Leg speed is the rate at which your leg moves through the plane of the kicking motion. The beautiful thing about kicking and punting is you can be 5’ 2” and still be in the NFL as long as you’ve got an incredibly fast swing, consistent foot-to-ball contact, and the consistency to back it up.
Therefore, one of the most important traits a kicker can have is fast leg speed. Leg speed is developed through a wide variety of fast-twitch exercises like stadiums, pool workouts, box jumps, tire flips, kettlebell swings, sprinting, and many others. There is an entire article you can read that was put out for specific workouts you can do to increase leg strength.
For this, we’re going to cover the reason WHY leg speed helps kickers and punters out more than any other physical trait a kicker can possess. The great thing is this is leg speed is a variable trait and is in your control to improve! So if you’re not where you want to be, let me help you get there.
Reason #1 – Leg Speed Improves Power
If you’ve watched professional kickers on TV, you might be amazed that they’re often 5’8”-5’11” 170-190 pounds, and can hit 65-70 yard field goals with ease. This is because they have incredible leg speed, foot-to-ball contact, and a repeatable swing.
Through improved leg speed, you’re able to hit the ball FASTER (Notice how I said faster, not HARDER. If you swing harder, that leads to shanks and missed kicks because you’re not being precise with your technique.
The key here is to emphasize speed over strength.) This directly relates to Isaac Newton’s second law of motion. F=MA. Simply put, the faster an object moves and makes contact with something, the more force is applied to an object. Think of a car hitting a stationary crash test dummy. If the car hits the dummy at 10 MPH, the dummy will likely fall over.
Let’s say the car is traveling 100 MPH, that dummy is flying much higher and farther than the 10 MPH test. The exact same thing applies to kicking and punting. If the leg speed is slow, the ball physically can’t travel as far because there isn’t as much force as the quick-twitch leg speed.
Reason #2 – Leg Speed Increases efficiency
With efficient leg speed, your kicking and punting motion are going through its plane with more ease since the muscles are working in unison. Logically, if a leg is slow, the timing at contact might be off because the leg has to work much harder to hit the ball once the body is planted.
Likewise, with faster leg speed, the timing is much better because when the body plants to kick or punt the football, the leg isn’t impacted as much with the ball since there’s a greater force applied to the kick versus the other way around. You’ll typically see the people with the most height and power have the most efficient swings arguably because their leg speed is so fast.
Take Matt Ammendola for example, his leg speed is so quick that the ball explodes off his foot and he hits the ball higher than almost anyone I’ve ever seen. Truly some of the best form I’ve seen on a kicker and it’s understandable why he’s in the NFL
Reason #3 – Leg Speed creates more height and reduces the risk of getting blocked
With increased leg speed comes more height and reducing the chance of getting blocked. Bringing back the point from earlier, the speed of one object hitting another directly relates to the force applied to that object.
Therefore the more speed (acceleration) the more force that’s generated which means more height and power on your kick. Now take a fast swing, with good foot-to-ball contact, and you’re now hitting it higher and farther than before. I’ve also covered ways to have better foot-to-ball contact in this article right here.
I hope this blog post helps you understand the logic behind leg speed and how it is important. But just remember, the HARDER you swing, the less likely it’ll work in your favor because you’re telling your muscles to get tense to try and crush this kick or punt. Rather, work to swing with ease, and always look for ways to improve your leg speed with explosive workouts.
Sprinting, stadium runs, jump squats, lunges, power cleans, hang cleans, banded hip workouts, pool workouts, kettlebell swings are all great places to start.
If you want some gym equipment to help with your kicking/punting journey, get some high-quality Rogue weights here.
Lastly, hit me up on social media @kickersofearth on all platforms to see what else I’m up to!
If there are any additional questions about the material covered today, leave a comment below or contact me using the contact page and I’ll get back to you ASAP!