The kickers always need to find ways to increase their power and accuracy. Throughout this post, we will cover what professional kickers do that makes them the 1%. We will also cover power techniques and methods to improve distance when kicking. So we recommend getting your favorite jar of peanut butter, a spoon, and enjoy it as we dig deep.
Power in Field Goals
The biggest hindrance for many kickers starts by thinking that power should be the biggest focus for a Kicker. In reality, having accuracy, then matching it by increasing power should be the way to go.
Most players begin their kicking career by focusing on hitting the ball with maximum force and effort. While kicking long Field Goals looks great, it could be hurting more than helping by just worrying about how far the ball goes. To worry about the distance of the kick has proven to be the most effective way to ensure a bad kick. Make sure form remains the focus of the session. The only time things do not work out is when we focus too hard on the things which we cannot control.
Form and technique should always be the focus as it starts to create good ball contact when the body gets in the right position. Do not let the body hold yourself back from hitting the ball with maximum efficiency. Kicking coaches preach the importance of knowing your body and how it benefits you. They almost never focus on how far the ball goes, rather how well contact gets made.
When kickers focus on what cannot be changed, they get nervous and mess up in a game performance. The important thing for a kicker to do; focus only on the kick at hand. There are no better moments than the present! Embrace the present moment and knock the kick through the uprights.
There are many different ways that technology helps the kicker. There are many different styles of kicking that provide a better way to kick the ball. The focus of technique stays around making the bodywork smarter, not harder. The more the body works against you, the harder it gets to make kicks consistently.
Below are some quick ways to get the most of your power swing;
- Get the hips in neutral position as they work the best when equal
- Have your energy go from out and up versus up and crash down
- Get the momentum through the kick and finish downfield
- Have your body lean a comfortable distance away from the ball
- Swing the leg through the ball, much like a boxer hitting through their target
- Aim for something past the goal target
- Clear the mind and let your natural ability take over
While many different theories come in to play, proper technique has common traits. Most kickers with great form utilize all or almost all of these traits. Their traits consistently provide great results.
Neutral hips is a common term in Pilates. It essentially means to pull the hips into the stomach so the butt does not stick out. This way, the “power zone” gets to use all of its energy for the kick. Imagine if a gymnast ran from only a few feet away to vault. It can be done, but it definitely would not look as explosive. Same thing with having the body out of balance. The hips must be in balance for the body to work explosively and effectively.
Out and Up Not Up and Down
When we talk of having the energy go from up and crash down to out and up, it can be confusing. Often times, a kicker approaches the plant by bouncing around like a deer. Then, they land to kick and all of their momentum goes away. The better way to approach this concept, think in terms of jumping in basketball. When approaching the basket, what sense does it make to lose all that momentum that was built up just to lose it in the ground?
Instead, keep the energy calm and level, when the plant foot lands, transfer that energy. The result, if done right, should feel the plant gets rather light as the weight transfers quickly from the ground, to up and through the ball. This way maximum momentum gets utilized.
Body Position at Contact
This concept does not come up often in the kicking community. This can be an issue that might be overly complicated for most. Personally, when I hit my best field goals, my body leans away from the ball at a comfortable distance. The reason for leaning lies in where the foot hits the ball.
Kickers usually put too much weight on his or her plant leg and goes too far away from the ball. This creates a consistent curving kick since all of the weight goes the way the plant leg is, or a high spinning kick-off to the side of where the kicker main leg is.
When most kickers first start out, they lean a tremendous amount and they roll their ankle over since all their weight is on it. Likewise, when a kicker hits a ball, they may be too vertical, and therefore their foot hits around the ball 95% of the time. Physically, if a leg gets closer to the ball when at extension, the body naturally hits further on that ball at contact. This might be the adjustment some people need.
When a foot wraps around the ball for me, it means I did a few minor things. However, one thing remains consistent, the lean does not exist. Meaning my body was almost vertical so my leg had no choice but to wrap around the ball even if I did everything else right. So how do we counter a curve kick, high spinner, or shank? Try seeing how the body looks at contact. Ideally, the weight should be 60% plant side, 40% kick side. However, whatever is more comfortable for you is best.
Swinging For Power and Aiming
A kicker can create additional power and accuracy by simply following through more. This might be a no brainer for some but we shall dive deeper into this more. When contact gets made with the ball, that energy has to go somewhere. It makes sense to swing through the ball in order to put that energy to use.
