Everyone who’s ever played football and fallen in love with the beautiful game has dreamed of stepping on the green field professionally. You must have too. Imagined yourself playing under the twilight sky to the flash of cameras, that is. That’s a common trait, I suppose. A common dream for whoever has played any sport. There’s always a small part of us that has yearned to go professional and make it on the big stage.
Even while playing, most of us have thought of ways to enhance our game. Riled up by the jeers of our opponents or the friendly taunts of our own team-mates, we’ve often thought of becoming a better player. The desire to score a long-range scorcher, to take a freekick and see it swing and dip and burst the net. To curl one in from distance. To shoot with just the right amount of power that the ball will zoom into the top corner.
But it’s always been easier said than done, eh?
So, we talked to some pros like Ryan Roy (CEO Mega Pro Football Academy) and Kartik Menda (Head of First-Team Ops, FC Goa) and came up with five ways to improve your shot power and accuracy on the field:
Have A Clean Follow Through
This is extremely important. You have to ensure your body is leaning just over the ball before you shoot. If your body is open and facing upwards, you will sky the ball, hit it out of bounds. Remember, this isn’t cricket, and you don’t want to score a six.
Further, move your foot in the direction you want the ball to go in even after you have connected with it. Then, make sure you follow through in that direction. If you want to go right, follow through to the right, if you want the ball to go straight ahead, make sure your foot goes steady in the forward direction.
Make sure you do not whack the ball. This isn’t about unleashing your anger. Hitting the ball requires precision as well as power. Raw force will only hamper your shot. Hitting the target is the first step towards scoring that goal (Yes, we’re being Captain Obvious, but this is a lesson that needs to be drummed in). Once you have that down pat, following the next steps will ensure you get the right amount of power as well.
Keep Your Ankle Locked
If you want to hit the ball hard, make sure you keep your ankle locked. It should be straight and hard as you move in to hit the ball. The harder it is, the better your connection will be.
Shoot With The Laces
Make sure you connect the ball with your laces for maximum power. Keep your ankle hard and hit the ball with your laces.
Another option is to hit it with the part just by your laces – the biggest bone of your foot. If you touch your foot, it’s the part that protrudes out. That should be enough to gain more power.
Position Yourself Properly
This is probably the most important yet not so easily understood aspect of the technique. To get the perfect shot, you need to be steady, and place your weak foot beside the ball. As the dominant foot comes in to strike, slant it to gain some more power (You’ll need to practice this often to get it right, make it natural). The slanting is especially difficult, since your entire body weight will come on to your leg at an angle you aren’t used to, so get used to it to avoid injury.
As a monk once said, ‘I am not afraid of the warrior who is calm outside but raging inside. I am afraid of the warrior who is raging outside but calm inside.’ The analogy holds true even for professional sports. Stay calm inside, stay in control of your emotions, and your body will heed your orders. Mind over matter, as they say. Let instinct guide you and practice shape your shot. Let your emotions be under control, to avoid snapshots. Do this, and see your ball fly towards the target. Sounds easy, but keeping your cool in the heat of the game when circumstances are against you and your opponents are taunting you isn’t the easiest. This is where practice comes into the picture.
Practice, practice, and practice some more, and follow the aforementioned tips. Soon, you’ll be shooting like the pros.