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Free Kicks: How to Shoot a Knuckleball in Soccer
How to shoot a knuckleball in soccer and shoot like Ronaldo
We’ve all watched Cristiano Ronaldo fire his trademark free kick rockets into the back of the net, leaving soccer fanatics all over the world scraping their jaws off the floor, not to mention the poor goalie. He and other free kick specialists generate these powerful and unpredictable shots using a technique known as the knuckle shot or instep drive. This method of striking a football is especially potent in long range free kick scenarios.
Here’s how you do it:
- The Run-Up: Place your foot underneath the ball where you will strike it later. Take six steps back and one and a half or two to the left. Make sure you’re not approaching the ball from too much of an angle as it will cause you to miss the right spot (area shown on picture one).
- Standing Foot Placement: Try to place it as close as you comfortably can, slightly behind and to the side of the ball.
- The Strike: Hit the ball as hard as you can with your foot perpendicular to the ground. Make sure you make contact with the laces and inside part of your foot (as shown on picture two). To force the ball over the defensive wall and make it dip back down you will need to create topspin. This is achieved by lifting your striking foot upward when the ball is compressed upon impact.
- The Follow-through: Slightly lift your standing foot off the ground and rapidly swing your shooting leg to the left while leaning forward. This results in a short follow-through and therefore a more powerful shot.
- Practice is King: The knuckle shot is easily one of the most difficult shots to pull off and you will need to put in a lot of hours on the pitch to master it.
Are you left footed?
Run up to the ball from the right, follow the rest of the instructions and swing your kicking leg to the right after the strike.
Things to consider when practicing
Due to the powerful and erratic nature of the shot, it is very difficult to control and if you're looking to use this technique in a live match make sure you have practiced it to perfection. To save time from retrieving the ball after every attempt I would suggest buying a few more balls or shooting against a wall.
When you first start practicing this free kick technique it is also recommended to use less power on your attempts and then increment in force as you get better at it. This will not only help improve your skill, but will also help prevent ankle injury.