In previous articles I have discussed how difficult it is to make the transition from the soccer toe kick to striking the ball with the laces or the sweet spot. Without a visual demonstration it is a hard process to teach.
What I want to address today is the confusion of just what we mean by the “laces”.
Every soccer player in the world started out kicking a soccer ball with his or her toe; this is our natural striking point. Curing the “bad soccer kick” takes a step by step process.
What do I mean by the “laces”? When people talk about the laces they really are referring to two different kinds of kicks. Keep in mind that these kicks are completely different.
- The first is the angle/sweet spot kick. The sweet spot is located just above the big toe. It is the largest bone in your foot and can deliver a FIRM striking point. To kick the soccer ball with the sweet spot, our foot must approach the ball at a slight angle. To help visualize this, consider that your toe/foot is approaching the ball at the 4 o’clock position. This means that as your foot passes through the soccer ball it will be pointed slightly outward and down. This kick is easiest to perform if we are approaching the soccer ball from a slight angle.
The “angle kick” or sweet spot kick is probably the most often used kick in soccer. When a player is near mid-field and wants to feed in a high ball to a striker or forward, he or she uses an angle/sweet spot kick. It is almost always used on corner kicks.
- Next is the straight kick. Stand upright and place your foot on the ground in front of you. Then hold a soccer ball over your foot. Let it fall and watch where it strikes your foot. It will hit the very top of your foot. This is where you strike the ball with a straight kick.
You strike the soccer ball with the laces in full, not just a part of them. The laces travel directly towards your target and the foot is not tilted or angled in any way. During the straight kick the leg travels straight back and straight forward. It does not come from behind you or wrap around you in the front after the kick.
- A straight volley kick is also performed using a straight kick, striking with the laces/top of your foot. It is by far the LEAST TAUGHT but most essential kick for any advancing player. It allows for shots to taken in full stride without hesitation and allows a ball that is traveling straight towards you to be kicked quickly and low.
Standing with the ball next to your plant foot, draw back your kicking foot with your toe pointed to the ground.Your foot should go straight back. Allow your leg to bend at the knee, but do not allow your toe position to change. This will cause your toe to "point to the sky" when it reaches the fully back position. Now allow your leg to swing forward maintaining the bend in your knee and the toe down position.
An important aspect of either kick is to maintain a slight “V” angle in your leg through the entire shot and into the follow through.
Do this SLOWLY, over and over.
When working on these two kicks it is important to remember we are trying to achieve a complete “reprogramming” of muscle memory and not a light exposure. This means the proper form must be done slowly and over and over.
Next you should learn to dribble a soccer ball.