Now and then, the ball needs a little help finding the back of the net. It’s a penalty! Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo or Andrea Pirlo take the ball to just in front of the penalty area, and the stadium goes wild. A quick glance, a short run-up — and the ball flies in just below the crossbar.
What the world class free-kick experts make look so easy, requires many years of hard training. Whether you are a professional or an amateur: with a solid shot under your belt, the outcome of a match in is your hands. We have investigated how you can refine your shooting technique. Discover what the ideal run-up looks like, how to make the ball curl and how to shoot like an unstoppable cannon.
1. Instep kick
The classic shooting technique. Whether it's in mid-run or from a resting stance: the instep kick promises spectacular goals! One of the most famous virtuosos of this technique was Roberto Carlos, the now-retired defender, who played on the Brazilian national team.
The principle behind it is simple: the ball must be struck with the entire upper side of the foot, which should remain flexed to prevent any rogue shots from flying upwards or to the side. You should run up to the ball square on, or slightly from the side, depending on where the goal is positioned. With the instep kick, experienced shooters can achieve shooting speeds of over 100 km/h. But, heads up: as force increases, the accuracy of the shot can suffer. With practice, even you can become notorious for your instep kick!
2. Shooting with the inside of the foot
Perfect this technique, and become a dangerous free-kick pro. To practice, you should watch the footwork of players like Andrea Pirlo and Messi. In most cases, a small run-up is enough. Unlike the instep kick, the aim is to manoeuvre the ball into the goal with plenty of feeling. The ball is struck by the inside of the foot, preferably slightly below the toes.
A clever technique makes all the difference. A smooth run-up is just as important as the trajectory of the foot. Following through places more force behind the ball. If you stop just after making contact with the ball, you will lift the ball towards the goal — which can be extra effective across shorter distances. Remember: have a go, experiment and practice.
3. Special techniques
On YouTube you will discover reams of videos featuring clips by specialists who have homed in on the perfect shot in closer detail, as well as the classic techniques. For example, the "freekickerz" channel has analysed individual football stars and shows you step-by-step how you can imitate their shooting styles.
Whether it’s with "topspin", curve balls or trick shots: with enough practice and motivation, you can refine your shooting technique so that you too can become menace on the pitch, whose shooting technique strikes fear into defenders and goalkeepers.