Introduction: How to Properly Shoot a Soccer Ball
This document contains instructions that any age and experience soccer player can use to improve the accuracy, effectiveness, and power of the player’s free kick. A free kick is what a team is awarded after a foul has occurred, which allows the team to place the ball at the spot of the foul and have a free shot on goal if the placed ball is within shooting distance. These instructions include an explanation of how to perform three different types of free kicks. These three types of free kicks are a power shot, inside curve shot, and an outside curve shot. Having these three types of free kicks in your skill set as a soccer player will dramatically increase your performance on the field during your journey to become a free kick specialist.
There are generally three types of free kicks that a soccer player can perform in order to put the ball in the back of the net and score a goal for their team. The following five steps will show you how to perform each of these three free kicks, as well as tell you what each type is and how it can help you improve your game.
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Step 1: Ball Placement
Ball placement is a critical step to promote a well taken shot on goal from the free kick. The first thing you should do as a player is place the ball on a clean, ideally elevated, plot of grass shown in the marked Figure 1.
As long as the ball isn’t placed in a hole, like in Figure 2, you will be able to perform your free kick. The most comfortable placement for you as a player will have to be determined through practice because size and experience will play a factor when placing your ball, but this advice will help you to discover the perfect ball position for you.
Step 2: Player Placement Relative to the Ball
The perfect distance between you and the ball will ultimately have to be determined through trial and error because everyone is different, but there are some guidelines you can follow. Typically, if you stand just behind the ball, you should take about three steps back. This is the approximate distance back from the ball you will need in order to perform the free kick. When making the three steps back, do not take normal size steps as this will not be the proper amount of distance you will need such as in Figure 3.
These steps need to be large steps, approximately one yard in length, between each foot as shown in Figure 4, to accommodate for the larger steps that will be taken when the player is running up to the ball. Once you have placed the ball and yourself, you will have to choose which type of shot you will perform which will determine the further steps you will take throughout the free kick. This will take a quick analysis of the situation: position of the free kick on the field, placement of the human wall, and placement of the goal keeper.
Step 3: Power Shot
The power shot is a straight forward shot that carries speed and strength behind it. This shot is mainly used when the ball is placed directly in front of the goal so you have a straight shot on the goal. This shot is unique because it can be incredibly accurate, as well as have an increased chance to ricochet off a player or the goalies hands and still go in the goal.
To perform this shot, you must practice pointing your toes and locking your foot while striking the ball. This will allow you to place the most amount of force on the ball, which will then make the ball move at the fastest speed with the most power. This is a vital part of the shot and is shown in Figure 5.
After practicing locking your toes, you will need to know where to stand behind the ball and where to actually make contact with the ball. You should stand with your kicking foot directly behind the ball with respect to where you are aiming, at the three step distance previously discussed like in Figure 6.
You will aim to strike the ball in the center which will yield the most accuracy, power, and speed throughout this shot on goal shown in Figure 7.
Step 4: Inside Curve Shot
The inside curve shot is a useful tool to deceive the opposing team’s defense and keeper. Performing this shot properly will put a spin on the ball causing it to curve towards your non-dominant foot. Usually on set free kicks, there is a human wall that the opposing team will place to help deflect the shot from the free kick. This defies your chance to use a power shot because there is no clear line to the goal, therefore you should prepare to use a curve shot.
To perform the inside curve shot, you will have to start by placing the ball, and yourself, a comfortable distance behind the ball following the instructions in Step 1 and Step 2. Once positioned, you will step approximately two steps in the direction of your non-dominant foot, which in this case is my left foot, shown in Figure 8.
Now you will be properly positioned to perform an inside curve shot. The technique for striking the ball is the most critical part of this type of shot. Most important thing to focus on is to lock your toes pointed downward when making contact with the ball. To induce the spin on the ball, you will aim to strike the ball off center to the side of your dominant foot. So if you are right footed, you will aim to hit the ball about one to two inches off the center of the ball on the right side shown in Figure 9.
If you have struck the ball in the right spot, the natural movement of your swinging foot will cause the ball to spin as it leaves your foot. The amount of curve on the ball depends on how fast you can get the ball to spin. These are the basic fundamentals you will need to perform the inside curve shot. In order to perfect this shot, you will need to tweak these guidelines to what works for you as a soccer player, because every player is different.
Step 5: Outside Curve Shot
The outside curve shot is a special shot the can visually deceive the opposing defense and goalie. This shot causes a spin on the ball that yields a curve towards your dominant foot. This is very effective because the way the opposing team and goalie will set the human wall will try to force you to do an inside curve shot. The weakness to this setup is that the goalie will move to one side of the goal leaving the other side completely open. This open side is relatively easy to score in using a well performed outside curve shot.
After positioning yourself following the instructions in Step 1 and Step 2, you will take approximately two steps towards your dominant foot, which in this case is my right foot. This will put you in position to strike the ball on the correct side. At first though, this may feel out of the ordinary but with practice you will adjust to it shown in Figure 10.
From that position, you will aim to strike the ball approximately one to two inches from the center of the ball on the side of your non-dominant foot. So if you are right footed, you will be striking the ball on the left side of the ball shown in Figure 11.
This will induce a spin on the ball that will cause it to curve towards your dominant foot. If performed correctly, it will curve on the opposite side of the wall the goalie is set up for and the goalie will not be able to save it from going into the back of the net.
As a soccer player after reading this document you will be able to perform three different shots when taking a free kick. Every free kick is different in position on the field, distance from the goal, number of players in the human wall, etc. Having these shots in your soccer tool box will give you the advantage against other players because you will be able to adapt and change your shot to different situations. These guidelines, with a large amount of practice and hard work, will help you on your way to becoming a free kick specialist.