Passing and Shooting Power - Striking the Ball

Discuss your training routine and techniques you are practicing
klc123
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Passing and Shooting Power - Striking the Ball

Post by klc123 » 14 Jun 2011, 17:14

Most people, particularly younger players, often struggle with their long passing and shooting when going for power.

The most common cause for this problem is the fact that most people try to tense up and/or "kick" the ball. Both of these actions are very counter productive to not only power, but even worse accuracy.

The correct form for a kick, would be for good swing technique, done with reasonable to little effort. The leg should swing through the ball, and also be accelerating through the ball towards the target, and the whole body should be involved in the action for either balance or co-ordination.

Now I will try to explain this.

The reason little effort should be applied is due to the fact that effort causes tensing of muscles. To someone who does not know better, this may seem good, and that it will generate more power. Well actually it doesn't.

Your muscles work in antagonistic pairs. This means that one muscle is responsible for flexion, and the paired muscle, normally on the other side of the joint is responsible for the extension.

For example, the Bicep and Tricep are antagonistic. That means they work against each other. When you want to bend your elbow (flexion), your tricep relaxes, and your bicep contracts. The opposite occurs when you want to straighten your elbow (extension). This takes reasonable co-ordination when done repeatedly at speed. This is why you benefit from practising technique over and over again, you are actually improving muscle motor neuron co-ordination, but that is a different more complex topic for another time.

So we have established that our joints work antagonistically, but why does that mean that tensing is bad? Well the answer is, when you tense your arm, your bicep and tricep are both contracting together, exerting an equal force, which means your elbow neither extends or flexes, but your muscles grow in size as they contract "fighting" each other. This is why you might often hear people who do weights talking about how training their triceps will make their biceps, and their arm as a whole look much bigger. This is because you can only tense with as much force as your weakest muscle of the antagonistic pair.

So what happens when you tense as you shoot, is that your quadriceps are trying to drive your leg through the ball and apply a force to it. For maximum force and acceleration, your hamstring should be relaxed for this, but if you tense up as you swing, your hamstring is slightly contracting, which in turn puts stress on your quadriceps increasing the risk of injury over time, but more importantly cancels out some of the force your quadriceps are generating. This results in a weaker kick. It also reduces the co-ordination of your swing, resulting in less accuracy.

This is why in golf, a sport which is arguably one of the most technically demanding in the world, the key to a good swing is using little effort to ensure good power, whilst maintaining good accuracy for a perfect stroke.

Now comes point two, and I am going to attempt to explain the physics at work.

Which situation do you think will generate a more powerful kick?

1. The players leg is travelling at 20 metres per second at the time of contact, and continues at constant speed through contact.

2. The players leg is travelling at 25 metres per second at the time of contact, but is decelerating through contact.

3. The players leg is travelling at 15 metres per second at the time of contact, but continues to accelerate through the contact.

Think the answer is obvious? Not to sure? Have absolutely no idea? Highlight below for answer.
The most powerful kick is actually number 3. with number 1 been the second most powerful and number 2 been the weakest of the 3 shots.

This is due to the fact that when you are in contact with a football, its shape is not the same throughout. When you hit a ball, it compresses for an extremely short period of time, before extending and leaving your foot. You may see this if you see a player kick a ball in super slow motion.
During this time of compression, your foot is applying a force to the ball for a specific time.

Force X Time = Change in Momentum.

You may ask what is this? Well momentum is the product of an objects Mass, multiplied by its Velocity. Because the mass of a football doesn't change during a kick (unless you hit it so hard it bursts, or approach the speed of light), that means all of that change in momentum is an increase in the balls velocity.

This is useful, because we know that our muscles can only deliver a set force depending on our strength which comes from training. So to get the biggest ball velocity, we want to have the longest possible contact time of that force.

When you decelerate through the strike, you reduce the contact time. When you maintain speed through the contact, you get average contact time, when you accelerate through the ball however, you massively increase the contact time. This means that you are applying your maximum muscle force, for a longer period of time. This in turn means that your change in momentum on the ball is greater, because your Force X TIME is greater.

This is why it is important to not "kick" the ball but swing through it, and accelerate through it. When you "kick" the ball, you unconsciously slow down during contact. This is why those trained in martial arts do not punch an object, they accelerate through it or aim to hit something half a metre behind the target.

That is why it is so important to accelerate through the ball. Your foot should actually be travelling its fastest after the ball has left your foot. This is why the follow through of a kick is so important, and how it not only affects accuracy, but power when executed properly with acceleration through the ball.

