Sport AFL Nathan Burke: Goalkicking, the skill AFL players have lost

Nathan Burke: Goalkicking, the skill AFL players have lost

The AFL's leading goalkicker of all time Tony Lockett speaks with Swans star Lance Franklin at training. Photo: Getty
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Enough is enough. Something needs to be done about how poor the kicking for goal has become in the AFL – even if it takes an ordinary kick of the football like me to point it out.

Yes, I averaged a less-than-impressive half a goal per game, but I did spend nearly 20 years in close proximity to some of the greatest goal-kickers of all time, including the greatest Tony Lockett.

Six times Lockett kicked more than 100 goals in a season and in each of those his accuracy was undeniable.

Modern-day players can only dream of these tallies: 117:52, 127:51, 132:58, 110:44, 121:63 and 109:36. Across his whole career he managed a staggering 1360 goals and only 590 behinds.

And let’s not forget that the majority of these goals came from kicking a muddy football around at Moorabbin or the SCG.

Arctic Park Waverley was as far away from the pristine surrounds of Marvel Stadium that you can get.

When the big fella had the ball inside 50 you didn’t worry about setting up the zone for a kick out. You summoned a trainer, had a drink and calmly walked back to your position while the master slotted it through.

Then there were others like Stewart Loewe. A man mountain who one coach used the phrase ‘couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo’ in reference to his early accuracy statistics.

That was true until along came another guy who wasn’t too bad at putting the ball through the big ones – Hawthorn champ Peter Hudson.
Huddo rebuilt Stewart’s kicking by simplifying it.

Modern-day players could take a lead from Tony Lockett. Photo: Getty 

The mantra was simply run straight, drop it straight, kick it straight. Sounds too easy, don’t it?

After countless hours of hard work, Stew took his goalkicking tally from the likes of 45 goals 53 behinds in 1992 to 76.39 in 1995 and 90.58 in 1996.

It was an amazing turnaround and proof it can be done.

On the weekend I saw Brisbane’s Eric Hipwood kick 2.5 and let the Bulldogs off the hook when the game was tight.

Melbourne kick 8.13 in a game it almost blew, and Essendon kicked 10.12 to lose by five points.

Watching players run in with absolutely no routine outside of ‘just relax’ is frustrating and completely the wrong attitude.

Don’t relax, steel yourself to kick the goal.

In such a close season such as 2019, a poor performance in front of goals will cost you a win, and will almost certainly cost a team a shot at the finals.

Yet, amazingly, we as a football public put up with professional, full-time footballers missing shots we would expect local suburban players to kick.

If it’s a technique issue then fix it. If it’s a mental issue then fix it.

But don’t subject your supporters, who part with their hard-earned money to see you kick goals to this garbage any longer.

Alex Sexton 16.16, Jake Stringer 15.15, Hipwood, 14.13 and Ben Brown 16.11 – it’s just not good enough for the front-line goalkickers.

Lucky for most players, the majority of expert commentators are ex-wayward forwards who for some reason go particularly easy on other wayward forwards.

Yes, Richo, I am looking at you.