USC research targets perils of punt kicking

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USC research targets perils of punt kicking

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Published on 20 September 2012

20 September 2012

New University of the Sunshine Coast sport science research aims to reduce the high incidence of groin and pelvic injuries experienced by kickers in elite football.

USC sports biomechanist Dr Mark Sayers’ latest study has identified a specific pelvic twisting movement used by top punt kickers that also puts them at greater risk of injury.

“In order to punt kick a rugby or AFL ball 70 metres you have to do something very violent to your body,” Dr Sayers said.

“Our research has found that skilled athletes rotate their pelvis, twisting on a vertical axis, to increase the velocity of their thigh coming forward in the kick. Ordinary kickers don’t do that twisting action.

“That’s partly why the best kickers can achieve a velocity of 30 metres per second (108km/h) for the ball off the foot. Ordinary players only achieve half that speed.”

However, Dr Sayers said this twisting action also made the pelvis and groin vulnerable to injuries such as osteitis pubis, a condition often referred to as OP, which is common to several kicking sports.

“OP causes extreme pain and results usually in several months away from training and competition. It’s prevalent throughout soccer and AFL,” he said.

“We’re continuing this research at USC to see how to precondition the body to minimise the risks, so appropriate training programs can be implemented.”

The former Rugby World Cup sport scientist won $1,000 for best overall research presentation in the Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering at the recent USC Research Week.

Dr Sayers said his research, which involved collecting three-dimensional data from kicks performed by semi-professional rugby union players and recreational kicking sport athletes, had filled a gap in the science of punt kicking.

“As we’re seeing now at finals time, football codes are very popular on the Sunshine Coast and this type of research offers important insights,” he said.

Julie Schomberg

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