If you’ve ever played with dominoes as a kid, then you’ve probably set each one up on its end and made a pattern. After completing the setup, you would carefully tap the first domino over until it hit the next one, which hit the next one until all the dominoes had fallen in the pattern you’d arranged. [If you’ve never done this – try it and this will make more sense.] To get a harder shot in soccer you have to spend lots of time setting up all the pieces. Just like dominoes, sometimes you have to start all over because one piece fell and messed it all up. Once everything is matched up it’s a beautiful thing to watch & enjoy.
Growing can affect your kick in soccer
You have probably seen it, where a youth soccer player at a young age can kick the ball really far. Then a season later the same kid can hardly kick the ball 20 yards. This is usually because the body is growing, which causes all the form/ body mechanics to be wrong. This is a time where you start all over in learning to kick good again. Be patient during these times and know that you just have to spend a little extra time on it.
To improve your form doesn’t mean you have to kick the ball. Instead work on getting it right. The video below teaches you to learn form when striking with laces.
When the body grows, body mechanics change. Imagine if the legs grow and inch… Automatically it will feel different when kicking the ball. If your knees are not bent enough then you will end up connecting on the top of the toes, which is where the air pocket is. No matter how strong a player is, if they connect on the air pocket of the shoe there will be less power in the kick.
Having a harder shot in soccer doesn’t come from being strong and big. It comes from striking the ball the right ways. Ages 12 and under have a harder time getting power even when striking correctly. So be patient when younger, it will come. The reason they have a harder time is because they simply haven’t grown into their stronger adolescent body yet. They don’t have the strength they do around age 13+. So yes, strength helps, but most important is learning the right way. I’ve seen some of the smallest high school, college and pro players have the hardest shot, because they put all of these tips together.
3 secrets to a harder shot in soccer
- Contracting your core [tighten stomach muscles] because then you are helping your legs and hips. Your strength in kicking doesn’t come from your hamstrings or calves. Power in your shot comes from your thighs, hips, and stomach. Not keeping your stomach tight when you kick the ball will leave all the hard work up to your thigh which can only do so much.
- Locking your ankle (keeping your muscles and ligaments tight and strong) before, during and after you make contact with the ball. Many players have heard this before, but they still don’t lock it all the way! Here is the secret about #2. As you strike with your laces make sure your toe is down and locked all the way to where even the bottom of your toes are pressing down against the sole of your boot. This will make all the muscles and ligaments stronger to give you more power to shoot or pass.
- Getting both feet off the ground when striking the ball will give you more weight and muscle behind the ball. There are at least 4 ways to get both feet off the ground and one of them is actually landing on your plant foot. It’s not bad to do that, you just want to learn how to also land on your shooting foot. Landing on the shooting foot is great for when you are dribbling towards the goal and you can use your momentum to get more power.
Core strength for maintenance & striking power
Being fit is the first step to this process, followed by hard work and awareness of your body and its mechanics. Can you play without these things? Yes – but having a spirit of excellence will take your game to the next level. Make sure you if you are practicing this a lot, that you also work on strengthening your core at a separate time. In soccer your hips play a big role in getting more power, so if you keep your core strong you get extra protection to your hips and quad.
Ways to get your core strong is simply putting in the work. You don’t need a gym membership. You remember the classic movie ‘Rocky’? He fights the Russian boxer who had all the high tech equipment. While Rocky was training old school with no machines, just body weight and anything that he could use to get stronger. So do some sit-ups, planks and side planks. Even doing this once a week will help. Remember, a stronger core will give you a harder shot in soccer. So get to work:)
Locking your ankle to get more power
Locking your ankle is something that is very important. Whether it be kicking with the top or inside of the foot, locking your ankle [keeping the joint, muscles and ligaments tight] is key. Sometimes I have to literally go and hold the players foot, so they know what I mean. Usually it’s when a player is trying to use the top [laces] of the foot. When striking with the laces, the players toes need to be pointed down.
Something I just started telling the players is to double lock the ankle. Meaning you can have it unlocked or you can tighten it/lock it, but then there is where you can really tighten ALL the Muscles and Ligaments in your foot. When you do this, you’ll have a harder shot in soccer.
I use my hand to show them how to “double lock”. I show them my hand being flimsy and then I lock my wrist and muscles. Then I flex my hand as hard as I can to show them how the muscles tighten up even more. Players love getting this teaching because they’ve never been taught these secrets.
