The Punt Kick - Wind that Spring!
A timely email from Darren of Seaford this week who queried the need for strong abdominals, particularly the obliques, in distance kicking. Timely, as the accompanying photographs appeared in recent sports pages.
Yes Darren, so much attention is paid to the obvious need for power in the principal kicking muscles and the technique involving the leg swing that the need for core power is often neglected. Not only is core power required, but players must know how to access it. Look at the player in the photograph below. The recommended elongated final stride is obvious (see Science of Kicking, Chapter 5, p l9) but consider the affect it has had on this player's core , and his ability to achieve optimum winding of the 'spring.'
Firstly, it has resulted in his left hip being turned automatically to his left to facilitate the strong hyperextension of left hip and kicking leg.
Secondly, the high right arm lift and positioning of the right hand well behind his body has twisted his torso in the opposite direction - hips in one direction, chest and shoulders in the other The brief time it has taken to achieve the 'winding' action ensures that a stretch reflex has been elicited in the trunk rotator muscles, particularly the abdominal obliques, which will snap the torso explosively back in the opposite direction. It is an essential core rotation to maximize the forward velocity of the kicking leg and have it sweep fluidly forward to the beautiful followthrough seen in the accompanying photograph.
Of course, the timing of the optimum 'winding ' of the spring and its release to coincide with the sweep of the kicking leg is achieved with long practice and repetition, repetition, repetition.
So remember Darren, ... pay attention to your obliques , and contrary to the advice of a leading AFL coach , never practice this skill when fatigued . Establish the movement patterns indelibly first, then introduce a game situation once the skill is well established and quite automatic.