The excitement for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is building up, and if you’re a big fan, you’ll know the feeling. And if you play the game, you know all too well the elation of seeing the ball fly off your laces and smashing into the back of the net, followed by the heroic applause as your team mates cheer you on. However those moments are often few and far between for amateur players. To become a top goal scorer like the greats playing this World Cup, you’ll need to develop the various techniques required to seize each opportunity; this requires plenty of practice, patience and determination.
Scoring a goal in football can be achieved in a variety of ways but the vast majority happens within a very select area. So your main focus of play should be driving attacks and play-making to gain territory. The box is where the magic happens. Common goal-scoring opportunities usually come off the back of a corner or set piece play resulting in the ball being curled in from a distance.
Here are some tips and insights into how you can improve your game the next time you play the striker.
The Snap Header
This is one of the more difficult ways to head the ball as this requires you to purposefully change the trajectory of the ball to beat the keeper.
Judge the ball’s trajectory and get yourself square to where it will arrive at the goal.
Either standing or jumping, bend at the waist and thrust your upper body towards the ball.
Now for the tricky part ¬— as the ball strikes your forehead, turn your head to face the goal. Remember to attack the ball rather than letting it hit you. Keep your eyes open to avoid taking a hit to the face.
Strike the ball above the midpoint to give your shot a downward trajectory. This will give your shoot more chance of going over or straight into the keeper’s hands.
The Diving Header
This is all about precision timing. Too early and you miss. Too late — you also miss.
As mentioned, the key to this is pinpoint precision but if you’re lucky enough, then project yourself forward as if you were diving into a pool.
If the goal is to your right then use the right side of your head, or switch sides if it’s on the left.
If you want the ball to go low then use your forehead. Use the top of your head if you want it to go high.
Remember to cushion your landing.
Practice makes perfect, so start off practising headers with a friend or teammate, throwing the ball in from the side lines, increasing the tempo as you progress.
This shot is particularly useful when you’re in a one-on-one situation and the keeper has come off of the goal line to become a last line of defence. This is a shot that Lionel Messi has mastered in his personal book of trickery.
You’ll need to get under the ball with your strike to slow the ball’s momentum down first.
After that, approach the ball and plant your non-shooting foot level with the ball.
Strike the underneath of the ball getting the tops of your toes to make contact.
Don’t follow through; keep the shot to more of a stubbing motion.
Often coming from a sloppy clearance or rebound from the opposing team, a volley is a shot of great power that requires the point of contact to be perfectly placed in the middle.
Focus on the ball’s trajectory as it comes towards you.
As you ground your non-shooting foot, have it pointing towards the goal.
Your striking leg needs to be able to move in a straight line to generate enough power as with a normal shoot position.
Turn your body as you strike the ball to face towards the goal and follow through.
Practice over and over again!
The Banana Free-Kick
A style made famous by Ronaldo during the Brazil vs France friendly in 1997 and perfected by England’s David Beckham, this kick is intended to evade through spin and curl, changing its trajectory mid-flight.
The line-up is all about focusing on where you want to put the ball. Note the keeper’s position and where the defenders have created a wall. Find the gap you want to exploit.
Finding your distance and angle of approach is all about personal preference; the best free-kickers have little in the way of similarities so find what works best for you.
The part of the foot that you use will determine the level of spin or curve. The protruding knuckle of your big toe will create more curve as it wraps around the ball. Your arch develops spin by rolling over the ball.
Developing a combination of both will help you curl it around or spin it over a defensive line.
Get yourself kitted out in all the latest football gear and check out the new Home and Away kits of your favourite World Cup teams from Sun & Sand Sports. Hit the pitch in style before you show off your new-found skills.