Enhancing foot velocity in football kicking: the role of strength training

  • Young W
  • Rath D
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Abstract

In all codes of football, it is advantageous to be able to achieve a high ball speed or distance in a kick. An important determinant of ball speed and kick distance is the velocity of the foot at impact with the ball. Therefore, it is of interest to strength and conditioning practitioners to identify training programs that can increase foot velocity. The purpose of this review is to identify the factors influencing kicking performance and the research evidence relating to resistance training designed to enhance foot velocity in kicking. The review has been divided into 3 main sections. The first addresses the biomechanics of kicking to provide insights into the physical demands. The second section reviews the relationships between various measures of strength with performance indicators of maximum kicking, and the third part explores the research investigating the effects of resistance training on maximum kicking performance. Kicking can be described as a skill involving proximal-to-distal muscle activation. Foot velocity is determined by a complex sequencing of hip flexor and knee extensor concentric contractions and also involves hip extensor and knee flexor activation to assist with movement control. Research reporting correlations between strength and kicking performance support the importance of hip flexor and quadriceps strength. Although unclear, there is some evidence that adequate strength of the support leg, trunk muscles, hip adductors, and the muscles that control pelvic rotations are important. Strength training studies have shown that foot velocity and kicking performance can be enhanced by supplementary programs to regular football training, especially in nonelite athletes. Potentially valuable training includes plyometrics, exercises that simulate the whole kicking action, and kicking weighted balls. Exercises that isolate parts of the kicking action are not recommended because these do not appear to transfer well to kicking performance. There are many unanswered questions that await future research.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ball speed
  • Muscle activation
  • Resistance training
  • Transfer

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Authors

  • Warren B. Young

  • David A. Rath

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