Any competitive athlete wants to be the very best at what they do. Knowing different moves and techniques is a great way to build your confidence on the field, support your teammates, and boost your overall performance. In soccer, knowing how to curve a ball when you kick is a highly useful skill. The phrase “bend it like Beckham” wasn’t started without reason!
You can curve a ball around the goalie into the net, in a deceptive pass to a teammate that takes the other team by surprise, or to change course and get past the other team’s defensive players. Once you have mastered curving the soccer ball, you will find many uses for it on the field.
So how do you learn to curve a soccer ball? Luckily, there are a few different ways to do it, and here are the step-by-step instructions for two of the best ways: curving a stationary ball, and curving a ball that’s moving. With these steps, you should be able to curve a soccer ball in no time, allowing you to bring your new skill to the field for your next game.
Curving a Stationary Ball
This method works best for free kicks or corners, when the ball starts at a stationary point. For this method, you need time to position yourself and run up with accuracy. If you are in play on the field already, you will still use some of the steps described here for an in-motion kick. Practice curving a stationary ball before attempting curving a ball in motion. Here are the steps on how to curve a soccer ball that is stationary.
- Once the soccer ball is in place, take a few (about three) good strides back away from the ball to create room for your run-up. If you are right-footed, approach the ball from the left, and if you are left-footed, approach the ball from the right. Approach the ball at about a 45 degree angle, or slightly wider. Running straight or with too great an angle at the ball compromises your control.
- Stabilize yourself with your non-kicking foot by planting it firmly next to the ball before kicking with your other foot. This gives you more control over the force and aim of your kick. Place your non-kicking foot angled slightly towards the direction you want the ball to go. The knee of your non-kicking leg should be facing the same direction as your non-kicking foot. You can experiment with angling your foot and knee incorrectly so you can see how important this step is. You will also want to experiment with how far your plant your non-kicking foot away from the ball — you must be close enough to have control and not need a large swing kick, but far enough that your non-kicking leg isn’t in the way of your shot.
- Lean your body slightly towards the direction you want the ball to go. If you want the ball to go left, even if you are using your right foot, your body should be leaning slightly to the left when you go to kick the ball. You may notice our arms naturally lift at your sides for power and stability.
- Kick the ball with the inside of your foot. You want to use the part of your foot that starts just below your big toe. Hitting the ball with the part of your foot too close to the heel or on the toe won’t allow you the level of control you need to make a good curve. If you are right-footed and want to kick your ball to the left, you should hit the lower right part of the ball to curve it to the left. To kick the ball higher, kick lower on the ball.
- With your non-kicking foot still firmly planted, the rest of your body should move with your kick. Follow through with your leg in the direction of your kick for better control. You will notice that this feels more natural than stopping your kick once you’ve made contact with the ball, anyway.
Curving a Ball in Motion
Once you have mastered curving a ball that is stationary, you can move on to curving a moving ball. Here are the steps on how to curve a soccer ball in motion.
- Assess the scenario. Do you have room and time to make a well-aimed curve kick? You don’t want to jeopardize your shot by taking too much time to decide, but you also don’t want to attempt a curve kick without the right conditions, as this can lead to losing control of the ball. Also look to where you want the ball to go and make sure another teammate is ready to receive the pass, or that you have a clear shot on goal. Once you have assessed the situation, you can focus on the ball and your kick.
- Slow down a little bit (if possible) when approaching the ball for best accuracy. Use a combination of power and accuracy to strike the ball as described in the stationary kick steps. If you get the chance, take a touch before curving the ball to help you line up your kick better.
If you want to learn to “bend it like Beckham,” start practicing on your own or with teammates on a stationary soccer ball right away.
Once you have mastered curving a still ball, you can work on simple passes or taking shots on the goal with a curved kick. There are ways to curve a ball with the exterior of your foot as well, but the techniques above are usually the simplest for players just starting to curve kick.
Once you have learned the above techniques, you will be able to test them out against your friends or family members and learn your own special style of curving the ball while playing that works best for you.
Plus, it can’t be your signature move if you don’t put your own “spin” on it, right?