The thrill of seeing the ball hit the back of the net in soccer is second to none. But before the excitement of a goal, a lot of work and practice goes into kicking the ball properly.
I have taken many shots on goal over the years and want to share with you what I have learned through experience.
So how exactly do you shoot a soccer ball?
To shoot a soccer ball:
- Kick the ball towards your opponent’s goal with the top of your foot.
- Keep your foot at a 45-55° angle as you make contact with the center of the ball.
- Ensure your standing foot is pointing towards your target and follow through with your shot.
In this guide, I’m going to take you through a step-by-step process of the best technique for shooting a soccer ball. I’ll also show you how to do this with maximum power and accuracy.
We’ll also look at some advanced shooting techniques, such as shooting while the ball is in the air and shooting while running.
If you put all these tips into practice, you’ll be far more successful at shooting by the end of this article than you are right now!
Let’s get started.
The 5 Steps of Shooting a Soccer Ball
Shooting a soccer ball effectively requires using the correct technique.
I’ve seen many people put maximum effort in only to see poor results because they were not using the best technique.
Factors to consider range from:
- your posture before and after shooting
- to the distance between you and the ball.
There are 5 key steps to take when shooting in soccer.
To shoot a soccer ball:
- Line up your body for the shot
- Point your standing foot toward your target
- Lock your ankle in position
- Kick the ball with the top of your shoe
- Follow through with your kicking leg
Let’s look at each of these steps in a little more detail.
1. Line Up Your Body for the Shot
Taking an effective shot at goal starts with your body position.
A successful kick results from your legs, arms, torso, and feet working together in harmony. It will take practice and a conscious effort at first, but soon it will become second nature.
Although power through the ball is important, kicking the ball with strength is not all you must keep in mind.
Bending both knees and keeping your opposite arm away from your body gives you balance.
If you are shooting with your right foot, put your left arm out and lean slightly to the left as you kick the ball. If you kick with your left foot, counterbalance with your right arm and lean slightly to the right.
The way your body leans will also affect the shot.
The farther you lean back when you kick the ball, the higher it will go. Conversely, keeping your body upright will produce a mid-height shot or one low to the ground.
Also, remember to bend the knee of your standing leg a little as you strike the ball and not lock it in place. This gives your body the ability to adjust your position at the last moment as necessary.
Lastly, keep your head over the ball as you strike it. This position helps keep your shot low and on target and makes it much harder for the goalie to stop it going into the goal.
Check out the video below to see this position in action.
2. Point Your Standing Foot Toward Your Target
The planter foot is the foot that does not strike the ball when taking a shot.
People often ignore this foot, but it is vital to a great shot.
Aim to point the toes of this foot in the direction you want to send the ball.
Directing the position of this foot towards the target helps line up your entire body for a successful shot.
The distance of this foot from the ball is also significant.
It would be best to aim for your planter foot to be roughly 1 foot (12 inches) from the ball when you strike it. This is about the width of a soccer ball.
This distance from the ball keeps your body nicely lined up for the shot on goal.
3. Lock Your Ankle in Position
Lock your ankle to keep in position and keep your foot stable as it hits the ball. If your foot doesn’t control the ball’s movement, the ball will do the controlling.
A flimsy foot will spin the ball and cause it to have equally flimsy motions.
Just be aware that you don’t want all your muscles to tense up, only those in your ankle. If all your leg muscles bunch up, the motion of your kick can malfunction and alter your shot’s momentum. So relax and keep your leg muscles loose but lock your ankle.
4. Kick the Ball With the Top of Your Foot
The next step is the contact between your foot and the ball.
The most important factor to remember here is which part of your foot you use to strike the ball.
When taking a shot, you should kick a soccer ball with the top of your foot or the laces of your cleats. Using this part of your foot will give you the best chance of achieving maximum power and accuracy.
Although you will occasionally want to use the side of your foot, the top is the better option most of the time.
Always avoid kicking the ball with your toes. It’s far harder to control where the ball goes, and it almost always hurts more!
Concerning the best angle to kick a soccer ball, research shows that for most players, the optimum projection angle should be about 45-55°. Of course, many outside factors influence this but aim for this angle as you strike the ball.
It’s essential to keep your eyes on the ball as you make contact and keep your toes pointed down.
You also need to make sure you keep your head over the ball. As I mentioned earlier, if you lean too far back as you take a shot, you risk the ball rising up over the goal and missing your target entirely.
5. Follow Through on Your Kick
A shot on goal isn’t complete once you have made contact with the ball. The follow-through from your leg is just as important.
