When it comes to how to kick a ball (passing / shooting) it’s important to know that there are several ways. Whether the players are 7 years old or in high school the majority are only familiar with 1 or 2 ways. Below you’ll learn the 4 best ways to pass and shoot, plus a few other techniques every serious player needs to know. Every position, from defenders to forwards will benefit from these. Just remember to be patient with progression. It sometimes takes years to get all of these down consistently.
The push pass is used most when kicking a soccer ball
By far the style you’ll use most is the inside of the foot push pass (toes up).
This should be the number 1 way to teach novice players.
Advanced youths up to pro players use this passing technique the most too.
One of the best ways to improve at this is to pass the ball against a wall from 2-5 yards away. You can also do it from 10 yards, but the closer you are the more reps you get. So I like for players to get literally 2-3 yards from the wall.
When I do in-person 1:1 lessons this is something we do every session. The only difference is I am the one passing with the player instead of the wall.
The difference from the wall and myself is the player gets better service from me. If they give me a bad pass I can still give them a good pass back. If they give the wall a bad pass, they won’t get a good ball coming back at them.
In the long run, a wall is better because they get used to having to adjust and their bad passes are exposed.
Scroll down to the bottom and watch the video giving you wall passing ideas.
Top of the laces/foot
Very few players can do this naturally.
Watch me work with University of Texas Longhorns star Sydney Nobles on striking with the laces in this article ‘The proper way to kick a soccer ball’.
There’s a youth soccer coach who brings his daughters to train with me that always says “there are few players who are blessed with kicking a ball with the laces.”
It’s just not easy, therefore takes time to learn and practice.
Mechanically (form wise) there are several important pieces that come with kicking a soccer ball with the top of the laces.
- Toes down from start to finish when striking the ball
- Right foot players need to have the left arm out when planting
- Plant foot, hips and shoulders need to face the target when planting and following through
- Knees are both bent before and while striking, until your kicking leg follows all the way through
- Knee shouldn’t be in or out when contacting the ball
- Toes should not be facing in or at the target. For a right footed player, kicking toes should be facing almost 2 o’clock if kicking at 12 o’clock.
- Angle your foot so that the top of the foot connects with the ball, Not the inside of the foot.
- Plant about 6 – 12 inches from the ball and next to the ball – not behind or in front.
Bending with the inside of the foot
Bending the ball is an advanced skill that most kids never learn.
It’s not that hard to get down, once you learn the key steps.
As you strike through the ball, bring your toes up.
Using the inside of the bunion (joint that connects the big toe and foot) area of the foot slightly edge the outside of the ball to create spin.
Don’t worry about power until you learn to edge the ball to get the bend.
From my experience teaching every age from young players ages 7-8 up to college players and even some pros, this is easier than top of the laces.
Of course there are a few players who are natural at kicking with the top of the foot. These are the players that struggle more to learn bending, because they’re so used to laces.
The people that have a hard time using the laces are most likely going to be better at bending.
I believe players need to be introduced to this by ages 7-8, but not expected to be great at it yet.
Kids are smart and they deserve the opportunity to know early on. This way the ones who want to practice can.
Then by age 10-11 players can work with a trainer or on their own to actually put more focus into these techniques.
On game day use what you’re most comfortable with.
At home on your own practice your weaknesses, so that you’ll have more weapons to use in the future.
Inside of the laces
Using the inside of the laces (toes down) is very common for pro players or advanced youths. It’s not something coaches teach. Most players who try to kick with the top of foot, end up kicking the soccer ball with the inside of the laces on accident.
The good thing about using the inside of the laces is you can get power and kick it where you’re not facing. This makes it hard for your opponent (keeper or defenders) to know where the balls going to go.
Practice tips on how to kick a ball
By far the best way for players who know how to pass/shoot properly is using a wall to kick against. There are so many things you can do when using a wall. Below is a short homemade video with 7 passing and receiving drills using walls.
In addition get more ideas on this separate article I published called passing and shooting drills using a wall click here.
Kicking a soccer ball properly is not easy
Patience and mindset are vital when it comes to playing any sport.
Even the pros struggle with confidence and consistency. Think about how a novice youth feels. Especially on game day when so many parents and coaches are yelling. Not only yelling, but saying the wrong things. This is confusing and discouraging to players.
Soccer in my opinion is harder than any sport.
I grew up playing America football, soccer and basketball and enjoy watching and playing the other sports too.
It’s easy to catch a ball with your hands, compared to controlling a ball with your feet.
With this said, players, coaches and parents need to be patient and understand player development is a process.
Few players can kick a ball naturally
After playing soccer my whole life, teaching thousands of kids all ages and watching my own kids play, I can say that 19/20 kids can’t kick the ball naturally.
Every player is different obviously and many get frustrated or discouraged when something is tough.
It’s important to know that this is normal and okay to think like this.
More important is to know that you have to practice and put in the time. If it were easy, everyone would be striking the ball like a pro. You can do this!
Repetition and correction are the keys to improving
Repetition is most important only as long as it’s being done correctly.
When teaching kids in my private lessons and small groups, striking is one of the main things I cover.
Even when the players know what to do, they still struggle to execute.
The athletes needs to be told if they are doing it right or wrong.
You can kick a soccer ball a thousand times, but if it’s the wrong way and you don’t know it there’s a problem.
Recap of the 4 best ways to kick a ball
Kicking with the laces is very different from using the inside of the foot.
There are 3 different ways to use the inside of the foot alone.
- Bending in (toes go from down to up as you strike the ball)
- Push pass (toes up)
- Inside of the laces (toes down)
Then top of foot/laces (toes down) – watch short video below to see all 4 ways, 2 of each.
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