At LeftFoot Coaching Academy, striking a ball from a variety of positions and angles has been a constant study and science to deliver some of the best servers of the ball in the state. Not a day goes by without the request for some “BallStriking”.
Here are eight simple steps to fix your strike, the problem is that you need constant discipline and attention to detail to adequately fix everything!
Rotation of the internal adductors begins the movement. Most soccer players have weak hip rotation to approach the ball, which is needed to generate power to decelerate and accelerate through the strike. Make sure you get low or “get load to explode.” Get load to explode,” is a coaching que to athletes to start their approach active and loaded through the strike –body in an “athletic stance.” The knees slightly bent and taught to accelerate into what we call a “flight hold.”
Driving your weight down through your deceleration phase and adding a “hop” is the most common “bad habit” approach to strike demonstrated from most athletes trying to strike a ball. This hop distracts the motion and rotation necessary to drive your striking hip through the ball. Jumping into the ball is the first bad habit to break in order to get more control and power through any of your strikes.
Upper Body Control.
Control of your shoulders and “opening and expanding” the torso is critical to the contraction of the strike. When you either get your arms too active (big awkward circles) or not involved at all you throw off your balancing forces. The upper body is critical to the control of the shot to be straight and on target. To transfer power through the ball we need to contract and direct the forces of the body to counteract the rapid acceleration and “thrust” of the hips, glutes and quadriceps.
Once we accelerate or are in action of the ball we need to drive our movement into the ground. We need to stop, stick and drive through the action of the strike. Deceleration and stabilization of the upper body, hips and plant foot is critical to generate power. Often times the biggest mistake is right here when an athlete lands toe first.
Aligned Aiming Sequence.
Most athletes target the ball in backwards progressions through the striking process, whereby the hips hook the shot when the eyes and head guide the targeting system. When a player looks at the target after the plant foot decelerates the hips will follow the head (Feet, Hips, Eyes/Head). When this happens the ball sails or rockets skyward or sometimes hooks left. We can’t see our strike until after we release the decelerating leg, if that occurs at all.
The backswing of the striking leg is critical to power, acceleration and drive. Just like golf, we need a backswing through our strike, however if we drive through the “load to explode” phase of the approach we only have to “toe the curls.” — which is funny way of saying “curl your toes,” a common phrase uttered at LeftFoot. I like asking my athlete, “when did you tell your foot you were going to hit a ball?”
Swinging Through the Strike.
Sprinters and runners like talking about “short leg swings.” When we swing the long leg through the ball we can’t accelerate the joints through the ball to deliver a forceful shot. Keeping all the muscles active through the striking motion of the leg is fundamental to retracting the contact point. Only so much surface area wants to be in action during the strike. If we swing through, we’ll keep too much contact through the ball, thus slowing the flight of the ball and creating too much spin, height, loft or friction.
Release the Decelerating Leg.
We like to point out the end result of a good strike, ” like a frog leg.” This action of the body allows the hips to torque through the ball and release pent up kinetic energy. Standing on the “plant foot” can lead to injuries and over stretching of the hamstrings if your player is a leg swinger. “Let go, Luke.” is my Star Wars quote for the leg swinger.
So if this is what not to do…what should we do?
Well.. I could tell you or I could show you…
Follow our Founder, Christian in some creative moments on the field with several Lefties on the pitch and see “what” we’re talking about.