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“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” – Roy Keane

Pick any particular game on TV or online and you’re going to witness at least one form of volley: A full volley, a half volley, a side volley, or the rare but unparalleled flying volley. Most times they’ll fail. But no matter what the outcome, it’s the risk involved that usually gets the fans behind the player who’s willing to attempt such a difficult maneuver.

Take retired Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane. Over ZiZou’s illustrious career (excluding the headbutt in the 2006 World Cup), he’s wowed audiences with his scoring prowess and his willingness to take the big risk using the volley as one of his scoring tools.

The volley, whatever it’s form, is a technique dependent hugely on timing, accuracy, and pure confidence. If you manage to master it, you will have an advantage over any defender.

First, there are two ways to approach any volley:

  • In line of the flight of the ball (coming straight at you)
  • Across the line of flight of the ball (incredibly more difficult and alternatively more exciting)


A full volley is when a player kicks the ball out of the air BEFORE it hits the ground for the purposes of a quick pass or shot on goal. The variations of the Full Volley are too numerous to cover in detail here but all will be touched upon briefly.

  1. Inside the foot (in line) – More controlled due to the larger striking surface. Non-kicking foot facing the target.
  2. Inside the foot (across the line) – Open up and face the ball as it comes to you to be in the best position to receive.
  3. Instep or Laces (in line) – More power but if it is slightly off center of the ball, accuracy will be lost.
  4. Instep or Laces (across the line) – One of the most spectacular and exciting volleys to witness. Turn your back to the goal with your pivot foot nearest your target. Pivot and strike with the other foot while never taking your eyes off the ball.
  5. Outside the foot (in line) – Great for redirecting and scoring if you can’t get in position for the other two versions.


Consider the half volley a full volley but with training wheels.

A half volley occurs when a player makes contact with the ball AFTER it hits the ground and plays it off the bounce. They tend to happen after bouncing the ball, corners, free kicks, forward passes, and rebounds off goal attempts. The advantage to a half volley is that the ball travels much faster and lower towards its intended target.

The variations of a half volley are similar to the full volleys except that most tend to be in line of the flight of the ball due to the necessity of the ball to bounce off the ground first.


If volleys had a shifty cousin, it would be the side volley because of its pure unexpected nature when they occur. A player always looks out of position to aim for a target but the trick is to aim with your front shoulder.

A side volley can be done either as a full volley or half volley. The main difference is the positioning of the ball as it approaches the player. If the ball is below the waist either still in the air or off the bounce, this finesse move is essential to your repertoire.

  • Plant your non-kicking leg as your pivot foot and have it hold your entire weight.
  • The kicking leg should be parallel to the ground and bent at the knee.
  • As you pivot through, your front shoulder should be aimed at the target.
  • Strike the top of the ball (to keep it low) with your instep.
  • Follow through for maximum power.


Only the most advanced players ever consistently pull off this volley. These are the kinds that litter any highlight reel and tend to be used as fodder as the climax of some Hollywood soccer movie (such as a bicycle kick).

A player not only needs great timing, accuracy, and finesse but they also require amazing acrobatic ability to time the jump. It is crucial to be aware of where you are at all times otherwise you may land awkwardly resulting in a season (or career) ending injury) or, worse still, seriously hurt an opposing player. Because of these dangers, a flying volley should never be attempted in close quarters with any other player.

To learn more watch Zidane at his best

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