Free kicks are among the most attractive parts of playing soccer. It is one aspect of the game where the taker of the kick is pitted (in most cases) directly against the opposition game, in a duel of skills, presence of mind and of course, wits.
There have been a number of great free kick takers that the game has seen. From George Best’s tumbling and dying kicks that keeper would only be left to watch haplessly to Ronaldo’s scorchers that prompt TV cameras to go blind, and from Roberto Carlos’ toe-curling banana kicks to Pirlo’s flabbergasting GPS-precise corner crashers, the history of free kicks in pro football is as rich and impressive as any.
All young footballers do want to get into the action and be master of set plays. These 5 tips, rounded up below, won’t make you a free kick sensation, but they will definitely help you get onto that road to a certain goal that just might win your side a crucial game!
#1 Gauging the distance
The most important part of taking a successful free kick is to be able to gauge the distance from the kicking spot to the goal-line. Many often get it wrong and either over-hit the ball into unsuspecting spectators or under-hit it to allow the wall a chance of interception.
If you gauge the distance well, you will be in a position to know exactly how much power you need to put behind your kick. A great drill for this would be practice at least 50 kicks a day from hot-spots – various points on a progressively widening semi-circle just outside the penalty area.
#2 Getting the timing right
Power or precision are not the only ways to deceive the opposition. You can easily get them fooled by timing your kick to perfection. And in this context, getting your timing right is just equal to getting the opposition’s timing wrong. For example, you can cross the wall by changing your run-up suddenly and messing with their jump timing.
#3 NOT giving your plans away
At pro level, all the players are skilled enough to block an average free kick. So, you need to rise above the average if you want to have any shot at scoring a goal off a free kick.
That’s why, you need to have solid plans in place. If the opposition knows your tricks beforehand, they are just going to have it all too easy. So, to master the art of free kicks, you need to come up with newer ideas and adding newer spots to your armoury. You may be a great top corner free kicker, but it’s just a matter of time before everyone knows that they only have to protect the top corners.
NOTE- DON’T TRY TOO HARD, YOU JUST MIGHT END UP MESSING IT ALL FOR YOUR TEAM. Need a proof? Just check the video embedded above!
#4 Quick reflexes
Free kicks do not always go straight to the keeper or out of the field. They, more often than not, deflect off the wall or from the hands of the keeper. In such a case, you need to be quick to react and gain the possession back. As the ball gets deflected and opponents rearrange their own, there’s one split moment where the goalpost is extremely vulnerable.
That means, even when you are not the one taking the free kick, you will still have a remote chance of scoring!
#5 Combining well
A part of deceiving opposition also means that you combine with your team-mate to get a classic one-two act together. A long run-up followed by jumping of the wall in vain as you pass the ball gently to your teammate who’s in a better position to aim at the net can yield exceptional results. This, however, needs to be practised a lot before being executed in game situations!