4 Ideas For Scoring More Goals From Direct Free Kicks
The drama and excitement that comes from your team being awarded a free kick outside or near the 18-yard box is one of the most tense and anticipated moments in football.
The kick-taker asks for 10 yards from where the ball is spotted, while the goalkeeper shouts orders to his or her defenders, yelling at them to mark, or which direction the wall should move, while the kicker breathes deep and begins to analyze the delivery of the ball.
Here are four ideas for scoring more goals from direct free kicks.
1. Put the Time In On The Training Ground
There are so many different concepts, techniques, and abilities to work on and develop as a player, that it's often the case that setting aside time to work on free kicks during practice never happens.
If your team only practices twice a week for 1.5-2 hours a session, that leaves very little time to try and develop this part of your team's game, but if you don't build the time in to a session, don't expect to see great results on match day. It is important to focus energies on this aspect of team play. You've got to work on the basics, like getting the ball up and over the wall, or developing a shared understanding of what areas service will be provided to. Then, of course, there are the more intricate routines of deception and trickery that your team might want to try and explore.
The bottom line is you've got to put in the time if you want to see results, there a lots of things to work on, some more important than free kicks, but don't expect story book moments from just outside the D if you don't log the hours in training.
2. Paint the Picture
It is of the utmost importance that as the kick-taker you visualize how and where you want to deliver the ball.
Paint the picture in your mind of what's going to happen before you strike the ball: are you going to bend in a driven ball to the penalty spot that is glanced home off the head of your teammate, or will you swerve the ball over the wall, past the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper and into the upper-corner of the net.
See it unfold in your mind before you step up and strike the ball, manifest the emotions of what it will fell like to achieve the perfect delivery, to set up a teammate, or score a vital goal, visualize it to make it a reality.
3. Script Out Kick-Takers & Routines
Knowing who your kick-takers are ahead of time for the various scenarios of a set piece is critical, there should be designated players that take direct free kicks from angles best suited for a right foot, and conversely, for left footers, there should also be clear strategy on which defenders get forward, which stay home to cover in transition, etc., and as a team, understanding what the script is for restarts is very important.
Additionally, if you are going to attempt a free kick routine, make sure that the players who are going to try and pull it off have practiced together before, and understand what each individual's role is in the theater of your free kick that is about to unfold.
Don't allow your routine to have unbridled improvisation by one actor, make sure you're all on the same page in order to be successful.
4. Develop the Arrive First, Leave Last Mentality
At a lot of clubs or high schools, a good time to practice your free kicks is actually right when your allotted practice time has ended. Borrow a bag of balls from your coach, stick around after practice has ended and start hitting free kicks at different angles, with different speeds, and with different parts of your foot.
Put in the extra time to become a boss at taking your team's free kicks. Like anything, good ball striking comes from consistent, focused practice, so it might mean arriving to practice early to get a few strikes in, or staying late to cultivate that perfect free kick.
Becoming a dead ball specialist is an option for all players, it just requires dedication and determination. Whatever you put in is what you will get out of it.