Goalkicking- How hard is it?

For Christ’s sake, how hard is it?

Round 6 was one of the most intriguing rounds of football for some time. It was also one of the worst displays of set shots for goal in living memory.  I heard someone yesterday say they should start using a goal kicking tee like the rugby boys. Please don’t let anyone with a specialist coaching role think of that little innovation to the game as they are just stupid enough to try it.

How can players, who have a basic job descriptor on being able to kick the ball with some degree of accuracy, be so inept at the game’s most basic skill. How can an elite junior come through the ranks to senior football with the kicking skills of a 12 year old. Is it nerves or pressure? Is it lack of confidence to execute for fear of failure and a spray over the phone? Are they so buggered by the time they set up for a shot that there is no gas left to actually kick the pill? Probably a bit of each but the fundamental problem is technique. At the draft camp, do selectors actually look at the kids kicking a footie or does an agility test take precedence over the fundamentals of the sport? I suppose it is expecting a little too much that generation brought up on rewards for trying rather than rewards for excelling could actually execute a task commensurate with their remuneration.  That said, fundamental coaching has deteriorated to the point where on the Auskick CD, the bounce handball is demonstrated rather than the position of the foot and knee when kicking. I know he bounce handball is certainly in intrinsic to the fabric of our game but kicking goals is up there I would have thought

Therefore, I have drawn upon some long forgotten bio-mechanical principles that may go some way towards explaining the dearth of reliable goal kickers. I will try to reveal out how a bloke who can squat 250kg cannot kick a football 50m. How a kid with a 1m vertical leap cannot hit a barn from the top of the square. How the re-introduction of the basic mechanical methodology might see the return of the 100 goal a season full forward and why Jeremy Cameron might just be the best key forward the game.

My time growing up in Wagga and Albury was spent in the company of footballers and football clubs of varying ability. My father Tim coach for over 30 years around the Riverina and was considered one of the more skillfull kicks during his days playing for North and Footscray in the VFL. Tim was also an excellent exponent of stab pass. And if you were good at a stab pass, you had to have one thing. A taut instep as dad used to say. Tim conducted football clinic for years that were attended by thousands of kids. The very first drill that was always conducted was to have everyone show their kicking actions. Think lines of small can can dancers in footie jumpers. No one touched a football until they demonstrated that their foot was fully extended, toes pointing straight forward towards the target.

The basic requirement in any sport trying to get a projectile as far away as possible is to have have a maximum summation of forces and having the links in the chain of action coming into play at the correct time in the sequence of that action. In the diagram below of a shot put, the sequence commences with the legs followed by rotation of the hips, followed by the trunk, then the shoulders with the elbow and finally wrist completing the movement. As one segment is peaking the next segment must be commencing. Should one component of that sequence fail to be completed at its maximum capacity prior to the next link commencing we get a loss of acceleration and subsequent loss of speed and force. If this happens kicking a football, the result is the same with the kick failing to a go over a jam tin.


One of the most common technique failures with many modern footballers is they do not fully extend the kicking leg and maximise the force that can be generated when the foot eventually makes contact with the football. Whether this is some deluded attempt to steer the ball through the goals or just a simple skill error is moot. Failure to fully complete the sequence – full extension of the knee – and maximising foot speed and the force at the point of impact, will result in variable kicking distances and, when combined with a kicking plane that has a lateral component (kicking across the body), often inaccuracy.

Integral to the implementation of all three of the elements outlined above is the approach prior to the kicking action taking place. Because many players struggle to kick sufficient distances they compensate by running in an arch, like Buddy, which requires the player to kick across the body with a foot positioned at an angle that is not directly aligned with the direction in which they are approaching. In golfing parlance, the player is effectively closing the club face which may result in the ball going further but most times tends to end up in the shit.

The ball drop continues to mystify many a professional footballer. The basic principle is to guide the football onto the foot with the hand on the same side as the kicking foot. Not that hard really but time and again we witness players release the football simultaneously from both hands resulting in the ball floating in the air for a longer period of time and moving off the plane in which it was dropped.

