Bulletin 26
The Punt Kick - Researching Kicking Techniques

The AFL punt kick is a fundamental kicking pattern like a punt kick in rugby or American football or even a soccer kick. However, each of these skills while having the same biomechanical base and patterning has its own unique style. Here we present some of the latest research findings for professional players from across the kicking codes, (soccer rugby and AFL football) all of which are pertinent to the generic base of the punt kick. The focus here is biomechanical and while most research has concentrated on the kicking leg other aspects of the kick have been the subject of recent exploration.



To achieve maximum distance the number of steps taken should be no more than 5. This permits the optimum approach velocity of 3-4 m/s. The optimum angle of approach should be close to 45°. Such an angle generates maximum ball velocity off the foot.



Length of the last stride is important for maximum range kicks. A stride length of 1.69 m for maximum range and 1.50 for medium range was noted for the AFL punt kick. The greater length of stride is associated with a greater degree of pelvic retraction and consequent protraction (forward rotation on the kicking side) resulting in a more forceful kick.



The approach path across all codes is almost always curved although AFL, for some reason, holds on to the straight approach. As a consequence of a curved approach the body is inclined towards the centre of rotation. This enables:



The inclined kicking foot to get under the ball and achieve the optimum contact placement.



The more inclined lower body allows a more extended kicking leg at impact and therefore a higher foot velocity.



The most stable body position for executing the kick thus contributing to the accuracy and consistency of the kick.



Ground reaction forces made as the support foot contacts the ground have been reported as 15-20 N (1.5-2 kg vertical force), 4-6 N (posterior, braking) and 5-6 N ( lateral, towards the non-kicking side). This suggests a stabilising of the body and a tensioning of the leading support leg, allowing greater muscular forces to be exerted by the muscles responsible for the kick force.



The support leg flexes to 26° at foot contact and for reasons of maintaining the height of the centre of mass together with control and accuracy sustains this angle up to ball contact where there is an increase in angle to 42° as the muscles around the support leg/knee generate forces.



At ball contact the trunk is inclined backwards to the vertical and laterally to the non-kicking side. A backward inclination of 13-17° and a lateral inclination of 10-16° have been noted. Such a posture enables the most efficient use of the core abdominal muscles.



Many studies report a reduction in angular or linear velocity of the kicking leg immediately before impact. This is in keeping with the ‘effective mass’ principle of stabilizing the shank just before impact to conserve the momentum of the shank so that the ball takes no force away from the foot.


    For detailed information on any of the above refer to ‘The Science of Kicking – Kicking for Distance and Accuracy in Australian Football’



Happy Kicking!


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