Monday, April 8, 2013

Field Goal Kicking Tips

When I was learning to kick footballs as a youngster, I searched high and low for someone who could help with field goal kicking tips.

Of course, I could watch field goal kickers perform on the television during the fall, but that wasn't enough to get a decent grasp on the new skill I was trying to develop.

As a long time soccer player, I had enough instinct to know what felt 'right' when it came to kicking a football for the first time. I knew what part of the foot I used to kick a soccer ball and assumed I'd use the same for a football.

However, the first and only reliable kicker in my town that I could ask for advice had been a toe ball or 'straight-on' kicker! His advice, though well intentioned, was not suited for my kicking style formed from years of playing soccer.

So, what exactly is the difference between a soccer style kicker and that of the traditional toe ball kicker?

Primarily, the difference lies in the way is the way the ball is struck by the field goal kicker. That is, it has to do with the part of the foot used to kick the football.

For the sake of time and space within this article, I'm not going to cover the wide range of details that separate the two styles. I simply want to focus on contact, because this is the most misunderstood in my experience.

Many young kickers understand that from a very basic perspective, they should be standing to the side of the football prior to a soccer style kick. They know for certain that the toe ball kicker used to stand directly behind the ball, and the assumption is that if they begin their approach from the side then they are 'automatically' labeled a soccer style kicker.

This is far from the truth. The secret behind the soccer style kick lies in the area of the foot used to kick the ball.

Many kickers have been taught that there is a 'sweet spot' on the football. This is the area or spot on located physically on the football in which the kicker ideally makes contact. Kicking the sweet spot properly gives a kicker the best shot at sending the ball on its way through the uprights!

Well, with soccer style kickers there is also a sweet spot on the foot. While toe ball kickers used to rely on their shoe for optimal contact (the very tip of a specially made shoe in most cases), the soccer style kicker can actually kick without a shoe by using his instep.

The best way to describe the sweet spot on the soccer style kicker's foot is by taking one's thumb and actually feeling the top, inside part of the kicking foot. There is a large bone called the Navicular that ideally makes contact with the football.

Look it up in any search engine and you'll see the bone I'm referring to visually! This is the sweet spot on the bone or the sweet 'bone' a kicking will want to focus on during the kick.

By matching this particular bone with the sweet spot of the ball, a young kicker is on his way to soccer style kicking! However, standing to the side of the ball and then continuing to kick using the 'toe' of the shoe is simply not 'technically' a soccer style kick.

So, as field goal kicking tips go, this is a big one. The secret of the soccer style kick starts with proper contact and the Navicular bone!

Scott Sisson was the field goal kicker for the 1990 Georgia Tech national championship team. He was drafted into the NFL and last kicked professionally with the Minnesota Vikings in 1996.

Scott is a Lou Groza voting panelist for the annual Placekicking Award which selects the nation's top field goal kicker each year.

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