Ulster nine John Cooney analyses Libbok's kicking set-up


As a kicker, the only thing that you can always control, is how you place the ball on the tee and how you take your steps. After that, every other thing comes into account: You’re own kicking style obviously, your mood and what’s happened on the day, what the weather is doing and more. The consistency can come from how you set up the ball every time.

But a kick is like a golf stroke. You’re always going to come at it from around yourself slightly, and from high to low to high again. It’s a similar plane of travel. So if you have the ball on the tee aiming slightly left, and you’re a right-footed kicker, your odds of it going over will come down. Some days you’ll be getting them, but then there will be others when it’s apparent there’s an issue.

Some people mask it. You just want to have the percentages in your favour.

Libbok kicking

(still via John Cooney)

So when I see Manie Libbok kicking and the ball is aiming slightly left of the posts, from the tee, it makes no sense to me. I don’t know if it’s a coached thing or not, but it’s something so simple to have it aimed to the other side.

I’ve played him several times and I know he’s class, but this approach to Libbok kicking gives him slightly less chance.

Look at this example I’ve taken a still of. If you look at the ball set-up, the kick goes exactly where he has placed it – he misses on the exact line, to the left of the post.

From that angle, you want to be finishing more straight through and with the ball slightly to the right. So not around the right post, but slightly off centre. That is the plane I would be aiming the ball from that position on the pitch. Where he has it above is perfect if you’re a left-footed kicker, but again, you want the line of the the ball to be your gauge of where you’re going to kick.

Kick mechanics

Kick mechanics (pic via John Cooney)

If you think about the mechanics of a kick from a right-footer, your left, standing leg is never going to be perfectly upright. Your left leg will be at a slight angle, so it stands to reason that your body is never going to be coming through the ball perfectly straight.

And the further out I go in terms of distance, the further I will aim the ball to the right, as generally that will create the lovely little fade you get from right to left. That’s not a deliberate thing, but I know what my body will do from that distance and following through from that distance. You simply cannot kick it absolutely straight from far out.

Simply by approaching a kick to stand on your left and swing your right, there is a natural imbalance. You have to be aware of that. Is ball placement on the tee a fix we can get now for Libbok kicking?

Do you agree with Cooney’s assesment of Manie Libbok kicking? Let us know on social media or at rugbyworldletters@futurenet.com 

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