Engineers from MIT showed that a good follow-through can help you:
“hit the ball with the maximum amount of force and control at the point of impact.”
With an effective follow-through, you can use your entire body to continue the forward momentum of your shot.
You’ll also generate more power for long kicks with a good follow-through, and It will also help produce more pace and spin on the ball.
After you have made contact with the ball, aim to keep your leg moving toward your target.
If it helps, I recommend getting out on the training field and comparing your kicks with and without a follow-through. You’ll soon appreciate the difference!
Your Mindset Can Make All the Difference
Before moving on to show you some advanced techniques and different ways to shoot in soccer, I want to remind you to keep your confidence up!
You have to believe that your shot will be on target to increase the chance of hitting the target. If you shoot with a mindset of missing, you will miss the shot more often than not.
At first, it may seem as though you will never master this skill, but I promise you that if you keep practicing, you will improve.
You shoot a soccer ball with your whole body, tensing some muscles and relaxing others. Keep your head over the ball, strike it with the laces of your cleats, make sure you follow through with your leg, and you will be shooting effectively in almost no time at all!
Now let’s look at the different parts of the foot you can use to strike a soccer ball.
The Different Parts of the Foot You Can Use to Strike a Soccer Ball
As previously discussed, the best way to shoot a soccer ball is to strike the ball with your laces.
But the fact is, you can use various parts of your foot to strike a soccer ball. The part of your foot will depend on what you want to get from the shot and your position when you take the shot.
You can strike the ball with
- either side of your foot: instep or outstep,
- and even the sole.
Each part has its strengths and weaknesses, and some are better choices than others.
Here is a description of what each part of the foot does and when you may want to use it during a game:
For passing and sometimes shooting, you can use the instep or inside of the foot.
It helps with accuracy, but it has less power. With the larger surface area of this part of your foot, you get better contact with the ball.
It is also effective at moving the ball sideways and for free kicks.
Like the instep, the outside of the foot can move the ball sideways, take free kicks, shots, and pass the ball.
When you strike the ball with the outstep, it may spin and curve in the air.
When using this part, hit the center of the ball with power for maximum effect.
You can use the heel of your foot for short-distance passes and shots close to the goalpost.
Players often use their heels when they want to surprise their opponents or perform tricks.
The Laces (or top of your foot)
This is the part of your foot between your ankle and toe. It is best to use when shooting with power.
The top gives players the most power and control, and many use it for long-distance shots or long-driven passes.
The sole of the foot is essential for trapping, controlling, and, in extremes, shooting a bouncing ball that needs a little push in the correct direction.
While it is bad to toe-punt a ball at the beginning of your soccer training, the toe has its uses.
A “toe poke” is a vital skill for a striker, and it comes into play when a player is stretching for the ball.
The toe is also perfect when you want to chip the ball by poking the bottom of the ball with the toe area of your cleats.
All parts of a player’s foot or leg can legally strike the soccer ball.
Players have even scored goals using the bottom of their cleats!
Whatever you use, ensure that it’s appropriate for your target.
Know which parts of your foot to use each time and become adept at using all parts. Opportunities on the pitch will open up to you as fast as you can hone your skills with both feet.
If you have the resources, I highly recommend getting hold of a Playermaker device that straps around your cleats. This will give you accurate data on how you strike the ball and confidence as you see your technique improve.
Check out my Playermaker Smart Soccer Tracker Review for more information on this device.
Advanced Shooting Techniques in Soccer
Once you have mastered the foundational elements of shooting in soccer, you will want to try some more advanced techniques.
Advanced shooting options include:
- Shooting while the ball is in the air
- Shooting while running with the ball
- Chipping the ball (hit the ball right under the tip of your cleats with no toe action)
- Slicing the ball (striking the ball on the outside of your foot, trailing it away from the ball as you hit it)
- Hooking the ball (kicking the ball on the inside of your foot and turning your foot forward slightly as you strike it)
To really master these, you will need to improve your all-around game.
If you are interested, I have multiple lists of soccer drills you can do that improve your skill level and speed up your trajectory to the advanced level of the game.
Check out one of the lists below.
- Top 10 Soccer Drills for Beginners
- Best Soccer Ball Control and Footwork Drills
- 10 Best Soccer Attacking Drills
Similar to how Rome wasn’t built in a day, you cannot play at an advanced level like Messi on your first try.
Practice with your team and practice on your own time.
I would even recommend recording your private practice sessions to review your techniques and improve
Now get out there and give it a go!