One of the greatest feelings is hitting a huge Field Goal that goes and goes. The second it leaves your foot, you know that it is going to fly. One of the main reasons that this happens is due to good ball contact, body positioning, and a fast leg. Throughout this post, we will uncover some of the best ways to hit the ball with more power, speed, and Consistency.
What is Ball Contact?
Ball contact is essentially the moment when your foot hits the ball. There are many different thoughts on the matter and all this post will do is present the ideas. After that, you can then develop your own method. Our goal is to make the inconsistent concept of ball concept more consistent, fun, and rewarding.
What Part of The Ball Should You Hit?
The sweet spot of the ball is located at the bottom third of the ball. Another way to think about it is a little bit below the biggest part of the ball. The reason for this is when you hit the ball, you do not want it to fly out straight without height. Your goal is to maximize height and distance in the same kick. Below are a few ways to do this:
- Hit the sweet spot of the ball
- Get a faster leg
- Swing up and through your target more
- Utilize your hips more to work with you
each of these means a different thing and we will get to them in a second so just be patient man!
In the picture above, the kicker is hitting the bottom third of the ball. The main reason is it maximizes height and distance. Hit too low, the ball spins a lot. Hit the ball too high and the ball goes too low and risks the chance of getting blocked. The beauty of getting consistent on ball contact can become a habit with the right Drills. When you focus on hitting the ball with the meat of your foot, you will make pigs fly. (get it, because a ball is a pigskin….)
Ball Contact Basics
One of the great ways to get used to ball contact is to go out to your nearest field, get in front of a net (a soccer goal is great) and constantly no step the ball aiming for great contact. Go slow so your body can be in control. Control is achieved when our bodies understand what is happening and our brain can guide our bodies on the right path.
If you have ever done something you do not usually do, and you start to get confused on how to do it. The main reason for confusion is because many of us go too far too fast and do not have a way to track our progress. By keeping our bodies slow and in control, our efforts will become more effective. Meditation helps with remaining calm by the way. We want to work smarter not harder. How can you use your body to make the maximum results with little effort?
This also relates to when people want to hit the ball with maximum force. It is a lot of stress on your body and mind to have that approach. Instead, we want our bodies to be in control. When you have control, your body makes use of everything it has at its disposal. For example, golf players never try to hit maximum effort because they know their muscles will react the same way.
Ball Contact Basics Continued
When it comes to kicking, making sure you are not trying to kick the ball so hard it pops is important. Simply making sure you have control of how your body reacts to the tempo of a field goal is important.
Field goals are a precise specialty. This means everything must come together in order for the ball to go through the uprights. When snaps, holds, weather, and crowd noise may be a distraction, it is up to us to focus. Do not let outside forces have an impact on your ability to kick the ball. Simply put, control what you can control.
Ball contact is interesting because holds can be in different places at times. That is the importance of aim small miss small. When you dial in on where you want to hit the ball, there are fewer variables when you make contact. This circles back to maximizing effectiveness, by focusing on the 20% of the events that create 80% of the causes, you make your life simple. This means focus on the biggest things that make a consistent kicker, consistent and do those. Do not focus on small details like your shoe color, how to position your back in the ready position, or even where to put your hands. All of these things lead to complications and inefficiencies. Keep it simple, when you do that, your job becomes even easier than it already is.
Ball Contact on a Kickoff
Kicking off is very similar to a field goal minus 2 things, you have an extended approach, and (if using all of your momentum) are hurdling up and through the ball. Other than that, all other details should not be considered. Traditionally, a kickoff begins 7-10 yards away, as a result, there is more room for error. That is why attention to detail is even more present on the topic of kickoffs.
Our objective (depending on the team) most of the time is to not allow any return, this is either done by a touchback, or a nice high pooch kick (which are lame.) The main concern is either not getting enough height, allowing for many return yards, or not enough distance, allowing for a head start. The perfect kickoff is around 2 yards deep into the end zone, with about 4.0+ hang time.
The reason for this is we either get a touchback, (perfect) or the returner starts to think if he should run or not. This puts a split second of hesitation on the player which is great. If he decides to run, he has to earn the 20-yard line since the opposing team has already been running for 4 seconds to get at least 35+ yards downfield. In a game of inches, milliseconds matter. By the team having a good cushion to get downfield, they are around 30 yards away. Simply put, with a great returner, he should meet the kicking team at the 25+ yard line. An average one might get to the 20-yard line. This simply means the better your kick/attention to detail, the better field position your team will have.