You can tell how good a golfer is by listening to the sound of his swing. If the "whooshing" noise comes just after contact with the ball, then they more than likely have had professional golfing lessons, or are professional themselves. Indeed, accelerating through the ball is a concept which can improve your game in any sport such as AF, Tennis, Football, Golf or even badminton.

eddy192837
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Post by eddy192837 » 14 Jun 2011, 18:42

Wow man I'm truly impressed.. I could have been hitting the ball harder all this time but i never knew the correct technique. Now thanks to you, i will start using the CORRECT TECHNIQUE and hopefully hitting the ball harder and a lot more accurate.

klc123
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Post by klc123 » 14 Jun 2011, 19:29

Is that sarcasm lol? I do realise that it is obvious using the correct technique will make your shots more powerful and more accurate, but I felt some posters might be interested in the actual physics and mechanics behind it.

eddy192837
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Post by eddy192837 » 14 Jun 2011, 19:36

Lol no im serious, ive been using sh*tty technique which is why ive been hitting it like sh*t latelyy.. Srry if it looked like sarcasmm, it really wasnt

klc123
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Post by klc123 » 14 Jun 2011, 19:43

Dw it was just the capitals made me :? :lol:

Hmm my technique is far from perfect. I can hit long passes beautifully, and in training my technique for shooting is good, but in match situations I automatically rush and mess things up.

ScottyBoy
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Post by ScottyBoy » 14 Jun 2011, 20:20

eddy192837 wrote:I could have been hitting the ball harder all this time but i never knew the correct technique. Now thanks to you, i will start using the CORRECT TECHNIQUE
This isnt a guide to correct technique, it just explains one of the important principles to remember when striking a ball.

This is a good post with good reasoning and examples. Another one I would add is ACCELERATION and SPRINTING. Just like ball striking it sounds silly at first to say dont try to run as fast as you can but as KLC has shown how different muscles work.

Remembering this principle can help you improve in a broad range of athletic activites.
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klc123
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Post by klc123 » 14 Jun 2011, 20:47

^ I agree, the athletics club near me do coaching and they say that running 100m you should be so relaxed that if you start to dribble as you sprint, you are doing it correctly.

It is common sense, using your muscles in a coordinated fashion not only results in greater efficiency, as your muscles are no longer wrestling against each other, but a greater speed due to your resultant leg speed been greater.

Sprinting is actually an interesting example, because of how complex the co-ordination of it actually is. As I said about muscles working antagonistically, the quadriceps and hamstring directly oppose each other. However, your quadriceps and hamstring both have two roles. Your Quadriceps extend your lower leg, and bring your entire leg forwards at the hip, with the hamstring doing the opposite.

This means that on the push phase of the stride, your quadriceps needs to be contracting to extend your knee, but must not be contracting to bring your leg forwards, as your hamstring is attempting to bring your leg backwards, whilst not flexing your knee. This is why it takes so much sprint coaching and practice to become an Olympic sprinter, because when you are battling within 10ths of seconds, even a tiny amount of wrongly applied force can make the difference between winning and losing over 100 metres.

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Post by googoo » 17 Jun 2011, 13:16

Excellent thread klc.

Here is a question, though.

I understand your point that in order to generate enough power on a shot or a long pass, you should be relaxed and perform a good swinging motion. Accelerate through the ball.
I find it easier said than done though :)
Do you have some ideas how to try and practice it? Some specific drills? Or do you think it's mostly decided in the mind?

Thanks in advance for your reply

klc123
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Post by klc123 » 17 Jun 2011, 19:00

Hi, it's good to see new members on the forums :D

You're quite right, as with almost everything in football, it is far easier said than done. The key is to just practise. The best method I found was to use a wall and get used to the motion of hitting the ball, maintaining good technique, but also making sure not to tense up and put too much effort into the shot.

However, when it comes to a pressurized situation in a game, it becomes very easy for even the most composed of players to stress and rush their shot. Even the top players in the world still do this on occasion. I think the key to overcoming this hurdle, is a healthy mixture of experience, and confidence in your own ability.

Regardless of how tough the situation in the game is, if you have spent hours on the training pitch, proving to yourself that you can strike the ball perfectly when you are focused, calm and composed, then nothing, not even an army of defenders, will pressurize you into making a mistake.

googoo
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Post by googoo » 18 Jun 2011, 12:39

Hey, thanks for the reply :)

About the technique:

The instep should be used to strike the ball (in order to get the most distance/power), correct?
Now, I've read quite a few posts on the subject but I'm still not sure how I should 'present' my foot when making contact with the ball. Should I try to angle it outwards almost as if I were just using the inside of my foot?
Also, could you explain what is meant exactly by locking the ankle?

I'm willing to practice and I have been doing that for some time. I'm enjoying it and maybe even improved a bit. However I would like to know as much as possible about the correct techniques, so I can try and work with those in order to improve.

