High school football is a team sport. On virtually every play, multiple players come together to complete a goal, and success or failure hinges on everybody’s ability to do their job to the best of their abilities. But when it comes to placekicking, there’s a little more individual pressure involved. While a kicker relies on a long-snapper to hike the ball accurately and a holder to catch it and align the laces properly, the ultimate result of a kick rests primarily on his leg. So, it’s vital that a kicker is prepared before the game even starts. Accurate placekicking is all about repetition and muscle memory. Here are a few tips on how to kick a field goal.
It starts with alignment
Before you even back up to attempt the kick, you should know exactly where your launch point will be. You should place your kicking foot directly in line with the center of the uprights, and face your entire body in that direction. Always orient yourself toward the target – that way, even if you are attempting a field goal from the left or right hashmarks, your leg will follow through in the same way. Consistency is the first step towards accuracy, so make your swing as easily replicable as possible.
Count Your Steps
You want to approach the ball with some momentum, so move backwards to give yourself some room to do so. Again, doing the same thing each time is key here. Take three normal steps backwards, without stretching your legs unnaturally. This is an easy motion to repeat, and it works regardless of the height of the kicker. Without turning your body, take two steps in the direction of your plant leg – for right-footed kickers, this is to the left and for left-footed kickers, this is to the right. The steps should be just a bit wider than your shoulders, giving you an opportunity to approach the ball from an angle an improve accuracy.
When the crowd is roaring and the high school cheerleading is excited, it can be easy to get swept up in the moment. Take a moment to breathe, and focus on the same landmark in the distance every time. Put the situation out of your head, and rely on the techniques that you have practiced.
Approach with confidence
Start by taking a jab step with your plant leg. This will get your momentum moving in the direction of the ball, and help set your strike point. Next, take a longer step that builds on the first one, and increases your speed. This should a normal movement, rather than a lunge, and should be directly forward without any lateral motion or bouncing. Finally, drop your plant foot about six to nine inches away from the football, with the ball itself in line with the arch of the foot.
Focus and follow through
Don’t attempt to spin your kick, as this can cause it to slice short or hook low. Rather, simply drive your instep through the target, with the weight of your body and the rotational force of your hips doing most of the work. This technique will ensure that your kicks travel straight and true, and is easier to repeat when it comes time to do it in a game. Keep your momentum moving forward, even after contact, using a skip step if necessary. Completing your follow through will help ensure that the ball travels in the direction that your body is pointed in, which again, should be right in the center of your intended target.