Developing an explosive kicking technique definitely requires dedication, an understanding of the steps required, and the desire to improve your kicks.
While this post will mainly aim to improve your explosive kicking technique for field goals and how to improve your accuracy, this could be applied to soccer, martial arts, muay thai, karate, and other forms of kicking based activities.
I hope this post helps describe ways to develop a more explosive kicking technique, while reducing injury to the body.
In this article, we will discuss:
- What is an explosive kicking technique?
- How many explosive kicking techniques are there?
- Ways you can make your kicks stronger
- Strength isn’t everything
- The hips are your power source
- Master your kicking technique
- Bruce Lee Method
- Stay flexible for maximum explosiveness
- Healthy diet/nutrition helps explosion
- Alternative training methods
I hope you enjoy reading as kicking stuff hard is fun.
What is an explosive kicking technique?
Simply put, an explosive kicking technique is where you generate massive amounts of force requiring very little lead time.
If you’ve ever watched a field goal kicker in slow motion, you can see the explosive nature requires 3 steps or less to be able to kick a ball 60 yards or more.
It’s simply a technical adjustment using a majority of or all of the body to generate the most amount of power possible.
This is a concept of “less is more.”
Having an explosive kicking technique has become more and more refined as football kickers continue to improve. That being said, every technique is different.
How many explosive kicking techniques are there?
While there is essentially only 1 core way to become more explosive, there are hundreds of paths that lead to the ultimate destination.
If you were to watch 100 kickers, every single one will have a different kicking technique than the next.
The question becomes, if there are so many different kicking techniques, how can there only be 1 core way to become more explosive?
The answer lies in a natural sequence of muscle activation within the kickers’ power zone.
The power zone refers to the core, and hip muscles. An explosive kicking technique requires a strong hip drive followed by a balanced core. Let me explain;
- When we kick a football, our entire backswing and follow through, starts, and finishes with the hips. So when a kicker has inactive or weak hips, the football doesn’t explode off their foot.
- Pair strong hips with a balanced core, and the kicker can drive up and through the ball in the most efficient way possible.
There are countless ways to make the hips and core stronger, stay tuned and we’ll cover that later in the article.
Posture When Kicking
When it comes to your posture, a lof of kickers (including myself) tend to crunch down when they make contact with the ball thinking they will hit it harder and farther. Sure there are some kickers who do a great job of working with their crunch. However, they are exceptions to the rule.
Often times, a kicker that crunches SEVERELY limits their potential to kick the football and follow through all the way to completion. And therefore, they stop their leg short of where they should be able to go.
As a result, a shorter and more jabby follow through limits height, power, and distance on your field goals.
If you want to kick a football or any ball harder, follow through more. Bring your leg straight up and through your target line in order to efficiently kick the ball. Therefore, you leave no weight behind the kick, and you are maximizing the power your body can generate.
Therefore, a nice tall posture, with your back straight and shoulders back & down will be the most effective way to maximize your height and distance while maintaining a straight follow through.
A contact, do the best you can not to crunch down, rather, stay nice and tall then swing your leg up and through directly to your target. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
High Or Low Counter Arm?
When kicking footballs or soccer balls, you typically see 3 different arm positions at contact. We’ll refer to the arm that is opposite of your kicking leg as your counter arm. (right leg dominant, left arm, and vice versa)
You will see a kicker with their arm high up in the air at contact, at chest height, and crashing down at hip level.
Over time, a kicker starts to utilize one of these positions more than the other, but i’ll explain the reasoning of which one you’ll want to do in a moment.
In terms of efficiency, we want to get our body weight downfield without anything blocking our momentum. We spoke earlier about having proper body posture at contact. The same thing goes with a counter arm.
The more we crash down, the more momentum we lose in the kick. That’s why it’s best to maintain a nice balanced counter arm at contact.
Most kickers either do a variation of the windmill, or a slashing motion counter arm where they start with their arm high, then it drops to hip height at contact. I’m not saying it’s wrong, it’s mainly just a wasted movement.
