Cross pollination is all the rage in sports these days as coaches and players ask themselves, “What can we learn from the skills and practices of other sports?” It’s particularly relevant to football given that there are so many similar yet different sports played around the world, such as rugby union and Australian Rules Football.
These sports require the same sorts of skill sets as a football player, but the way they are achieved and trained for is different due to a different emphasis on skills and environment.
Here, we look at four different sports and what skills they can teach footballers.
Rugby for goalkicking
The similarities between a field goal in football and a conversion in rugby are evident for all to see – kick the ball between the posts to score points. While in football we often consider the zones from which to kick to be very restricted, in rugby they will attempt to go for points from as far away as 50 meters and way out wide on the touchline. That sort of accuracy and distance makes the technique behind rugby kicking something that football goalkickers should be looking at for inspiration. That’s why several NFL teams sounded out England’s Rugby World Cup winning hero of 2003 Jonny Wilkinson – who scored a last minute drop goal to win the cup – for what could have been a lucrative move to the NFL in 2007.
Australian Rules for punting
There is cold, hard fact behind the benefits that Australian Rules Football has when it comes to punting. In 2006, Australian Nathan Chapman set up a program called Prokick Australia which aimed to take regular, young men from Australia and turn them from Australian Rules players into punters. The results? More than 70 alumni from Prokick Australia have gone onto secure football scholarships with colleges worth more than a combined $10 million.
Paddleboarding for balance
Watersports might be the last place you’d think to look for skills that are transferrable to football, but then you’d probably not consider paddleboarding. Being on a paddleboard is essentially canoeing but done while standing up, which as anyone who has attempted surfing will know requires a great deal of balance for an average sized human, let alone the average footballer who weighs in at close to 250lbs. Balance is a key skill for a wide receiver, so they could do a lot worse than investing in a paddleboard from Waveschamp.Com to help hone their balance.
Volleyball for hand-eye coordination
Volleyball is often pigeonholed as a sport for the beach played by beautiful woman, but you have to do a lot more than look good wearing very little to impress at it. It takes an extraordinary level of hand-eye coordination to be a successful volleyball player as you have to react in a matter of seconds to a ball heading towards you before getting your body and hands into the right position in order to send the ball accurately to the area you’ve decided you want to play it in. Throwing and catching in football require similar levels of hand-eye coordination, so if that is an area that needs improving then head for the beach.