permits sufficient hand/wrist angling (ulnar deviation) to achieve release with the ball at the correct presentation angle.

Yes – old habits ‘die hard’. It is very difficult to ‘unlearn’ inappropriate technique once patterning has been established and ‘relearn’ correct technique. Why not provide the correct information and teach the correct ball set and drop from the outset.



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