The very youngest of us throw toys and toddlers soon kick balls. Kicking a football is a natural thing and provides justification for the joy found in physical exercise.
From the basic urge by youngsters to kick a ball the game of Football has developed into a worldwide industry now dependent on the highest level of skills needed to promote dynamic competitions to attract every class of spectators.
This series of articles is intended to make basic technique available to those whose circumstances prevent them from going to a recognized football academy. It is hoped by highlighting the technique of football for these newcomers to the game they too will become proficient at an earlier age to avoid later mistakes.
The football is usually struck by the top part of the foot to propel it to a specific point in space. Note the word �point.’ The ball should not be kicked vaguely in the general direction of the target but kicked to a specific point in space where the next player will be best placed to proceed further.
Ball kickers are either right or left footed. This refers to the foot they prefer to use when kicking a football. Some players kick equally well with either foot.
A football can be either still or moving when kicked. A still ball is a �dead ball.’ A moving ball can be moving in any direction or at any speed when kicked. A moving ball may be coming towards the kicker or moving away while it is actually being kicked.
A right-footed player may be on either the left or right side of the playing field [pitch] still or moving and be passing to a player who is either moving or stationary and who will also be either a left or right-footed player. A left-footed player will be faced by a similar set of opposite or handed variables.
A ball kicked with the right foot by a right footed player is likely to be more accurate and have greater power than if on the left hand side of the pitch. A right footed player on the left side of the pitch will be forced to move round behind the ball more to the left to bring his right foot into full use to make the pass. This takes time.
A player who is targeted for a pass may be still or either moving away or coming forward in relation to the kicker.
A dead-ball is always on the pitch when struck. A moving ball may be a low pass in contact with the pitch along the whole length of its moving path. A moving ball may be bouncing low or skimming the pitch or at any body height between pitch and head or above head to a considerable height.
The speed of a moving ball may be passive – losing momentum or be traveling at great velocity rising or falling.
The kicker creates each of these variables and the ball has to be dealt with successfully by the receiving player before becoming the next kicker.
A player will approach a dead ball to take a free kick awarded by the referee. The kicker’s angle of approach to the ball will depend on where the spot is in relation to the centerline of the pitch how far it is away from the goalmouth and the disposition of all the other players on the pitch.
The kicker will have to take into account the power and direction of wind and the angle of sunlight. There may be poor visibility from mist fog rain snow season of the year or time of day. The pitch may be bone hard when dry damp following rain or muddy after heavy use. The turf may be frozen slippery covered with ice or swept snow.
The ball must be kicked to arrive low or head high or high but dipping late or on a bending curve. A free kicker born to the game may not even appear to take these factors into account yet somehow will always place the ball exactly in the right spot for the next player to make his best move. An experienced player will calculate the effect of these variables also automatically but not with the same degree of style confidence or artistry displayed by the top hundred or so players in the game. The run-of-mill player may take more trouble but be more likely to hesitate allowing the importance of the kick to play into his fears causing the free kick to be wasted. Plus a kicker may be fit off form or recovering from injury and perhaps not fully match fit.
It is usual to place the support non-kicking foot immediately to the side of the ball next to the nearer face of the ball while the kicking foot swings down and through on the other front quarter face of the ball. The kicking foot toe should point to the target destination point achieve both direction and speed.
The ball can be hit by the underside toe of the boot – that is chipped – lofted by kicking with the top of the boot curved round the underside of the ball or hit at a point above the ball’s center of gravity line to put top spin on it and so keep it low.
The most accurate way to kick a ball is along the ground because the ball then moves in only a plane and has only two variables. A targeted kicked ball must be accurate in both direction speed and height. By kicking along the ground the height variable is eliminated and only the direction and speed have to be accurate.
This ground pass has the advantage of being the shortest distance between kicker and receiver. This means the pass arrives quicker at its destination. If the pass is short the time allowed for the opposition to intercept it is almost eliminated who have to adopt close marking to break up possession. If there are sufficient players in unmarked positions available to receive short passes ball possession will be difficult to break up by the opposition. In addition the defense will be forced into constant running especially in the attack area in front of goal. Players who can rest momentarily between each kick receive fewer injuries and always have time and energy in reserve to see where every player is on the field. Such possession inspires confidence in the team and may even result in spectator ridicule directed at the defense.
In dead ball situations these matters are not important but they become relevant after the kick is made. Goal scoring free kick right or left foot specialists from wherever outside the penalty area use the foot they prefer.