When a boxer makes contact with their opponent, they swing through in order to maximize their hit. The same concept goes with kicking, swing all the way through the ball. Also, aiming for a target higher and farther than the uprights makes the aim small miss small concept come to life. So when the kicker kicks all the way through the ball aiming at a target higher and farther than the uprights, that alone can add 5 yards to the kick!
Relax and Power Will Come
Most NFL kickers develop a silky smooth buttery technique. The majority of kickers understand how their body works, and how to work on it to improve efficiency. Kickers like Jason Myers and Dan Bailey, work their bodies in a way that the ball flies off their foot with little effort.
It truly gets fun to kick when the ball explodes off the foot with little to no effort. This can only be accomplished when the kicker embodies the meaning of form over force. When kicking, the biggest reason many kickers do not hit the ball consistently starts with them trying to use so much force that their body gets tight and they, as a result, do not hit the ball well enough.
The main point we are going to drive home starts with this; if a kicker wants to maximize their power in a kick, do not try to hit the ball so hard that the leg comes off with it. Only through a smooth swing, can the ball really come off the foot the way it was meant to.
So next time the field goal session starts backing up to 50+ yards, mental blocks set in and kickers do what they should not. They over-complicate the process and end up shanking the kick. Over complication leads to poor bodily and mental awareness. For those who want to increase their power; RELAX!
Power Starts With The Stance
The best kickers in history have gotten in their stance so many times that it becomes second nature. So, when trying to develop skills and habits that only help the kicker, learning how to implement them might be a challenge. For example; when Justin Tucker, Adam Vinateri, or Wil Lutz get set for a kick, confidence oozes out of them. The confident stance starts with the legs. The way someone stands has shown proven data that it increases confidence.
The same method for kicking, if a kicker stands with a comfortable base, that increases their confidence. The stance should be about 60% of the weight on the front foot, the other 40% on the back foot. This is also called grounding. We want to keep our weight center, while also being able to move once the snap happens.
Another great tip, tuck the hips into a neutral position from the start. This way, as time goes on, the kicker has a better feeling of what their body should feel like all the time. This also allows for better ball contact, body position, and control of the body.
The hips create such a linear progression when it comes to efficiency. If the hips get out of control, the whole body starts to overcompensate and power gets lost. Make sure the kicker has a confident stance and watch as the ball explodes off the foot.
Watch The Pros
When I was growing up, all I ever wanted to do was watch the pro kickers do their thing. Rarely was I concerned about the team, The professionals always interested me. Their movements were so fluid and smooth, they made it seem so effortless. I began copying what they did and became happy with progress as I knew who I wanted to look like.
At the time, Randy Bullock was my favorite kicker since he was on the Houston Texans. He was always so powerful and I did my best to copy his form. The old saying goes, “success leaves clues” Eventually, I became fairly identical to him and my kicks began to get better and better.
Then, I saw an interview with, at the time Florida State Kicker, Roberto Aguayo. They asked him, what swing do you like to look like, his response was something along the lines of, “I do not think I match anyone. I have characteristics that work for me and my body so I try to do that when I kick. I do a little bit from this person and that person, but I do not try to copy anyone.” This made sense to me.
My body is not Randy Bullock’s, but it is able to match some things about him that work. This does not mean to go crazy trying to do the exact same thing they do, you are your own style.
Watch The Pros Continued
So when you or a kicker you know gets on to the field, a reminder to stay true to your form. The only person who understands how your body works is you. So take pieces of technique tips here and there, but ultimately, everyone has a style that just clicks and makes sense for them.
A professional may provide the foundation, but it is up to you to further that into a beautiful house.
The Pros Are Changing Kickers
When a kicker gets on the field, one might think they are in the wrong sport. Back 20 years ago, they simply look like a fan who found his way on to the field and kicks balls well. The average kicker 20 years ago was quite small. Now, the kicker physique might sometimes be better than an average player. Learning how to use that momentum is important.
Steve Weatherford, Famous for his physique, has broken the barrier for kickers and punters. With this new knowledge, We hope that the pros start the change, but every kicker understands that they are capable of changing the stereotype. Be better than the “just a kicker” mentality. Be an athlete who just so happens to kick. 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!