Soccer (more commonly known as football) is the most popular sport in the world. With over 4 billion fans worldwide, its popularity continues to grow every year. In fact, the number of people watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup is expected to increase one and a half times compared to 2018! With popularity on the rise, it’s only natural that more people are trying their own feet at the game. Start with the basics and learn how to kick a soccer ball safely.
Common Injuries in Soccer
Soccer includes physical contact, stop-and-go movements, and powerful motions. Injuries in soccer are less common than in American football but higher than in basketball and baseball. Overall, soccer has a moderate risk for injury. But this shouldn’t discourage you from playing the game! Here are some of the most common injuries you’ll see among soccer players:
- ACL injuries
- Cruciate ligament injuries
- Meniscus injuries
- Ankle sprains
- Achilles tendonitis
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Groin overextension
- Hamstring strains
- IT band injuries
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
Soccer players can experience injuries because of overuse, sudden impact (with the ground or other players), improper form/technique, or a number of other reasons. Learning how to properly kick a soccer ball will help you prevent injuries caused by improper technique. Before you start, determine your dominant leg. This is the leg that it feels most natural to kick with. Once you know which leg you favor when kicking the ball, you can learn the basic kicks.
Types of Kicks in Soccer
Passing is one of the most basic kicks in soccer. When you pass the ball, make sure you prepare in three ways:
- Have the ball a few feet in front of you. This distance will vary depending on how long your stride is. Over time you’ll develop a distance that feels comfortable.
- Put your stabilizing (non-kicking) foot next to the ball. Point it in the direction you want the ball to go. This will help balance you as you lift your opposite leg to kick.
- Strike the middle of the ball firmly with the inside of your foot. Hitting the middle of the ball will keep it on the ground and make it much easier for your teammate to receive it.
Chipping the ball comes in handy when you want to clear the ball a far distance, score a goal, or in any other situation where you want to get the ball off of the ground.
How to chip the ball:
- The setup is the same as when you want to pass the ball, but how you strike the ball varies slightly.
- Use the side of your shoe up to your laces to chop under the ball. Aim for the lower ⅓ of the ball. You’ll end up leaning back slightly to angle the ball up.
- Have your foot cleanly follow the ball and slightly scrape the field. You’ll then land on your kicking leg.
Shooting the ball is a powerful kick that needs to be precise for scoring. It needs to be forceful enough to avoid the goalkeeper and too strong to be caught.
How to shoot the ball:
- Have the ball a few feet in front of you. Keep the same distance as when passing and chipping.
- Put your non-kicking foot next to the ball. Make sure to point it in the direction you want the ball to go.
- When you move through to kick, point your kicking foot at the ground and strike the ball with your laces. Lock your ankle for maximum power (and to prevent injury). Your laces should meet the middle of the ball. Move your whole body through the motion and land on your shooting foot.
Dribbling is a basic technique used to move the ball up and down the field. You’ll need to dribble constantly throughout the game.
How to dribble:
- Use your laces to dribble the ball instead of an instep stride (using the inside of your feet). This will allow you to run faster and push the ball forward while quickly striding after it.
- Keep your eyes up! This will allow you to scan the field and prepare for when you approach the defenders. This will also help you safely know where you’re going.
- Simplify your moves and attack the space when you attack the defenders. The more pressure you put on the defender, the better the odds are that they mess up during the attack.
- Just because you beat a defender 1v1, that doesn’t mean your job is done. You need to be able to run and dribble fast enough to get away from them. Rapidly accelerate up the field and move towards the goal!
We hope this helps you learn the proper techniques for basic kicks in soccer. If you have experienced an injury and need sports rehabilitation, we’re always open to accepting new patients. Contact ISMI today to learn more about sports rehabilitation!
*Please always consult your physician before beginning any sport or exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.