The opposite is true with a high counter arm. If you bring your arm way up over your head Randy Bullock style, you can create an imbalance in your body at contact.
Ultimately, I have nothing wrong with a higher counter arm, it just becomes a problem when the kicker develops bad posture because of it.
Therefore, a nice balanced counter arm that comes directly across the body chest height is the most ideal. Jason Myers is a great example of an extremely efficient kicking technique.
The Sweet Spot When Kicking
This topic was covered in one of my previous blog posts on ball contact for kicking field goals. In short, the best location to kick a football is the bottom third of the football. Or even simpler, go about an inch below the center of the football. The reason for this is it gives you the most distance possible on a kick while also giving you the most height.
If you hit lower on the ball, you might see more height but less distance. Higher and you’ll see more distance but less height.
Also, on kickoffs since the ball is raised up a little bit, you can get away with hitting the dead center of the football and you’ll still get great height. Just make sure your posture stays smooth and your leg drives up and through.
On top of that, there are 4 panels on a football, but when you kick the ball, make sure you kick the panel which is opposite of your kicking leg. (left panel for right footed kickers and vice versa.)
The reason for the panels is the stitching isn’t as strong as the 4 panels are. Therefore, by focusing on making contact with the panels, you again get the most power and height out of your kicks while maintaining good posture and leg swing.
Lastly, the part on the foot which is the most recommended is the big bone on your foot or the 2nd shoelace. This will give you the most power, accuracy, and height while reducing injury. I’ve tried the wedge style kicking, and got groin injuries. I’ve done more of a quad focused kick and would always curve my kicks.
The most efficient and effective way to make contact with the ball on your foot is with the halfway point between an all quad or all groin style kick. This way, you don’t favor one muscle group over the others and you have a more consistent ball flight as a result.
How to make your kicks stronger
While playing football, I would always search for ways to improve kicking power, speed ,and strength as that was the whole reason I was on the team. I found that the best way I could get there was to train for functional explosion, not necessarily strength. Let me explain;
- When we refer to strength exercises, we are talking about heavy squats, bench press, and heavy deadlift.
- It is much better to work on quick, fast, accelerated, and explosive movements that use more kicking muscles than heavy squats do.
How much of kicking motion is replicated in the squat?
Now think about box jumps, jumping lunges, or broad jumps, see the difference?
One exercise makes you look cool, the other actually makes you a better kicker.
One exercise makes you bigger, the other makes you better.
Now this might start some controversy, but just think about it, when doing a squat, yes you are using your glutes, hips, hammies, and quads. But compare that to a similar movement like a box jump, i’ll take box jumps all day.
The reason is because we use far more fast twitch muscles when we train fast not strong.
You can get stronger doing heavy squats but only when you explode out of bottom of the lift.
You’re more than likely to improve your explosive kicking technique by doing these exercises;
- Tuck Jumps
- Jump Lunges
- Resistance Band Exercises
- Box Jumps
- Explosive Step Ups With Weights
- Lunge Sprints
- Kneeling Jumps
- Frog Jumps With 180 Degree Rotation
- Kettlebell swings
- Power Cleans
- Deadlifts Driving From The Legs, Finishing With The Hips
- Good Ole’ Fashioned Sprinting
As you can tell, a majority of these exercises revolve around jumping. And the reason is you have to go completely against gravity to push yourself off the ground and into the air. It’s also a great metric to test your intensity level.
If you want to be more explosive, jump higher. There is a direct correlation to your results and the effort you put into it. We’ll cover each of these exercises in more detail
Workouts To Improve Your Explosive Kicking Technique
- Begin your tuck jump by standing straight up with your arms by your side
- Lower yourself into a squat position with your arms out in front of you
- Jump in the air and try to touch your knees to your elbows
- The goal is to spend as little time as possible on the ground
- Start by standing straight up, jump in the air in land with one leg in front of the other arms in running position
- Each jump you will use your hands in alternating form to give yourself momentum
- The goal is to spend as little time on the ground as possible.
- Jump as high as you can, land, and explode up quickly.
