How to Kick a Football

Five Parts:Kicking the KickoffKicking the Field GoalDeveloping the Mental GameKicking StretchesOther Kicking Exercises

In football, a kicker stays mostly behind the scenes until being suddenly called upon for heroic acts in game-changing situations. Kicking a football is an art that requires determination and a physical and mental commitment unique from all other football positions. Keep reading for detailed instructions on getting started and developing your kicking skills.

Part 1
Kicking the Kickoff

  1. Image titled Kick a Football Step 1
    Place the football on the tee. This is the easiest way to begin kicking a football. Cheap plastic tees are available at most sporting goods stores, as well as more expensive pro-style tees. Whichever tee you elect to use, place the ball so the laces are away from you and toward your intended target. The ball should be upright so the points are aimed straight up and straight down and tilted slightly backward.
    • Anytime you're kicking, make sure your ball is pumped up to the proper specifications. Kicking a flat ball is counterproductive and can be somewhat painful on your foot.
  2. Image titled Kick a Football Step 2
    Practice your approach. In a football game, the tee and resulting kick is used at the beginning of the game and after points are scored for the kickoff. The goal is distance, aiming to kick the ball about a yard deep into the end zone (about 65 yards in college and pro ball, 60 yards in high school). You can back up as far as you want to for a running start at the ball.
    • Set yourself several yards behind the tee, to the opposite side of your kicking foot. If you're right-footed, take a few steps to your left.
    • Some kickers favor a nine step approach for kickoffs. Start with your non kicking foot, taking a short "jab step" to get you started. Practice running up to the ball several times, aiming to plant your non-kicking foot directly beside the football. The location of your plant foot should be about a foot away from the ball, the center of your foot aligned with the football.
    • Practice this without a football but with a tee several times to get your timing right.
  3. Image titled Kick a Football Step 3
    Kick the ball. After arriving at the ball with a correct plant and stepping motion, a free flowing controlled leg swing is necessary. Many young kickers believe that they need to throw their entire body into their swing to get distance, but like golf, a kicking swing is all about form and control.
    • Your kicking leg should be cocked at its apex just as your plant foot makes contact with the ground. You shouldn't have to reach back any farther than your normal running stride. It should be comfortable and not over-extended, but ready to snap down into kicking form just as you've planted.
    • Your toe should be pointed down, and you should make contact with the center of the ball using the inside-top of your foot along the inside laces of your shoe. Your leg should be straight. Don't worry too much about accuracy for now, just let one rip to get a feel for the speed and strength required.
    • Old-school kickers sometimes favor a smaller number of steps and a toe-kick, which results in less accuracy but lots of power. You can experiment with this style once you've got the fundamentals down.
  4. Image titled Kick a Football Step 4
    Follow through toward the target. Bring the arm opposite your kicking foot across your body to counterbalance the leg swing and allow their leg a clean swing lane to come up through the ball. Keep your head down on the ball and allow the momentum of your leg swing to carry your body through the kick.
    • Imagine your toe is a remote control you have to use to point the ball toward the target. After you make contact, aim where you want it to go.

