the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Dirt on Kicking on Baseball Dirt

Prior to a road trip to Oakland the other September, the New York Jets specialists held a practice at a baseball field in Newark rather than their usual practice location. Why? To practice kicking off of the infield dirt, in case they ended up having to do so when playing in the Coliseum. At the time, kicker Nick Folk commented:
“It’s hard as a rock. You want to be wearing something that will stay on top, grab the looser stuff. Baseball fields are pretty hard, it’s not like kicking on a beach where you sink in. You just need to trust what you’re doing....
You’re not going to change too much, but it’s going to change a little bit. How I plant, that’s what is going to change, but how I approach and kick the ball, the speed and power — that won’t change at all.”
More recently, three experts weighed in on the topic of kicking on fields also used for baseball.

The short answer, courtesy of Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe:
"Try not to kick on the dirt."
The medium answer, courtesy of Tony Yelk of Elite Kicking Solutions:
"Have the same style shoe for your plant foot in molded and interchangeable cleats. Figure out which one gives you the best plant during pregame warm ups. Having proper footing allows you to then better control the plane of your leg swing to adjust for how the ball sits on the infield."
The long answer, courtesy of former NFL punter Mike Horan:
"Having played several years in Denver, the old Mile High Stadium was a familiar multi-purpose field that was shared by the Broncos and the Denver Zephyrs, a Brewers farm team. As kickers, we had to deal with kicking on infield dirt for at least half a season until sod was laid to cover the infield. The biggest challenge was the transition from grass to dirt or vice versa. The key for me was to test it out in pre-game walk-thrus and warmups and making sure I had the right type of cleat on my plant foot and maintain proper balance through the kick. No one wants to make a highlight film by having their plant foot slide out from under them and land on their back!

The best field I ever punted on was the driving range at Columbine Country Club in Littleton, CO. My good friend, TV and radio personality, Steve Kelley, is a member there and somewhat of a novice long snapper. On a Monday when the course is normally closed, he arranged for us to use the driving range for some punting practice. The grass was so perfectly manicured, it was like artificial turf only better."

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