In the professional soccer ranks, usually a free kick a specialist will step up and take the kick without trying to pull any tricks out of a hat. It’s simply an expert bending the soccer ball into the back of the net, whether that expert is Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Riquelme, Totti, Ronadlinho, Juninho Pernambucano, or Zidane. It’s one or two steps, and purely a duel between the free kick taker and the goalkeeper. With these free kick experts, usually the goalkeeper ends up hopelessly watching as the ball whizzes by him.
Take Messi’s free kick versus the United States in the Copa America. Did Brad Guzan really have a chance at saving this shot as it flew into the upper corner of the goal? I don’t think so.
Then there are the power shooters, like John Arne Riise of Liverpool or Roberto Carlos, both take a relatively longer run up to the soccer ball and rocket the ball into the net. Roberto Carlos is famous for his outside of the foot shots, tres dedos, which do have a ton of spin on the ball. The fact is, when you hit the ball with that much power, the ball is going to move. Cristiano Ronaldo has hits the ball with power like this, putting some funky spin on the ball, too, that confuses the goalkeeper.
With the power shot though, the goalie usually doesn’t have much of a chance if the ball is anywhere near the goal. With the rest of the team crashing the goal mouth in a coordinated fashion, seizing on any misplays by the keeper, it’s hard to not give up a goal.
But let’s look a bit closer at the free kick options, from tricks to some simpler plays:
Back Post Chip
This free kick is from the New York Red Bulls of the MLS, where the ball is chipped to the back post and then the player heads the ball across the goal mouth. Lloyd Sam gets the finish in this set piece masterclass from the Red Bulls.
Spin Out of the Wall
Top Ten Free Kicks of All Time
Watch Andrea Pirlo whip in a few free kicks.
Chip Far Post
Over the Wall Chip
Bricks in the Wall
Across the Top
From his days with Tottenham Hotspurs: Gareth Bale practices free-kicks at the Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre.