Soccer kids love to shoot and score goals...
The soccer kick is the basic shot that young players must learn to be successful when striking the soccer ball on goal; also known as the instep drive or striking the ball with the laces or hitting the soccer ball with the sweet spot.
Youngsters tend to want to kick with the toe and not the laces because the toe gets instant results at the younger ages. The toe can be used in certain situations, but we want to focus on teaching the proper technique to the kids and worry about the nuances of which shots to use and when later.
The player who can strike the soccer ball with the laces compared to a player using the toe has much more control, accuracy and power.
As players are introduced to the proper kicking technique it so important that the players play under pressure and learn to finish in small sided games. Coaches can do all the shooting exercises without pressure, but the kids need small sided games to really learn how to finish.
Here we go!
The dreaded toe kick: How do we as coaches get the players out of the habit of using the "big toe" use a proper soccer shot?
You have to look at the age group you are coaching and decide how to go about the task.
If you as a coach are working with younger players U6 and under - breaking down technique could bore the kids to tears, so quick demos and fun games like "Clear your field" are the order of the day.
The key element in getting your players to hit a good soccer shot...
The older kids can play games like flag game or striker - goalkeeper game...
Getting youngsters into the right habits early is a real bonus as this will carry the players through as they learn to finish under pressure or even just want to learn how to use the soccer kick.
The approach is the tricky part!
Getting the steps right so the players...
How do we get the kids to get their approach right?
I have the kids line up in front of the soccer ball and take 4-5 steps back and one off to the side.
This way the player can line up and get their plant foot right and their hips and body into the shot.
Coaching point: The players have to get their stride right - I like to get the kids to get the smaller steps out of the way and transition into their stride so they are not taking a lot of small steps right before they shoot.
Coaching point: An easy way to get the kids to get the stride right is to have them take a few steps back and walk up and plant the foot - just to get the feel for the approach.
I will have the kids repeat this 10-20 times so they get the approach to the soccer kick down.
The plant foot is one of the most important aspects because if the player does not get the plant foot next to the soccer ball the player will end up leaning backward, swinging with the leg and the toe will come up.
Where should the plant foot land?
The plant foot should land next to the soccer ball but not right next to the soccer ball - a foot away - so there is a small space.
The body should be over the soccer ball so the player looks down and the ball is below them and they are shooting with the whole body.
Coaching point: I always tell the kids there is a big eye on your chest, and that eye should look straight down and see the soccer ball once they have planted the foot
I also tell them I would rather the plant foot be a little ahead
of the soccer ball than behind the ball...this way the player shoots
with the whole body. This is where the the "POWER" comes from...
Now the player locks the ankle and pulls the leg back and shoots...
Once the player has the toe down, and is not poking the soccer ball with the toe, the player then has to work on keeping the toe down and ankle locked so the toe does not pop up in the middle of the soccer kick.
A soccer kick with the toe up will cause the ball to spin and lose power this is the hardest part of teaching the soccer kick.
The habit of keeping the ankle locked is all about muscle memory and the kids tend to raise the toe until the habit is instilled...
What exercises can the coach use to help the kids to lock the ankle and keep the toe down?
I use instep work or juggling to get the kids to understand the how to keep the ankle locked, where the sweet spot is on the foot and learning how to identify when the soccer shot is hit well and not hit well - too much spin!
Once the players have struck the soccer ball the coach now has to watch and see if the player lands on the shooting foot.
A lot of players will not follow through and stop after they shoot, so they don't get the whole body into the shot or they will over extend and step out to far with the plant foot.
This will throw the player off balance and they can't get the soccer kick off...
When the player gets the whole body into the shot this should take the player past the place of the shot and land on the shooting foot.
Here are a few soccer kicks that the players will learn while hitting a soccer ball...
These are examples of different shots that kids will have to learn to shoot...