IFAB Laws of the Game, Law 13 clearly states that there are two types of free kicks namely direct and indirect free kicks. Every soccer player knows that a free kick presents a goalscoring opportunity, especially if the free kick is awarded close to the opponent’s 18-yard box.
- Referees will award a free kick when a foul is committed outside the 18-yard box
- In indirect free kicks, the taker cannot score a goal unless the ball bounces off another teammate
- Players get their chance at goal when a direct free kick is awarded
- During a direct free kick, the taker has the option of either driving the shot with power in an attempt to score or lobbing it to a teammate in the box
- Bending is an important technique for playing direct free kicks
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Roberto Carlos, Frank Lampard, and a long list of other soccer players have scored beautiful goals with long-range free kicks. To prove that it is not a fluke, some of these players have scored goals from free kicks several times such that their team turns to them to work their magic once they get a free kick close to the opponent’s penalty area.
Even when free kicks don’t lead to goals directly, they can be used to create goalscoring opportunities—especially if the kick is far away from the opponent’s goal area.
In those instances, the free kick taker will most likely loop the ball into the 18-yard box with the anticipation that a teammate will either head the ball into the opponent’s goal or finish off any loose ball.
While anyone can take a free kick in soccer, teams usually have their favorite free kick and penalty takers. Every team has three preferred freekick and penalty takers ranked as 1, 2, and 3.
While this arrangement helps to avoid confusion and chaos when a team wins a free kick, it also forces the chosen free kick takers to work harder to improve their skills.
If you are reading this, it is likely because you want to be that player that your team will look up to when they win a free kick. We are going to give you all the steps involved in taking free kicks that will end in soccer’s record books.
How to take a free kick in soccer?
Referees usually use free kicks to restart a match after a foul has been committed outside the penalty box. Indirect free kicks are awarded for minor offenses while direct free kicks are awarded for more serious offenses.
In an indirect free kick, another teammate must make contact with the ball with any part of their body that is allowed in the game for a goal to count. For a direct free kick, the taker is allowed to fire the ball straight into the opponent’s goal. The goal will stand whether it makes contact with anyone else or not.
In a fixture where the teams are evenly matched, a genius free kick taker can be the difference between the score line of both teams. The strategy you will use for taking your free kick will differ depending on the type of free kick.
It is easy to tell if a referee has awarded an indirect free kick by looking at their arm. For an indirect free kick, the referee will raise an arm above his or her head and keep it that way until the ball goes out of play, touch another player, or it is obvious a goal cannot be scored.
How to take an indirect free kick?
Indirect free kicks present nearly the same goalscoring opportunity as direct free kicks. Since any goal scored through an indirect free kick that doesn’t come into contact with another teammate will be choked off by the referee, driving powerful shots is not a good technique for indirect free kicks.
The best techniques for indirect free kicks will always require the assistance of a teammate. We will highlight all of the options you have below.
Once the whistle goes for the free kick, the referee will always point to where the ball must be kept. In some cases, the referee will run towards the point where the foul was committed and use a foam spray to mark where the ball must be kept.
Method 1: Split stance
Soccer teams usually use the split stance technique to convert an indirect free kick to what will seem like a direct free kick. If you have been a soccer fan for over 12 months, you must have seen this more than once.
In this technique, two kickers will stand behind the ball with about a meter between the players.
The first taker (false taker) rolls the ball to the second taker (main taker) who will drive a powerful shot and try to beat the goalkeeper.
Since one player already rolled the ball to another, if the second player scores a goal from the shot, the goal will stand since the rule for an indirect free kick that says another teammate must come in contact with the ball has been satisfied.
In a split stance, the taker can opt to pass the ball to a third player that has a better line of shots. This technique is also often used in direct free kicks.
The beauty of a split stance is that the opponent will be unsure of which player will strike the ball. This makes it easier to catch the opponent off-guard.
Method 2: Over-the-wall lob
If the indirect free kick is awarded close to the opponent’s goal, there is a high likelihood that the opponent will form a wall to try to shield the kicker from their goal.
Soccer players know that players forming a wall will usually jump when the ball is played. In the past, the kicker often drove a low shot that will pass under the wall when they jump.
Teams are getting smarter with how they form walls. Lately, a player will lie down behind the wall so that a low shot will simply hit their back and bounce off.
Instead of a low shot, a chip above the wall can create the opportunity for a teammate to step in and slot the ball into the opponent’s goal. This is particularly effective if the opposing team is too focused on the wall that they leave their back open.
Watch the position of the wall and your teammate.
Lob the ball over the wall in such a way that it falls closer to where your teammates are positioned.
This technique will often lead to a chaotic scene within the 18-yard box where players from both teams will struggle for the right to play the ball.
Method 3: Give an aerial pass
Aerial pass is an important strategy for playing indirect free kicks. In this case, the kicker tries to find a teammate within the opponent’s 18-yard box with an aerial pass.
The kicker stands behind the ball and surveys the 18-yard box to see the position of the target recipient
The kicker lobs the ball into the 18-yard box in the direction of the teammate who will either head the ball into the opponent’s net or attempt a bicycle kick to further make it harder for the goalkeeper to catch the ball.
