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Tips For A Sweet Kick

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Whats in a kick? The main kick we use in Aussie Rules is called the drop punt. That in itself gives some clues that defines it from a drop kick, torpedo, or worm runner.

There are many components that go into doing a really sweet drop punt, and no doubt you’ve heard most of them.  Head/shoulder positioning, balance arm placement, ball angle, drop height of ball, non-kicking foot placement, head position, run up speed, foot angle, even the size and inflation of the ball matter. But today, I will summarise to three important areas to focus on.

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Ball Drop:  The ball needs to hit your foot at a vertical angle to the ground. It can be held in different ways, but still needs to hit the foot at this angle.  This will aid in the spin of the ball and therefore making it easier to mark. The more tilt you have on the ball, the greater the surface that will contact the boot and increase chance of the ball spinning off at a less controlled angle.

Experienced players may use the ball in this manner to gain different bends etc though for beginners it is best to keep it simple, keep it vertical.  The drop height is usually from about waist height, though this may be tweaked to match the speed of your leg swing. As the name suggests, drop the ball.  Just open the hand and release.

Ankle Lock:  Lock your ankle in while your toes are pointing to the target. Many beginners point their toes to the sky and you will likely be sending the ball more on an upwards trajectory rather than down the pitch to your teammate, or through the big sticks.

If you consider banging in a fencepost with a tennis racquet or a cricket bat.  It can be done with the racquet, just won’t be as good. You can kick the ball without locking in your ankle, but it won’t travel as well.

Landing Foot:  An important part of the kicking action that is often forgotten, is to land forward.  After your leg swings through and makes contact with the ball, ensure your weight transfers forward and you land on that foot. This aids in kicking through the ball, gaining more distance on your kick, better accuracy and brings your bodyweight through to put you into a forward running position, to then be an option up the field, making use of that momentum.

Apart from really refining some aspects of the kick routine, try to always practice the kick with a few steps prior and a few steps after the leg swing.  Our biggest error is teaching from a stationery position and then continuing that as training when this game is all about movement, and therefore kicking on the run becomes a very important skill. That kicking leg should always swing in the direction of your target, following through from those pointed toes.

Get these three parts right and you are well on your way to hearing that sweet kicking sound!

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  • Disclaimer: I grew up on a farm and do not advise using a cricket bat or tennis racquet to bang in fence posts. You probably won’t be finished in time for milking.

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Sweet Kicks Tips For Recovery Success – By Coach Kiwi

I am hoping everyone pulled up well after round 1, and with no serious injuries.  For many of us, myself included, there was some pain one or two days after the game.  Some may enjoy that feeling of a little bit of pain for the fun gained in running out with teammates that day.  However, some muscle soreness isn’t simply due to lactic acid buildup — it’s a sign you straight-up sent your muscles into shock.

 

The significant muscle soreness that typically occurs hours after matches or a hard training session (usually 24 to 48 hours after), is what is commonly referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS for short.   This condition has little, if anything, to do with lactic acidosis. Instead, it is likely to be the result of small tears in the muscle fibers that combine with an inflammatory process to result in pain.

Keep reading, don’t stop there, thinking this is a valid reason to give up all this potential fun in running about and kicking the footy.

You’ll most likely notice this type of soreness after more challenging or unfamiliar exercise.  It could be your first training session or first match as the intensity increases. Examples of such activities are kicking a ball or crouching to pick up ground balls, that involve muscle and tendon lengthening while a player simultaneously tries to contract the muscle.

So what are the symptoms of DOMS?  Muscle soreness, lack of strength, decrease in the speed of muscle contractibility, and muscle stiffness are all symptoms of DOMS.  Mostly DOMS can decrease the speed of muscle contractibility by 5-8% and change joint mobility.

Probably not the kind of statistic you were after, so keep reading and find some ways you can overcome this.  If your body needs a little more help with recovery, try one of these tips to get rid of sore muscles:

1/   Eat More Mushrooms – yes I hear the vegetarians rejoicing!

Numerous sources have identified mushrooms as possessing anti-inflammatory properties that may be effective in reducing some muscle soreness.  Mushrooms’ anti-inflammatory compounds called polysaccharides work to reduce the inflammation-causing cytokine compounds.

 

2/   Do An Active Cooldown

Spend some time cooling down.  We spend time on this at my clinics and I can’t speak highly of its value in preparing you for your next session.  It makes your muscles recovery-ready.  Going through a regular stretching routine will help to make it a habit, and a good way to ensure you don’t forget any particular area.  For the shape of our female hips, it is very important we stretch through our hip flexors and IT band areas every time we train or play.