Part 2
Kicking the Field Goal

  1. Image titled Kick a Football Step 5
    Shorten your approach. Kicking a field goal requires a more coordinated timing than kicking off, because the defense will be trying to block the kick or otherwise disrupt the play. Shortening your approach to two or three steps allows you to approach the ball much more quickly, ensuring a successful kick.
    • The three-step approach is the most common. It's quick enough to beat the defense, but also allows another beat for a missed snap and for the holder to get the ball oriented correctly. From the location the ball will be kicked (start practicing with a tee before graduating to a holder), take three steps straight backward and two steps straight to the left (if you're right footed) or to the right (if you're left footed).
  2. Image titled Kick a Football Step 6
    Practice your approach. Standing with your non-kicking foot forward, imagine a straight line between you and the ball as you approach, keeping your feet oriented straight. Like with a kickoff, your first step will be a jab step, but with your kicking foot this time. Practicing running in a straight line at the ball, your third step planting directly beside the ball with your kicking leg ready and cocked.
    • In a two-stepping pattern your first step is a balance step, setting up your arms and body for the drive into the ball. After this step, you should be halfway to the ball and in a direct line to your plant spot. The second step is the plant step, which sets up the kick and plants the foot.
  3. Image titled Kick a Football Step 7
    Develop your accuracy. Field goal kicking is a game of precision and your accuracy is all in the approach. Make sure to avoid an off-kilter sidestep as you approach, keeping your steps in the straightest possible line to the ball. Planting your non-kicking foot too far back will result in your pulling the ball too far across your body, and planting your non-kicking foot too far forward will result in a kick too low and weak for make it through the uprights.
  4. Image titled Kick a Football Step 8
    Practice with a holder. After you're knocking in the three-pointers from all over the field, start practicing your timing with a partner as a holder. Your holder will need to catch the ball, place it, and reorient the laces toward the goal all while you're running toward him at full speed, so getting your timing down is critical.
    • The ball should be planted enough before you plant your foot that you can see it and correct accordingly.

Part 3
Developing the Mental Game

  1. Image titled Kick a Football Step 9
    Focus on the little things. Kickers are in a very vulnerable position in football. They rarely get any recognition until the game is on the line and the team needs the ball to sail through the uprights for a victory. Recently, some coaches have even started "icing" the kicker before an important field goal by taking a time out just before the kick, to amp up the stress of the situation. But by focusing on the little things--your approach, keeping a straight line, planting your foot, and following through, you should be able to put this stress aside and make accurate kicks.
  2. Image titled Kick a Football Step 10
    Participate. Sometimes, among a football team, the kickers will be seen as somehow separate from the rest of the team. By participating in the team's conditioning and lifting activities, you will not only become a better athlete, but also an integral part of the team. #*Never allow yourself to become secluded as you will need your teammates' support to be successful in games. Make friends on the team and actively congratulate their successes.
    • Build a good relationship with your holder and snapper so you can step onto the field knowing you're well rehearsed and in sync, ready for a successful kick.
  3. Image titled Kick a Football Step 11
    Control your emotions before and after. No one makes every kick. But dwelling on a missed extra point will only hurt you later in the game when you've got the chance to seal it with a field goal. Kickers need to get each kick out of their system quickly and focus on the mechanics of kicking.
    • When you make one, celebrate and enjoy the field goal like a running back would enjoy a touchdown, but don't dwell on the good any more than you would the bad.
    • To keep focused on other things, watch the game. You should be whooping and hollering along with the rest of the guys on the team to get your mind off of your own tasks until it is absolutely necessary.

Part 4
Kicking Stretches

  1. Image titled Kick a Football Step 12
    Develop a stretching routine. Your legs need to be loose and flexible, especially before you start belting 40 yard (36.6 m) field goals. The first and last ten minutes of your kicking workouts should consist of stretching, with most of the focus on your legs. Kicking trainers recommend 2-3 more stretch sessions throughout the day, first thing in the morning an at the end of the day before bed.[1]
  2. Image titled Kick a Football Step 13
    Stretch your hip flexors. Get down on one knee with your other foot in front of you at a comfortable distance, as if you were doing a lunge and went all the way down to your knee. If your left knee is down, raise your left arm straight up in the air and your right arm straight out to your side, at a perpendicular angle. Stretch your right arm back toward your left foot. Hold it for a count of 15 and then switch to the other side and repeat.
  3. Image titled Kick a Football Step 14
    Stretch your hamstrings. On your back, with your legs up in the air, cross your right leg over your left at the knee. With your hands behind your left leg, pull both toward your chest. You should feel the stretch in the buttocks of the crossed leg. Hold for a 15 count and then switch legs.
  4. Image titled Kick a Football Step 15
    Stretch your groin. Sitting on the ground, touch the bottoms of your feet together in the "butterfly" position. Take your feet in your hands and stretch by leaning forward slightly and trying to touch the outside of your knees to the ground.
    • As with any stretch, do this slowly and hold it for at least 15 or 20 seconds. Don't bounce your legs.
  5. Image titled Kick a Football Step 16
    Stretch your quadriceps. These muscles in your thigh are good to stretch thoroughly before running or kicking. In a standing position, pull your foot back with your hand until it's touching or almost touching your buttocks. You should feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. Alternate legs and hold for 15 or 20 seconds each.
    • You can also do this laying on your side so you don't have to keep your balance on one foot.
  6. Image titled Kick a Football Step 17
    Stretch your lower back. In a seated position with both legs straight, cross one leg over the other, touching the crossing foot to the ground. Next, twist so that the opposite elbow is on the outside of the crossing knee. If you're crossing your right leg over your left leg, take your left elbow and twist your back so it's touching the outside of your right knee. Keep your back straight and you should feel the stretch loosening your lower back. Hold the stretch without bouncing and then switch to the other side.

