Of all the kick options & variations available to players, it is without doubt the Spiral Punt that is considered the most risky, yet rewarding if well executed. It is essentially a potent weapon when delivered by a skilled “operator”. This is a follow up article to a recent contribution of mine on the same subject. I have offered you a video below to provide some explanation of my methodology behind the coaching of the Spiral Punt. There is no “Cookie Cutter” approach to developing any kicker’s expertise as every player has differing needs within the process. Use this as a guideline or framework, if you will. This blogpost will serve to present you with another way that is proving successful over the traditional “how to” of Spiral Punting. My process with this kick is essentially an adaption of the Gridiron (NFL) punter technique that I have observed over a few years and made suitable to the match constraints of rugby. You do have an open mind, don’t you?
I invite you to view the video below for a more in depth explanation and demonstration of my spiral punt technique for rugby…
Let’s face it, of the few spirals that are launched in any given match, how many actually gain a win result? (turn inside out and aerodynamically spin correctly, hang time , distance, hit the target area, cause an opposition error)…
Perhaps it’s the lack of quality coaching or instruction on the topic, or just simply that players don’t make enough time to practice it?
Why don’t we see the Spiral more often?
It appears that in many rugby programs I have been involved, the spiral is not a kick type that is coached, and more often than not is discouraged by coaches looking to minimise risk in their game plan. (Not cool).
When it comes to game plan, I believe we should empower our players with all the tools that allow them to make the best decisions in pressure type match situations. So it is with those sentiments that I encourage more coaches and players to embrace the challenge of developing a killer spiral punt. After all, it is a skill like any other, that will improve with time and purposeful practice.
Ingredients for Success…
It is important to establish (very quickly) a position of control for the body. Namely:
- A rigidity that comes from locking core and bracing body including activation of kicking leg and balanced approach to kick.
- An alignment to target of hips and shoulders. The support foot (GPS) will establish the impact line at contact.
The Set phase (grip & hold position) is critical in establishing correct angle and height for the ball. In particular:
- An approximate 40-45 degree angle across kicking foot, held at end by kicking side hand and supported by the other.
- Kicking hand to be directly straight out from body and at chest height.
The approach phase (in practice) to be off two steps working to deliver power through the ball at contact.
- Maintain core and leg activation throughout entire kick and follow through to assist transfer of weight.
- The ball set height remains in position. The action is more like kicking the ball from the hand (driving up and through), than it is winding the ball up and lowering it to the kicking foot.
- An upright body position and posture should be a focus.
It is critical that the ball is manipulated into the correct position for contact on the foot. The original set position and angle across foot must remain at contact. (You may be surprised to know that there are gridiron punter drills designed to work on set and drop in isolation!) It is much easier, and less risk, to use good foot speed to drive up though a ball “waiting” to be struck than it is to drop to the foot and hope it maintains its position.
- As depicted in the video, the ideal contact point on the foot is outside and towards the back.
- As depicted in the video, the ideal contact point on the ball is central and slightly towards the back.
You must FEEL each kick, the quality of contact, ball flight and spin…go to school and use this for your feedback!
The adjustment of weight (power) and driving angle will determine the trajectory and distance of a spiral. Remember the better the quality of spin, the less resistance will be offered by the air it is traveling through., and will most likely travel “nose” first. As with all skills, the player will need plenty of kick volume to get a feel of the body position, ball set and driving technique. Often this is described as the “Ugly Zone” whereby learning takes place. There is no substitute, but I maintain there are terrific rewards for players using this approach. Namely a more secure process that has the body using an efficient system under pressure.
As always, “Smoother, Not Harder”…..
By Stuart Lierich