the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Muscular Kicking, part 2

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

Now let’s formally introduce the groups of muscles that I presented in part 1, so that we can further analyze their ability to win or lose a game, and how warming up affects them.

The first group I brought up was the calves. The calves are located behind the shin bone, and are the main muscles of the lower leg, they contain specific muscles such as, soleus, and the tibialis anterior. The calves contain a lot of potential power for a kicker, and also are important for balance. Having said that, let’s begin to prevent an injury.
  • The main warm up I use for the calves, is the toe walk – Where I stand on my toes, in a sense of like a ballerina, and walk.
  • The main stretch for the calves that I use is the, heel walk – where I sit back upon my heels, and simply walk, much like the toe walks.
The second main group of muscles is the quadriceps. The quadriceps is also known as the thigh, and make up the top part of the leg, above the knee. The quadriceps are made up of muscles like, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and the vastus medialis.
  • One warm up that is excellent for the quadriceps is the high knees, which is done, by raising your knee to about hip level, while using your quadriceps.
  • A fantastic quadriceps stretch is, Hold your leg in the air, and grab your ankle and press it to your hip. You should feel a nice stretch in the quadriceps.
The third main group would be the abductors and the adductors of the inside thigh, and the groin. Abductors are used to bring your leg away from the body, and adductors are used to bring your leg back to the body. In the final part of the kick, your abductors and adductors play major roles. The abductors, adductors, and groin are made up of muscles like - abductor longus, the sartorius, and the abductor magnus.
  • One excellent warm up for these muscles, is Open the Gate. Where you in a rhythmic movement, will bring your knee up like in high knees, and then rotate your leg outside.
  • A great stretch for the adductors, abductors and groin is: sit on the ground and put the soles of your feet together in front of you. Let your knees just fall to their max, do not press them down. Bend forward from the hips, not the shoulders. Find a spot in front of you and focus your eyes on it. Keep your lower back flat as possible.
The final muscles is the hamstring, which is located on the back of the top of the leg. Opposite of the quadriceps. The hamstring includes muscles like the semitendinosus, biceps femoris, and the semimembranosus. 
  • A good hamstring warm up, is the lunge,where you place one leg well in front of the other, and slowly bend down with the back leg, almost to where your knee is touching the ground, and then push yourself back up from this position, then alternate legs.
  • The best stretch for the hamstring is the front split. Remember, this stretch actually takes much work to get to, so I shall suggest you do not just go immediately into a full split, but rather just spread your legs as far down to the ground as possible for you.
Each position in football, and as well as in each sport, requires specific muscles to be warmed up, but if you will notice, most sports make major use of the muscle groups I mentioned. So these warm ups and stretches could be used for other sports, just as well as I use them for kicking. Just remember, whether you want to be the best in the nation, all-region, or just want to start on your high school’s varsity team, don’t let tense muscles prevent you from beating the guy next to you. Research your sport, see what the pro’s use, see what your coach suggests, and get to warming-up.

editors note: from AJ's bio...
Freshman year: Unanimous vote First team All Region Kicker
First team All Area Punter
Sophomore year: Selected by three different publications as the Preseason All-State Kicker/Punter for Class A of Georgia High School Association
Ranked Number one Kicker in the nation according to for the class of 2014
Stats in Sophomore year after 6 games: 27 touchbacks on kick offs, 40.3 yard average punting, with 5 of 14 punts inside the 20.

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