The field goal, while simple, can be one of the hardest positions for average players to do. Anyone can throw a ball to someone downfield. While a rush and everything changes the dynamic of the position, it can be done. Kicking a football requires immense precision and accuracy in order to accomplish the goal. Adding a rush to the mix and it becomes even more complex.
However, simply kicking a football has shown to be challenging for just about anyone. This post will highlight what separates and makes a great football kicker. So grab your favorite bag of popcorn, sit on your favorite couch, because this will be quite fun.
Fundamentals For Kicking
In order to do the field goal correctly, the kicker must have a proper foundation. This begins with the right gear. Typically but not always, a kicker should have Kicking cleats, compression underwear, fancy but yet comfortable socks, and athletic wear for clothing. The equipment for kicking field goals should be a pair of Kicking sticks, a football (duh), and a nice even ground to land for kicking. The Kicking gear should be comfortable, but yet athletic so that no injuries can occur.
Begin the kick by setting up the ball with one of the points into the ground and the other pointing to the sky. The kicking sticks should be fully open and the two bases put in the ground. The padded tip should be put on the ball. Then, The Kicker should take three normal walking steps back, and two normal steps to the side. If you are a lefty, your steps are to the right. If you are a righty, your steps are to the left.
Then, The Kicker should look at the target, visualize what it looks like when the ball hits the target. Once done visualizing, look at the ball on the kicking sticks. When practicing on your own, visualize a live snap and hold in your head so that it is a smooth rhythm to the ball. The more you practice game like situations, the less surprises happen.
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Then, once you visualize how the ball looks when it gets sent to the holder, take a small jab step with your opposite kicking foot. Following your jab step, comes your drive step which is where the momentum starts to build for the kick. Then comes the plant step. This is where all the momentum that has been built up is shown. Proper use of momentum with Kicking needs to be a priority. Far too often do kickers lose all their momentum the second they plant because their energy went up and they came crashing down as they land. The energy for a kick should be out and up.
This means that all the way to the ball, the energy should below into the ground barely balancing anywhere. Then, as contact is made with the ball, The energy explodes up and through the ball that way, nothing gets wasted on the kick. After the kick, The Kicker should naturally skip downfield in order to make sure the energy transfers the right way. Then, the end result should be a nice pretty cake right down the middle of the uprights. Now there are a lot of things that we did not cover in this fundamental introduction to Kicking cover it that is fine. So hold on and we will get to it!
Where to Hit The Football?
The Ball Contact for many kickers becomes an issue since there was never anyone to help show them any different. The ball can be split into 3 different sections, the top third, the middle third, and the bottom third. The bottom third needs to be a focus point for many as it has the maximum compression. This point, just below the center of the football, gets the kicker maximum height, for distance to match.
When a kicker hits this portion of the ball, it sounds like a gunshot. And my goodness does hitting the sweet spot feel good when the ball just takes off. To match hitting the sweet spot of the ball, when the sweet spot of the foot hits the sweet spot of the ball, great things happen. The foot has this very big, strong bone, hitting this ensures maximum distance and Power. However, the way the foot hits the ball determines greatly where the ball even goes.
Focus on hitting the ball with the toes facing the sideline. (Soccer Style) Also, there should be a little bit of quad involved in the kick. Not too much, or else the foot will hit too high on the ball, or wrap around it and shank the kick. Likewise, make sure the leg does not use only the groin, as future injuries may happen. Instead, use a happy medium of groin and quad so the best of both worlds happen.
Where to Hit The Football? Continued
Hitting the sweet spot on the ball should be one of the best feelings in the world. Every kicker needs to make a habit of setting up the ball against an object that keeps the ball still. Then, practice the kicking motion against it over and over again so the muscle memory starts taking over. Muscle memory could be a great thing for a kicker since it ensures the body has done the same movement repeatedly.
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.Bruce Lee
The muscle memory, when done right, has shown to make a Kicker have extreme Consistency.
Often times, a kicker gets in his or her own head. They can begin to do things that do not relate to kicking a ball with maximum efficiency. While this should not be a problem, if it does not get addressed, the kicker can spiral into a slump.
