When to kick and when not to kick

The two best kickers overall since the year 2000

Being good at something is one thing but you want to work towards becoming a master at your craft. The two players in my mind who really stand out in this regard is Dan Carter and Fourie du Preez. They were both good technically at kicking but they were unmatched in their ability to understand when to kick.

The basic idea of kicking at the right time is to always kick with a purpose. Don’t kick out of panic or if you don’t know what else to do.

With a box kick you want to get field position or put a player in a position to field the ball behind the opposition’s defenses. If you are kicking for touch, you better be kicking for touch! Not just randomly up the field. If you attempt a kick pass the wing should at least be expecting it.

There is however no magic formula to follow about when to kick. The best possible way to learn is to watch top tier games. The kickers who play professionally have studied the game and so has their coaches. They don’t always kick at the right time and their kicks aren’t always 100% accurate. Their kicks and the results of those kicks offer a lot of valuable information.

When watching these games you should be looking at the following things when someone kicks:

  • where were they on the field?
  • what type of defense were they up against?
  • what opportunities were there across the field?
  • when they kicked was it into space?
  • what was the opposition able to do once the ball was kicked?

All of these things need to be taken into consideration. Telltale signs of a kicking game failing are when:

  • the opposition can easily launch successful counterattacks
  • when kick passes don’t go to hand
  • when there is no one who can realistically field an attacking box kick
  • if it is only the kicker that knows about the desired outcome of the kick

This just goes to show that kicking is far more complex than you might think. It is important to start with the basic techniques of kicking and then work up to kicking tactically.