How to strike a soccer ball (in real play)
Scenario: So you’re in an intense 11 v 11 grid iron battle and it’s more than likely the field of play is bumpy, patchy and overall everything that the fields you see on TV lack. Yes my friends this is your typical Sunday league style pitch. Contrary to an indoor style game, the ball isn’t pleasantly bouncing at your feet waiting for you to smash it. Instead, the patchy uneven field makes judging the projection of the ball somewhat unpredictable.
The end result? Either you forcefully go for an ugly shot in an awkward and somewhat form lacking manner or you decide to try to control the ball and create another option. Opportunity wasted…Or were you just not ready?
Does it have to be like this?
I say no. There is a way to learn how to strike the ball during real-time game play and a large part of it is understanding the field you’re playing on as well understanding your own abilities. In this article we’ll discuss how you can effectively strike the soccer ball without ever feeling unsettled when the moment arises.
If you’re not pro (which I’d assume anyone reading this isn’t) then take good notes and apply this knowledge to your everyday game. Until you make it to the pros where the fields are absolutely perfect it’s beneficial to master the unpredictable (i.e. the ball). Besides, most if not all of the pros you watch every Saturday and Sunday had to develop their game on similar fields at some point. So try not to use excuses like…
“The field we played on wasn’t good, that’s why you’re better than me.” ( You sound very weak bro/ bro-ette)
1. Anticipation skills
Now is a better time than ever to work on your anticipation skills. In soccer, anticipation is everything. It’s the difference between kicking the ball through your opponent’s legs and them scissor tackling you to win the ball. Always and I mean always expect the unexpected. That means even if you’re 50 yards from your teammate or opponent, expect the ball to come to your feet and know exactly what you’ll do with it.
When I was in university, our coach told us that we need to always be 3 moves ahead or we wouldn’t hack it. This concept is applicable to striking the ball as well. If you’re not aware just yet then you’ll need to train yourself to instinctively anticipate how the ball is coming to you and how you will deal with it.
Unfortunately and fortunately, this skill is only acquired over time. Doesn’t happen overnight, but you can train yourself. Experience is everything and with that you will learn from your mistakes and can adapt and perfect your reaction abilities. The more games (whether practice or competitive) will help you better to understand how you can work with the shitty field you’re playing on.
2. Naturalize your shooting form
You must naturalize your shooting form. Again, this does not mean shooting the ball at stand still. That’s fine and dandy but at the end of the day how often will you get to effortlessly strike the ball with no defender contention?
Probably never. At least if you plan to play at the level I hope you’re striving for. Whether it’s Sunday league or a ODP or club it’s good to have a firm grasp on this concept.
Have a friend poorly pass you the ball and try to strike the ball on goal. They can throw the ball to you, but them giving you a bad pass is best for this practice. If you can consistently strike a bad pass then imagine what you could do with a good one.
If none of your friends play soccer then the second best thing to do is to kick the ball from a distant position then run onto the ball and strike it. In fact, this might actually be just as good if not better than someone helping. Why? Well, you’ll be forced to constantly move and mimic real life game situations (albeit minus the defenders rushing you like you got free gold on your shirt). In a real game you’re constantly running and 9/10 when the ball comes to your feet you’ll be on the move. This goes back to the anticipation phase. Get ready to smash the ball!
3. Should you smash it with Laces or accurately side foot it?
This may sound entirely subjective based on the type of player you are, but is important to consider. The bigger question is what are you more comfortable with? Some people prefer the spray and pray approach with power while others aim to slot the ball in their intended destination.
If you’re like me then you’ll pick and choose which is more necessary. If you’re directly positioned in front of goal 25 yards out then it’s more suitable to put your foot through the ball. Compared to if you’re on the corner of the 16 yard box and at a 45 degree angle on goal it may be worth it to try and place the ball in the far corner. But don’t take my word for it. It’s best to decide what works best for you. I’m also a bit biased as well as I feel an accurately placed shot is a much nicer goal than any rocket shot. At the end of the day you should decide how you want to strike the ball depending on where you’re situated on the field.