If your coach decides you will be a fullback, it means he believes you are a good defender; you have the ability to kick long, accurately and consistently. Apart from playing defensively, you will be expected to kick the ball back into play when the opposing team scores a behind.
This article seeks to give you advice how best to do that.
The first thing to remember when kicking out after a behind has been scores is, until the umpire calls “play on”, you are in a protected zone including the goal square and a ten metre area outside the goal square. No opposition player may enter this area until the umpire makes his “play on” call.
Therefore, you have time to settle yourself and decide where you will kick the football. There are two kick off scenarios that you have.
The first is:
1. kicking off from inside the goal square: and
2. playing on by running out of the goal square before you deliver the ball.
Kicking out inside the goal square:
Begin your kick-in from the centre of the goal line. This enables you to kick to either side of the field as well as straight done the centre of the field. Having decided where you will kick the football, use the whole goal square as you run up to kick the football to gain the maximum distance from the goals with your kick.
Playing on outside the goal square:
If you plan to play on outside the goal square, begin your run close to the behind post. This gives you a big start on the opposition player guarding the mark in front of the goal square.
Wherever possible, run your full distance (15 metres) before you kick the football. Stay close to the boundary line to give yourself a greater distance from the opposition players chasing you.
If you have the space to run further, always bounce the ball after 15 metres. This means you can run another 15 metres, before you need to kick the football. This also means a long kick will fly over the defenders allowing your team mates to turn run after the ball and force the ball forward towards your goals. This also means that your opposition has to get the ball and turn around in order to attack, making it easier for your players to tackle. At the same time, it allows your defenders near the goals to take up defensive positions ready to repel the next attack.
Where and when to kick out:
Most times you must kick out towards the boundary.
Aim to kick to space between your ruckman or tall defender and the boundary line.
With windy weather, there are several situations to cope with.
If you are kicking into a wind coming straight down the ground, you need still to kick the football towards the boundary. Try to kick a low kick to lessen the impact of the wind.
If the wind is coming down the ground from your back, this allows you to kick straight down the centre to a tall player. It might enable you to kick over the heads of the players where the ball might run on towards your goals. This wind also allows you to kick towards either boundary safely.
If you have a crosswind, then you need to aim half way out towards the boundary on the opposite side from which the wind is coming. This reduces the chance of the ball going out of bounds on the full or without the football being touched thus preventing a free kick to the opposition.
On windless days, you have the option of kicking to either boundary. But you must plan to have your tall defenders leading towards both boundary lines giving you at least two options.
In senior football, you will often notice a short kick out to a player on their own, near the boundary line. This is only an option to you if you have a consistently successful short kick; the player is many metres on his/her own and is a reliable marker of the football. In junior football, a short kick up the centre should not be a option. It is too dangerous.
Using a torpedo punt:
Watching AFL games you will see a fullback occasionally use a torpedo punt, usually with the wind and often down the centre of the ground because it can fly further with the wind giving his team an advantage of getting closer to your goals. It is a good ploy used occasionally but only if you are very competent is doing a torpedo punt. It could be a set play used once you give a signal to a player who knows what you are going to do.
A torpedo punt is the hardest to mark, especially in windy conditions. If your defending players are being out marked, try a torpedo punt in an effort to see marks split by the opposition thus allowing your playmates to contest the loose ball.
Some other points to consider:
1. Always use the type of kick you are best at doing.
2. Playing on and handballing to a team mate is a low percentage play in junior football.
3. Practise kicking out from the square often as well as practising playing on, bouncing and then kicking to space or to a player running into space.
4. Never kick to a player leading towards the middle of the ground who is leading from the boundary. Any mistake here could lead to an easy score for the opposition.
5. Have your tall players lead from different positions towards the boundary only when they see you settled on the goal line ready to kick out.
As a new fullback begin your kick out procedure with the simple kick out from the goal square. Set yourself to do your best kick each time. As you get more comfortable kicking out gradually introduce some of the other ideas suggested here. But do it sparing until you are totally confident and your team is fully aware of what you can do.