Drop kicking – the game winners

Naas Botha drop kick king

Jonny Wilkinson famously kicked England to an unlikely victory against Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Jannie de Beer kicked 5 drop goals in a single game against England in the 1999 Rugby World Cup. There is no arguing the destructive power of drop kicking done effectively. Not to mention the 60-meter plus monsters from Frans Steyn

The true master of the art however takes us back to the 1980s when Naas Botha dominated other teams on his own. He was able to punish opposition teams with drop goals being landed from his own half with regular intervals… using a leather ball!

He kicked 135 drop goals in 179 appearances for Northern Transvaal (now Blue Bulls accumulating 2 511 points. He also kicked 23 drop goals in 28 tests for South Africa.

These days the drop kick is more often used to restart a game but it is a wise investment of time to get your flyhalf to improve their drop kicking at goal.

How to do a drop kick

The drop kick is performed by dropping the ball and just as it starts to bounce up, kicking it. That sounds simple, right?

dropping the ball correctly when going for a drop goal

Performing a drop kick and performing it accurately are two different things. To increase distance and performance you need to do a few things well.

  • Drop the ball so that it bounces straight up again (you might let it angle back slightly)
  • Drop the ball in the right place
  • Have your head over the ball
  • Striking the ball in the sweet spot
  • Following through with your head down
  • Get a rhythm to your kicking that allows you to always strike the ball in the same place after it has bounced the same height

Dropping the ball so that it bounces straight up again is the starting point. If you drop it in the wrong place and your head isn’t over the ball you will be sacrificing accuracy and kicking power.

When you drop the ball so that it bounces straight back up, you enable yourself to kick further. If you drop it at a slight backward angle or let it bounce higher before kicking it, you will get greater height on it.

When dropping the ball, you should drop it about 10-15cms to the side of your foot. Depending on the distance you are after and your kicking technique you might drop it right next to your foot or slightly in front.

Keep your head down and as you fall slightly away, you follow through with your foot.

To improve accuracy you should practice kicking from the corner flag at only a single post visible and try to hit it. This will give you a good idea on whether your kicks fly straight or angle in from the left or right.

As you master the art of kicking drop goals, you will learn that you can improve on distance and accuracy most by getting into a rhythm. Your kicking style won’t be exactly the same as that of another player.

If you learn however where the best place is to drop the ball and striking it at the right time, you will be able to gradually improve.