Four Easy Exercises to Improve Your Kick
The calf muscle is a silent but essential muscle in kicking. Most people notice large quads or hamstrings when they see kickers and relate those to hard kicks. This is true, however, have you ever tried to do 50, 20 or even 10 kicks in a row nonstop? Whatever your level is, the more kicks you do, the more that your OTHER leg will get tired. The one that is NOT kicking will give out way before the kicking leg will want to stop.
You will find that your calf muscles will begin to hurt, from the pressure of placing your entire body weight on that one leg, and from trying to pivot on it at the same time. Strengthening the calves is a huge part of strengthening your kicks. Giving your body a good, strong base to stand on when kicking will not only improve your power and balance, but set you up for a second kick or other attack very swiftly.
Stretch Your Lower Back
Without athletics or dancing, not many people twist their lower back around with such force on a regular basis. On a typical person’s spine, usually the lower vertebrae are the first ones to start giving people problems, as well as the hips. It is important to maintain the health of your lower back, not only to improve your kicking, but to keep your body strong.
Get on the floor on all fours, and arch your back upward to stretch, like a cat. Lean back slightly onto your legs, and it will increase the stretch. Laying belly-down on a yoga ball, with your hands lightly on the floor for balance, and knees bent, wrapping your body around the ball, can also help to stretch out the lower back. Lastly, laying flat on your back, bend one knee so that it is perpendicular to the ground, and twist it across your body to touch the floor on your other side. These stretches will help your lower back maintain its health.
Twist Your Hips
Pivoting is one of the most difficult things for beginners to catch onto when they first learn a kick. This is because, just like twisting your lower back around, most people do not twist their hips with such force either. It is important to warm up and stretch your hips, just like your lower back, to avoid injury if you are not used to these exercises.
Being able to turn your hips fast and forcefully is a core piece of throwing a strong kick. While you are jumping rope to warm up, try keeping your feet together and while you jump, land with your toes facing the left wall, and then jump and twist so that when you land, they face the right wall. Do this until you are comfortable enough to start separating your feet wider and wider.
If you have a partner, you can have them hold one of your legs loosely at their hip or waist, and you simply practice the act of pivoting your standing leg, and turning your hip over. The side hem of your shorts (or pants) should face the ceiling with each repetition. These exercises will loosen your hips and speed up your kicks.
Train Your Eyes
If you have heard of “telegraphing” moves, this is where you can break the habit. Practicing using peripheral vision will help to keep your head in the right place, and not give away your next move to your opponent.
While you are training in class, using either a bag or a partner with hitting pads, focus your eyes at the shoulder level of your opponent. When your partner holds the hitting pads for a kick, don’t look at the pads, stay focused on your partner’s shoulders. No matter what the technique, don’t let your eyes look away at your next target. Use your peripheral vision to see where the pads are, even if you are going to throw a leg kick. You will be able to see any parts of your partner’s body without removing your eyes from his or her shoulders.
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