Bulletin 4
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.

As 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’.

 

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