Saturday, 16 May 2009
Jonny Wilkenson's lesson
That famous drop kick that helped England win the World Cup in Rugby in 2004 will remain a sporting high light forever. The Cup is named after Web Ellis, the schoolboy in the little town of Rugby in England that so desperately wanted his team to win the soccer football match, that he picked the ball up and ran through the defenders to place the ball in the back of the net! Little did he know that he had just invented a new game that would be played all over the world for a long time to come!
Back to Jonny Wilkenson. Jonny was an extrememly dedicated and committed player from an early age. He was the first out on the field to practice and the last one to leave. He would kick a thousand balls before a test match just to perfect his art of kicking with both legs. By the way the famous drop kick was done with this 'wrong' leg: he booted it with his right leg and not his usual left foot with which he broke all the records for points scoring in his era.
His mother was so nervous when he played that she used to go grocery shopping while the game was being televised. When he won the cup for England she was in the shopping mall when someone told her: your son has just kicked the winning drop kick for England!
In his book, Playing Rugby My Way, he gives some of the most expertise coaching tips to young boys (and girls) who want to improve their game. He exposes his techniques of kicking, drop-kicking, grubber-kicking and line kicking; he tells how he draws an imaginary line from a specific point on the ball through the posts to a lady sitting in the stand behind the posts and aims to put the ball in her lap!
He reveals the secret of tackling an apponent by aiming to hit him with your shoulder on a spot on his shorts or on his leg; he instructs you how to side step an attacker and how to guide the ball when you pass it to a team member, either to the left or the right. Jonny even encourages young players to eat their vegetables and fresh fruit!
He admits that he was a fanatic, a spartan as far as practicing was concerned. He never allowed himself to rest at all and tried to reach perfection in his skill. He never allowed himself the simple pleasure of wallowing in his success at any time.
But when he turned 30, after multiple serious injuries, he realized that he had not enjoyed his life at all.
Then he wrote another book to tell the young sportsmen to learn how to take time out to go to the beach or play the piano without feeling guility about not practicing...it was a bit late for Jonny whom we all admired as one of the best fly halves the world has ever seen! But it is not too late for our youngsters to take a tip from someone who has been out there and designed the T-shirt for success in sport and worn it for a long time!
The most amazing aspect of his famous drop kick is the fact that he booted it with his wrong foot! He normally kicks left footed, but when the moment came he turned to the other side and slotted it over with his right foot! He obviously practiced this for many years until the moment came to use that acquired skill.
Obviously his opponents did not expect him to kick off the wrong foot so they were compeletely taken by surprise.
There comes a moment when all the hard work and practice pays off - as in rugby, so in life.