The target zone is a precise area above the crossbar, beyond and between the uprights. It should be a stationary object such as flagpole, score board, etc. Focusing on a precise area directs all kicking motion toward the target and thus aids in the accuracy of the kick.
The sweet spot of the ball for soccer style kickers is located approximately 1 1/2 inches to 2 1/2 inches down from the ball's widest segment. Kicking this area of the football is most effective for achieving the greatest height and distance.
There are numerous ways a kicker can align properly. The kicker should develop a consistent method to mark his steps off and thus achieve proper depth and alignment. Most importantly, the marking off of steps should be done the same way every time! One of the most common ways for a soccer style kicker to mark steps off is the three step back-two steps lateral method. By using this method, the kicker marks the steps off forming a 90-degree angle.
3 steps BACK DETERMINES DEPTH
The kicker must first position himself at the point of placement (tee or spot the ball will be held) and locate his target zone. He should then take the initial (3) steps back keeping the kicking leg, point of placement and target zone all in direct line. It is not important whether the kicker takes these steps facing the target zone or with his back to the target zone; the important factor is that he toes the line once he completes his steps. In other words, the kicking foot, point of placement and target zone all should be aligned on the same imaginary line.
By using this technique, the kicker can correct himself should he drift away from the correct line. Keep in mind, he must be consistent with his steps in order to align at the proper depth from the ball. At this point, the kicker should position his body (hip/shoulders) directly facing and square to the target.
2 steps LATERALLY DETERMINES PROPER ANGLE
While facing the target the kicker should take two average or controlled lateral steps to the side opposite the kicking leg. These steps should be precise and in a straight line in order to form the 90-degree angle.
By the kicker keeping his body directly facing and square to the target, he enables himself to make his lateral steps consistent and in a straight line from any placement on the field.
The stance should be comfortable and determined by the individual. The stance should allow the kicker to get the ball off (kicked) quickly and accurately.
A recommended way to position the feet is slightly apart with the non-kicking foot forward. They should be slightly pointed in the general direction where the non-kicking foot will be planted during the actual kick.
The upper body should be leaning forward with the weight primarily on the front foot. The knees should be slightly bent and ready for the initial movement.
The purpose of the forward body lean is to build forward momentum on the initial step. The amount of the body lean is determined by the individual.
head & eyes POSITION
After the target zone has been checked the head should be placed down and remain down throughout the entire kicking motion. The eyes should be focused on the point where the ball is to be spotted. Total concentration is a must!
The hold should be straight up and down with the laces ideally facing the target. The laces should not face the kicker.
Soccer style kickers may want to tilt the top end of the football (slightly) away from the plant foot in order to obtain better contact with the "sweet spot." Since the kicking foot is angles (slightly) at impace the slight tilt of the ball creates an ideal "sot" for ball compressions and control. This simple adjustment allows for a more powerful vertical rotation of the ball. The vertical rotation enables a "truer" flight path, thus, a more accurate kick.
When tilting the football backward, the holder decreases the exposed portion of the "sweet spot." An erect placement will allow the kicker to see the entire football, thus enabling him to hit just under the ball's middle to get maximum height and distance.
Steps should be taken on a direct, straight path -- in line with the point of placement and the spot where the non-kicking foot will be planted. Weight should be on the balls of the feet. Head and shoulders should remain on the same plane throughout the kick.
The two basic stepping patterns used by soccer style kickers are the 2 or 2 1/2 step approach. The recommended (and most commonly used) is the 2 1/2 step approach.
Kickers should be continually timed, not only to get the ball off quickly, but also enable them to develop a proper rhythm and thus improve consistency. The total time from snap to kick should be from 1.25 to 1.4 seconds for high school players and 1.25 and 1.3 seconds for college and professional kickers.
The 1/2 step approach (or short jab) initiates forward momentum which enables the following steps to be quicker and thus, enhances leg speed during the kick. This step is taken with the non-kicking foot; it is this short jab which is omitted during the 2-step approach. The next step is taken with the kicking foot. This is a full one step, and it builds momentum in preparation for the plant. Note that just prior to the plant step, the kicking leg will naturally draw back and bend at the knee.
This step is very important because it not only provides support, but also gives direction to the kick. As the planting step is taken, it should pivot and be placed in the general direction of the target. The exact distance the foot plant should be from the ball varies with the individual.
When using a tee, the middle of the foot is typically aligned with the ball and positioned 6 to 10 inches to the side of the ball. The distance of the plant from the ball is based on personal preference and can be determined by the use of a shorter tee or by spotting the ball on the ground.
If the ball is spotted on the ground the plant foot should be placed slightly forward to compensate for the lowering of the ball.
note: The plant foot becomes a natural guide, supporting the entire body as it "torques" toward the target generating increased leg speed.
The kicker should land on his heel initially when making his plant. The will aid balance and help in the correct distribution of body weight.
As the kicking foot starts in the downward arc towards the ball, the upper body will pivot (torque) in the direction of the plant foot. When foot/ball contact is made, the impetus of the body (including the plant foot, hips and leg swing -- ALL) should be focused directly toward the target.
As contact is made with the kicking foot, the ankle should remain locked in place with the toes depressed and in a pointed position. (The exact foot position should be determined by the individual as there are various ways to kick the ball successfully).
The kicker's leg should swing in a sweeping type motion from the hip. Do not lean back or forward during the kick.
Kick through the football and simultaneously bring your arm (opposite the kicking leg) across your chest in a parallel and upward "sweeping" motion. At impact, your hips should square up in the general direction of the target. As your foot goes through the ball and your kicking leg reaches maximum follow-through your hips should continue forward in a "thrusting" motion enabling optimum power through the ball.
The kicker should always kick through the football. The key to the follow through is to finish with the kicking and planting foot aiming in the general direction of the target. By concentrating on the proper body position after the kick, the kicker will promote the correct plant, body position and leg swing prior to and during the kick. As he kicks through the ball, the kicker's movement should carry him upward, onto the toes of the non-kicking foot and forward beyond the placement (tee).
note: Due to the "torque effect" of the body that is created by the angle of approach, plant and leg swing,, the "skip" step of the plant foot will not only go forward, it will drift slightly away from the target line (opposite the kicking leg) and land with the toes pointed of the direction of the skip. The "skip" step is crucial in allowing proper transfer of energy and therefore maximizing power!
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