The Various Ways to Strike a Soccer Ball
There are a number of ways to kick a soccer ball, whether that's trying to shoot for power or bending the ball. There are also a number of different parts of the foot to use to kick a soccer ball, whether that's the outside of the foot or the laces or instep of the foot. Here's a run down of all the ways you can shoot, pass, and kick a soccer ball, and which parts of the foot to use.
Instep - Use the top surface area of your shoe just before the laces begin. Do this when you want to strike the ball with power. Land on your shooting foot when you want to increase the power. Keep your head down and your knee over the ball. Your hips should face where you want the ball to go.
Side of the Foot – Kick with the flat portion of your shoe. Turn your body to the right or left, depending upon which foot you are kicking with. This is used more for accuracy and placement. Pass the ball into the net. Strike the ball low and to the corners.
Outside of the Foot - Use the outer surface of the front part of your foot (also referred to as "tres dedos" or “three toes” in Brazil). It’s best used to bend the ball but it's important to strike through the center of the ball.
Using the outside of your foot like this is common when you can't get to the ball on your foot just how you'd like to, say the keeper is rushing out to you in a one on one and there's just enough window at the far post, so you bend the ball around the keeper. Or, a player makes a run and you don't have time to set the ball up to your other foot so you first time it with the outside of the foot—bending the ball into their path. See some amazing outside of the foot passes here.
The key point when striking the ball with the outside of your foot, and really, whenever you're striking the ball, is to hit the center of the ball and strike the ball with power.
Inside of the Foot - Wrap your foot around the ball by using the inner surface of your foot. This move is also used to bend the ball, as above, except with the inner part of your shoe and the upper portion of your foot.
The Volley - This is striking the ball out of the air. Keep your ankle locked and drive through the ball. However, when striking the ball in the air, make sure you are in a balanced position and you are not reaching out too far to meet the ball. Otherwise, the ball will not go straight and in the direction you want it to. Try to have your hips square to the ball and follow through. Click here to see an amazing and perfect example - Zidane Volley
Half Volley - Meet the ball just after it bounces, just as it’s rising from the ground. Or, meet the ball on the run and strike through the ball just after it bounces. The half volley is a quick action shot where a player pounces on the chance to score before anyone else. It's perhaps not as difficult as the full volley but can be equally amazing if the ball goes in the net. And of course they both count the same.
Bicycle Kick - Keep your back to the target and your eyes on the ball. Bring the knee of your non-kicking leg toward your chest followed immediately with the same motion of your kicking leg. The movement of your legs will appear as if you're pedaling a bicycle backwards. Extend both arms and your palms facing the ground behind you to brace yourself when you land.
See how a genius does it - Rivaldo's Bicycle Kick. His game winning goal against Valencia put them in the Champion’s League the next season and completed his hattrick in the dying minutes of the game.
Half Chances - Follow your shots. You never know when the goalkeeper is going to drop the ball. As a forward or attacking midfielder, always be ready to follow up all shots and pounce on shots that the goalie drops.
As a forward, try to read the game and take risks when the ball is punted by the opposing goalie. See if you can read the play and see where the second ball will end up. Try to read where your teammate will redirect or flick the ball on to you. Often, the other team will miss hit or redirect the ball towards their own goal. Be ready to jump on those opportunities.
Knuckle the Ball - This is the way Cristiano Ronaldo strikes the ball so it knuckles in the air and the keeper can't read where the ball is going to go. Strike through the center of the ball and land on the shooting foot but don't follow through entirely - hold up a little bit so you follow through just in front of the ball. The other trick is to hit the ball near the valve, where you pump up the ball.
The Toe - Yes, it's true that toe punching the soccer ball isn't something you should do as a soccer player. But, there is a place and time for it, like when youre stretching for the ball and can only just get your toe on it or if you want to surprise the other team's keeper by shooting with your toe. So while you shouldn't use your toe to kick the soccer ball, there are a few moments where it's effective.
Extra: Shoot More Often - After learning when and how to shoot the soccer ball all that’s left to do is practice…check out some quick shooting drills. If you're practicing on your own, find a wall or back stop to strike the ball against. Remember the basics, keep your ankle locked and your knee over the ball and work on striking the ball with your instep - and if you want to shoot for power, then land on your shooting foot.
If you're a defender, why not try playing forward during a practice or two so you get some more time working on your shooting - then, when the ball pops out to you off a corner kick your ready to score a goal. The key though is not to try to kill the ball with lots of power but to keep the ball on frame and hit the target - make the goalkeeper make a save rather than shooting the ball up and over the goal.
Find ways to get yourself in a position to score goals, no matter what position you play. Learn what types of shots you are good at and what areas of the field you can score from.
Do you like to dribble in with your left foot and bend the ball into the far post? Do you like to strike the ball with power? Figure out what techniques you are best at and perfect those techniques so when the opportunity arises, and the chance to score is there, you take it and the ball hits the back of the net!
Learn more about shooting and striking the soccer ball at these pages: shooting skills and how to knuckle the ball.