Bulletin 25
The Punt Kick - Old Habits Die Hard

Two interesting kicking references in the press this week. The first comes from Chris Daddo of Hazelwood (Herald Sun Thursday July 5th) who writes ‘... the AFL legends game showed how you kick for goal with the proper technique. Today’s AFL players take note ...’ The second comes from Brendan Goddard of St Kilda (Herald Sun, Sunday July 8th) who passes on the advice given to him by his brother ‘... you have to place the footy on your foot, mate, guide it down for as long as you can ...’

And therein lies the problem. The first quote suggests that she skills of the long-kicking game have gone by the way due to the greater emphasis on handball in the faster modern game, and the demise of the set kick. The second, we feel, gives junior players the wrong visual image. As we state in ‘The Science of Kicking’, (Chapter 6, Ball Set and Drop) the ball can never be ‘placed’ on the kicking foot. Observation of slow motion film of any elite kicker will reveal that at the instant the ball is released, the kicking leg is still in contact with the ground behind the player. It has yet to commence its forward journey towards impact. The ball can never be placed on the foot and any thoughts by juniors to achieve the impossible can only disrupt the approach. Look at the photograph of Riewoldt. We note that he has just relinquished control of the ball with his right hand some three one hundredths of a second earlier. The full ‘V’ position of this leg has not yet been achieved (see Chapter 7) and the ball hangs in mid-air no longer under his control.

We note too, the precise angle of the ball which will have it nestle nicely into the foot at impact. This frozen moment in time suggests the most controlled ball set prior to release, and the ensuing drop. This does not happen by chance. It is a learned skill that must be introduced early in the junior ranks and honed to perfection over time. It will result in a muscle memory that is never lost. Sadly it seems this skill is taken for granted and to use the phrase ‘... place the ball on the foot ...’ is to risk impressionable young minds interrupting a fluid approach which should be devoid of stutter steps.

Put in the hard yards on the little things and reap the rewards later. Houses built on solid foundations stand firm, and in Goddard’s words, ‘... if you can’t kick you won’t play ...’

Happy Kicking!



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