Bulletin 9
Teaching the Punt Kick using the Backward Tracking Method

The ultimate quest for kicking coaches is to find the most successful and meaningful way to teach young players to kick. With over 35years of experience in teaching and coaching methodology at both university and sport institute level I have now developed what I consider to be the ultimate learning method for novice players or for players of any age who simply require the tools to kick effectively. The skill learning method that consistently delivers the best results is the ‘Backward Tracking Method’. It is a unique approach, based on strong underpinning scientific principles. In particular it integrates biomechanical applications with current educational methodology. The aim is to teach the kick in the most efficient manner, in the shortest time, and using a system that will ensure that once it’s learned it stays learned. The punt kick is taught in 8 Steps and for eachstep there is an explanation and justification for the ‘Backward Tracking Method’. There is also a brief explanation of technique before practices and drills are described. Where required the text uses highlight boxes titled ‘Tips, Key Words, Variations, Remember, Beware, Safety’ to assist in the learning process.

The book describing the ‘Backward Tracking Method’ will soon be available and is titled:

‘Teaching the Punt Kick using the Backward Tracking Method’

It will be available for purchase through our website: www.thepuntkick.com and also in selected bookshops, so keep your eyes on the ball!

The techniques described in this book are based on the title:

The Science of Kicking – Kicking for Distance and Accuracy in Australian Football’


Here is a brief look at some of the books underpinning principles


Sound Technique
The ‘Backward Tracking Method’ teaches sound technique in the correct progression and with the most appropriate coaching steps and practises. For example, the length of the final kicking stride will determine aspects of timing, rhythm, balance, power and accuracy – just about all the foundation elements required to set up a successful kick. It is essential therefore to lock in this stride platform at the very beginning of the learning process, otherwise the techniques that build upon it will be compromised.

Natural Movements
The human body has its own set of natural rhythms, timings and balances. With young players such natural movements should be encouraged as they will facilitate the learning process and once learned will be resistant to change. For example, the natural movement of the arms in the approach is a moderate swinging movement across the body. This arm movement serves to counter the rotations of the legs keeping the player ‘well balanced’. However, even natural movements have to be refined. As the foot impacts with the ball, the opposite arm should be moving forward in a counter‐balancing movement. To refine this movement and make the action most effective the coach should emphasize keeping the arm high and stretching it as far as possible out to the side of the body.

Critical Elements
Every skill has certain techniques, so important and integral to that skill that, if not performed efficiently, will result in a technical breakdown under pressure. These critical elements underpin the skill and must be identified before any learning can take place. The ‘Backward Tracking Method’ takes account of this in the development of the skill and the accompanying drills making learning rapid and meaningful. For example, in terms of accuracy it is primarily the ‘knee’ of the kicking leg that provides alignment for the kicking foot up to and through ball contact. If the knee is out of alignment then it will drag the foot out of alignment. ‘Wrong knee line – Wrong foot line’.

‘First’ and ‘Second’ Order Techniques
To teach, for example, the initial stance and approach first, is to teach peripheral techniques of only secondary importance to the skill. Rather the core elements such as setting the ball and ball/foot contact should be taught at the very beginning. These are the ‘first order’ essential techniques and it is important to get these core elements correct at the outset, reinforce them into the system and then build around them. The player must then track backward to learn the ‘second order’ elements which are the ‘icing on the cake’.

Feeling and Imaging
An important part of the learning process is the ability to internalize and ‘feel’ the action being performed so that you know at any time where your body parts are and what they are doing. This sounds easy but in fact most players perform an action in a blurrrrrrrr…and if you asked them where their leg was positioned at a certain stage in the skill they wouldn’t know. If you cannot ‘feel’ the position of your limb, then how can you possibly know whether you are performing the skill correctly and how can you make any meaningful correction?

‘Player Centred’ Learning
While the process of learning must be a co‐operative effort between player, coach and biomechanist it is ultimately the player who is on the field of play and must take responsibility for the outcomes. The player must understand the techniques and the biomechanical principles that underpin them, and at the same time be able to feel and image what they are doing. It is essential, that when the skill is taken from the practice field to the arena, all processes remain unaltered and the kicking template can be repeated at will. This only comes with the player being ‘in control’.

Backward Tracking
The ‘Backward Tracking Method’ is therefore geared not only to consolidate the core elements of the kick right from the beginning but also to provide the most interesting practical and enjoyable set of learning skills. It is presented in ‘8 Steps’ progressively tracking backward through the skill, from ‘first order’ core elements to ‘second order’ peripheral elements.

Every coaching book on kicking skills, whether from official or unofficial sources takes little account of modern educational processes and methods in teaching the skill. Rather they take the easy way out and simply start with the stance/approach and finish with the followthrough. This may seem logical but in fact is not only simplistic but also ineffective. On the other hand The ‘Backward Tracking Method’ is unique and innovative and for the first time attempts to take the scientific theory and teach it in the most practical and meaningful way.




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