The Importance of Kicking

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At some point in time, you or the people around you must have shouted “stop kicking the ball!”. The simple idea is that if you retain the ball in hand you would score more, right? Well, not exactly. 

The principle that applies to kicking is position, then possession. 

We will look at the different kicking scenarios in a moment, but the principle is simply that if you are in a better position, your overall percentages go up. 

Firstly, with each increased percentage, your likelihood of scoring increases. 

Secondly, as important percentages increase, and if you make a mistake, then your opponents have a far lesser chance to score as they are further away from your goal line. 

However, effective kicking is a lot different from just simply kicking for the sake of kicking!  

The #1 goal is to get to a better position on the field to put you in a scoring position, and, then the #2 goal is to regain possession. 

The Box Kick

The box kick is used in 2 scenarios. The first is to relieve pressure when you are pinned down in your own half, especially close to the line. It is the scrumhalf’s priority to get the ball off the part, taking the pressure off the flyhalf

The second is to regain possession and this is ideally used as an attacking weapon between the two 10m lines. More than often, this is a bit of no-man’s land and the kick is aimed at putting the ball behind the defenders with a wing going 1-on-1 with an opposing wing or fullback contesting for the kick. 

If the attacking team regathers the ball they are either in a position to take a run at the try line or they have a disrupted defensive line. 

The 2nd prize is gained position on the field. 

Kicks Out of Hand (usually from the flyhalf)

An effective kicking flyhalf is a formidable attacking weapon. There are a couple of kicks in their arsenal that can benefit a team. 

Kicks aimed at retaining position include up-and-unders, crossfield kick passes, and the grubber kick. 

All of these can be tremendously effective if your whole backline is switched on and aware of these potentially being played. The simple idea with the up-and-under and the grubber is to get the ball just behind the defensive line with hard-running centers going after the ball and they are usually only up against a fullback. 

An effective kick pass has become a must-have for any flyhalf as it is by far the quickest way of getting a ball crossfield to a winger. Once the defense has been pulled in by the forwards or some hard runs from the centers, the kick pass is on! 

The kicks for position are often misunderstood. The ones directly going into touch as a relieving kick make sense. The 50-22 is also a brilliant kick to execute and I don’t think it is attempted often enough. 

Kicks downfield are often part of a team effort and the kick itself isn’t the intended end goal, it’s what happens after that. 

The kicks downfield are aimed at getting into a position where you can apply pressure to the receiver so that they put the ball out and there is a net gain from the original kick. 

A simple scenario would be a flyhalf, just beyond, their own 22m, kicking the ball downfield with a winger chasing the kick. The opposing fullback fields the kick in their own 22m, and kicks out the ball between their own 22m and the halfway line, resulting in a big gain in terms of territory. 

This then puts pressure on the defending team with attacking options that have a far higher likelihood of resulting in a try or a kickable penalty.