Freekicks: the Ronaldo Rocket
Christiano Ronaldo has been ordained as one of the best free kick takers of all time. His unique approach to striking the ball during a free-kick has left goalies baffled and players envious. There are 3 simple tips that, if practiced continuously, can be the catalyst for your shot to become a rocket. Here are the tips that no one else is willing to share.
Before we talk about the tips, understand that there are 3 big misconceptions when players and coaches attempt to learn/teach the Ronaldo Rocket. Read these carefully and understand that they are FALSE:
1) You must come to the ball at an angle;
2) You must hit the ball as hard as you can; and
3) You must swing your entire leg to generate force;
These are misconceptions. Let’s begin, then, by concentrating on the events leading up to the free kick.
Prior to taking the free kick, you must set the ball, and yourself, up correctly. When placing the ball down, make sure to have the valve pointed directly at you. The valve is the strongest and the heaviest part of the ball. When the ball is hit this way, the weight of the valve will help propel the ball forward.
Instead of teeing the ball up on a high grass, try to push the ball down just enough to create somewhat of a divot in the ground – I use divot with caution. The important thing is to create a little lip in the ground so that when struck, the ball will catch the lip in the ground and eventually cause a dipping effect as a result of forward spin. This is the dipping effect that you see so many goalies struggle with.
Once you have set the ball down, you should take 4-5 steps (depending on personal preference) back from the ball. Now, consider our first misconception: you must come at the ball at an angle. Instead, line your body up straight on to where you would like the ball to go. At first, this is an uncomfortable position as soccer players tend to naturally come onto the ball at an angle as a result of both the physics of striking a ball as well as our body build. As you stand 4-5 steps away from the ball, it is absolutely crucial that you envision the ball going exactly where you want it to go and how. This too takes practice and, once mastered, can help self-confidence and even the quality of a shot.
Before you begin taking steps towards the ball, lock your eyes in on the valve of the ball. This is very important as this is where you should be making contact with your foot. Once you have set the ball up and envisioned where you would like it to go and locked your eyes onto the valve, begin taking small consistent steps forward. A big mistake is that players run at a ball with a lot of pace and take large steps. Large and fast steps decrease accuracy and make it harder to hit the ball correctly. So, begin your trip towards the ball with small steps and make sure to lean forward the entire time. Leaning forward before, during and after the wind-up will force you to keep the shot from taking off over the net.
As you are about to hit the ball, make sure your supporting foot lands directly beside the ball or even slightly ahead of the ball. If your foot lands behind the ball, it is almost certain the ball will take off on you and climb over the net. Now we come face-to-face with our last two misconceptions: hit the ball as hard as you can and wind up with your entire leg – wrong! As you plant your support foot, take a very small wind up with your shooting foot and sling your foot forward from the knee down with considerable pace. The important thing is to practice this motion of not winding up with your entire foot, but rather winding up slightly, but then putting emphasis on the descent of your leg from your knee down. A great way to practice this is by lifting your knee into the air, holding your knee and just kicking forward from your knee down.
As you wind up and are about to strike the ball, make sure to point your toe as far down as possible. You want to make create the effect that your leg is straight from your knee to your toe. When striking the ball, swing up and through the valve of the ball. Your follow through should be very short just like your wind up.
As you follow through, slightly swing your foot into your body and make sure to land on your shooting foot. Landing on your shooting foot generates more force to help increase pace on the ball.
Do not be deterred to go and try these steps. Once you begin to practice this shot, you will realize the steps are not as complicated as they may seem. Never start practicing this shot with full pace hoping for immediate results. Practice the different steps and processes outlined here over and over, and you are sure to have a rocket like Ronaldo.
How do you take your free kicks?