The role of the axial skeleton during rugby union punt kicking
School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia 1. INTRODUCTION There are approximately 60 kicks per game of international level rugby union (IRB, 2010), with the majority of these involving the ball being dropped from the hands and kicked (punted) before it strikes the ground. Punt kicking is a fundamental skill for many of the football codes and yet it has been subject to limited scientific investigation. Previous biomechanical research on punt kicking has been completed primarily on Australian Football (AFL) players (Ball, 2008; Cameron and Adams, 2003; Dichiera et al., 2006). Typically, this research has concentrated on the two dimensional (2D) sagittal plane kinematics of the lower limbs and has not examined the skill in three dimensions (3D), or the contribution of other segments to performance. The absence of 3D data on punt kicking is particularly surprising given that research on soccer kicking has indicated that segmental movements in all three planes contribute to ball velocity for kicks off the ground (Lees and Nolan, 2002; Lees et al., 2009).