One of the biggest factors to a missed kick and a very common error we see with young kickers is, an inconsistent approach. Inconsistency in this area can cause a variety of mishits, pulling around the ball, toeing the ball, a loss of power among others depending on where your approach takes you. So in this post I wanted to cover a few things that we use in training that will help you become more consistent and an overall more improved kicker!
What is the plant line?
The first tip we use to help kickers become more consistent is to "follow your plant line." Your plant line is an imaginary line from toe of your inside foot (right for right footed kicker and left for left footed kicker) at the back or starting position of your approach through where your plant foot would be at impact (shown in picture above). Your ideal plant foot location is about your foots length away from the football. You can measure this before you take your steps back. This will give your kicking leg enough room for a powerful strike through the football.
How will this make me more consistent?
The key to making this tip successful is keeping your inside foot/leg (again right for right footed kicker and left for left footed kicker) along this line all the way through impact. You notice in the photo above the inside of this line is shaded out, that is a way one street to missed or mishit balls going in there. A couple things could happen if you step inside your plant line:
Okay, I fixed my plant line, why am I still losing power on my kicks?
In addition to your plant line, your steps will make a big difference in the outcome of your kick. Often we see young kickers who start very far away from the ball. This causes you to have to take very large steps to get to where you need to be. With these large steps you are driving your power/momentum into the ground and into your large stride vs into the football. Make sure you aren't having to reach for the football, it should be comfortable and easy for you to reach your plant spot and drive through the football.
You should also be light on your feet. We often see young kickers who take flat footed steps to their spot and through the ball. This is the same idea, taking these steps will again drive your power into the ground and force you to have to recreate momentum rather than building it up throughout your approach. Take a close look at NFL kickers when you are watching a game, they are all light on their feet and hover across the ground so they keep their power/momentum up with them rather than into the ground.
So in review, stay true and follow your plant line, be light on your feet and don't over stride during your approach to the football (adjust your approach length if needed, possibly shorten by half a step at the back end). These tips if used correctly will help you become a more consistent and powerful kicker!