Resistance Band Exercises
Personally, resistance band workouts for kickers are some of my favorites. I’ve covered them in other articles what you can find here.
The reason why I like resistance band leg workouts so much is they challenge you the farther away you get from the Anchor Point.
If I position the resistance band around door frame and take 4 steps forward, it gets even harder if I go five steps forward.
I love to practice the kicking motion with resistance bands around my ankles.
This is the true definition of a functional movement. You perform the exact motion you already do in your sports, but with significant resistance.
During a resistance band exercise, make sure to keep complete control as it can get a little out of hand if you’re not controlling your body.
- Start by putting an object, preferably a plyo box directly in front of you
- Get into a squat position and explode up and land softly on to the box
- For a softer landing, make sure the balls of your feet make contact first
- Gently lower yourself down into a squat position making sure you don’t land with your knees locked out.
If you want to raise the intensity, jump on one leg.
In any jumping motion, you always want to make sure you’re landing with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact.
Step Ups With Weights
- Set a plyo box, or stable objects in front of you
- Step up onto the platform while simultaneously driving your knee up to your chest
- When you are comfortable with this movement, start adding weights.
- The weight should be challenging enough to where you feel the burn, but light enough to where you can still explode on each movement without losing control
- Start by standing straight up and begin the movement by jumping as far to each side as possible
- The goal is not so much height, it’s more about getting as far as possible to each side.
- Load up quickly and explode to the other side
The main reason we get more explosive is by creating motion from nothing, quickly. Lunges are a great way to do this because you’re at an awkward position, and you have to generate speed and force quickly.
- Start by placing one knee on the ground with the other in a lunge position.
- Position yourself in running form where 1 leg is up and the opposite arm is up as well.
- Then quickly drive the knee that’s on the ground up and begin to sprint. Keep your knees high to generate force quickly
- Start this move with both knees on the ground
- Without creating too much movement, drive one knee off the ground into a lunge and begin sprinting for 5 to 10 yards
- This is similar to the lunge sprint but without the initial setup
Frog Jumps With 180 Degree Twist
- Start in a deep squat position with both hands on the ground
- Jump up and do a 180 degree turn behind you
- Repeat the jump, back but in the opposite direction
- You should be jumping left and right equally to balance out the exercise
These are great for developing your hip strength, mobility, and explosiveness. Not only that, but they work on your hamstrings, and upper back as well.
Choosing a heavier weight would it be ideal for kettlebell swings, since you can move the weight relatively fast since you have so much momentum behind the swing.
Everyone’s weight to lift will be different, so choose one that’s comfortable for you. It should be challenging yet explosive.
Here’s a video to explain the kettlebell swing.
These are great if you have weights available. Start by firmly grasping a barbell on the ground in a deadlift position.
- Begin the movement by driving from the heels
- Bring your energy straight up
- Shrug your shoulders
- Throw your elbows forward
- And squat down below the bar to catch the weight.
If done correctly, the bar should rest comfortably on top of two to three fingers from each hand on top of the clavicle bone.
You should not be using your entire hand for the whole movement as this can mess with your wrist. As you throw the weight up, hold on to the bar with two fingers from each hand and catch the bar in a squatted position.
If you can master your deadlift technique, your explosive kicking technique will improve greatly.
- Grab the barbell and activate your back
- Brace your core, legs, and glutes
- Explode through your heels and drive the weight straight up
- You should keep your back straight, and the weight close to your legs.
The farther out the weight gets from your body, the more pressure puts on your back. If you’re not careful, deadlifts can be deadly for your spine.
Good Ole’ Fashioned Sprinting
One of the best ways to develop an explosives kicking technique has to be through sprinting. When you sprint, you’re using your entire body and maxing out your intensity throughout the duration of the exercise.
It’s probably one of the most natural exercises for your hips and a great way to reduce stress.
While I’m not a Sprint coach, I understand the importance of sprinting and I will let this video explain more:
Strength isn’t everything
As stated above, being strong only gets you so far. I believe the most explosive athletes in the world pound for pound are Boxers, MMA, and Muay Thai fighters (it’s my opinion so sue me if you think otherwise.)
