the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kicking Practice, circa 1893

Excerpt from American Football, by Walter Camp (a.k.a. the "Father of American Football"), 1893. For those doing the math, that would be 119 years ago.

"There are two other things which the half-back must practise apart from his team-play. They are kicking and catching. The former is of sufficient importance to deserve a separate chapter, but a few hints under the half-back column will not be out of place. It is usually the case that of all three men behind the line, the two halves and the back, any one can do the kicking upon a pinch, but one of the three is, nine times out of ten, manifestly superior to the other two. In this state of affairs there is altogether too great a tendency to slight the practice of the two inferior kickers, and rely almost entirely upon the best man. It is quite proper to let the best man do all the kicking possible in an important game, but it is a very short-sighted policy to neglect the practice of the other two during the preliminary games. Not only should they have the advantage to be gained in the length of their kicks by daily practice, but they should also have the steadying experience to be acquired only in games. It may happen at any moment in a most important game that the kicking will devolve upon them on account of an accident to the third man, and it is, indeed, a foolhardy captain or coach who has not taken sufficient forethought for this contingency.

The principal reason why we develop so few really good kickers is, that coaches, captains, and players have given so little attention to the detail of that part of the work. Fully nine tenths of the men who do the kicking upon American teams are more natural kickers than practised ones. Let me explain this so as to be fully understood. As in boxing one often sees a man who, having taken no lessons, and being therefore unable to make the most of himself, can yet more than hold his own against a more finished opponent on account of his natural quickness, strength, and aptitude ; so in football one sees here and there a man who is able to do some fair kicking without having devoted particular attention to it. In boxing, however, when a teacher takes the natural hitter in hand, he begins by putting him at work upon the rudiments of guarding, holding himself upon his feet, hitting straight, and moving firmly. He never undertakes to make a first-class man of him by merely encouraging him to go in harder, and increase his power without regard to the proper methods. In football, coaches rarely teach the kickers the first principles, but instead urge upon them only the necessity of constant practice in their own way. For this reason our kickers show all manner of styles, and the only wonder is that they kick so well in such wretchedly bad form."

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