Punt kick – Stride Length and Pelvic Tilt
Given the huge interest and positive responses
to our August bulletin on stride length, and its importance in
kicking long and accurately we thought we might delve into issues
of stride length and pelvic tilt. There is little doubt that
the length of the final stride influences the degree of pelvic
tilt. Accordingly, one claim that has been often promoted is
that a conscious effort by the player to increase pelvic tilt
during the leg drive will result in a greater force being transferred
to the ball at impact.
We direct the readers interest to some recent research by biomechanists
at a leading Australian university that appears to confirm
that players who kick a ball more accurately, and over greater
distances, all demonstrate an increased forward pelvic tilt.
The observation of increased pelvic tilt is entirely correct
and is indicated on the diagram below by the yellow line. However,
the research has drawn no further conclusion from this, inferring
only that players should endeavour to actively achieve this tilt
if they wish to kick greater distances.
Coaches beware! Under no circumstances should they encourage
this tactic. Any attempt to achieve a new pelvic angle will seriously
unbalance the player and interrupt the fluid leg swing necessary
to a biomechanically correct action. They must understand that
the elongated final stride recommended to prime the kicking
muscles will achieve this pelvic tilt automatically.
the stride nears its completion, the
increased stretch it places on psoas and rectus femoris (see
August Bulletin Board) will have these muscles exerting a downward
pull on the front rim of the pelvis. The diagram above demonstrates
the result of an increased stride length. The player in (a)
has a stride length of 165 centimetres, and demonstrates a
moderate pelvic tilt and moderate lay back of the thigh.
In the accompanying illustration (b) stride length has been
increased to 185 centimetres, with an obvious increase in pelvic
tilt and pronounced layback of the thigh.
The shorter stride (a) has the kicking leg beginning its
journey forward far too early. The kicking muscles have not
been ‘wound up’, and the pelvis, denied the downward pull from
these muscles, demonstrates only moderate forward tilt. The
longer stride (b) results in the kicking leg being left much
further behind the player. This ‘winding up’ has been achieved
naturally as a result of the increased length of stride, and
the kicking leg will explode forward in a fluid manner rather
than in a forced unbalanced manner. An unforced action will
always produce a smoother, and hence more accurate impact.
While coaches must emphasize a long final stride, its adoption
should be approached with caution. The immediate introduction
of an overly long stride might upset the rhythm of the
player and affect the sequencing and timing of the body movements
and the leg swing. Rather, it should be introduced progressively
over an extended period so that the player can make on-going
adjustments to correct, relearn and ‘over learn’.