Part 5
Other Kicking Exercises

  1. Image titled Kick a Football Step 18
    Practice sprinting. Developing the fast twitch muscles in your legs is the most important part of kicking. While linebackers may have the "strongest" legs on the football field, the kickers need to have the quickest.
    • Incorporating shuttle runs or "suicides" into your work out routine is a good way to develop these muscles and ensure that your legs will be among the quickest on the field. On a track, try sprinting the straightaways and walking the curves. Go all the way around the track twice.
  2. Image titled Kick a Football Step 19
    Incorporate some isometric leg exercises into your kicking routine.[2] Also known as "static action training," these exercises are not designed to build strength as much as they are meant to increase the quickness and function of the designated muscle groups. These don't require weights but rely on the body to create its own resistance.
    • The isometric wall squat is a common exercise for kickers. Place your back against the wall and squat until your thighs are parallel with the ground and your shins parallel with the wall, making a 90 degree angle. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
    • Isometric calf raises can be useful in building fast-twitch response in your legs. On a stair or other raised surface, stand with your toes holding your up and your heels hanging off in the air. Flex your calves to raise yourself up and down slowly, holding it for a count of 5 at the bottom and time of the exercise. Be careful if you do this on the stairs to stay balanced. You might use a rail or a chair to hold for balance.
  3. Image titled Kick a Football Step 20
    Exercise your core.[3] Core-building exercises are necessary to keep your overall fitness and center of balance aligned with the strength you're building in your legs. Kicking is a full-body motion with much of the strength coming from your back and abdominals.
    • Alternate abdominal crunches with leg raises in your exercise routine. Start out with 3 sets of 20 crunches. In between each set, lay on your back with your hands under your buttocks and raise your legs in the air together, bringing them back down parallel with the ground, but not quite touching it. Hold that position for a count of five and raise them back up. Do sets of 10 leg lifts and alternate with the crunches to build your core.
  4. Image titled Kick a Football Step 21
    Workout in the pool. The pool is a great piece of equipment for a kicker and can be used both for a simple workout and practicing your kicking motion when you've developed a kicking routine.
    • Incorporate high knees, butt-kicks, jumps, and lunges into the workout. Perform 50-70 kicks, doing your full kicking form including the follow through in the pool.


  • To avoid muscle damage, make sure to stretch before practicing this.
  • It's a good idea to spend a considerable amount of time stretching your hamstrings, a common injury among kickers. Try touching your toes from a standing position with straight legs and legs spread, to each side, each for a count of 15. This will be time well spent.
  • Follow a routine. Keep your steps the same, your hands the same, and your rhythm and timing the same. By keeping your routine constant, it will set up a successful kick and bring confidence.
  • Stretch with another kicker for a partner. Take turns lying on your backs, putting each leg straight up in the air, and having the other push gently on the leg back toward your head to stretch the hamstring. Be very gentle with your partner's leg and communicate to avoid over-stretching.

Article Info

Categories: Football