Goalkeeper Kicking

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Something that strikes us is that many young people often struggle to develop good kicks.  It seems that many goalkeepers think that, as a goalkeeper, they only need to be able to stop balls. However, as we have said many times, in modern football it is very important that you, as a goalkeeper, can also get the ball to your team-mate properly.

So if you cannot kick the ball far or accurately from the ground, it is time to change that!

Mentality

If you believe you will make a bad kick, you will make a bad kick. You have to visualise pure contact with the ball and imagine that the ball reaches a ‘credible’ distance for your age and skill. Do not imagine that you will kick the ball as far as Courtois or Ter Stegen, because then you will only get discouraged. Halfway is a good start. If you have only just started playing football or practising far kicking, then don’t want to kick too far. Be happy when you reach the circle of the 16-metre area from the 5-metre line It seems obvious but it is not at all as a youngster!

Believe that you can do it and ignore the cries of your team mates and coaches who keep calling out to kick further and further. In the beginning, it’s all about the right technique and not about kicking the ball away with enormous force so that it doesn’t arrive where you wanted it to. Field players often have the misconception that a goal kick is easy. Look at how difficult some of them have it when taking free kicks from long range in their own half.

As a goalkeeper, your mentality is very important, not only to ensure that your kicks are far and precise, but also to be able to deal with all the stress elements. If you still have questions about how to improve this, please read our previous blog posts on how to strengthen your mental resilience.

Placement of the ball

Poor pitches are common, especially at amateur level, so you need to find the flattest part of the 5-metre box, even if it means kicking out or taking the ball from behind the line to make sure you have a decent place to place it (a few centimetres does not affect the total distance at all!).

If you are playing on an artificial grass pitch, you are fine and do not even have to worry about where to place your ball. Do not forget that your supporting foot also needs to be placed somewhere where it has enough grip, because it is just as important as the foot with which you are going to kick the ball

Walking towards the ball

Whatever you do, do not make a huge run-up The only thing to remember is that the most important step in the goal kick is the last one, it has to be a decent pass to create a good backswing Just look at how some pros do it, some even take one step back when taking a free kick on the edge of the box. You do not need to take a huge run-up. All it will do is ruin your technique.

Some goalkeepers have a fixed ritual when putting the ball down, they take a large step ‘straight’ backwards. Mark this point mentally or with a studded line, then take a few smaller steps back. Then take a large side step to the left or right, depending on which foot you are going to kick out with Some people prefer two steps to the side. You should practise and judge which one gives you the best approach and contact with the ball Start your run-up slowly, with your eyes on the ball Do not sprint Do not look up Approach your last step (studded line) gently, with your head pointing slightly towards where you want to kick the ball (Don’t worry the ball will still go high, another misconception that causes lack of power is to have your head back) Once you have reached the stud line or mental mark make one last big step, as smoothly as you can, aiming for your supporting foot to land about a ball width to the side of the ball, not right next to it

Position the supporting foot and the foot with which you are going to kick out

Ok, so when you take your final step, you should make sure that your non-kicking foot is about a ball’s width away from the ball and is either level with it or slightly backwards, depending on the angle and slope of the pitch Try to have the toes of your non-kicking foot pointing to where you want the ball to be when you put it down Your backswing (the swinging through of your leg with which you are going to kick the ball) will be natural due to the longer final step, so try not to think about it

Now a very important point when you are swinging to kick is to fix the ankle of the kicking foot It should be quite flat, as if your toes were pointing to the ground. This is not easy, so you have to practise. In reality, your foot will be very slightly tilted, like a corrugated iron, but mentally you have to imagine that it is flat, otherwise you will not block it. If you make contact with the inner or outer part of your foot, you won’t get any power and the ball will curl or slide somewhere. You should aim (I am right-handed, so the other way round if you are left-handed) a little to the left of the middle of the ball, just below the centre line if you imagine that the ball is cut in two from left to right, like the earth’s equator. People will tell you that you have to get under the ball to hit it at its lowest point.

In reality, this is impossible if you want a good kick, because when you hit under the ball you scoop it up, giving you height but little power. What they really mean is aim slightly below the centre of the ball. If your approach angle is right, along with blocking the ankle correctly and the follow-through, the ball will go high and long and fairly straight. Just look at all those distance shots that fly over the bar. It is harder to keep the ball low than to keep it high if you hit it well with a full hip swing.

Contact

With the ankle locked and your eyes very slightly to the left of centre, aim to hit the ball with your instep. I would say the higher on the foot the better, because many people hit the ball too low, causing the toes to make contact instead of the instep in the foot. This results in a loss of strength and sore toes. It is also a common cause of people trying to get under the ball and just bumping it with their toes.

If you concentrate on the right approach and contact, the swing will lead you to the right follow through. Do not take your eyes off the ball until it is gone. You would be surprised how often people look up at the point of contact. If you do this, you will not hit the ball correctly Keep your eyes on the point of contact Do not look up

Keep going

This will virtually dictate itself if your technique for the kick is correct The kicking leg swings naturally over the body and you should lean back a little at the point of contact, but not too much I have heard it said that you should keep your kicking foot low when the ball is hit. This is a very advanced technique Personally, we think that if your contact with the ball is good, it does not really matter if your traversing foot goes higher, because the force of the contact with the ball has already left your body

What I do want to say is that you should make sure you swing your kicking ‘hip’ through the kick. Instead of concentrating on putting your foot through, concentrate on making the right contact with your foot and putting the weight of your hip through. The power comes from the hip, not the foot. Many people don’t get distance because they try to kick the ball with the force from the knee. In reality, the swing comes from the hip, so you have to mentally push through with your hip to make sure your full weight is hitting the ball, concentrating on the power from the hip can add 10 metres once you’ve mastered it.

KICKING OUT PRACTISING PRACTISING AND PRACTISING AGAIN

Ok we know there are 6 steps, but in reality none of the above will matter if you don’t go out and practise this technique over and over again, it will be difficult at first and maybe even annoying, but eventually it will become a habit and you will start performing the correct technique without thinking. Look at it as a simple calculation 1+1. We used to have to think about that too, but since we have to apply it so much we can just say the outcome right away.

The best way to practise contact is not to practise kicking the ball out all the time, but to have someone play the ball along the ground towards you from a short distance, take one touch to control the ball and then kick the ball away with your second touch. You will learn which angle of approach works best for you and whether you need a long or short follow-through to kick the ball far but accurately. Do not forget to pay attention to the size of your last step.  It should be comfortable but still big enough to make this swing go in one smooth motion. Once you have made some decent kicks, go to the six-metre line and do it with a stationary ball, like in a match. Keep alternating these exercises.

Don’t be too impatient and be prepared that it will take some time to master. If you are tired of it, go and do something else, but keep practising regularly and you will see that it only gets better and better.

Remember, kicking out is not as easy as everyone thinks, but kicking from the ground can make or break a goalkeeper in the modern game, so it pays to master this part of your game!

If you have any tips to share with our readers, feel free to comment below!

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