- Can I go through the wall with a hard shot? – I do not think so; it is too wide and I can barely see the net
- Can I go over the wall and dip it in? – I doubt I can get it over the wall and under the ball with enough pace to beat the keeper
- I need to get around the wall somehow, or at least make the wall break – my best bet might be to place it low in the corner.
More often than not, positioning a shot rather than hitting it with power will yield higher results. Simply put, when you are close: place it – do not smash it.
There is a time and place for everything. When taking free-kicks, some positions and distances suggest you go with a powerful shot; some positions and distances allow you to go for a curving whip over or around the wall; and some compel you to go for a side-foot free kick. Click here to see a Eufa training video of the side-foot free-kick. One of the best side-foot shots is that of Steven Gerard of Liverpool FC of the English Premier League. He is well known as one of the best players in the world – a hard working player with an absolute howitzer for a shot. What is often forgotten about him is that he as a very intelligent player capable of placing the ball anywhere in the net with extreme accuracy. This has been demonstrated in many of his meticulously placed free kicks and shots over the years. As shown in the video above, he uses his side-foot to perfection when he needs to.
A side-foot free kick is the same motion you would use in an inside foot pass, but more power is added. The reason you use a side-foot free kick is because you are just outside the box, or inside with an indirect free kick, and trying to curve it over the wall and get it under the bar with enough pace to beat the goalie might not be feasible. Trying to even go around the wall might not be realistic because there is not enough distance for the ball to make the necessary curve.
When setting up just outside the box, or inside the box, ideally you want someone to stand on the ball while someone else sets up to take the shot. Some scenarios might force you to have someone on the ball because it is an indirect free kick and it requires a touch before the ball can enter the net. The reason you want someone on the ball is to push the ball off to the side creating an angle around the wall. Even if you are not creating an angle around the wall, you force the wall to break creating an abundance of holes and gaps to shoot through.
When winding up to hit the ball, anticipate the ball being pushed off to the side. When you are about to strike the ball, do not use a big swing and do not think you have to smash the ball – pick a corner and pass it into that corner with a little more pace than a pass. In the process, understand all the factors involved. Understand where the goalie is positioned and aim at an open corner. Know also where your wall is. Trying to go across your body and across the wall into the opposite corner poses many obstacles. If you are right footed and positioned to the right side of the net, have someone push it to the right and aim for the bottom right corner. The reason this makes most sense is because when a goalie sets up, he does not set up in the middle of the net. The reason a goalie creates a wall is to protect one side of the net while he protects the other side. So pushing it to the outside of the wall then shooting low right makes the goalie travel a long distance trying to stop a well placed ball.
As when on a break-away, some circumstances just suggest that positioning your shot rather than hitting it with power is not only smarter, but proven more successful.
How do you take your free-kicks?