Highlights of the episode:

  • His favorite drills for athletes
  • When to incorporate kicking skills on a young athletes training schedule
  • What his kicking program for senior athletes looks like
  • Where to find The Kicking Consultant

#joshgrowden #preparelikeapro #plplivechats #podcast #melbournestrengthcoach

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Interview Transcript

Jack: Last but not least, we have Josh Growden, the founder of The Kicking Consultant, located in Adelaide. But he has digital products for people that want to work with his products and learn his coaching philosophy all around the country or even international. So, we’ll talk about his website later on, but his topic tonight is going to be how you can increase your kicking distance. Welcome, Josh. Thanks for jumping on, mate. 

Josh: No worries, Jack. Thanks for having me on, mate. I will just preface. If you do want a Sherrin precision footy, you can use the code TKC20 and get 20% off. 

Jack: I’ll add that in the show notes.

Josh: Does that take out of your profit?

Nathan: No, I’m very happy, if people can get it.

Josh: I don’t get any kickbacks for that. It is just a nice little discount that people can get.

Nathan: That’s fantastic. I agree, that’s a wonderful thing. And, hopefully, a lot of people take it up, because I think Sharon have almost doubled the sales in the last year.

Josh: I used to be like, ‘Oh, like how good can these be? A bit of a gimmick.’ But now I love them. So good for beginners, but then also guys who are good kicks, it really makes them focus because they want that spin to happen and get that right. So, they’re so good, I use them for every kick. You can kick tops with them.

Jack: A good segue, mate. Top tips for kicking distance. We talked about angles before and the biomechanics of it. Do you want to go in a little bit more detail? What are some of your favorite drills for athletes that come to you?

Josh: This is a lot that I learned as a punter and underneath, and then also I had a really good chat with Kevin Ball last year, just got a massive fascination in the biomechanics and physics of it all. So, it’s all about foot speed. How can we increase our foot speed? And then what we’re doing at contact.

So, mainly foot speed. I break it down into three categories. You’ve got your techniques, you’ve got your strength and power and then your mobility and flexibility. I’ve read all of Kevin’s studies and with our chat, like a two degree increase in your hip extension, ability to get your foot further back, added five meters to some of these AOS kids. Being able to get your foot further back in the backswing allows for more distance to accelerate in the forward swing.

So, that’s really important, getting it hit nice and far above your foot. Nice and far back. For some people that happens naturally, for me it wasn’t natural. I had to work on it through mobility and strengthening all my glute and hamstring. I was lucky, I had nice power in the forward swing. So, developing that with power exercises, strengthening of your hip flexor, the front of your body. And then, like I said, that’s kind of taking care of your mobility and your strength and power.

And then the technique. There’s lots of different things there with how far apart is your foot at contact, what’s the contact height, what’s the ball angle, how much force are we imparting through the ball, is it wasted by slicing off the ball? So, those are the three categories, main areas of focus. And I hope I touched on them enough for people to get a grasp. 

Jack: A hundred percent. And then how often would, from a skill acquisition point of view, do you feel you need to be, is it time? Is it frequency? What’s the best way to add that into a kid’s schedule? 

Josh: I think after a good warm-up, you can incorporate going for long distance kicks. But a really good drill that they can do straightaway and which I encourage in any warm-up is the no-step kick. So, being able to not utilize momentum, it’s purely strength in your hamstrings and glutes, get your foot back and then come through powerfully. You can’t use momentum. So, that’s really good not only for your distance, but just to get more penetration on your kick for those low-punch kicks.

You try and kick as far as you can with that. Then you progress to the one-step kick, showing that you can develop enough momentum of just one step. And then we also want to be able to do it under fatigue. So, at the end of training you might have a few cracks from outside 50, playing around different things. 

Jack: Talking about goalkicking, how does it differ when you’re focusing not purely on distance, but actually precision as well, when you’re kicking for 50 meter goals or for junior athletes at their threshold?

Josh: I’m a big believer in that there’s almost three areas for a goalkicking. You’re in close, where technique is really simplified, you’re only kicking off a couple of steps. You got your mid-range, which occur a lot. I try and keep everything straight and only kick off three to five steps. And then there’s on the cusp of your range, where you just need to add a little bit more. And that’s where you see naturally people go out in an arc and I’m all for it, because that arc opens up your hips, gets your foot further back, allows more rotational velocity in your hips to come through.

As long as you are making good impact, you’re matching, like Nathan said, you’re matching the angle of the ball with your foot, imparting that through, finishing with your foot towards the goals, Choco talked about your hips coming through. As long as we’ve got that down, that arc, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing it and shouldn’t be allowing it to these guys who can do it. Older kids or whatever, who know how to kick a footy, why not let them practice it, so they’re good at it and they can do it in games?