How to teach locking the ankle
Once I get a players form right, I will hold their foot pointed down [if teaching how to strike with laces] and tell them not to let me lift their foot/toes up. If I can easily do this, this means they are not locking it. I call this ‘fish out of water’ because the foot is floppy like a fish out of water. After I tell them it’s not locked and to now let me lift their foot up, they know to tighten [lock the ankle].
Once they can do this we start striking. Even though they now know how to lock it, doesn’t mean it will right away. Sometimes this muscle memory can take a year, and I can’t explain why it takes longer for some. It’s something that needs to be reminded and the player needs to have that thought to lock their ankle before every pass or shot.
Both feet off the ground for a harder shot in soccer
Getting both feet off the ground when you shoot or pass long is something that will give you more power because of the added body weight. Landing on your foot is something you for sure want to know, teach, learn! But it’s not the only way to get both feet off the ground. You can also land on your plant foot at times. Landing on your plant foot would be when you are in a tighter stationary situation or off balance.
As coaches, we have to be careful how we teach in terms of what we say. Some coaches tell players you have to get both feet off the ground and land on your shooting foot. That’s not true. You don’t have to do that; but you want to know how. This way when you are in different situations you are able to get a shot off with some extra power.
Different ways to get both feet off the ground
Landing on the shooting foot while dribbling forward with pace is one way. Some players will dribble forward and then as they shoot, they just stop. With the momentum coming forward, you want to know how to get both feet off the ground in a situation like this. Landing on your shooting foot, but not landing far away from the ball, just enough to get both feet off the ground for that extra power. This one is like the video above.
Landing on your plant foot is needed for times when you are off balance or more stationary. Some videos and coaches will say “you have to land on your shooting foot”. This is not true. You want to know how to do both. Either way remember, getting both feet of the ground helps give you a harder shot in soccer. The reason is because you are getting all your body weight behind the ball, not just one leg.
Reasons getting both feet off gives more power
Why does getting both feet off the ground give you a harder shot in soccer? Because it’s getting all of your body weight behind the ball, instead of just your one leg. With the muscle strength combined with all of your body weight, you are able to get more power on your shot or pass. There are times when you could be stuck in a tight space. Example: A defender trying to clear a ball while off balance, could use this technique just to give a little extra power on the clear [kick].
After reading this don’t think every time you kick that you need to get both feet off the ground. There are times when you shouldn’t get both feet off the ground. As you play more and practice these things you will figure this out. The key is that you practice and teach your muscle memory, so then when the time comes you will know how.
13 pieces you need for kicking with the laces in soccer
- Both knees need to be bent to allow your feet to point & form the correct ways.
- Bending the plant leg allows you to bend and maneuver your other foot and leg.
- Plant [non kicking] foot needs to point to the target.
- Kicking foot does not point to the target which is one of the big problems people have. Instead it’s your plant foot that points to the target.
- Keep your stomach muscles tight [contracted] to gain extra muscle power for your soccer kick.
- Keep your hips at the target after you strike the soccer ball.
- Keep your chest pointed to the target after you strike.
- Land on your shooting [kicking] foot. Most select & rec players only know to follow through with leg, instead of getting both feet off the ground.
- Before starting your approach start on your toes not your heals. Gives you momentum.
- Your last 2 steps make them faster to generate more speed and power behind the soccer ball.
- Shooting foot needs to connect on top of the foot not the inside, since we are trying to hit with laces.
- You can connect right down the middle of the foot or higher up & a bit to the inside, but still laces.
- To connect higher up on the laces, try bending your other leg. This allows you to maneuver the feet.
Make sure your ball control is on point too
It usually goes like this. Players are either good at shooting and not so good at dribbling or they can control the ball and not kick properly. If you are the type of player that will spend time developing your craft solo than get my personal online ball control courses.
There are different courses depending on your skill needs. Unless you’re already advanced in skill, get The Basics. Master that and then get The Advanced to make your first touch out of the air clean as well as on the ground. The Magic will make you love soccer even more, but it’s not for everyone. It’s very different from what you have seen before and will make you smoother and more comfortable with the ball. It’s not teaching you how to do silly moves, it’s teaching you methods and making you super coordinated with ball at and around your feet.