The Punt Kick – Newton’s Third Law
According to Newton’s Third Law of Action and Reaction, the
forces that two bodies exert on each other are always:
OPPOSITE in DIRECTION and EQUAL in MAGNITUDE
To simplify a very complicated law think of the following example.
While sitting in a swivel chair, lock the thumbs together and
extend both arms straight in front of the body. Quickly rotate
your shoulders and arms as one unit around to the side in a clockwise
direction. Observe how the swivel chair ‘reacts’ by rotating
in the opposite direction, that is, anti-clockwise. It has reacted
in the opposite direction with an equal amount of force and in
the same pathway. The movement of the chair is designed to counterbalance
the initial arm movement. (This can also be demonstrated using
a slippy piece of paper or plastic on the floor with your butt
on the plastic and the body in a pike position)
does the chair react like this? If you cannot apply a force
against an object such as the ground to change your position
then the body will automatically perform a counterbalancing
movement to neutralise the action you perform. So with
Adelaide’s Kurt Tippett. Here he is performing a kick for
distance with the body in mid-air and nothing to force
Action: The kicking leg is driven forward
in an anti-clockwise direction.
Reaction: The trunk and head drive forward in a clockwise
direction to counterbalance the kicking leg.
Action: As well as driving forward the
kicking leg also forces across the line of the body.
Reaction: The left arm drives across the body to counterbalance
the kicking leg.
One might assume that with so many rotating and twisting forces,
acting in different directions, the body would become unbalanced.
Quite the contrary, this mechanism ensures that the head and
torso remain square to the direction of the kick retaining the
balance of the player. While this is a natural action following
natural laws, and able to be performed by any young person without
coaching, it should nevertheless be refined for the professional
Could Kurt improve his action? Even from this photograph it
is clear that the left arm should be straight with the hand in
line, thumb pointing to the sky and the fingers splayed. This
will generate more efficient forces forward and across the body
to assist with counterbalance, increase leg forces and overall
This is a very simple
explanation for a very involved principle. Miller is quoted
as saying ‘to be absolutely certain about something one must
know everything or nothing about it’. So there are choices,
but if you want to be the super coach start reading and applying