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Soccer might look simple at first glance; kicking a ball shouldn’t have many secrets. But there are a few secrets; there are several different ways of kicking a ball depending on what each play needs. A soccer player should know all of them, so they can take advantage of every game situation. Here is a guide to every type of kick in soccer.
Every kick type in soccer is the perfect answer to solve a specific game situation the best way; lobs to shoot when the goalie is far from the goal, the instep for powerful shots, and the heel when the player is surrounded, and many more. To break the rules like an artist, the player must learn the techniques as a professional.
When a forward fails to score after choosing the wrong type of kick, it looks more evident, but every soccer situation requires a different kicking style to solve it correctly, not only shooting to the goal. Some players use techniques to compensate for weak spots, like those who use rabonas because they can’t kick with both legs.
Types of kicks in soccer: full guide to every kick
1. Internal part of the foot
This technique is generally used to pass the ball, but it can also be used to shoot to the goal.
Your dominant kicking leg points outside and the non-dominant kicking leg points to your objective to perform this kick. Move the leg that will connect the ball backward, lock your ankle, and then move it forward to kick the ball.
Always keep the toes of the kicking leg up, never down, to create a bigger surface of contact. The shoulders also should point towards your objective; otherwise, the ball will follow an undesired direction.
You must connect the ball with the base of your ankle and not with the end of your foot. The bottom of your ankle offers a more significant surface area than the end of your foot, and that gives the shot more power and accuracy.
In this kick, the player must try to hit the ball in the middle of it. The ball will roll forward, advancing smoothly over the grass without bouncing.
Remember that this kick’s power comes from the thigh, not the calf. When you raise the kicking leg backward, you need to lift it using your thigh, not bending your knee and raising only your calf.
2. The instep shoot
This is the most powerful of the soccer kicking techniques. The instep shoot or instep drive is also known as the shoelaces kick.
The shot is so powerful because the drive to hit the ball comes from the quadriceps’ strength. For this kick to have a better performance, the balance and a firm stand from the non-kicking leg are fundamental. Opening the arms to the sides will help to balance the body.
In this kick, the toes are pointing down, the calf contracts to help lock the foot. It is like the foot becomes an extension of the leg; it must be that locked.
Firmly placed on the ground, the non-kicking leg must be 4 or 5 inches from the ball’s side in the same line. If the support leg is too far behind the ball, the kick will fly too high; if the leg is beyond the ball, the kicking will hit the ground.
The kicking leg raises backward and then descend violently to hit the ball. The toes of the kicking leg would remain bend, like if they were trying to grab something. This movement will help lock the foot even more.
The kick’s objective is to hit the center of the ball with the shoelaces of the cleats. The ball should get expelled forward violently. For more power, both feet must be in the air after the kick. This is, the drive is so hard that the inertia makes us leave the floor.
A good instep drive should remain low and have little to no spinning effect.
If you have the chance, a pool is a perfect place to practice the instep kick’s movements. The water helps you keep the balance and, at the same time, strengthens the leg’s muscles.
3. Curving ball with the inside of the foot
This kicking technique is the easier way of doing something difficult, curving a soccer ball. It is commonly used in corner kicks and free kicks, but it also can be used in long, short, low, and high passing.
Assuming the ball is stationary, like in a free kick or in a corner kick, the player must approach the ball from the side. If you are right-handed from the left, from the right if you are left-handed. Two or three steps away are enough.
When you are ready to kick, approach the ball, and firmly place the non-kicking leg. For more accuracy, the support leg stands in the same line as the ball, 10 inches from it at the moment of the kick.
Just like in the internal part of the foot kick, your non-kicking leg and your torso must be pointing at your objective.
Lean your body slightly to the side and to the front. If you hit the ball with the right leg, lean your body to the left. The arms are handy to help you keep the balance; raise them at your shoulders height.
If you lean your body back when hitting the ball, the ball’s tendency will be flying high and far from your goal.
After you are in position, hit the ball with the interior part of your foot. This kicking technique uses not the base of your ankle but the next part after the big toe.
In this technique, the shooter must aim to kick the side of the ball. Hitting the ball in the inferior part of it will lift it while shooting it in the upper part will keep it down. Practice and several reps will teach you along the way where to hit it to obtain the result you look for.
4. Kicking with the outside of the foot
This kick is the evil twin of the previous kicking technique. It is a little fancy but quite handy. Using the outer part of the instep will have a curve effect on the ball’s trajectory. This shot is powerful and a nightmare for goalkeepers.
There are situations in soccer that require either a curve pass or a curve shoot to the goal. Curveballs are challenging to master in soccer, but once you do, they are handy.
To execute a trivela, as it is known in Brazil, the ankle must be locked hard, the toes are pointing down, and the hell is raised. The idea is to hit the ball in one of the sides to create a lateral spinning effect.
This curving shot’s advantage is that it is a powerful ball, much more potent than the swerving ball with the foot’s inside part. To generate a more prominent curve, the player must kick the ball further from its axis. It is essential to consider that the bigger the curve, the smaller the power of the shot.
5. Side Volley
This kick requires excellent timing and body balance. The purpose of this kick is to hit airborne balls coming from the side. This kicking technique is useful in any part of the field, but it is handy for strikers inside the box when they can’t wait for the ball to hit the floor or control it.
This shot is basically an instep kick raising your leg to the side, forming a 90° with the floor. The main difficulty is to intercept the ball in the air.