The banana, check side, lay it across the foot crap. It’s lazy and the outcome is generally poor compared to a kick performed by a player who is proficient with their opposite foot. If young blokes have too much time on their hand getting on the punt, why not get them spending a few hours practicing with their non-preferred foot. Worked out pretty well for Sam Mitchell and Greg Williams

In summary, Plugger Locket is the greatest goal scorer of all time and will never be surpassed. A quick look at the relative kicking styles of Tony and Levi Casboult gives us a clue why. Tony also had a career games average of 4.48 per game at 70% accuracy rate. Peter Hudson kicked a career average of 5.6 per game with an accuracy rate of 69%. That was with wet and heavy footballs on wet and heavy grounds kicking flat punts.


Ditto Dunstall and Lethal who were great shots on goal and nearly as proficient as Plugger and Huddo


As opposed to these arse clowns. While supposedly being a “power forward”, Cloke has a career game average of 1.8 goals per game and accuracy rate around 55%, not counting the truckload of shots where he killed someone’s nanna in the crowd. Levi Casboult’s failure to replicate very rule clearly shows why he is a such a poor kick and a laughing stock among school children throughout Australia.


Which leads me to Jeremey Cameron? The young Giant full forward is arguably the most multi-dimensional key forward in the game and kicks the ball like great goal kickers above (Obviously not to two directly above) . His performance on Saturday, against a very handy side in Hawthorn albeit one without Lake, was brilliant. Pack marks, chest marks over the back, fast on the lead and a fantastic shot on goal with a great kicking action none better than his one from 45°on the left forward flank after being smashed in the marking contest. No pressure Cameron. Just have a shot to put your side in front and to pull off a victory over last year’s premiers. Not a problem. Straight over the umpire’s hat.


So pundits of the game, the next time you howl in derision or disbelief when some highly paid footballer shanks one from 20m right in front, have a look at the replay there is a fair chance you will find that the problem is in their basic technique. And remember, the first place to look is the instep.

Always keep a taut instep.


About Tony Robb

A life long Blues supporter of 49 years who has seen some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't Mick Malthouse driving a train.


  1. Lot of parallels with golf – particularly putting I reckon TR. Having a technique that reproduces consistently. Josh Kennedy is an interesting case in point. Was always a reasonable kick for goal even with the exaggerated stutter. Then once he got the approach smoothed out he has become very good, but still a bit streaky. He kicks with a big hook so he aims well right of target. Dunno why he hooks it – his foot looks to swing inside out as with a golf hook – as he always kicks hard and through the ball. He seems to kick on the outside flat part of his foot like a slightly open clubface at impact.
    With his injuries he has seemed a little more jittery the last few weeks and a little bit of stutter has returned. Footballers don’t have the time to gather their thoughts in the same way as a pro lining up a putt. On Sunday night in the second quarter he had a long shot from outside 50 and struck it beautifully but didn’t allow enough for the cross wind. Then when he had a shot from 25 metres out on a slight angle after the 3/4 time siren he hit it “right through the break”. I am sure it was dead centre when it cannoned into the Moreton Bay figs. Little mental errors in the heat of battle. But he has a consistent if unorthodox technique to fall back on – like Jim Furyk.
    Thanks for the insights TR (shouldn’t you change your profile to reflect your new found love of all things orange?)

  2. Steve Hodder says

    Tony, the photos say it all. I watch my boy kick the footy in the street and the school yard, he, and his mates have all embraced the “crap … lazy” style of today’s footballers. It’s rampant and Auskick and the junior clubs don’t seem to put a stop to it. I don’t understand why the swarms of “accredited coaching” gurus out there have allowed it, other than thinking that running is more important to kicking and so they allow it as a necessary evil?


  3. Dave Brown says

    Good analysis Tony. If our Auskick is any indication they spend no time at all on kicking technique. Other than kicking the footy during the scratch match at the end, the only time they actually kick the thing during the drills is running into an open goal after having bumped, tackled and speccied their way onto the ball.

    Watching the bigger kids, they seem to have taken a liking to dropping the ball across their body as sometimes favoured by a certain Crows key forward when he is being lazy – it gives them easier distance at the expense of accuracy. The fundamental skill of the game – someone needs to come up with a way of making practicing doing it properly fun.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Maybe I’m way off track, but why do rugby place kickers generally approach the ball in an arc ?

  5. Tony robb says

    Thanks gents I certainly believe junior coaching has lost the plot. I coached the same group of kids for 8 years up until they were 14. 7 of those kids are now playing senior football at 18 years of age and 3 are in the Giants academy. All have been usin their opposite foot since they were 10.

    Swish your point is valid. however I believe that rugby kicking is slightly different in that the ball is fixed in position which takes away the drop errors.