Sorry for bombing you with so much questions at the same time but I hope you'll be able to answer them and possibly help me a bit. :)

Thanks!

Best Regards,

Googoo

klc123
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Post by klc123 » 18 Jun 2011, 14:57

Don't worry about asking questions, I enjoy helping people with specific questions.

How to present the instep is one of the things I struggled with a lot. I don't know if you have seen NewBornProdigy's guide to striking the ball on these forums, but it goes a long way to explain it and should help if you haven't seen it yet.
The main points to remember are:
-to keep the ankle locked (more on this in a second)
-to have the supporting foot in line with the ball, this makes a big difference to accuracy and power.
-To be leaning 45 degrees away from the ball with your whole body. When you strike the ball your entire body needs to be leaning away, this allows you to hit with the instep and not stub your foot. When leaning away, don't force yourself sideways however, as that will cause you to miss-hit your shot. I like to think of it as sort of letting myself fall sideways into position to get the lean.

Watch this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H3H__CLqL0

If you watch the second strike he does from the ground around 1:07, that is perfect technique for the instep drive.

If you pause that video at roughly 1:17 when the camera angle changes so you can see to the side of him you can get a good picture of what has happened. His heel is quite close to the floor, so it is like what you said, he is sort of angled his foot outwards so it is more to the side of the instep.

When you are using this technique, it is important to not get too weighed down with thinking "ok this is exactly what I have to do to get the ball where I want it to". Striking the ball should be much more about feeling how you should strike the ball, and then almost forcing the ball to do what you want. It shouldn't feel like you are swinging through and hoping the ball goes where you want, it should feel like you are actively making it go where you want. This is very difficult to explain, i'm sorry.

Basically, I don't look down and swing my leg through where the ball happens to be to hit a specific spot on the ball, I actually try to make the ball do what I want. The technique I use gives me the basis for this, but the most important thing is always keeping your eye on the ball the whole time.

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Post by Rome_Leader » 18 Jun 2011, 18:46

Props klc! I've rated you up, as I love to see these kinds of technical breakdowns, as I always try to consider the very basics of what I'm doing in order to see the greatest improvement. Your post will be a huge help to the hordes of people who want to blast the ball, yet are always trying to muscle through without technique, and thinking training their leg muscles will do them the greatest good. Great post!
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googoo
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Post by googoo » 18 Jun 2011, 20:44

Good post klc, yet again.

Yes, I've read his guide, it's excellent but somehow I still can't get it right, on a consistent basis at least. I'll give it a re-read, I guess.
-To be leaning 45 degrees away from the ball with your whole body. When you strike the ball your entire body needs to be leaning away, this allows you to hit with the instep and not stub your foot. When leaning away, don't force yourself sideways however, as that will cause you to miss-hit your shot. I like to think of it as sort of letting myself fall sideways into position to get the lean.
Yes, it's a good point and I've been aware of it, though I find it really hard.
I guess, as you said, I'm actually forcing myself a lot of the time. I've watched the pros do it and I do have an image in my mind as how it should look but I rarely get it right.
Any additional tips on this one?

That Torres clip is good; I've found one as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaC_nDjBVIA

But if anyone has some other useful ones, don't hesitate to share :)

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Post by BillyGates » 19 Jun 2011, 07:35

I always like this video of how to kick with power.

http://ballskills.wikispaces.com/#x-Kic ... %20Kick%29

klc123
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Post by klc123 » 19 Jun 2011, 18:10

Watching videos of professionals is a great tool, because human minds are developed to learn from watching and recreating. For this reason, watching videos of players like Maradona can improve your dribbling. This could be thought of as sort of "virtual experience" if you like, because you have seen what works in top flight situations without ever actually been in that situation.

However, with technical things like shooting, there videos may help the learning curve, but you still need to get out there and practise to get real improvements.

The best advice I can give you is to break it down into its stages, and focus on doing each step slowly with no ball, and making sure you do it correctly. Once you get used to the motions, introduce a ball and start striking it. When you have this stage nailed, it is just a case of repetition to improve the speed which you can do it.

I always think of learning to shoot as the same as learning a difficult piece of music on Piano. First I read through the score to see the general points of the music. I will then break it down into little sections, doing only one hand at a time, learning the bits slowly. Once I get used to the movements and start to remember the sections, I speed them up, when adequately fast with all the sections, link them together, and link the two hands together slowly at first. Then just keep practising this to get it up to full speed.

As for the 45 degree lean, the most important point is to have your arms out for stability. It is impossible to execute a clean shot without having your arms to stabilize you. When you begin to speed up your kicking motion to get more power, you will really struggle if you don't use your arms for balance, and your accuracy will just go out the window which is the last thing you want.

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