Slumps can be tough to get out of. Having a Kicking Coach or mentor can definitely help out when it comes in terms of breakthroughs. Personally, I have gone through many slumps, the only reason I was able to come out successful on the other side was that I always saw ways to improve.
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When you constantly search for ways to get better, it gets easy to break out of your slump. Slumps start and end in the mind. How you approach them dictates where you end up later on. Either you can let them damage your performance, or use it as a reason to improve that much more. They are usually just one thing that you might be doing wrong.
It could be your taking too big of steps backward, not looking at the ball as you kick it, or simply not following through enough. Next time you are in a slump, go back to the basics starting with your steps back and over. Sometimes we need a slight adjustment and we will be hitting the football with maximum power in no time.
The last thing a kicker should do when struggling pearl is overthinking. The more simple we can make things, the better our results will be. Do you not get so caught up in the details that you forget how simple or task should be.
The Method For Better Kicks
While there are many variations of how to go to a Kicking routine, we will attempt to highlight the basic foundation of one. If at practice, simply start with the ball already on the holding sticks, then place your plant foot where you would like it to go as you land. Now take your kicking foot and place the toe just before the ball so that you are as closest possible.
Now with your first step backward being your plant foot, take three controlled steps back, and two controlled steps to the side that you favor. Then lining up the ball, draw a straight line with your eyes all the way to the target and where you want the ball to end up and visualize it going there. Now go back to the center point of the ball, align your body to attack the plant spot. take a moment to breathe deeply, visualize the snap, jab step step and drive through the ball.
When we say jab step step, we mean your initial step to the ball from your plant food will be a jab step. Your drive step, and ultimately, your plant, and drive. We spoke earlier about proper ball contact, do not drive your self crazy with having to hit the perfect spot of a ball. It might be nice to know for most people to make them aware of how to hit the ball.
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When we land, make sure our body is facing the target with our hips shoulders and plant foot, and then eyes are on the ball watching us make contact. Now swing your leg straight through the ball and finish with your body weight energy downfield. Even though this is an oversimplified approach to kicking, we believe that it should help boil things down into its simplest form.
Some important takeaways should be where to point your body when in the ready position. There is a concept called being square. This simply means having your body face to target contact. The easiest way to explain would be to imagine a golf player driving a ball only using their arms. They might get the job done but it definitely will not be at maximum efficiency.
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Therefore in kicking, we need to make sure our body is working for us not against us. So when in the ready position, face the hips shoulders and feet towards the plant spot. This way, our body has to move very little from the time it gets ready, to the time it lands at the plant. We want our body to be moving as little as possible so we can maximize our momentum through the ball.
When we land, our hips and body weight naturally whip through the ball. Now, this might be different than a traditional method since most teach to point the body at the ball. This might not be good because one can over-whip through the ball and wrap around and shank the kick. This way, our body already points at the target, the hip whipping through the ball just adds an extra bonus.
Body position at contact needs to be a fundamental lesson. It can either be a great thing or horrible depending on who teaches it. The mentor can make or break a kicker’s career. Every kicker needs to add their personality to the kick.
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However, if the kicker does not have the basics to fall back to when they hit a slump, who knows how long they will poorly perform. Therefore, when dealing with body position, just understand that the body should be working for the kicker, not against them. So any time a kicker feels the need to crunch, hop like a bunny after they kick, stop their swing from following through, these are all holding them back.
The second the kicker understands the importance of a smooth kick begins their journey through proper football field-goal kicking. The main lesson here is the kicker should allow their momentum to drive through the ball instead of letting it hold them back. While this may seem simple, until the kicker gets on the field and applies these lessons, then it becomes real.
Right now this seems so simple, but doing it has proven to be challenging. Look at the pros, they have spent years working on their craft and now they are a professional. Not many football kickers in college develop themselves technique-wise and that might be why some of them don’t make it to the next level. While some may be very talented, they may lack power or something that really allows them to shine above the rest.
We hope that you have learned a great deal as these posts’ main goal strives to be a foundation for kickers everywhere! If you enjoyed reading this article, please share this so we can continue to grow! Also, if you have any suggestions for what we should write about next, let us know!
Thanks for reading and stay amazing!