Which Muscles Are Used in Kicking?

The gastrocnemious, hamstrings, iliopsoas, quadriceps and gluteal muscles are all used to generate the kicking motion. There are two distinct phases to the kicking action, the preparatory and the actual kicking phase. Only the gastrocnemius of the calf is used for both phases.

To prepare for a kick, the action of pulling the leg back requires extending and hyperextending the hip joint. This is done with the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus muscles. At the same time, the knee joint is flexed with the hamstrings. This group of muscles includes the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus muscles. Once the knee is flexed, plantar flexion of the ankle is accomplished with the gastrocnemius.

The iliopsoas muscles flex the hip joint to begin moving it forward to start the kicking phase. The knee is extended using the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and vastus intermedialis muscles; these are the four muscles that make up the quadriceps. Finally, the gastrocnemius creates plantar flexion of the ankle again just before and as the foot comes into contact with its target.

This describes the actions and muscles used to kick a ball head on. If the kick is aimed higher or off to the side other muscles and actions are involved.