The reason for that is they are capable of generating and receiving massive amounts of force in such a short time frame without losing much energy as a result.
They are so fast and explosive because that’s what they work on.
While it is super cool to see people lifting large amounts of weight in the gym, I guarantee you the most explosive kickers in the world aren’t necessarily the strongest people.
A strong kicker is determined by their leg speed more than their strength.
Leg speed comes from the fast twitch muscle fibers.
The famous equation Force = Mass X Acceleration helps explain how kickers can maximize their kicking power.
However, If you don’t have the size, develop your speed. Or if you have the speed, develop your size.
Finding a nice balance between the two with a higher priority on speed would be preferred for field goal kicking.
Cardio is great but don’t think that running 5 miles a day will help you kick 60 yard field goals. Sprinting 60 yards 5 times would be much better (see what I did there 😉
Overall, a nice mesh between cardio and explosive movements would be your best bet for improving your explosive kicking technique.
Who to watch?
A great punter to watch in terms of leg workouts for kickers would be Jake Schum. He regularly posts his kicker workouts and other creative movements on his Instagram.
Another great account to watch would be the Carney kicking account.
Both Instagram accounts provide useful workout ideas to try in your own routine.
Not only do they have an explosive kicking technique, they know how to teach it too.
The hips are your power source
Even though there are so many parts of our body that need energy for the kick, the biggest source of energy comes from the hips when kicking.
If you want a more explosive kicking technique, work on your hips.
It’s no secret at this point that the strongest kickers have the strongest hips. It’s safe to say Justin Tucker has very explosive hips and that’s how he’s able to hit 70 yard field goals like it’s nothing. He puts a large focus on explosive hip exercises to maintain that extraordinary power.
Many years ago my kicking coach showed me a pilates class, and ever since then, I’ve been using Pilates to strengthen my hips.
Pilates is a set of controlled deep core exercises which connects to the hips.
When I learned how to connect my hips and activate them for my kicks, I was easily able to see an improvement in power and accuracy.
When our hips are active and neutral during a field goal, you’re getting the maximum amount of force your body can allow for the kick. all of the other technical adjustments like keeping your body tall, driving your leg up and through the ball are just extra tips.
An explosive kicking technique comes from using the power of your hips.
By using various Pilates workouts, and stretches, you give yourself the best possible chance to unlock your hips.
If you don’t have the budget to go to Pilates classes, there are plenty of free YouTube videos online for Pilates.
Here’s a great pilates mat exercise:
I wrote an article on a hip opener stretches routine that you can do any time of day to increase mobility and flexibility. If you want to view that article, click here
But if you want to unlock the power of your hips in a very in-depth and step by step method, click this link.
I have looked through many different coaching styles, and workout routines, the unlock your hips program has some of the most detailed and helpful advice on how you can truly unlock the power of your hips.
Master your kicking technique
You could ask 100, or even 1000 professional football kickers how they became more explosive, and they will all come to the same conclusion, they practiced like nobody’s business.
The best way to improve your explosive kicking technique is to work on it every way you can.
Be mindful of your technique while you kick.
You should have days when you kick field goals and chart your results, solely focusing on making as many as possible.
And there are other days where you only work on your technique. Don’t be so concerned about how many kicks you make or how far the ball goes. The main focus is improving your technique.
There’s only so much you can do while physically on the field. So practicing in your own home would be a great idea to speed up your progress.
This doesn’t even have to be physical body improvements, they can be mental improvements as well.
This means visualizing the technique you want to have, or visualizing yourself making the kick over and over again.
Studies have shown the more we visualize something happening, the more likely it is to actually happen.
Bruce Lee Method
This one pairs well with the paragraph above but it goes into more depth. Bruce lee is known for his famous quote, I fear not the man who practiced 10,000 kicks one time, I fear the man who practices 1 kick 10,000 times.
How often are you practicing your perfect technique? Perfect practice makes perfect, so do everything you can to get the tiny details just right.
Be mindful of what you do when you’re sitting on the couch at your house. There’s an opportunity to work on keeping your hips neutral when you sit.