This technique will be more effective if your team has tall strikers or fast defenders that are not afraid to come forward and make attempts to score goals.
Method 4: Give a low pass
Instead of the aerial pass, the team can also use a low pass when playing indirect free kicks to attempt to catch the opponent off guard.
The taker stands behind the ball and positions like he or she wants to lob the ball into the 18-yard box
The taker gives a low long pass to another teammate that is running into the 18-yard box through the wings.
The winger takes the ball and attempts a shot at the goal.
Method 5: Give a short pass
Indirect free kicks will not always lead to a goalscoring opportunity. For example, when the indirect free kick was awarded in your half and there is no goalscoring urgency (like when the game is still tied), it may be unwise to try and push for a goal.
In such a situation, the most reasonable thing to do would be to take a short pass to a teammate that is close by and try to build from the back all the way to the opponent’s goal.
How to take a direct free kick?
A direct free kick is when soccer players have the opportunity to show off their shooting prowess. To take better direct free kicks, you need to work towards having a stronger kick.
Also, you need to know when to kick the ball with the laces and when to use the inside of your foot. While power is important for a direct free kick, you also need to perfect your placement to achieve the desired result.
All the aforementioned tips for indirect free kicks will also work for a direct free kick. However, the tips we will list below can only be used for a direct free kick because the aim is to score a goal with little or no contact.
There are five important steps you must follow when playing a direct free kick to score a goal. The steps are as follows;
1. Ball placement
As you already know, the surface of the pitch is usually not as smooth as it looks when viewed through a television screen. It usually has elevations and depressions.
When placing the ball, make sure it is flat on a flat surface rather than resting on the grass or in a depression. If the ball is in a depression, you will find it hard to make the right connection.
On the other hand, if the ball is resting on the grass you are more likely to kick it over. You can rub the ball on the ground to flatten the grass and create a neutral position.
Right after placing the ball, the next step is to pick a position where you want to place the ball. Most goalkeepers will position on the other side of the wall in the hope that the wall should stop any ball from going through the side of the post they covered.
When the goalkeeper is not centrally positioned, you have the option of bending the ball over the wall. On the other hand, if you want to aim towards the direction of the goalkeeper, it has to be towards the top corner which will make it more difficult for the goalie to keep it out.
Like every other power shot, you need to generate enough power to kick the ball. This power comes from your run-up.
Most players will usually take six steps backward after placing the ball to give them enough space to build momentum for the shot. Also, when you want to bend the ball, the run-up should be 45 degrees from the ball rather than straight.
4. Connection with the ball
The place you make a connection with the ball is crucial because it will determine the trajectory of the ball. Make sure you hit the ball with the ball of your foot or your instep.
Also, the best place to connect with the ball is the middle or slightly below the middle. If you go too high, the ball will not elevate and will hit the wall. On the other hand, if you go too low you can tip the ball over the crossbar.
5. Follow through
Follow through allows you to generate enough power to give the ball the trajectory that you want. So, the movement of your striking foot doesn’t stop upon impact with the ball. It should move forward with the ball.
Once you have perfected these five steps, you will easily become your team’s favorite free kick taker.
Method 1: Bend the ball
When a team is about to take a direct free kick, the opponent team will usually form a four or five-man wall to try and stop the ball from going into the net. One of the ways a free kick taker can use to get the ball around the wall is by bending the ball.
To succeed with bending the ball, you need to have exceptional ball control. The steps below will guide you on how to bend the ball.
Place the ball on the point of the foul and step back from the ball. Allow a gap of 6 to 10 feet between you and the ball.
Run towards the ball at an angle.
Make contact with the ball using the inside of your big toe (instep) close to the bottom left or right corner depending on your kicking foot. Hitting the ball with the laces or at the center will send it straight and towards the corner flag if your run up is at an angle.
Hit the ball hard. If you hit the ball correctly, it will create a spin that will bend the ball over or around the wall of defenders.
Since goalkeepers usually stand on the side of the wall that is not covered, before they will run towards the side of the net covered by the defenders, it would have been too late.
Method 2: Aim for the top corner
Goalkeepers simply hate balls going to the top corner. They are so hard to reach and can easily cause a goalie to break their fingers if they try too hard.
This technique is best executed when the freekick is further away from the opponent’s 18-yard box. When the distance of the free kick is not too close, most teams will have only a one or two-man wall which gives you enough space to try and hit the top corner.
Place the ball in the position of the foul.
Survey the pitch to see if the top corner you want to hit is not blocked. The farther the goalkeeper is away from the corner you want to hit, the better.
Run up and hit the ball hard with your laces just below the center to send the ball flying in a straight path towards the top corner.
Taking a free kick is more about placement than power. Hitting the most powerful shot may not achieve the right result if you don’t get your placement right.
Also, it takes a lot of practice to perfect how to take a free kick in soccer. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time.
As you continue to practice and adhere to the instructions that we pointed out, you will become a free kick guru in no time.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!