Ball Contact on a Kickoff Continued
The beautiful thing about a kickoff is there is a little more room for error. If you hit a 3.6-second kickoff 68 yards, as opposed to a 3.9 65, it might be hard to really notice the difference. Likewise, when a kicker misses a field goal, everyone notices. It is black and white. That is why it is important to focus on hitting a kickoff with great contact since there is no rush, adrenaline is pumping, and you have more momentum. Use that momentum for you not against you though. Remember that even though you have more of a run-up, it does not mean to start swinging wildly.
Ball contact for a kick-off is also great since the amount of force that goes into a kick can be great to watch. There is so much power behind a kickoff and it great to watch a kicker smash a kick-off while keeping their body smooth. A fun kicker to watch is Jason Myers for the Seattle Seahawks. He manages to keep his entire body smooth throughout the kick and that is what makes him so consistent. Smooth moves make your body work better for the right things.
Ball Contact Through a Fast Swing
There are other ways to get a better pop on the ball without having to hit the perfect sweet spot. Clearly, as time goes on, you can start to hit the sweet spot more to get even better. But the sweet spot does not need to be kicked in order to hit a great ball. Sometimes, if the kicker’s leg is fast enough, then they can have a mis-hit and still hammer a ball. Form is essential for proper efficiencies, but, when a foot hits the ball fast enough, there is slightly more room for error.
That being said, there is no reason for a kicker to be content with having sloppy form and a fast leg. That does not get you into the Professional status. Even the worst NFL kickers in the league have an idea of how their form is supposed to be like in order to make their bodywork for them.
There are many ways to get a faster swing, a few main ones are:
- Work with fast-twitch movements
- Focus on Stretching
- Get your body positioning right
- Focus on single-leg movements
- Sprint Baby Sprint
Fast Twitch Movements
These movements are simply explosive motions to get recruitment of all muscle fibers in your leg meaning quicker motions. These explosive movements could be, resistance band training, box jumps, sprints, burpee jumps, kettlebell swings.
All of these exercises (and more) are designed to build explosiveness in some way for you. No exercise is necessarily better than the other. However, what is important is that you do it consistently. One thing needs to be said, Make sure you are working explosion on the kicking motion. One of the better workouts you can find shows kickers working on leg strength by putting a band on their leg for explosive swings. This promotes good kicking posture while also establishing strong, fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Stretch It Outtttttttttttttt
When you stretch, you promote blood flow, and in short, more of your muscles get used in the motion. There are a lot of different stretches that promote different things. The most important thing is you stay aware of your limits and do not try to go far beyond that point.
When we begin to go past our point of pain in stretching, bad things happen. I am not talking about good pain, this is in reference to the point where your body is clearly telling you that it is going to get injured. Stay aware of your body and the stress you put it through and you will be fine.
Stretching is a great way to become faster, stronger, (better looking in the mirror) and relieves stress. It takes less than an episode on Netflix to do every day and it only helps you. Often times, a good stretch can be all you need to up your game to the next level. If you are putting the work in the weight room, you are getting enough sleep, and you are eating the high-quality foods your body needs, you are setting yourself up for success. The last piece of that puzzle is you need to make sure you are taking care of your body through proper stretches. It takes time to get comfortable with but it is worth it!
Better Ball Contact Through Proper Alignment
A great way to get better ball contact is to make sure your body is in an optimized position to hit the ball well. This can get technical, however, focus on having our body weight around 60% on the side away from the ball and 40% on the side close to the ball. This is because we need our bodies to be well balanced in order to hit the ball without losing power/accuracy.
The same can be said about kickoffs. Our bodies should be leaning around 80% away, and 20% towards the ball. This is because the kickoff is more explosive and we can get away with not hitting the ball right down the middle. There is more power involved for a kickoff, so let the momentum do the work. Do not try to resist momentum, let it take you downfield instead of stopping after 3 yards on a kickoff, keep that momentum even after you have hit the ball and hurdled.
Ball Contact Made Simple
If you are still reading this far into the post, thank you so much as without you guys and gals, this may be much harder. Now if there are a few of you that like to skip around and get to the meat and potatoes of the post, I have you covered. Good ball contact is on the bottom third of the ball. The meat of your foot should hit that bottom third and explode up and through the ball straight to your target. This ensures the best part of the ball hits the most powerful part of your foot with the most accurate and powerful swing. The end result should be a made kick.
This may sound easy but as professionals have shown, nothing is ever easy unless you are Adam Vinateri. But a majority of the time, even Adam Vinatieri messes up. That is the beauty of it, everyone makes mistakes but the great, learn, adapt and change to challenges. There are many types of challenges. Make sure you keep this over-complicated topic simple and just swing through the ball. 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!
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