I think Ben alluded to it. You see a lot of these coaches keeping everything straight. It’s that naturalness to go out in an arc, when you’re on the cusp of your range. So, just make sure, as anyone, as a player listening, practice those kicks. Don’t just go thinking in a game you’re going to be able to do it. And I think, as coaches, encourage them to go on an arc, as long as you are implementing those key things: match the foot with your ball, finish with your hips and foot towards the middle of the goals.

Nathan: I have one question on that arc, Josh. You know I don’t mind the arc either. I will often say, ‘Stay straight and kick in alignment.’ And I don’t mind the arc, but what I would say, is what I’d ask, and this is how I would teach it, whether you think any different. If you’re going to go in an arc, I would say go on a nice gentle arc the whole way on your run-up, versus really, really straight and then in the last step open up and go back right in. 

Josh: Yeah, that’s a good one. I’ve probably said your last couple of steps into it would be that arc, but it doesn’t have to be dramatic. It really doesn’t have to be dramatic. It is kind of natural arc. That’s it. That’s a great point. I’ll look into that more.

Nathan: Just not straight and then real hard at the end. Like you said, the last three or four steps, just gently, then curl out with it and move forward. Because you can keep everything balanced and then haven’t got a fast movement of the hands to go in out and over. Try and find it, your eyes have to see the ball. And if it’s gently out in front and you’re all doing the one thing, then your body can understand how to get in behind it. 

Josh: Love that.

Jack: We’ve also got masses in strength & conditioning for the senior athletes that listen to this and they’re inspired too. Let’s say senior athletes, 30 plus or they’ve just had chronic injuries due to overload over the last couple of years and they’re wanting to get back, but they also want to improve their performance with kicking. And we’ll look at this holistically, like you mentioned, so mobility, strength in the gym, but then also implementing a kicking program.

Is there a program you have in place that is periodized with the strength stuff, or are there pillars that you would recommend to be careful of? Like is max distance kicking equivalent to sprinting, where you want to build up to it? Talk us through that.

Josh: I always say I do have a really good kicking guide with a four week program. I’ve had people all over the country buy it and absolutely love it. That incorporates those three factors and then gives them a program to follow. And I think, like Mark Choco was saying, kicking is not easy. You’ve got to have to follow some good coaching and a plan if you want to be somewhat successful. So, check that out, if you want. I think it’s really good for people who want to increase their distance.

It’s on my website. Just ‘Increase Your Kicking Distance’ guide. And if they want a chunk and a code POP, they can get 20% off any of my digital products. So, for 30 year olds who are coming back into playing…

Jack: Maybe just for senior athletes. Like not kids. Kids can get away with anything. They can just do 300 balls a day, no worries. But for the senior athletes that are just following training twice a week, they’re playing on game day, but they want to start improving their kicking performance that maybe they’re a forward or they just want to improve their field kicking. They’re motivated by the talk half an hour ago about getting over the zone. They want to learn the talk now. What would you do with that strength & conditioning background that you have as well? Like how would you go about getting your skill acquisition improved, but in a way that you’re reducing that risk?

Josh: They not only need to get stronger in their kicking, but also in their loads. So, the first week starts off at, I think, 70 kicks. And then it progresses each week to building up your load and tolerance of your number of kicks. In the strength & conditioning, it’s so hard to give a holistic view, we’re talking individuals here. The senior players had different injuries over the years. I think just getting a well-rounded program that covers all basis, is super important. 

And then it just depends on your ability, like, can you do power cleans or hang cleans or things like that? So, definitely a progression and it can start with body weight. Most of my program is body weight or minimal equipment, bands and stuff. There’s so much you can do with just a resistance bands. And then if you’re confident in adding dumbbells, barbells, then I’m all for that as well.

Jack: Awesome. And those 70 kicks that they’re doing a week and then it’s progressing up each week, would you recommend they add those 70 kicks over two sessions, say 35 and 35? Or is it more on the main training session, like 50 and 20? 

Josh: It’s a few kicks, but a lot of them are like five meter kicks, then 10 meter kicks. I’ve said it in the overview of it. Do half before the session. And if you’re running out of time, then you can do the back half of those kicks at the end. And that’s great, because it’s talking about, as I mentioned before, kicking under fatigue.

Like Mark said, 15 to 20 minutes, dedicate that. And then maybe another 15 to 20 like really thinking about distance kicks, maybe even 10, because you’re incorporating those short penetrating kicks anyway in your warm-up, like I said, with one-step kids. Give a bit of time before and after your sessions, if you want to really take your kick into another level. 

Jack: Fantastic. Well, I’m mindful of time, guys. So, now we’re at 10:15. Thank you for your involvement tonight. We’ve got two questions that have been sent through.

