The Most Common Rugby Kicking Mistakes

After a season of rugby coaching junior and senior players at Petersham RUFC and Trinity Grammar School, here are my reflections on the most common kicking mistakes.

Unbalanced Ball Hold and drop

Many rugby players are not able to kick a punt consistency straight. Common problems are a ‘slice’ or ‘hook’ of the ball.

I often find that players have decent ‘foot-eye’ coordination, but don’t hold and drop the ball correctly.

A rugby player must hold the ball straight both vertically and horizontally before swinging the foot. I see a lot of players are unable to punt kick consistently because they are ‘leaning’ the ball slightly off-center.

I recommend that a player starts kicking practice by holding the ball in two hands and aligning the seam at the top of the ball with the belly button. Then just lightly drop and kick from a stationary position.

hand
This is a perfect hold and drop for a punt

Soft foot

Finding control over longer distances can separate the average from good kickers. Most players aren’t aware of the level of tightness in their ankle whilst kicking.

For very close kicks a soft ankle while striking the ball is fine.

When you need a big exit strategy and you’re looking for big yardage, you need to employ a firm snap of the ankle.

A good practice drill is warming up without the ball and practicing kicking mechanics with a really firm snap of the leg and foot at the end of each kick.

Hips not facing direction of target

punt-kick
Look at the perfect alignment of hips with the head and kicking foot by Jonny Wilkinson

If a player has a good drop of the ball and clean strike – then the next area to look at is mechanics of the hip.

The general rule for all kicks is that the hips must be facing the direction of the target.

This is really important for setting the direction of the ball. The hip movement is also helpful in transferring your body weight into the force of the kick.

To create straight hips I recommend practicing without the ball again. This time focus on a punt or goal kick mechanics. Each time, make sure your hips are facing towards the target.

Point the Leg Towards the Target

Chris-Paterson-04
Look at the position of the leg after Chris Paterson kicked at Goal

Goal kickers often have a ‘hook’ or ‘slice’. It can often be due to the leg swing.

I want you to image your leg is like a cricket bat. In cricket, your ‘follow through’ with the bat, has a significant impact on the direction the ball will travel when hit. It’s the same in Rugby.

The more your leg points in the direction of the target, the more likely the ball is to travel to that point.

If you found this post helpful, stay tuned! I will be making a series of video tutorials tackling each of this rugby kicking mechanics.

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