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All You Need to Know About Free Kicks

A look at a bending free kick.

A look at a bending free kick.

Free Kicks in a Nutshell

Free kicks are a method of restarting play in football. A free kick is awarded by the referee in any part of the field where the foul was committed by the opposing team player. They're also awarded when an opposing player is found to be offside.

A referee signals for an indirect free kick by raising their arms above their head. They will signal for a direct free kick by extending their arms horizontally. The location of the free kick can be anywhere on the field where the opposing player committed a foul. The exception is the penalty area, where a penalty will be granted instead.

An example of an indirect free kick.

An example of an indirect free kick.

What's the Difference Between Direct and Indirect Free Kicks?

Direct free kicks are awarded by the referee if the foul was a serious offence and if the position where the foul was committed is directly towards the opposing goal. This is usually outside the penalty area and near the goal. A goal can be scored from a direct free kick. This is where we see many magical moments happen.

Indirect free kicks are awarded by the referee if the foul committed isn't a serious offence. These usually occur in areas like the side of the penalty area, and they are typically far from the opposing goal. An offside free kick is considered an indirect free kick. Indirect free kicks require the taker to send the ball to a teammate. Goals are not counted from indirect free kicks.

A free kick attempting to get past a wall.

A free kick attempting to get past a wall.

The Basics

The ball must be stationary on the ground before the free kick is taken. Players must be at least 10 yards away from the ball until it's in play.

If you're interested in learning how to take free kicks, here are the basics you need to learn.

Aiming

This skill takes the most practice. Excellent free kick takers know where they want to place the ball before even kicking it. You can practice this by standing in free kick positions and taking shots at the goal.

Run-Up

Learning where to place the ball is important, but angles and power are important as well. Practicing your run-up will help you a lot in getting to know unpredictable angles and how much power you need to shoot.

Concentration

Always be completely focused when taking free kicks. A slight mistake can cause your shot to go wrong. Set a routine between run-up and aiming and find your footing. This will help a lot in scoring nice free kicks.

Opposing players will form a wall near their goal.

Opposing players will form a wall near their goal.

Free-Kick Techniques

Performing a free-kick is not as simple as just shooting the ball towards the goal. In order to score, one must have technique to beat a wall of opponents and the goalkeeper.

Knuckleball

This technique is very popular with players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. It's a direct technique that focuses on power and placement. While you're not curving the ball, the idea is to give an unpredictable movement that challenges the goalkeeper's judgement.

Bend

David Beckham was the pioneer for bended free kicks. This technique involves bending over the wall. Many beautiful yet unpredictable goals have been scored using this technique.

Under the Wall

This technique sees a low kick go through a wall. Nowadays, this technique is not very common because teams will now have player lay down behind the wall to prevent the ball from going through.

How to Take a Perfect Free Kick

Practice makes perfect, and notable free kick takers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Rogerio Ceni and David Beckham took many years to perfect their techniques. Ronaldo prefers a knuckleball method while Ceni and Beckham prefer to bend it.

Here's what you can practice to be strong at free kicks.

Calmness

Your team is at 1-1 and you get a direct free kick at the 90th minute. How calm are you? In such a crucial moment, one must learn to be as cool as ice. You must put all your focus into scoring the goal.

Body Placement (For Balance)

Gravity plays a huge role in a good free kick, and your body placement during the run-up is important as well. A slight misstep can cause your ball to go wide. Practice your body placement, such as having open hips and a forward trunk.

Understand Your Foot Placement (Before Taking the Shot)

While gravity does affect your shot, where your leg touches the ball will also be a factor. Aiming your leg at the middle of the ball creates a powerful shot, while properly aiming your inside foot will create some bending.

Indirect free kick team strategy.

Indirect free kick team strategy.

Team Strategies on Free Kicks

Free kicks come with various tactics. One of them is a quick free kick where play starts immediately after the player passes the stationary ball to another player. This will put the opponents off guard.

Indirect free kicks have a general tactic where a cross enters the penalty area for a tall player to head it home. Some teams even crowd the penalty area during a direct free kick to move the opposing defenders away from the taker's range.

Juninho taking a free-kick for Lyon.

Juninho taking a free-kick for Lyon.

Players With Great Free Kick Skills

Here are some players that were notable for their successful free kicks.

David Beckham

The creator of the bend technique, David Beckham was a pioneer in giving unpredictable challenges to the goalkeeper by bending the ball around the wall for a goal. While bending is his thing, powerful shots were also his forte.

Juninho

Everyone knows Cristiano Ronaldo is the knuckleball specialist. However, did you know that Juninho was the first player to develop the knuckleball technique? Players like David Luiz and Ronaldo tried to replicate the maestro, but Juninho has to be mentioned on this list.

Rogerio Ceni

The world's highest scoring goalkeeper with 100+ goals to his name is a proficient free kick taker for Sao Paulo. He always looks to shoot at the top corner.

© 2022 Nigel Koay Talks Football