Getting better foot-to-ball contact on your field goals, kickoffs, and punts is a simple but tricky thing to do.
A lot of times, we, including myself, get into a mode where we’re overthinking a lot of things when in reality it’s just best to get back to the basics. So, that’s what this article is gonna provide – a very simple and easy-to-understand explanation of what it is to have clean contact.
When I was in my first or second year of college, I always battled with that X ball – whenever you kick and it comes off your foot with that weird rotation to it. I really couldn’t figure out what was going on and why I was doing that, and it really took some digging and asking around.
Eventually it just clicked one day. You talk to enough people and you analyze your kicks enough, and it just makes sense. The cut-and-dried version of it essentially means two things: either your toe comes up whenever you kick or your foot hits around the middle seam of the football. These two things are massive reasons why you don’t get that clean rotation.
One thing that I did relentlessly when I was kicking field goals and once I figured out what it meant to have clean contact, was to focus on locking my foot out. Before practice, I’d be in my dorm room, sitting on the floor, just practicing flexing out my calf or pointing my toe.
Flex the calf for clean contact
Personally, I like flexing my calf; it just makes it seem a little bit simpler. You’re not thinking about the ankle or the foot as much as you are just thinking about flexing your calf out. And naturally, it will point the way you want it to. That was one thing.
But then, when I was actually on the field, what I would do is do my no-steps without a ball to practice flexing my calf. That’s all I would do. Just flex the calf. Maybe 10 reps. Then, I go to one step where I’d come in and make sure I’m flexing the calf every single time. Then, the same thing for full approach.
By the time I actually started kicking, I’d already done about 50 to 75 reps without a ball, just making sure I’m locking that ankle out. The reason why the ball isn’t coming off your foot is because it’s hitting the toe before the big part of your bone. That toe is making contact before the football, and then you’re flicking your toe, and it’s opening up, and the ball is doing a weird spin.
I promise you that if you come in with a locked-out calf, and you hit it on the inside panel of the ball, you are going to make the cleanest contact that you could possibly have assuming your foot positioning is right.
Staying Disciplined with your contact
Now, even if you have a flexed calf and you end up flicking that foot, like most soccer guys do where they kick, a flexed calf is great but then they bend that ankle, which will lead to a shanked kick.
So, you have to really be disciplined about making sure, whenever you swing, you have that ballerina toe for the first yard of your swing. Your swing should look the same, and you should be swinging down your line.
Another thing to think about is let’s say this is 12 o’clock from my perspective. This is 1 o’clock, and this is 11 o’clock. Whenever I swing, flexed calf, I swing 11 o’clock and finish down the middle. Or you could think swing inside panel to the outside panel. So, you swing inside, finish outside, then finish your leg and body down the middle.
Finding your own swing
Find something that works for you. But I promise you, if you take the time to make sure your calf is flexed out, especially right as you start your backswing, you’re gonna be in great shape. Because you’re gonna get clean contact, and you’re also activating more muscles in your legs, and you made sure that you’re maximizing your whip.
So, try it out. Let me know what you think, and leave a comment below just to let me know how it actually helped you out. If you guys did like this article, comment below!
Another thing to note, you can get more resources by clicking the resources link here. But, the one that i’m really excited to share is the The Art Of Kicking E-book. It’s every thing I’ve learned in my kicking/punting journey along with lots of answers from veteran kickers/punters in the space. It’s like cuttting your learning curve for kicking/punting in half.
Apart from that, thank you for reading and until next time!