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3/   Get A Massage

It may seem obvious, but massages really do help get rid of sore muscles. A post-exercise massage significantly reduces pain by reducing the release of cytokines, compounds that cause inflammation in the body. At the same time, massage stimulates mitochondria in cells, promoting cell function and repair.  Plus, who doesn’t feel better after a massage?

 

4/    Use A Heat Pack or Ice Pack

The idea behind heating pads is that they increase blood flow as it opens up your blood vessels, and is thought that it could help flush some of the byproducts or inflammation related to muscle soreness, out of the muscles.

Adding an ice pack to the mix may be the perfect combination.  Alternating cold and heat may be most beneficial following exercise-induced muscle soreness. Using both heat and ice prevents elastic tissue damage.  Alternating icing and heating will reduce muscle pain.  Applying ice for twenty minutes followed by heat for twenty minutes is be an effective regimen used by many athletes.

5/   Use A Foam Roller 

Foam rolling on sore muscles can make grown men cry, and we know women are a whole lot tougher, plus it seriously helps repair your muscles. It is possible that foam rolling may decrease edema (or swelling in the muscles) and enhance tissue healing.   20 minutes of foam rolling on a high-density foam roller immediately following exercise and 24 hours after may reduce muscle tenderness and decrease the impact on one’s dynamic movements.

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Now If the pain last longer than a couple of days, increases in pain, may have evolved from a certain moment of the match rather than the match as a whole, or makes movement particularly difficult, then perhaps seek some medical attention.  It may be more than just DOMS, and I’m no doctor.

DOMS will pass in a couple of days, and you will be feeling super again and ready for the next session and the next match.  Look out for me, and let’s share a ‘recovery’ drink at the bar.

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Sweet Kicks Football Academy Warmups Tips – By Coach Kiwi

Every sport we compete in requires some sort of routine to fire up the necessary muscles.  The more physical the sport, the more important it is to pay attention t those specifics.

Aussie Rules is one of the most physical codes around.  Just running alone you need speed, endurance and agility.  Add in jumping, sometimes alone tho most likely against an opponent, tackling, being tackled from any angle and the full-bodied bumps. Yep, all the things we love is why we play.  And to make sure we continue playing, its important to prep our bodies right, at every session and game.

A regular routine, covering some key components will ensure reduced chance of soft tissue injuries and perfect opportunity to incorporate some strength work around the lower limbs.

Start with slow, no impact exercises:

Sumo Squats, Lunges, Floor Sweeps (for hamstrings), RDL’s (Russian dead lifts), side hops with a hold.

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Then slowly add more movement:

Open/Close gates, A skips, Waist high kicks, Hip twists (or karaokes), Ground touches, Backwards Shuffles, Forward/Vertical Jumps.

As the Legs get Warmer:

B Skips (higher leaps, arms), Single hamstring flicks, Side steps, Higher kicks, and run throughs increase running to 80-90%.

You should not get to 100% efforts inside that first 20 mins of warming up.  Always add in plenty of touches of the footy, both in hand-passing and kicking, building speed and distance into that too.  It is very important to add deceleration, one legged and two legged, as this builds strength around the muscles to reduce chances of ACL’s and also develops good stopping techniques.   With plenty of focus on your hip area you will ensure good mobility, as this reduces significantly as we age.

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Post each match or training session, make sure you spend some time doing static stretches.  This is the first part of the recovery process, and important way to continue good flexibility through our joints and muscles.  Our hamstrings take a battering during the kicking and sprinting phases so spend good time stretching that area.  For anyone, most especially females, it is important to stretch through your IT band, or hip flexor area.  As we age, or become less flexible, or during that time of the month, this can shorten and tighten up, and contributes to those dreaded ACL’s.

The beauty of masters is having people who have been in the game a long time.  No doubt, with plenty of knowledge of the game and a ton of stories to tell, though some may not have kept up with the developments of sports science, and may be of the old ‘two laps of the oval’ type warmup.

If your coach fits into that category, consider hiring an expert for a couple of sessions to teach and setup a good routine for your club.  All accredited coaches will have access to the Prep to Play videos, specific for females (and with a cameo from Darebin star forward Jane Lange), so check if they have watched that yet.

And let’s face it, no one wants to pull a hammy during the warmup, or miss that vital snap at goal due to hip mobility challenges.  So be good to yourselves, warmup well, stretch good and I will see you at the bar for a story after the game.

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Sweet Kicks Football Academy
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