    I w get to that profile shorty Pete

  6. Peter Fuller says

    At an Almanac lunch a couple of seasons ago, Simon Madden asserted that the rash of OP injuries, in the game generally, but especially in players at the developmental stage, was partly attributable to the vogue for kicking across the body. Obviously this fashion occurred at AFL level, and has then been mimicked among juniors,attested to by Tony’s post and a number of the comments.
    Since I have no professional basis for evaluating Madden’s claim, I wonder if any in the Almanac community can shed light on it. If it is true, then not only are bad kicking habits setting in, but there is also a risk of doing some significant physical damage.

  7. Tony Robb says

    Ill check that out for you Peter

  8. Huddo was the rusty gate that never fell off. Mongrel after mongrel, straight at that spot he picked in the grandstand behind the goals.

    Disco used to try and coach Richo. Year after year. You have to get them early. Or make them more consistent using what they have learned – perfect practice makes perfect etc etc

    I think Jeremy Cameron is the clostes thing to Royce Hart since Royce Hart. Balance and courage and a midfielder’s agility but tall enough. And a great, straight kick. I would swap the whole Richmond list to get him to Tigerland. Our Jack, who is about the same size, could watch Cameron and learn (and the Richmond midfield could watch the Giants’ midfield… and Dimma could watch Cameron….)

  9. daniel flesch says

    Wise words , Tony. Except Hawthorn’s most accurate forwards Gunston and Breust kick with a bent knee. Must be the exceptions that prove the rule ?

  10. Tony robb says

    Daniel point taken but look at Gunstans (I think ) shoot at the death last week where he didn’t kick through to the target and pulled it left

  11. Jim Johnson says

    Re Dave Brown says If our Auskick is any indication they spend no time at all on kicking technique.

    Below is a 320 words of a 2300 word email I sent to Austkick in March 2014.
    Question: Young footballer invents new kick in 1949. An Australian Rules
    football Development. PRE Auskick

    Re Young footballer invents new kick. An Australian Rules football Development.

    Young footballer invents new kick to counter muddy conditions In 1949
    15-year-old Jim Johnson and his older brother Charlie joined Mt Evelyn
    Football Club, Second XVIII. Mt Evelyn Football Ground’s surface was then
    uneven and often very muddy. Studying the Sporting Globe Football Book
    (1948), Jim Johnson adapted Jack Dyer’s ‘crazy’ Drop-Punt … ‘the silliest
    looking kick in football history’ (p.49) into an effective Drop- Punt (field
    pass) and later invented a Stab Punt (pass), both kicks being suitable to Mt
    Evelyn’s mud. These kicks were able to be kicked at full pace with accuracy;
    they are in constant use today in Australian Rules football. Playing just
    three games, Jim won the 1949 Second-Best-and-Fairest trophy (The T.O.
    Millard Trophy). Theo Millard (Jim’s uncle) was Mt Evelyn’s major employer
    at Millards’ Timber and Trading. Jim, 157.5cm and weighing 51kg, was
    promoted to the first XVIII, winning the umpire’s vote for best player on
    three occasions; joined Ringwood Football Club as First Rover for the First
    XVIII in 1950; and in 1960 played in a Premiership team for Croydon.
    ‘Johnson was outstanding in the mud with clever turning and accurate
    disposal.’ The Ringwood Mail, August 1951. Journalists had trouble finding
    the correct name for Johnson’s Stab Punt. ‘Johnson sent his delightful
    little drop punt pass direct to Manfield’. Frank Casey, The Post, September
    8, 1960. ‘Johnson should write a book on stab kicking – he has found the
    lost art’. Davey Crocket, The Ringwood Mail, September 8, 1960. From Helen
    Johnson Jim Johnson’s story appears in the ‘Face to Face’ exhibition at the
    Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. Jim also donated the concert program signed by
    Melba, part of our display ‘The Mitchells in Mt Evelyn’ at the Exhibition
    Jim Johnson (right) with brother Charlie at Yarra Glen oval, 7 May 1949.
    From “Things Past Newsletter 44 October 2011 Mount Evelyn History Group Inc”,

    This email, sent to about a 14/15 year old kid’s football kicking development, which included two phone numbers only recieved an acknowledgement of reciept.