So, first one was on the Facebook discussion from Rudy. ‘In 2008 the great Adam Goodes famously wrote the words: ‘When aboriginals play Australian football with a clear mind and total focus. We are born to play it.’ At a professional level it could be presumed that the mechanics to kicking should be automatic.’ And then he’s gone on to say, ‘How can players better ready themselves mentally to achieve a clear mind and total focus in both goalkicking and around the ground?’

So, Nathan, you mentioned it a bit early before, and Josh and I, with your experience over in America, the pressure of punting is obviously immense. You guys alluded to it earlier in the podcast. What are some good tools that footballers, full-forwards, let’s say, that are goalkicking under pressure should undertake?

Nathan: I think there’ll be a different phase. I think sometimes it’s mechanical and then sometimes it’s the mental capacity to be confident. Once you’re confident, it doesn’t matter what your run-up is. Once you know you had to strike the ball and you’re confident, it doesn’t matter what angle you ran on. You just seem to know how to put the ball through the sticks on the field.

So, there’s a real element of understanding how to strike the ball first. And mechanics can help with that. And then, once you’re striking the ball well, then it’s a confidence thing. And there is a good quote: ‘We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.’ You’ve got to do enough of it. Absolutely.

And I think actually one of the things I did personally was, I know I might have been recognized as playing a lot of back, but I did spend a lot of time goalkicking and practicing goalkicking. And what I found was, it was repeating. I would kick 30 kicks in a row from 15–20 meters out and just keep visualizing and kicking the ball through the goals, through the goals, strike it. Don’t go out of my range and make sure that I’m striking the ball really well. And just keep seeing it go through and through and through and through and through.

And then I knew that that same kick I could repeat at 40 meters and 45 meters and do nothing different. The visual component of me practicing kicking lots of goals versus going to stand out at 50 and miss some and kick a poor percentage. I kicked more goals in close and then repeated the process when I got further out and seemed to be really confident any time I went for a shot. 

Josh: I think the confidence is a massive one. You just play so freely when you’re confident. But I’d say with goalkicking in particular routine is really important. And when I say routine, I don’t say you counting your steps as you go in, 1, 2, 3, 4. I think of a routine almost like a tennis player before they serve. What do they do to set their mind to get focused? So, it doesn’t matter what type of serve they’re doing. If it’s a smash serve or a slice, their routine’s always the same. If you look at Raffa, it’s ridiculous.

And that’s what I try and get guys who are wanting to kick goals in their sweatshop, have a routine that sets your focus. And it doesn’t matter if you’re kicking a short-range kick or a long-range kick, you just do something that sets your focus. Look at NBI when they do the free throws, they’ve always got that routine. It’s before the technique’s even happened.

I think tennis is a better one because there’s a variety of serves, whereas like the free throw’s the same shot. And I think the tennis more relates to footy because we have those different types of like set-shot kicks. And then for around the rounding, ground type of kicks, I think at the end it comes back to that confidence. And you can be confident if you’ve put in good practice, that weight in your kicking, in your game preparedness.

Jack: Fantastic. Well, great answers, guys. Thank you, Josh, for jumping on as well, mate. But for those that want to get in touch with you, where’s the best place to find you? I know on TikTok you’re doing massive things. 

Josh: The kicking can supplement on everything. TikTok is definitely the biggest, Instagram, YouTube. Twitter is more the NFL side of things, but TikTok and Instagram for the AFL, for sure.

Jack: And you’ve got availability for coaching, one-on-one, talking about clinics potentially?

Josh: In Adelaide one-on-ones and clubs, but mainly online. I’m going to work closely with people who are in that one-to-two window of getting drafted. We’re really trying to help them out. But anyone who wants online, like film analysis, doesn’t matter what level you play at. I really just want to provide elite level coaching to anyone wherever you are, it doesn’t matter. 

Jack: Awesome. Well, thank you, guys.

Thanks for sticking with us as well, for those listening in live. If you tuned in later on, this will be posted straight to our YouTube page, so you can watch the recording from the very start. Definitely recommend it. There were gold nuggets all the way through. It was a great discussion and super engaging as well with the whole clearly showing passion in this topic. So, definitely recommend listening from the start. And for those podcasters out there that prefer to go for a walk and listen, maybe walking the dog or driving to work, then the podcast will be released very shortly on Fridays. We’ll listen to each segment at a time on a weekly basis.

Thanks again for the guest Ben Deanjon who has written. Great show, guys. It was fantastic, guys. It was awesome to have this topic on and for any questions as well. As the panel mentioned, they’ve got areas that you can connect with them and ask questions if they pop up, if you’re listening in the recording of this as well. So, make sure to get in touch and we’ll add all their links in the show notes.

In terms of the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ live chat show, our next guest is Sean Baker, the founder of PEAQ High-Performance Gym. That will be on our YouTube channel 8:30 PM on the 8th of April. So, that’s on our Friday where we’re moving our show from Thursday to Friday’s now. Thanks for tuning in, guys. I’ll see you in the next one.

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