Learning how to lock your ankle is one of the most important things you need to know. Whether you are learning to pass or shoot the ball, locking the ankle is a must. Not only will it help give you more power, but also will protect you from hurting your ankle/foot. Players must remind themselves because the muscle memory has a mind of it’s own. It takes time to be consistent. Coaches and parents need to help remind the players, but don’t be a nag about it. Be patient and know this is a process. We want to remind the kids, but also teach and encourage them by letting them know it takes time.
How to teach locking the ankle
Tighten (flex) the ligaments and muscles in your ankle and foot. Same as if you were to make a fist with your hand… You wouldn’t just keep the muscles and joint loose and weak. It’s the same with your foot and ankle. Sometimes the best thing to do is for the coach to literally hold the players foot. The player then needs to keep their foot strong/stiff and not let the coach move the toes up or down.
- When kicking with the inside of the foot you want to lock your toes up.
- Kicking with the top/laces you want to lock your foot/toes down.
Repetition is key when passing and shooting
When practicing high repetition it’s important to know that you might not strike the ball clean and that’s okay. Whether you’re training on your own, kicking the ball against a wall or training with a trainer or friend, do the same thing over and over. There should be a thought behind each kick. In this case, it’s to lock your ankle.
To get more power read this post ‘3 secrets to a harder shot’.
First practice shooting a ball that’s not moving (dead ball). Then after 20 reps or so start to shoot a (moving ball).
This process can take months for many players. Don’t compare yourself to others who are doing well at this. Your time will come, just stay focused and keep working hard.
Remind yourself to lock your ankle
Every pass must have a thought. When learning how to pass and shoot, players need to remind themselves to lock your ankle. Like I said above, this process can take months. The more you practice the faster it will come, but REMIND yourself to lock your ankle!
How to lock your ankle keeping the toes down
Press your toes all the way down. Some players say they try to press the bottom of their toes to the sole of the shoe/boot. To test this, have a parent or coach try to move the players toes up. The player needs to flex the ankle joint and foot – keeping the toes pointed down.
2 things you need to know:
- How to get both feet off the ground and land on your kicking foot. This will give you more power because you’ll have all your body weight behind the ball. This is needed especially when you are running or dribbling forward to shoot or pass.
- Strike through the ball with laces without getting both feet off the ground. This is used more when you receive the ball in a stationary position. You won’t have the momentum to always get both feet off the ground and that’s okay. You need to know both of these ways.
Lock your ankle pulling your toes up
Bring your toes all the way up and tighten your ankle joint and muscles in the foot. This doesn’t mean to kick the ball harder, it just means to make your ligaments and muscles stronger.
Test this by having someone try and move the foot/toes down. The player needs to strengthen the foot/ankle – trying to keep the toes pointed up.
You can then practice by passing the ball against a wall like this short video.