Few things in soccer get a crowd into a game better than a bicycle or overhead kick. While they are a sight to see, there is a proper way to perform the move so you do not land on your neck, elbow or back and end up risking injury. Given the risk of injury in landing incorrectly, this is an advanced skill move for older players. Younger players should be focused on the basics of the game.
Bicycle kicks are used in two situations in a game: shooting and clearing a ball. The key to adding the bicycle kick to your options is learning the move accurately and safely. That must include learning how to land so you don't risk injury.
Here are some tips on how to do them correctly:
- Timing is the key to this skill because you will only get one chance to hit the ball the way you want it when the ball is in the air. The situations that call for an overhead kick are usually the most stressful in a game like off a set piece or when the ball is about to bounce in your goal and you need to get it out pronto.
- Keep your eye on the ball at all times.
- Don't try and kick the ball hard. Use the laces of your shoe to make a good connection. The movement or torque of your body will create the power you need.
- Start by jumping off one leg, leaving your kicking foot on the ground and using your non-kicking leg to move you upwards.
- Begin to tilt backwards and then as you begin to drop, snap your other foot towards the ball and bring your non-kicking leg down. This creates a scissor action that will be the power that fuels the kick.
- Your body is going to be horizontal to the ground at this point. If it is not, the trajectory of the ball may be too high.
- After kicking the ball, you will begin to fall back to the ground. Try to stretch out your hands to steady your impact with the ground. Also, twist your body sideways to avoid landing flat on your back. If you kick with your right foot, it’s going to be easier to fall to your left. If you kick with your left foot, try to fall on your right side.
- By falling to your side, you will avoid landing on your head or neck. You also want to avoid landing flat on your back.
- Think about recovery. If your kick means you will be slow to get up you could be putting your team in a situation where they're exposed on the counter attack or you give up space defensively. Your strategy should always be risk vs reward with bicycle kicks. That's why they are rarely used. Elite players can go an entire career never using the bicycle kick.
- Again, practice is the key to this skill. Make sure your hamstrings are stretched and loose before training.
- Do not attempt this in a game situation without trying it in practice with other players first.
- Consult your coach before starting to practice bicycle kicks.