8 Beginner AFL Kicking and Training Drills You Can Do Alone
It's challenging finding ways to practice the footy fundamentals when you don’t have access to your team, but these AFL drills will allow you to sharpen your Australian rules football skills solo.
They’re ideal for everyone from entry-level players to professional athletes going back to basics to fine-tune their game day performance.
Use these effective Aussie Rules drills as a steppingstone to improve your AFL kicking technique, increase your on-pitch adaptability and decision-making skills when playing under pressure.
Warm Up Drill: Free Kicking For Quality
Whether your technique is rusty or you're hitting the footy field for the first time, free kicking in an open space can help familiarise yourself with the ball and give you a feel of correct body posture during the drop punt. It also helps to prime your muscles for higher intensity drills.
You can repetitively practice short kicking by doing a static drop punt to yourself. As you build confidence and accuracy, progress to a walking drop punt and jogging drop punt.
Warm Up Drill Tip:
- Be aware of where your body is in relation to the ball. Take mental note of how to do a drop punt and the proper form required at each stage – from grip and ball drop, to impact and follow through.
- Don’t be sloppy with your kicking form – the focus is on quality kicking as it will build muscle memory you can depend on during high pressure play.
- Practice the drop punt using both your dominant and non-dominant leg as the kicking leg. Being skiled at using both sides of your body effectively will dramatically increase your adaptibility on the pitch.
- Once you’re more confident in your kicking technique, practice kicking for goals and kicking for speed. If you’re able simulate game day conditions by keeping your training fast-paced, even better.
Take Out The Trash
This kicking for distance and accuracy drill is fantastic if you have multiple footballs on hand. Place a cone to mark the kicking zone and position an empty rubbish bin 10 metres from the cone.
From the kicking zone, aim to kick the football into the bin, focusing on your kicking accuracy and ‘lob’ the ball to gain enough height. Give yourself 1 point for making contact with the bin, or 2 points for getting a ‘goal’.
Once you’ve mastered that at a 10m distance, increase the distance between the kicking zone and bin to 15m, 20m, 25m and 30m. This will allow you to amplify kicking accuracy over varied distances.
Kicking Drill Tip:
- Keep your toes facing the direction you want the ball to fly and steady yourself before committing to the kick.
- Vary the position and angles from which you kick the football into the bin to better replicate conditions on game day. This will allow you to practice giving your team mates the best opportunity to gain possession of the ball as you improve your kicking technique and gain a better feel of how to achieve the desired trajectory for the specific circumstance.
‘Give The Ball Air’ Kick
Simple but effective - kick the ball aiming for one of the large floodlighting poles common to Australian sporting grounds. The straightness and height of the pole will help guide your kick to follow suit – keeping your kicks on target and directionally accurate as you ‘give the ball air’.
Take the opportunity to chest, hand or overhead mark any rebounds. When you miss the target sprint to retrieve the ball. This in itself will improve your on-pitch stamina.
Kicking Drill Tip:
- Start at a close but comfortable kicking distance, then increase the distance as you kick the football more precisely on target. Remember to practice kicking as you would in a game – practice static kicking first off, then with a short run up with hips square to the target and following through. Aim for a strong, vertical flight.
- Keep in mind that during an official AFL match, a goal is not valid if the football touches the goalpost.
The goal of the low kick drill is to reinforce the position of the foot required to achieve distance and accuracy. Some entry-level players tend to kick the ball with a square ankle and toes pointed high on impact instead of at the target.
Consequently, the football launches on a high trajectory, compromising on distance and accuracy. If this is an issue for you, practice low trajectory kicks that prioritise distance over height.
Use a defined goal space such as beneath a soccer goal cross bar to encourage low but controlled kicks.
Kicking Drill Tip:
- Alike with the previous drill, start at a close but comfortable kicking distance, then increase the distance as you kick the football more precisely on target. However, for this kicking drill the goal is maintaining a low trajectory and a consistent, controlled flight path.
The fence kick drill is targeted towards players that do not take full advantage of their balance or ‘non-guiding’ arm during the drop punt. Rather than arcing it the non-guiding arm to the side in an upward motion when kicking as a point of balance, they may keep the arm lowered, resulting in a less stable kicking motion and decreased distance on impact.
Practice the drop punt with the non-guiding arm gripping a fence post or pole, preferably keeping the arm raised in line with your shoulder to reinforce correct kicking posture. You can take one step in setting up the kick, and then use the fence post as support as you go complete the kicking motion.
Kicking Drill Tip:
- A variation on the ‘fence kick’ drill is the ‘hang kick’. For hang kicking, balance on one leg and kick the football, aiming for distance. You’ll find that your non-guiding arm will naturally raise out to the side to maintain stability, or alternatively you’ll risk having a taste of the dirt when you're thrown off balance.
Handball To Self
Handball the football above your head into the air. Catch the football using the same techniques as a chest or hand mark and repeat.
Swap between performing a right-handed handball (with the right hand acting as the punching fist and the left hand acting as the platform hand, cradling the football) and left-handed handball (with the left hand acting as the punching fist and the right hand acting as the platform hand).
Alternate between dominant and non-dominant hands frequently to improve your effectiveness at handling the football with either side of your body.
- Take every opportunity to handle the football in everyday life. Do small handballs to yourself at home, spin the ball in your hands during your next movie marathon, bounce and retrieve it as you walk on the local oval etc. This familiarity will translate to improved confidence under pressure, and cleaner performance on game day. Overtime, you'll gain a good feel of the football. The more comfortable you are handling it at home, the more coordinated you'll be when taking your football skills to the pitch.
Handball To Wall
Stand with 4 steps between you and a wall and handball the football against it. Aim to react quickly to catch the football as cleanly as possible when it rebounds chaotically from the wall. This unpredictability adds an extra dimension to the solo handballing drill and you'll find yourself better able to anticipate its direction with practice. If you miss the catch, try to recover the ball swiftly to maintain momentum.
Once you have a good feel for it, use chalk to draw targets on the wall at varying heights and distances. After mastering one target, progress to the next and randomise your targets when you gain more confidence.
Direct your head and body to the specific target you’re aiming for. Elevate the difficulty by striking the football to the wall with greater force or increasing the steps between you and the wall.
Handballing Drill Tip:
- Drawn-on targets can take the form of squares or ‘X’ on the wall. If using squares, begin with larger squares as targets. As you fine-tune your handballing skills, progress to smaller square targets that require even sharper precision.
- Alternatively to handballing to a wall, you can prop up an old tyre, using the hollow centre as a ‘goal’. This will allow you to improve your accuracy in your handball technique. Increase the distance from the tyre for an additional element of difficulty.
Combined Kicking / Handballing Drill
Position one football in front of you and one within hands reach directly behind you. Pick up the front football and do a drop punt to kick it away from you.
While the football is in mid-flight, quickly turn around to face the opposite direction and retrieve the football behind you. Handball the second football to yourself, tracking the ball with yours eyes and catching it in the same method as a chest or hand mark.
Quickly turn, identifying where the original football has landed. Using the original football to symbolise the position of a teammate, kick or handball the second ball to it, focusing on your accuracy.
Kicking / Handballing Drill Tip:
- Aim to keep the football drill fast-paced to better replicate game day conditions. Not tracking the trajectory of the original football creates an element of unpredictability – in the same way you’ll need to make informed decisions rapidly on game day. You’ll need to weigh up risk against reward, identifying the teammate with the best opportunity to gain distance for your team and commit to the kick – all in a fraction of time.