No Right Way To Placekick But…
By Taylor Mehlhaff
Special Teams Coach, Wisconsin Badgers
I always tell my kickers, that there is no right way to placekick. However, there are basic principles and fundamentals that all kickers can use to help them be more consistent, efficient, and allow them to hit a higher, longer ball. One of those fundamentals is body positioning.
It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing a javelin, hitting a slap-shot in hockey, sitting in the squat rack, or kicking a football…your body positioning is going to have a great effect on the success of your attempt. In sports, we want to always be able to control the things that we can control, because there are a lot of environmental factors that we cannot control. We want to put ourselves in the best position possible to have success.
The Right Way To Placekick Normally Does Not Include Crunch At Contact
If you look at different kickers at all levels, no one’s kicking style is the exact same. I attached 2 different pictures of NFL kickers here. Look at the difference in body positioning. In one picture, the kicker is “crunched” over. In the other, the kicker is staying nice and tall throughout contact.
Does this guarantee whether or not you’re going to make the kick? Absolutely not, but it can play a large role in the trajectory of the ball flight and distance of the kick. Once again, there may not be an exact right way to placekick but this can help.
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When you “crunch” at contact, you can’t get up and through the kick as well as you’d like. This often times results in the ball coming out much lower. The ball has to go “up”, before it goes “out”. We want that initial lift on the ball for a number of reasons.
What he is doing though, is a great job with his eyes. Which is one of the reasons that kicker is known for having great leg strength. He continually makes great contact with the ball because he’s doing a great job of actually watching his foot make contact with the sweet spot of the ball.
However, I would like to see him using great eyes while also staying upright to maximize his potential. I often use the analogy of a pitcher in baseball. A good pitcher may have poor mechanics and can throw a fastball 80 MPH using simply his arm strength alone. Or he can learn the proper mechanics by activating his core and using his lower body in the pitch as well…and now he’s able to throw an 88 MPH fastball.
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This is the same with kicking. Is there an exact right way to placekick? No but you can use poor body positioning, (maybe use 90% or your max potential) go out there and make a bunch of kicks, or you can put yourself in the best position possible to allow your body to have success. This will result in you hitting a longer, higher, straighter ball! Practice staying nice and tall with muscle-memory drills and you will slowly begin to see your ball travel with both greater distance and height!