The leg must be fully extended at the moment of contact with the ball, the hips rotate to help the kick getting more power.
In this kick, the body leans to the opposite side of the ball, and arms are raised to balance.
The side volley is commonly used by goalies to restart the game. They hold the ball with one hand and let it go towards their kicking leg.
The leg must be fully extended, so the goalies must drop the ball wide, far from their bodies. They also should apply a little backspin to the ball when dropping it. The backspin effect will maintain after the kick, making it easier for their teammates to control the goalie’s pass.
A good tip to practice this shot, as it is a powerful one, is to practice in front of the goal, so the net can catch your kicks, and there is no need to walk like crazy to recover your ball after every try.
Chipping or lob ball is a kicking technique used to perform intermediate passes and shoots to the goal.
The kicking foot hits the lower part of the ball in this kick, making it backspin while getting altitude; the foot sticks like a wedge under the ball.
This shot doesn’t require a lot of strength, so it can be done without much preparation; that’s why it is ideal for strikers. Although it doesn’t need lots of power, it needs tons of technique to master this shot.
The lob ball is also handy for intermediate passing. When a rival is in front of the passing objective, lobbing the ball over them is a good alternative. The backspin effect will benefit the teammate when trying to control the pass.
The non-kicking leg, in this case, needs to be 5 or 6 inches before the ball, not in the same line as in the previous kicking techniques. This will help the shot to get the desired height.
The kicking leg’s drive stops after contact with the ball; it doesn’t follow the movement like in the power shots.
To practice, this kicking technique, placing objects and try and lob the ball over them will help. Once the player feels they dominate the chipping technique, they should practice lobbing the ball in short and long distances.
7. Bicycle kick
The bicycle kick is considered one of the most challenging soccer kicking techniques; it is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular.
Like the other shooting techniques, the bicycle kick might be handy in any part of the field but particularly useful for strikers scoring spectacular goals.
When strikers get into the box, expecting a crossing from the winger or another teammate, they need to anticipate where the ball might fall and position there.
The crossing might be defective or deflected by a defender, changing the direction of the crossing altogether. The ball may come higher than expected or behind the striker. At this point is when the bicycle kick gets into action.
Here is what you need to do:
- The first step to perform a bicycle kick is to lose the fear of falling over your back or the side of your body. After you become friends with the idea of flying back towards the floor, you are good to go.
- Use your kicking foot to drive off. To perform a mighty jump, use your toes to spring up, and as you spring up, the non-kicking leg goes up as well.
- Lean back a little bit when you are going up, and use your arms to increase the balance.
- Open your body towards the direction the ball is coming from. This is if the ball is coming from your left (the goal is behind you), you lean back your left arm and twist your torso to the left too. Use the movement of the arm’s momentum to help you turn.
- Use your non-kicking leg to create the energy for the drive. As you are going up, the non-kicking leg’s knee points to the sky, then it extends, and when the kicking leg is getting ready to kick the ball, the support leg bends again and goes down. This movement of the non-kicking leg is what creates the energy for the drive.
- Hit the ball with your shoelaces to create a clean connection and generate enough power to beat the goalkeeper.
- The kicking foot must be up the ball; this will prevent the shot from going over the goal.
- Ensure a safe landing with your arms and torso. Try and land with your arm flexed and not locked to prevent an elbow injury.
Once you master the bicycle kick technique, you can start adding different ball effects, like hitting it trivela style. That is as hard as it sounds, but the result is astonishing.
The rabona technique was invented by the Argentinian striker Ricardo Infante in 1948, according to FIFA. Infante created this flamboyant yet useful kicking technique and is the 7th top goalscorer of professional Argentinian soccer.
This technique is used when you are at your weak side of the pitch and you want to kick the ball with your strongest leg.
The rabona kick can be explained in three steps:
- Positioning. The angle of the runup is about 90° from the direction of the ball. Then position the non-kicking leg at about 9 inches from the ball with your toes pointing in the direction you want to shoot.
- The swing. After your support leg is secured, swing the kicking leg back, and swing it towards the ball around the non-kicking leg from behind of it. You’ll hit the ball with your legs crossed. The 90° positioning will help get a more significant momentum when kicking the ball.
- The hit. You can either use the tip of your toes or the beginning of your instep to connect the ball. When using the rabona to cross or shoot at the goal, it is recommended to hit the lower part of the ball to reach altitude.
9. Back heel
As its names indicate, the back heel technique consists of hitting the ball with your foot’s rear. This soccer kick is handy when the player is surrounded by rivals, and there is no obvious way out.
This is a shot that goes backwards, behind the player executing it. It is an element of surprise, and it requires having a great field vision. At least you should know or remember who is behind you.
The support leg must be in front of the ball when performing a back heel. Then, the kicking leg goes over the ball, with the knee pointing up to feed the drive.
After the kicking leg’s foot is over beyond the ball’s line, use the back of your thigh to create momentum backward to hit the ball with your heel.
If you want the back heel to gain height, you must kick the ball’s lower part. If you want the ball to go rolling over the grass or barely rising, hit the ball in the middle.
It is up to every player’s creativity how and when using these kicking techniques. A bicycle kick is a handy resource to clear the ball when defending; although it is a bit dangerous, the defender could commit a penalty.
The same would happen with the rabona. It is a fancy way of crossing, but maybe it is not a good idea to mess up a goal occasion trying something decorative.