The target zone is a precise area above the crossbar, beyond and between the uprights. It should be a stationary object such as a 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 straight-on style kickers is located approximately 1 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!
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. The plant foot (non-kicking foot) should be placed parallel to the kicking foot and also pointed straight ahead towards the target. It is important for the kicker to "toe the line" once the steps are completed. In other words, the kicking foot, point of placement and the target zone all should be aligned on the same imaginary line.
In order to achieve the proper depth, the kicker should mark his steps off every time! This will allow the kicker to start and finish in the same position each time and also provide consistency in the meeting of the foot with the ball.
A good stance will allow the kicker to get the ball off (kicked) quickly and accurately. The two recommended ways to position the feet are:
1. Kicking foot forward. This stance is best for toeing the line.
2. Feet parallel.
The entire body (hip/shoulders) should be directly facing and square to the target. The body weight is forward and concentrated on the balls of the feet.
The purpose of the forward body lean is to aid the forward momentum on the initial step. The amount of the body lean is determined by the individual.
After the target zone has been picked, 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. To help you relax, take a deep breath and release it slowly. 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.
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.
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 to 1.3 seconds for college and professional kickers.
Head and Eyes Position
The steps for extra points and field goals are the same. They should be smooth, aggressive and straight (towards the target zone).
The first step is with the kicking foot. It varies from a short jab step to a half (1/2) step, equivalent to about half the length of a normal stride. The first step is important not only in determining the direction of the kick, but also the position the second step (plant foot) is to be placed.
The second step (plant step) is the key to the swing of the kicking leg and should be pointed directly in line with the target. The plant foot should land approximately four to six inches to the outside of the ball and approximately six to eight inches opposite the kicking foot. The plant foot should also be just behind the ball in a position which will allow the kicking foot to make optimal contact with the sweet spot of the ball.
If the ball is spotted on the ground, the plant foot should be placed closer to compensate for the lowering of the ball.
The first and second step should be directed straight ahead throughout the entire kicking motion.
This is a natural motion where the kicking leg swings down, up and through the ball. At the beginning of the downswing the kicking leg will actually draw back and bend at the knee. As the kicking leg moves forward the upper body straightens up as the foot makes contact with the ball.
To maximize power and to strike the ball's sweet spot correctly, the ankle of the kicking foot must be locked with the toes a few inches higher than the heel.
On impact (with the plant foot pointed in the direction of the target), the kicking foot should kick through the football directly toward the target. At this time, the entire body is upright and all motion should be headed in the direction of the target.
At the moment of impact, the support leg will straighten, and power is generated up and forward from the ground. As the ball leaves the foot and the kicking leg begins its follow through, the support foot (plant foot) will rise up on the toes. The momentum of the leg swing will actually lift the plant foot off the ground, and it should skip forward in the direction of the target. Do not force this action; let is happen naturally!
FOLLOW THROUGH AND STRAIGHTNESS OF FORM
The kicking leg should follow through straight and up-through the target. The leg should be extended and have achieved a height ranging from chest level to above the head. The ankle must remain locked! Proper kicking mechanics are based on where the ball is to be kicked. Therefore, beginning with the initial step and throughout the entire kicking motion, everything should be in a direct line and toward the target. This includes the steps, hips, shoulders, leg swing, kicking foot, plant foot, and follow through...The body and all motion should be in direct alignment with and square to (facing) the target.
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