    Austkick still appears to only direct the drop punt being kicked by holding the ball vertically and dropping it vertically when anyone watching the game today SHOULD be able to see that the classy disposal for kicking short and long in Australian Rules Football is by those who use the method of kicking as for a drop kick but kicking at varying levels from the ground. In effect using the method I developed as a kid about 63 years ago. I have recently found evidence that Dick Lee used the drop punt. That SHOULD create a little ????? interest. ??????
    Jim Johnson. Melbourne High School 1st Eighteen Football Colours and 1st
    Eleven Cricket Team 1950. Jim played 1st Eleven Cricket from the age of 13
    in 1946/47, winning Ringwood Cricket Club 1st eleven Bowling average in 1949/50 ——1950/51 and in 1959/60 with an average of 8.96.

  12. Tony Robb says

    Thanks Jim. I get such a thrill out of writing an article that leads to unearthing a great link to the past in the development of our game. I am going to go back through dad’s scrap book and look for any references in relation to the drop kick and stab pass. I’ll pass on anything that might be of interest to you.

  13. Jim Johnson says

    To Tony Robb. Thank you for your reply.
    I note there has been no comments re The Famous Dick Lee, being the first VFL/AFL player to kick a drop punt circa 1906-1922 when he played for Collingwood. Re on field kicking today. You will notice that those who drop the ball vertically cannot kick a low Stab Punt. The logic is that the further out from the body the ball is dropped the higher off the ground the ball will be kicked to a higher level . The closer in to the body the ball is kicked the lower it can travel. You cannot drop the ball in close to the body it has to be pulled in. I am interested in anything unusual re the Drop Kick to Drop Punt and the stab kick to My Stab Punt. I have spent hundreds of hours on this subject. Stab Punt Jim Jphnson

  14. Stab Punt Jim Johnson says

    An amazing secret that almost slipped through the cracks.
    Dick Lee was the first to kick the drop punt as a set shot for goal. See Dyer Sees Red

    (1) tjpc type of of swb-punr’in”wh!’c’h swb-punt which he he dropped I

    lhc ball point-first and stabbed ulike;w

    a shot arrow with hair-line accuracy. ; g —-,and i:

    inaccurate.a lost art. „..game Kicking, he says, is wo

    Section (1) above is an extract from the 2559 word Electronically Translated Text of “Dick! Dick!-Dick-e-e-e “ By H. A. de Lacy as published on Trove in The Sporting Globe 21 June 1941.
    As you can see if you had never heard of a stab punt the above section would not mean anything special.

    See section (2) below for Jim Johnson’s corrections to the above section (1).

    (2) . “a type of stab-punt in which he dropped
    the ball point- first and stabbed it like
    a shot arrow with hair-line accuracy. He says he
    always picked
    crowd and took aim at it.”
    a lost art.
    spot in the
    Kicking, he says

    As can be seen if you had not heard of a stab punt or did not know how to kick one the above section (1) would not mean anything special.

    The above corrections (in Section 2) were recorded on Trove by Jim Johnson on June 1 2015. See also Jim’s ‘comments” on this actual article. Text of “Dick! Dick!-Dick-e-e-e “ By H. A. de Lacy as published on Trove in The Sporting Globe 21 June 1941.
    There were five words in section (1) to enable Jim Johnson to recognise his target of “stab punt” or “drop punt”. The key words for him in this number (1) group were “punt” “ball point first”and “dropped”. These words were legible amongst this small selected group of words. Jim immediately looked, using magnification, at the actual on line news paper text in which he discovered the amazing words of
    “A Type Of Stab Punt”.
    Because Jim, at age fifteen in May 1949, had invented and perfected his Stab Punt kick he was able to recognise the potential that ” A Type Of Stab Punt” presented.
    For further information see. “The First Drop Punt. Recent research from a kick historian” as published in the Footy Almanac of the 26th June 2015.
    “Almanac History : George Goninon and the punt drop kick.”
    July 15, 2016. Jim Johnson creator of the Stab Punt presents research evidence of George Goninon’s use of a Drop Punt in his success at goal kicking.

    Researched by Jim Johnson, Melbourne High 1st “18 Football Colours 1950.

  15. Stab Punt Jim says

    To Tony Robb
    I stumbled over a picture of the North Melbourne team of May 27 1950 that includes your Dad as first rover. It includes Alec Albiston in the back pocket. I played in the Ringwood team 1951/-53 that Alec Captained and Coached.

    Kind Regards
    Stab Punt Jim Johnson.

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