Kicking is a sequence of events.
The impact of the ball on the boot is only one part of this sequence.
“Errors” early in the sequence will often show up later – therefore it is important to look back across the whole sequence to the cause rather than directly at the symptom (e.g. “poor ball drop” may be caused by something earlier in the sequence).
Every player will undertake a kick using the SAME sequence, but will do so with an individual style.
1) Approach. You will walk or run roughly in the direction of where you are trying to kick the ball.
2) Penultimate stride (the right foot moves forward for a right-footer)
“Timing” of a kick starts with the last 3 steps. During the penultimate stride, the ball is moved up and forward with both hands still on the ball.
The hand from the non-kicking side will leave the ball as the kicking foot nears the ground (i.e. for a right-footer, the left hand will leave the ball as the right foot nears the ground in the penultimate stride).
3) Final stride (for a right-footer, the left foot moves forward)
A lot is happening at this point in the kick. As the left leg steps forward, the right leg swings backwards behind the body. This “backswing” stores energy for generating foot speed for the kick. A number of factors contribute to this energy – the opposite arm, a long stride, good back extension, pelvic rotation and hip extension. Hip and shoulder stretch are critical for generating a powerful kick.
The non-kicking-side arm also continues to move. The correct action of this arm is up and backwards, with the hand at a height above the shoulder.
Ball release occurs during this final stride. It is timed approximately with the kicking foot leaving the ground behind the body.
The final stage of this stride is for the non-kicking leg to hit the ground soon after ball release. It should flex to absorb the impact of landing, then brace, and extend. This creates the base from which the kicking leg can swing through and connect with the ball.
4) Forward swing (right footer = right foot forward)
This generates foot speed.
Every kick, even one which is executed off “one step”, will have this sequence (more on the “one-step” kick later). A good approach for practice is to be aware of the sequence, and to obtain feedback after each kick on one or more of these factors.
It is not just about the ball hitting the boot!!