the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kicking Off

kick·off [kik-awf]
The initial stage of something; start; beginning

From the NFL Rulebook
Section 17
A Kickoff is a free kick used to put the ball in play:
(a) At start of the first and third periods
(b) After each Try
(c) After a successful field goal
(d) At the start of overtime

Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins kicker
"It’s a lot of working on where you hit the ball, what you focus on, your steps, being smooth. A lot of different things go into it."
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers kicker
"It’s mainly in the approach. Kickoffs are more steps and the ability to tee the ball up allows for more hang time."
 Jay Feely, Arizona Cardinals kicker
"When you’re kicking a field goal you come down on your plant foot. When you’re kicking off you actually land on your kicking leg, because you want to explode through the ball. When you’re kicking a field goal it’s a controlled movement, where you’re working on consistency. When you’re kicking off, it’s an explosive movement where you’re trying to kick the ball as high and as far as you can."
David Buehler, former Dallas Cowboys kickoff specialist
"I have to be calm and composed to [place]kick. It is a little bit [tough]. I feed off that energy. But kicking, you've got stay-level headed. You can't get too fired up. Sometimes when I get too fired up on kickoffs I'll miss-hit it."
Rhys Lloyd, former NFL kickoff specialist
"But there's a fine point of hitting it as hard as you can when you get to the ball [instead of] the first steps of me thinking, 'Oh, I've got to smash this' ... and then I'm at the ball trying to kick it way too hard, and then the technique kind of goes out the window."
John Potter, former NFL kickoff specialist
"The first kickoff is usually my best kickoff because there is a lot of build-up. You’re sitting there and you’re getting kind of antsy. Then, it just kind of explodes in that first kickoff when you’re able to let it all out. It’s an amazing feeling when you know you got good contact and you feel it fly off your foot. You don’t even need to see the ball to know it was a good kick."
Ryan Longwell, former NFL kicker
"I think they’re both very unique. Field goals are much more precise than kicking off, meaning that you’re probably not going to be as successful swinging 100% at a field goal as you will be swinging at 85% or 90%. It’s very similar to what they say on the golf course; what the pros say about swinging a golf club. Kicking off, however, is basically about how much power you can put into the ball without over-kicking it. So they’re two different things. Like I said, with the new K-balls you’re not seeing the guys who are just pounding the ball eight to ten yards deep. I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot more kickers that are great field goal kickers and good kickoff guys, instead of the kickoff specialists with big legs because there’s just not that big a difference anymore with the K-ball."
Louie Aguiar, former NFL punter [on reasons that punters might fare better on kickoffs than a placekicker]
"Most of the kickers that I played with were all six foot or shorter. I played with Pat Leahy who was right around six foot. I played with Stoyanovich. All those guys were a little shorter. The taller guys who have longer legs, we have more leverage on the leg swing. Since you have more of a whip, our leg can snap through the ball better and hit the ball farther – just like golfers on long drive contests, they always use those extra long shafts so they can get more whip. That’s a reason why we had an advantage, being taller, back when I was playing. Now they have placekickers that are my height, 6’-3”, and they can bomb the ball."
Connor Barth, Tampa Bay Buccaneers placekicker
"There’s a huge difference between kicking off and kicking field goals. Kicking field goals from a body and technique perspective, you want to stay more upright and not crunch as much. That’s going to let your leg extend up and it’s going to give you more height. When you kickoff, you want to almost do a hurdling motion and a crunching motion. You’re pretty much trying to be as aggressive as you can when you hit the ball, but you don’t want to be overly aggressive where you’re out of control. It’s almost like controlled aggression. That’s what I call it when you attack that ball. You hit it really well, but you’re under control and you know what you’re doing and you have good technique. The main thing with kickoffs, when you make contact with the football you want to hurdle through it and land on your actual kicking foot. I’m right footed so when I kickoff, when I hit the ball I land on the same foot that I kick with. It’s like a hurdling motion while I’m crunching. On a field goal you want to skip through the ball. When you plant your foot, you want to skip through that same foot. That keeps your momentum through the ball. If you don’t skip through the ball when kicking a field goal, all your momentum goes into the ground and you lose the distance. You want to make sure you take all your body weight and get it through the ball."
Taylor Rowan, AFL kicker [on how kickoffs differ in arena ball]
"The net is exactly 58 yards away and it’s eight feet up, so it’s about sixty yards to get it to the net. You only have eight yards you can go back, but I’ve figured out that going eight yards back instead of any further has actually helped me out on kickoffs. For any kickers out there you know what I’m talking about – the further back you start going the more inconsistent your steps start to get. So it’s actually helped me a lot on my kickoffs, getting more consistent. I do five steps back and three over. It’s the same kickoff and everything, but without having wind in there it allows you to hit the ball little bit better. The only thing that’s a little bit different from outdoors is that every arena you go to is different. Some of the arena roofs are a lot lower than other arenas, so you have to be able to adjust your kickoffs – line drive the ball a little bit more in some arenas, while in some arenas you can really just kick away. The key is to get a lot of hang time and let the ball hit off the high part of the net, so it takes a lot longer for the returner to get it."

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