the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Muscular Kicking, part 1

by guest blogger AJ Wells
[editor's note: the following is adapted from a speech given by AJ this past summer]

Hello, I’m AJ Wells, a rising 10th grader at Marion County High School. I started this past season on my High School’s varsity football team as kicker, punter and kick off specialist. Our team won the region championship and I was also named first team all region kicker by a unanimous vote of the 11 coaches throughout the region, and all-area punter according to the local newspaper, Americus Times-Recorder. In individual competition this year I achieved the number one ranking for kickers for the class of 2014 according to Ray Guys’

I would have been unable to accomplish any of this without having a proper stretching routine to get my muscles prepared for practice and games. This stretching routine had me ready before the whistle, and I came out of the gates at the top of my game. The idea of a warm up is to prepare your muscles for strenuous activity without wearing out your body in the process. Warming up and stretching combines to alert your muscles for use, but warming up mainly awakes your muscles. Stretching releases the tension in the muscles so that they are going to be relaxed and can get in the right position, in a sense, for your activity.

Kicking involves every muscle in the body, but mainly legs. So I will only cover leg muscles. Before we get into how to warm up and stretch for kicking, let me take you through a detailed demonstration of my kicking motion, paying attention to the muscles that I focus on.

My first step is to explode out of the prep position, by taking my right foot from behind my left, all the way out to almost a yard away from my left.
  • This small movement, at full speed requires your left calves muscles to produce an explosion of energy to propel your entire body, from a still motion, to moving forward at your highest speed possible.
  • It also requires your right quadriceps to help propel your right leg from so far behind your left leg, to so far in front.
  • Compared to the rest of the motions, the first step is fairly simple.
Next is the final step before you kick the football. All of your energy generated from the first step, will be doubled. This step is important for getting yourself to your maximum power, and positioning yourself correctly for the kick. Let’s decipher the muscles we use during this last step:
  • Your right calfs and quadriceps must work in sync to continue your energy from your first step to this one.
  • Your abductor muscles for both legs must work in sync to pull your left leg from behind your right to beside it, then to in front of it.
  • Your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves must be conditioned to support the rest of your body during this high speed motion.
Now is the kick. The past two steps have been producing the energy and acceleration to get you to this point. Let’s examine what muscle are used from the beginning of this final motion, to the end.
  • When I landed with my left foot in my plant spot, I landed on my heel with my toe stretched in the air. This is the beginning of what will become much like a rocking motion to propel me through my kick.
  • Mmy foot went, from my heel, to being flat, to on my toe for a split second, to being in the air in the follow through. My calves must be warmed up for this kind of support it is giving the body.
  • My right leg is back, prepared to sweep through the kick. My left adductors are going to pull my right leg through the kick, at tremendous speed. My right quadriceps is going to guide my leg to the ball, as my knee is almost above the ball, my leg is going to begin to straighten. This requires my abductors to be warmed up and stretched, so that this quick acceleration of the use of the muscles in that area aren’t injured during the process. As my leg straightens completely and snaps through the ball, my foot must become extended.
  • My leg is propelling through the ball, and I have entered the follow through of the kick. Much like any other sport, the follow through of the kick is as important as any other part of the kick. Your hamstring must be warmed up, and stretched properly to withstand this kind of extension. This is probably the part of the kick most prone to injury. As my right foot is going higher in the air, my left foot, as shown earlier, is in the air moving with my right foot. As my left foot lands, my right leg is going to descend from its peak, and once it lands, I will walk forward to slow down the motion of my body. This serves as a simple cool down for the kick. A cool down, is a simple relaxation of the muscles after a strenuous activity. Much like deep breathing, or jogging.
Editor's note:  Part 2 will discuss how warming up affects the various muscle groups.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fantastic article

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