All these very small things you do throughout your day will make your kicking experience that much better.
Developing an explosive kicking technique takes many many months or years of hard work, and consistent practice.
Consistency is the name of the game.
Stay flexible for maximum explosiveness
It’s no surprise that an explosive kicking technique involves stretching.
So what do we do now that we’ve got the technique mastered?
Now you have to stay flexible to increase the explosive kicking technique by 1%.
By stretching and staying flexible, we recruit new muscles and get them involved so that when you kick, they’re also being worked.
Remember the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz. He was barely able to move but the more oil dorothy gave him, the more mobile he was.
It’s the same thing with stretching, the more you stretch, the more mobile, and responsive your muscles become.
Therefore, when we kick, our thoroughly stretched out muscles become much more activated than the person who barely stretches.
Just keep it simple, stretch 10 minutes when you wake up in the morning, and 10 minutes at night before you go to bed.
Listen to music, podcasts or read some of my recommended books to pass the time.
Take that opportunity to learn something new!
Rewire your brain into doing something which might be painful but necessary with something that is actually enjoyable. (Listening to podcasts = Good / Stretching = Painful)
Therefore, you learn something (good) like how to become more explosive and flexible (good) so it’s a win-win!
Stretching improves your explosive kicking technique! So get after it!
Healthy diet/nutrition helps explosion
Food is fuel, knowing how to use it to develop your explosive kicking technique will improve you leaps and bounds above the competition.
I’ve covered an entire article on healthy nutrition and the best calorie counter app can be seen here. By mastering your nutrition and weight lifting, you can maximize distance.
I’ll be more than happy to cover some quick topics from that article.
By eating healthy and nutritious food, it puts our body an optimal state to perform on the field. In other words, healthy eating improves our explosive kicking technique.
I’ll keep it simple, if you find an advertisement on TV about a food, it’s most likely not healthy for you.
Cereal? No bueno.
Frozen Pizza? Try again partner.
Hot Pocket? More like molten lava food which makes you have sweaty naps.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for eating these foods, but in moderation. You can expect the more of these foods you eat, the more you are to feel like them. If you want to be full of sweat and grease, eat all the Hot Pockets you can handle!
In part with eating healthy, you have to drink plenty of water. A large majority of people don’t drink enough water even though they know they need to.
A good rule of thumb is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces.
So if I am 190 LBS, (which I am) I should be drinking 95 oz of water per day which equals 11.875 (round to 12) cups. It’s simply four bottles of water per day.
Personally, I just keep it simple and just drink 1 gallon of water per day. It’s always been more than enough for me, and I don’t feel super dehydrated which is great.
Alternative training methods
Think outside the box a little here, what are some other ways can you improve your explosive kicking technique beyond just weights?
These are other creative solutions to improving your explosive kicking technique.
Some of these examples might be:
- A Pilates or Yoga class
- Riding your bike
- Doing jump rope
- Playing basketball
- Rollerblading (preferably in cool sunglasses)
- Jumping on a trampoline
You’re amazing, I just wanted to start with that!
While we have covered a lot, I just want to keep it simple and go over what was talked about;
- Your hips are where a large portion of kicking power comes from, unlock it!
- Constantly look for ways to strengthen your hips
- Stretch consistently, eat right, and drink plenty of water
- Continue to educate yourself on ways to unlock the power of your hips (Commission earned at no extra cost to you)
- Practice perfect kicking form both physically and mentally
- An explosive kicking technique is not made overnight
- Do more pilates, they’re amazing for your core and hips!
Thank you guys and gals for reading this short (ha) article on how to improve your explosive kicking technique.
If you’ve come this far and want to learn about how to unlock your hips in greater detail, check out these amazing football kicker stretches!
Click The Text To Learn How To Unlock Your Hip Flexors!
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Let us know in the comments what questions you have or you can always reach out on social media. I’ll do my best to get back to you ASAP!
Also, if you want to know our recommendation for the best football kicking cleats, check out the link here.
Thank you again and as always, stay amazing!