Kicking is a fundamental soccer skill used for passing and shooting the ball. Producing a good kick is a combination of balance and composure. It takes a lot of practice when learning any technique, but through training and repetition you too can learn to strike the ball like a pro.
Kicking the ball on the ground
Correct placement of the supporting foot is vital when kicking the ball. Planting your supporting foot in line with the ball will keep the shot hard and low. Conversely, planting your supporting foot further behind or leaning back during the approach will result in a high, lofted shot.
Supporting foot in line with the ball.
Supporting foot behind the ball.
To produce a powerful shot or pass, focus on driving your kicking foot forward and following-through. If you have trouble with the follow-through, try to land on your kicking foot after contacting the ball.
Striking the ball from volleys
Start by facing the ball while remaining on your toes. This will allow you to adjust quickly, in small steps. Stay composed and focus on timing the volley. Striking a decent volley depends on good timing, so don’t swing before you have aligned yourself properly with the ball!
Power vs placement
Most players assume that producing a good, powerful shot depends on striking a particular part of the ball. Actually, the important thing is driving the knee of your kicking leg in the direction of your target and following through. A good follow-through, involves lunging forward and landing on your kicking foot.
Power is the result of proper technique. The leg muscles have an elastic quality and to take advantage of this, you need to wind-up and swing in one, swift motion. Through practice, you will find that power comes from minimizing that short, but critical period of time between contracting and extending the leg.
Striking the ball on the outside will bend your shot. The further to the outside you hit the ball, the more spin it will have. In addition, your upper body can affect the height of the shot. When you lean back during the approach, you’ll get more height and vice versa.
When curving the ball, make sure that your supporting foot points slightly to the side of the target. Ideally, you want to approach the ball at the same angle.
Techniques for kicking the ball
Push pass (inside of the foot)
The push pass is the most basic and effective way of passing the ball to a teammate. When executed properly, the ball will roll smoothly rather than bounce or skip along the ground. Therefore, the pass will be easy for your teammate to receive and control. Start by planting your supporting foot about 10-15 cm (4-5 inches) to the side of the ball with toes pointed in the direction of your teammate. With your ankle locked at 90 degrees, contact the ball just above the equator using the arch of your foot.
Outside of the foot
Skillful midfielders use the outside of the foot to serve quick and sudden passes. This is one of the few techniques where you are sending the ball to the side of the direction you are facing, so the pass is unexpected and difficult to prevent by opponents. Typically, you want to contact the top part of the ball with the outside of your shoelaces, so that the pass remains low.
The instep drive is the most powerful kick in soccer, used for shooting and sending long passes. Start by planting your supporting foot in line with the ball with toes pointing at the target. Bring your kicking leg back and drive it forward in a single motion. Your ankle should be extended and locked. Strike the ball with your shoelaces and follow through in direction of the target. To keep your shot low, contact the ball slightly above the equator and keep your shoulders over it.
The inside curve is the best technique for placing the ball with precision, commonly used when taking free kicks and sending lofted passed, including crosses. First, position your supporting foot next to the ball with toes aimed slightly to the side of the target. Try to make contact with the inside part of your shoelaces. Striking the ball off center produces spin and will curve your shot. Note that leaning forward or back will affect the height of your shot.
The chip is most effective for lobbing the ball over your opponent’s head. Start by retracting your kicking leg back and swing it forward quickly. Strike the bottom part of ball with the the tip of your toes. When done properly, the ball should fly in a high arc and will spin vertically.
Volleying is a kicking technique used while the ball is up in the air. First, make small adjustments in your footing so that you are well-aligned and balanced before swinging at the ball. Producing a good volley is largely determined by your timing. Therefore, focus on when to swing rather than where to contact the ball.
The bicycle kick is a spectacular technique in soccer that is used for shooting and sometimes clearing the ball. Contacting the ball is usually done with the toes or the instep. Generally, this type of move will leave you on the ground, so it’s rarely practical to attempt a bicycle kick unless you’re both confident and athletic. Remember to extended your arms back to cushion the fall.
The outside curve technique is useful when the ball is positioned on the side of your stronger foot. The toes of your supporting foot should be pointing at the target or slightly to the side. Try to contact the ball with the outside part of your shoelaces and follow-through to bend the shot.
The Rabona is a cunning technique used to shoot or pass the ball. Typically, this type of kick works best in combination with dribbling in order to confuse and mislead your opponents. Note that the ball needs to be on the outside of your supporting foot. Striking the ball is usually done with the toes.
The backheel kick has many variations that can work both on the ground or while the ball is up in the air. However, try to use the backheel sparingly and through creativity. Otherwise, it will become a mere statement of showmanship!
The Scorpion kick is an extravagant move that involves lunging forward and striking the ball in the air with the back of the heel. Both heels are sometimes used to clear the ball while defending. The Scorpion kick is one of the favorite moves of the Colombian goalkeeper René Higuita, who used it to save shots going over his head.
How to practice striking the ball
Keep in mind that it takes many hours of repetition to master kicking the ball. Moreover, it’s crucial to practice with as few interruption as possible. Having a training partner can be particularly helpful as he can serve the ball back to you quickly.
Training alone requires a little bit of creativity, but it can be just as effective. One way of practicing alone is to find a wall next to a flat, open area. Then, send the ball against the wall and strike it again as it comes back.