Why do you need to know how to strike the ball with power? You might be thinking – I already know this Jeremie! But the truth is many players rely on the idea that they have leg muscle, velocity, strength & follow-through on their passing & those are enough. However, if you want to strike the ball in such a way that it makes it difficult for a goalie to defend, if you want stronger passes & longer balls to play, then you need to know these 3 ways to strike the ball with power.
Preparing yourself for the game & shooting while fatigued
Before you read on first know that there are so many ways to strike a ball. By strike I mean kick, pass or shoot. Today I want to share with you 3 ways that will help you get more power. For players that are already good at striking the ball properly and in different ways, the above video is a good drill!
In a game, you’re not going to have many opportunities to just get the ball and shoot without having to work for it. In this drill, the purpose is to fatigue the player for approximately 7-10 seconds before they get their shot off. This prepares them both mentally and physically. The hardest part of this drill is by the time you shoot, your muscles are a little tired. Can you keep the focus and keep your form correct? Sidenote: remember, ugly goals count too. Sometimes you’re not going to hit the ball clean and that’s normal.
Does size help you strike the ball with power?
Some of the smallest players I have ever played with could strike the ball harder than bigger players. It’s not all about being big. The key is how you strike the ball with your foot on the correct part of the ball. Then learn how you control your own body to strike through the ball using momentum, muscle and body & leg weight.
For ages 11 and under I see players with perfect form, but low power. This is not an issue at all, so parents and players need to be patient. I see around ages 12-13 players start to see more power.
1. Get both feet off the ground for more power
Think about it: if I strike a ball with only my leg following through, it has my muscle & weight of my leg. But if I strike through and get both feet off the ground then it’s getting my whole body behind the ball which is more weight than just one leg. Do you want to strike the ball like this every time? No, because using this technique can & should only be used at certain moments in training/games. There are so many techniques on how to follow through and if you watch video of pro players you will see how some use different techniques at different moments.
2. Tighten stomach muscles to get more power
This is something that many coaches do not even know, so how are players going to know it? A soccer player’s power comes from the stomach, hips & thigh, so if a player does not contract their core when striking the ball they are only going to get a portion of the power needed. Flex/tighten your stomach muscles as you kick the ball to add power from the extra muscle behind it.
Learning this is one of the best things a soccer player can learn. As they first learn it they start to smile because it all makes total sense. And then when they take their first kick they realize it’s a great moment in their life. It then makes sense to them that the power would not come from the back of the legs, as you perform this task. Some players even ask how to tighten their muscles – which is a great question. The good way to teach a kid this is to ask them “If the ball is coming at their stomach, are you going to relax your muscles or tighten them”? This helps the kids understand HOW they can tighten their stomach muscles.
3. Strike the ball with the correct part of the foot
There are so many parts of the foot to use when passing or shooting. From my many years in teaching soccer to youth and adults – most don’t know them. There are so many things to do with your body mechanics it’s really crazy. When striking with the top of the foot you are hitting it with what we call the laces.
You can connect down the middle of the top of the laces for good power. You can also connect higher up on the laces. If you connect on the lower part of the laces it will be good, but if you try to get in the middle your chance is better. If you try to get on the lower part of the laces you might accidentally connect on top of the toes. Again, most players don’t know this. They just hear from coach to “hit it with the laces” which means it could be anywhere from the very bottom lace to the very top. But you want to know more than that right.
Most players don’t know how to strike the ball with power
Even the top ranked national players in High School & College I train don’t know all the ways to strike the ball with power. Why don’t they know? Because ball striking is so deep and coaches don’t have time to teach all of it. It’s the players / parents responsibility to learn and work on this. Even if a club offers “skills training” through the club, you just can’t get the same knowledge and training you can in a private lesson or small group.
Difference from bending to striking with laces
To strike the ball with power you can use both of these styles. The difference in shooting with the laces compared to bending with the inside of the foot. You want to know how to get both feet off the ground, but to bend a ball you don’t get both feet off the ground. Both styles give you good power, but I am just explaining one example of how deep the teaching is. Bending the ball allows you to get rid of it to the side of you. Laces is when you pass/shoot the ball where you are facing. So one goes the way your hips are showing and the other doesn’t.
Building your muscle memory
The next part to this is that once they know this secret to contracting [tightening] the core as they strike the ball with power. You must now build the muscle memory so that every time you shoot your core tightens. It might take a few weeks or months because it doesn’t all just happen overnight. It’s all about practice – just like most other things in life. To build the memory don’t even worry about kicking the ball.
Depending on the situation depends on how you strike
Okay – so now I bet you want to hear the way to hit the ball with the correct part of the foot. It all depends on the moment in a game. It depends on if the ball is directly in front of you, to the right, left, under you or out in front, if you can use both feet or if you are a player that only uses the strong foot. These are the things I teach you at Global Fútbol Training [& that you can learn in our online courses].
There are even pro players like Argentina stars Messi & Di Maria who are both left footed players. Neither player passes very often with their right [weak] foot, especially Di Maria. Players like this have to be good with their strong foot, so that they can release the ball quick and at different directions.