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How to Teach Kids the Perfect Soccer Kick

In 2009, about 88,000 American children between five and 14 received treatment in emergency rooms for soccer-related injuries. People see soccer as safe because it’s a non-contact sport, but when that ball makes unwelcome contact with your child’s head or toe, the sport doesn’t seem so safe anymore. Thankfully, coaches and parents can teach kids to kick properly and thus prevent toe-kick injuries.

According to the Center for Foot Care, toe-kicking can cause bruising, impact injuries like nail trauma, growth-plate injury, and strained muscles. With all these daunting symptoms in mind, how can you help your child kick the ball properly? If you learn to kick by pointing your toe down, making a proper approach, locking your ankle, and following through, you’ll be able to teach your young soccer player the same techniques.

Technique One: Point the Toe Down

Kids have a tendency to kick with their toes, not the laces; the toe gets instant results at a younger age. But it’s vital to teach kids early on to kick with their laces. Not only does this technique prevent injuries, but it also helps kids aim more accurately.

How to Do It

It’s simple, but it’s worth repeating: when you kick, point your toe down and touch the ball with the top part of your foot.

How to Teach It

Consistency is key. Remind kids over and over again to kick with their laces.

A fun way to teach proper kicking is this lying-down exercise:

  1. Have the player lie on his side, kicking leg on top.
  2. Place the ball in front of the player’s foot and tell him to point his toe.
  3. Have him kick the ball with his laces.
  4. Then have him repeat steps one through three while standing.

Technique Two: Approach the Ball and Plant the Non-kicking Foot

This part is tricky, but to properly implement a shoelace kick and keep up with a fast-paced game, the approach is essential.

How to Do It

Take around four steps back from the ball and one step to the side: to the left side if you’re kicking with your right foot and to the right side if you’re kicking with your left foot. This allows you to get your planted foot right and your hips and body into the shot. Take short, quick steps as you approach the ball so you can adjust quickly if you need to. Plant your non-kicking foot several inches to the side of the ball. If you don’t plant your foot next to the soccer ball, you’ll end up leaning backward while swinging your leg, bringing your toe right up.

How to Teach It

Tell kids to look down at the ball as soon as they’ve planted their foot. This will keep their body over the ball, allowing them to use their whole body for the kick.

Technique Three: Lock the Ankle

Keeping the ankle locked increases power, speed, and distance. If the ankle unlocks, the toe points up during the kick, causing the ball to spin and lose power.

How to Do It

Point your toe as you approach the ball, and as you follow through with the kick, keep the foot in the pointed position by locking the ankle.

How to Teach It

This technique is all about muscle memory. So, practice, practice, practice! Instep work or juggling exercises work well to train players’ ankles to be in the right position. Have players sit on the ground with their knees raised and their feet out slightly. They then drop the ball on their instep, kick it back up, and catch it. This exercise helps you diagnose what may be going wrong. If the ball comes over the player’s head, her toe is coming up. If the ball bounces away from her, the ankle was pointing too far down or sideways, or the ball was hitting the toe. If the ball goes straight back up, the player has found a good place position for the ankle.

Technique Four: Follow Through

Follow through involves the whole body in the kick and should cause the player to land ahead of where he kicked and onto the kicking foot.

How to Do It

Keep an eye on the ball and kick your foot towards your target. Don’t look up until after you have landed on your kicking foot.

How to Teach It

Follow through may sound like an afterthought, but emphasize to players that follow through is critical to every part of the kick. Have kids place the ball on a line so that they can check themselves for follow through. If they’ve done it properly, their kicking foot should end up in front of the line.

Not only do kids need coaching, they need to see great examples as well. As you demonstrate proper kicking by pointing your toe down, making a proper approach, locking your ankle, and following through, you’ll be better able to teach young players how to do the same. Not only will you prevent injuries, but you and your players will be kicking with the power that makes soccer so thrilling.

Lying down exercise copyright


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