By Paul Hudson, High Performance (Level 3) Coach
As a junior growing up I often attended training with my dad and I could be found down one end of the ground, near the goals, kicking the footy. This was the only area on the ground that I could practice without getting in the way of training. As it turned out, this was the part of my game that guided me to a successful AFL career.
A team should be aiming to kick every goal but, as this is not really possible, they should aim for a 2:1 conversion of shots scored, from both set shots and snaps, e.g. 30 shots (20 goals and 10 behinds).
How do you address this?
Through Technique, Routine, Practice and Drills
Technique - Kicking technique should be learnt/taught at the earliest possible time in a young personís life, as incorrect technique is always difficult to alter as people mature. If a parent chooses to coach their own child, they should thoroughly research the correct technique.
Routine - Establish a routine that you can call on when the time comes for a set shot.
Practice - Practice this skill as often as possible so you will feel more comfortable when faced with kicking a goal in a match - practice makes perfect.
Drill - Putting this skill into drills at training makes this more like a game situation which means it is more realistic and prepares you for pressure situations.
Personally, I took pride in my goal kicking and my conversion rate was 65% for my AFL career. This was due to years of practice and having a routine that I always applied when having a shot at goal.
Some key points when having a shot at goal
- Give yourself plenty of room from the man on the mark e.g. 6-8 steps and then work out your approach from that spot (this means that the man on the mark is out of the equation).
- Pick out a target behind the goals that will not move - this is used so that your approach is straight and you have something to focus on - not the man on the mark (the target is where you want the ball to end up).
- Make a mark on the ground in line with the middle of the goals and your target behind the goals. This should also be the last step of your approach. What should happen is that your kicking foot should go straight through the mark on the ground which means you can watch the ball onto your foot correctly and not look where the ball is going to end up - the mark is like your radar and guides the ball in the right direction - through the goals.
- At the start of approach have the ball in line with preferred kicking leg and it should stay in line (not move around).
- Run in a straight line towards the mark on the ground and the target behind the goals.
- Work out how many steps you feel comfortable with in your own approach - this should become automatic if practiced enough. A tip is to start walking and build up to a pace that is comfortable when you kick - keep balanced.
(My approach would be 14 steps; this is used with the first 10 steps walking in watching the target behind the goals whilst gathering speed and during the last 4 steps focusing on the spot on the ground.)
- Body position is important - keep relatively upright or slightly hunched forward. This way you guide the ball onto your boot better, with more control and less chance of error. When you lean back, there is more chance of error - you donít drop ball straight and there is a bigger gap between hand and boot.
- The ball will travel higher in the air with less distance. Drop ball correctly and straight onto your boot, as you were holding the ball on the approach - the ball should land on the top half of the laces in the middle of your boot.
- Staying focused and running through your routine will help you eliminate any distractions that may take place - talk yourself through your routine and at all times have a positive mindset - tell yourself that you will kick the goal.
Good luck - thatís right you donít need it because you have now got your routine!
A gentleman called Jonny Wilkinson has taken goal kicking to a new level in Rugby Union - maybe you could take it to a new level in Australian Football!