the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Good Drill, Bad Drill

We previously asked kicking consultants the following two part question:
The good: Over the course of your kicking career, what exercise/drill did/do you find to be most beneficial?
The bad: Which exercise/drill still has you scratching your head as to why you had to do it?
Here's what they had to say...

Mike Hollis, ProForm Kicking
The drill that I found most beneficial for me was kicking 7 yard field goals with another set of FG posts 50 yards down field. The idea is to make the ball go through both sets of posts.

The one exercise that I have found to be less effective for me was the tackling drills we had to do as kickers. I was always taught to put my head on the waist of the ball carrier and wrap up. I can honestly say that out of my 11 credited tackles during my career (of guys like Herschel Walker, Desmond Howard, Tamarick Vanover, Mel Gray), that I never used this technique on any of them! Always went low and took out their legs... primarily to keep from getting myself killed!

Best: dry run drill - allows you to put everything together: steps, plant, swing, body position, and follow through. Doesn't take anything out of your leg and is great for developing proper muscle memory as you warm up.

Worst: no step drill - after working with kickers for nearly 10 years, this drill just doesn't do it. It's unrealistic to stand stationary and strike a ball with no body lean, momentum etc. I see kids develop bad habits all the time from it.

Brent Grablachoff, Kicking World
The Good: Hip Flexor Stretching and Strengthening!
Prior to becoming a kicking coach and during my kicking career I really did not know the true value of the hip flexor in the field goal and kickoff form. The hip flexor muscle which is located around the groin area can take a beating if you’re a kicker or soccer player! If not properly stretched, rested and strengthened it is really quite easy to tear. In fact, I tore mine (acetabular labral tear) from over-kicking and not enough stretching and strengthening. Many athletes including Derek Jeter (baseball), Greg Norman (golf), and Adam Vinatieri (NFL Kicker) also tore their hip flexors! Fortunately this is a muscle that can be strengthened, protected and even rehabbed quite easily if you know the right exercises to do.

Here’s the easiest and best stretch to improve hip flexor strength, prevent injury and also increase distance on your kicks:
· Put your right knee down and right arm up (reverse)
· Arch your back with a tall posture
· Shift stomach/hips forward to stretch your hip flexor
· Hold 10-15+ seconds each hip and repeat

A few other good exercises that help not only the hip flexor but also other essential kicking muscles like the hamstrings, quadriceps, groin and inner and outer thighs are:
· Dumbbell front lunges
· Barbell front lunges
· Dumbbell side lunges
(I recommend light to medium weight with focus more on control and explosion versus ‘maxing out’)

You can also Google search for ‘hip flexor stretches’, ‘hip flexor strengthening’, ‘hip flexor exercises’ and read my blog which has detailed information on strengthening the hip flexor to help kick the ball further. Stay healthy and don’t forget to stretch those muscles!

Filip Filipovic, The Kicking Coach
Every kicker/punter has a different genetic make-up and athletic background. A drill like "no-step kicks" could be a waste of time for an advanced kicker, while it could add 10 to 20 yards of distance to high school kicker's field goal range. To answer a complex question simply, there are no bad drills...and there are no good drills. Drills are prescribed to athletes in a similar fashion that medication is prescribed to patients Right drill/medication makes all the difference while wrong one will do nothing for you, or even hurt you. Whatever drill a specialist chooses to do, he should take his time to learn it, and do it correctly.

Jay Feely, Arizona Cardinals kicker
I always feel that the best practice is actually kicking. Put me in as many live situations as possible and that will benefit me the most. However my two favorite drills to refine my technique are the pole drill and end line drill. The pole drill I will kick from varying angles at a light pole on the field. The small target helps me focus and be extremely accurate on a tiny target compared to the uprights. It also helps eliminate any feeling of kicking from an angle on the hash. The other drill that I feel is beneficial is kicking from the end line at the uprights. Line up even with both uprights on the sideline in the endzone. I try to hit the near upright. Again it forces me to hit a small target and it also allows me to focus on keeping my hips square to the target and not coming across the ball.

Any drills that incorporate anything outside of actually kicking I'm not a fan. No step drills, I'm not a fan. Don't make kicking more complicated than it is.


Anonymous said...

Dude, you should write a book, seriously!

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