Graduate Studies


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Mechanical Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Jeff A. Hawks. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Chase M. Pfeifer

This thesis must remain unpublished due to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institutional Review Board human subject research regulations. Copies may be obtained by requests directed to


Various studies aim to understand the fundamentals of kicking, primarily the instep kick commonly used by soccer players. Of those studies, most are limited to a 2D analysis using high-speed cameras for position tracking and electromyography to observe muscle activity. The few studies that investigate a 3D model are limited in their position tracking capabilities and focus mainly on joint flexion potentials and foot speed. To the authors knowledge no study of this caliber has been performed on the kinematics and dynamics of place kicking in American football. This thesis uses a 12 camera high-speed motion tracking system to investigate the kicking techniques of three place kickers of different experience levels by observing several kicks from each. Results demonstrate that the quality of a place kick cannot be determined solely on foot speed but direction and location of foot velocity and the force of the kicking leg at impact. Position and orientation of the plant foot proves to be a driving factor in producing a more ideal effective kinetic energy as well as direction of foot velocity upon impact.