How To Curl A Free Kick Like A Pro
It’s the 89th minute in the cup semi-final, and the defender has just scythed down your star winger 25-yards out, as he glided through the opposition defence. The ref’s whistle blows, and your captain throws you the muddied Mitre Delta. Time to channel your inner Ruben Neves; time for a hero to find the top corner. Here’s your guide to writing your name in your clubs’ history books by curling in that last-minute free-kick.
Place the ball yourself
Find that perfect spot. If the pitch is anything like our local grounds, it’s not going to resemble the hallowed green carpet of Wembley, so try clearing away any lumps of mud, stones or, more likely, dog poo. If the opposition has already set up their wall, why not try to steal a yard either way to mess with their plans – if you can get away with it!
Assess the wall and the goalkeepers position
The position of the wall and goalie will help you decide where you’re going to ripple the net. Up-and-over the wall? Or can you really make the goalie look a d*ck and smash it where they’re standing? A wall will often jump, so there’s always the sneaky, daisy-cutter option to hit the ball low, under the wall.
Take a few paces back, ignoring the calls of “you’re sh*t” from the three fans the opposition has. Like in rugby, free-kick takers now often have a set ritual. With repetition, you’ll work out your own, but why not start with standing side-on to the goal, placing your foot by the ball and taking 4 steps back. Clear your mind, take a deep breath, and visualise where the ball is going, and that row of pints your teammates will buy you for grabbing the winner.
Striking the ball
Unless you’re aiming to knuckle-ball your way to glory, it’s best to hit the ball with your in-step to generate the curl, wrapping your foot around the ball as you strike. Try combining this with a slight upward motion to get the ball up-and-over the wall, but so it drops back down, making it more difficult for the keeper to read the balls’ trajectory. With time, aim for more power to really give the keeper no chance!
Study and Repeat
Watch how the pros do it – you’ll learn more than just how crap their haircut is. Study their technique and try it out yourself. But, above all, practice makes perfect. David Beckham wasn’t born being able to score the perfect free-kick – he developed it by spending hours on the training pitch. And by putting in the hours, you’ll get your technique down, and will be 100% prepared when that 89th minute free-kick comes your way.