Wayward Bombers kicking themselves
SAM Newman talks a lot of garbage.
But one of the things he's always banging on about that actually makes sense is the importance of goalkicking.
But, clubs don't seem to agree as it's the one aspect of the game that hasn't improved over the years.
And it's costing teams victories ... and invariably positions in the top four and top eight.
Shooting at just 51.86%, the goalkicking accuracy rate in 2012 has slumped to a 22-year low.
And it looks even worse when you take into consideration the fact there are far fewer rushed behinds these days due to rule changes.
Players have become adept at kicking the freak Peter Daicos-type dribble goals from tight angles - the goals that shouldn't be kicked because of the degree of difficulty.
But, due to the pressure of the big moment, a flawed technique, or a combination of both, players still miss far too many set shots in front of the big sticks.
Essendon has been the prime example of missing majors, and them coming back to bite them on the ... behind.
The wayward Bombers sit fifth on the ladder, but could be a game clear on top.
They are already the clear leader when it comes to forward 50m entries in the competition.
But their conversion rate is a league-low 49%.
They kicked a demoralising 6.16 against then bottom-placed Melbourne in round 10 to lose by six points.
Just two 'behinds' were rushed.
They then backed that effort up with an 11.16 performance against Sydney and went down by four points.
If Essendon's players weren't spending some of their bye weekend off practising their kicking for goal - or spending some time on the shrink, ah I mean sports psychologists' couch - they should be.
In particular, key forwards Stewart Crameri (23.20) and Michael Hurley (7.10), who have been the main offenders.
Of course they are not the only ones.
On Thursday, West Coast's dismal converting (10.19) - almost cost it the game against Carlton in Perth, while the following night both Adelaide and St Kilda put on a high-quality contest, but players such as Nick Riewoldt, Stephen Milne and Taylor Walker were all guilty of bad misses.
Then, on Saturday, we saw back-to-back games in which teams that kicked the least goals actually won. Unfortunately, Richmond (11.20) and North Melbourne (11.21) received no more than scares, and not defeats, for their deplorable efforts in attack against GWS and Gold Coast, respectively.
The Giants, in particular, managed to keep the pressure on the Tigers with their deadly accurate 12.2, defying the rain that was a constant nuisance.
Goalkicking great Jason Dunstall described theirs as an "exceptional display of conversion in extremely trying conditions … and they haven't just kicked them from in front they've kicked them in a variety of positions, tight snaps, all sorts of things."
Looks like a few more experienced opponents have a bit to learn from the newbies.
No matter what level they are playing in, from bush footy to the AFL, clubs simply do not allow their players to spend anywhere near enough time honing their goalkicking skills.
While technique is imperative, it is hard for players to alter their natural movements - just look at Hawk Lance Franklin and his infamous hook.
The issue of bad goalkicking has more to do with what goes on in players' heads.
In a bid to end the goalkicking yips that had plagued him throughout his career, Magpie Travis Cloke took the unique step of trying to simulate game pressure by listening to crowd noise through his iPod while practising his goalkicking.
He went from having a conversion rate of 45% in 2009 and 48% in 2010 to 59% in 2011 and 63% in 2012.
Is anyone else listening?