In a exclusive interview with renowned Croatian kicking coach Ziggy Zigante, the Kicking System had an opportunity to ask: How should you train for kicking?
Q: Tell us your background? How did you learn all the necessary techniques, drills, and tactics on training kickers/punters and soccer players?
A: I grew up in the former Yugoslavia in the country that is now called Croatia. After high school I went to The University of Zagreb in Croatia, for physical education, to become a soccer/kicking coach I practiced and played in the top Zagreb teams (Dinamo Zagreb and Lokomotiva) then I went the United States where I played with the Wichita Wings and San Diego Sockers of the MISL. You have to consider that I practiced kicking almost every day since I was a kid, I probably kicked a combined 200-500 balls per practice, so you do math! I used to live in San Diego for a number of years and worked with goalies, field players and kickers performing camps and private lessons. I was the goalie coach for the San Jose Clash and United States National Team coach for brief time. Also I worked in the NCAA with Cornell University as a goalie coach and I currently run a kicking and goalie academy in North Carolina. I also tried out for the San Diego Chargers when I first moved to San Diego.
Q: You have worked with thousands of kickers/soccer/goalies including Kicking Coach John Matich a professional kicker. What are the differences in soccer kicking and football kicking?
A: In soccer you are usually hitting a moving target, in football you are obviously hit a stationary target in field goals. I think a soccer player should have more of an all-around training, which would include cardio-vascular training. While in football you can focus more on strength and power. In soccer, you need to deliver a sharp, precise pass or shoot low on goal. On the other hand, in football you need to get height on the ball to avoid blocks. There are some obvious technical similarities between the two but there are differences in plant football, arm position, etc. But both need to have balance, power, speed and amplitude.
Q: What do you suggest on how to train to kick?
A: I believe kickers need to have a well-rounded program but with an emphasis on explosive power. This can include plyometrics, strength training, and core work. I believe the core is such a vital component to kicking because it connects the whole body together. This includes the lower and oblique muscles. You can’t forget to train the back area as well and your non-dominate leg. You don’t want to become unbalanced, which can lead to bad technique and injury. Yes, kickers should weight train, but it has to be specific. A proper weight-training regime combined with core work would increase your hang time and distance. Flexibility is huge when it comes to football kicking. When I work with kickers we combine the flexibility with explosive power. By integrating both you can achieve greater distances.
Q: Are there any specific exercises or drills you can recommend to football and soccer ‘kickers’?
A: The weight training does not mean you have to workout with bench press, squat, etc. I can’t remember the last time I was in actual gym setting. I prefer body-weight exercises. For example, you can squat down and then jump and touch to top of the soccer goal continuously. I use hurdles, boxes, cones and flagpoles. If you are creative you can avoid buying all kinds of expensive equipment it more important to work on proper technique. One thing I should mention is not to over-train. At least once a week, I recommend doing short explosive water (pool) workouts. This can help in recovery while still being active.