Jonny Wilkinson’s kicking style has been analysed ad nauseam. And although it isn’t easy trying to copy him completely, the basic skills remain the same, from the top kicker down to the for the fourth XV substitute fullback.
Tips for kicking
Placing the ball: The angle of the ball should be slightly tilted towards the target, though some kickers will prefer the ball to be more upright.
The landing area: The non-kicking foot must land on a firm piece of the turf. Try to make sure the surface is even and dry. This needs careful placement of the kicking tee. Stamping down the ground next to the tee can also help.
The targets: Don’t aim for “between the posts”. Try to pick a specific target in the background.
The run-up: There is no exact science here because the shape, size and skills of kickers are all so different. The run creates the momentum to kick.
The non-kicking foot: This should land next to the ball with the toe facing the target (or just outside).
The kicking foot: Aim to hit the ball just below the middle, on one of the seams. Coaches talk about a “hard foot”. Pointing the big toe helps create this feeling.
The hips: These should be facing the target at the point of contact.
The eyes: From the start of the run up they should never leave a specific point on the ball.
The follow-through: Kick through the ball towards the target and let the leg follow-through on this line.
At least nine tips to remember. If your players only focus on one, it should probably be about keeping a “hard foot”.
Rugby drills for great kicking
1. Kicking down the line: Practise kicking down a line not at the posts. Rather than aiming at the posts, use the 15m line to see how straight your kicks are.
2. Random run up: Forget the run up and get the kicker to just kick. This can relieve the tension and encourages the player’s natural talent and skills.
3. Kick the ball into a tackle bag: Place the tackle bag 2 metres away from the ball. This promotes a short-range target and a chance to make lots of kicks.
4. Kicking competitions: Any game can create tension. The players who are the best kickers are not necessarily the best technical kickers. These are the ones who can hold their nerve.
This article is taken from the Better Rugby Coaching e-newsletter. Click here to sign up and get free rugby drills and skills twice a week.
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