Striking a ball

Discussion in 'Coach' started by Soccertes, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. Soccertes

    Soccertes Member

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    This may sound like a stupid question but when striking a ball for a shot do you keep your eye on the ball or do you look up at the net while kicking it? I've seen Ronaldinho make passes while looking another way, but when taking a shot on goal I believe a player is always looking at the ball when striking it. Is that not correct?


  2. Val1

    Val1 Member+

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    Not a stupid question.

    It would certainly be nice to be able to keep your eyes on goal when shooting, but from a practical (and in this case, coaching) point of view, most are going to be keeping their eyes on the ball. What is important is to teach your player to look at goal before the ball arrives so s/he has an opportunity to see where the keeper is, other defenders, etc. Before a player can worry about the goal, s/he has to make good contact with the ball, and that requires eyes on the ball.
  3. EvanP

    EvanP New Member

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    The majority of professionals are looking up as they're striking the ball... This is what any qualified coaches tell you and teach you. Kids are looking at the ball during the early years of being taught the way to play football. As the game gets more competitive they'll naturally learn to be looking up when striking a ball.
  4. seansteele

    seansteele Member

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    I'm going to disagree on that one. They look up before shooting, but definitely are focused on the ball when striking it. An advance player may tend towards peripheral vision, but focus is still on the ball. For example, watch the heads in these clips. Van der Vaart is definitely looking at the ball, Ronaldo a bit more peripheral, but still looking down.

    http://espnfc.com/us/en/videos/1105886/ronaldo2-goals-sends-netherlands-home.html


  5. EvanP

    EvanP New Member

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    Look when the ball is actually struck. They look up. Being a young player and youth referee myself, I concentrate a lot. It's natural after a while that players take a glance at the ball, prepare to strike, but actually lift their head milliseconds before making contact with the ball.

    Of course, there are big exceptions to this... It obviously does vary considerably on many different factors... What type of shot is being attempted, and of course, what player is taking the shot itself. :)
  6. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    Eyes on the ball until it's gone. Whether it's passing or shooting, it's the same motion just different intentions.

    As far as the target, players should be scanning all the time. So when they are near the goal, they need to learn to look and assess their relationship to the goal at all times. You don't need to look at the target since it's a fixed object and you and the ball are the one's moving—your brain will make the calculations as it relates to changing position. Also, your peripheral vision is good enough to "see" the goal even if you're not looking directly at it.

    A nice example is to put an object on the floor about 3 feet in front of you. Look directly at the object, can you still see things 10 yards, 20 yards in your peripheral vision? Yes, the ball will come under your body and your peripheral vision will become limited at that point but the "data" from when you were scanning before and as the ball is coming into your feet is already in your brain.

    As far as Ronaldinho not looking at the ball, he's obviously at a very high level. Players who spend a lot of time with the ball at their feet develop the ability to know where it is just by feel.
  7. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    Not saying it doesn't work for you, there are many ways to develop our own individual skills. I like that you are conscientious enough to know that you specifically look up milliseconds before contact, which is fine. But when teaching it to beginners the doctrine should stay the same. Am I going to tell a 4 or 8 year old to pick their head up milliseconds before they make contact? Probably not, they don't have the skills or reps that your or I do. There is nothing wrong about saying keep your eye on the ball as long as possible when teaching beginners.

    For them the most important take away is what specific part of the foot is making contact with what specific part of the ball (inside of foot hitting the ball just the equator—to pop the ball up).

    As a coach you need to be able to separate what worked for "you" and what is good for a beginner to know.
  8. EvanP

    EvanP New Member

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    That is not what is taught to kids by FA qualified coaches nowadays. I remember vividly... "Eyes on the target at all times" being a phrase repeated over and over by a coach who was with Charlton Athletic when I went to train with their youth team a while back.
    laure23 repped this.
  9. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    Who am I to argue with FA qualified coaches? By all means, we don't have to agree on this. You teach your players as you see fit and I'll do likewise.
  10. uvahoos

    uvahoos Member

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    That is not what is taught to kids by FA qualified coaches nowadays. I remember vividly... "Eyes on the target at all times" being a phrase repeated over and over by a coach who was with Charlton Athletic when I went to train with their youth team a while back.

    Explains England's lack of goal production, but seriously, does a golfer look down the fairway when driving, does a baseball player look at where he wants to hit the ball when batting. You cannot effectively strike any object with any other object or body part, esp. a moving object unless you are looking at it, head down ball stays down, head up and ball goes over post.
  11. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    Stop it. Stop making sense. Soccer is different. ;)

    Anyway, we're on the verge of hijacking the thread from a completely valid post to piss on each other's country and footballing abilities. I'm using my vast mod powers (VAST!) to put this back on a friendlier tone.

    From here on out, let's help the OP or start a new "England vs US coaches thread"
  12. Val1

    Val1 Member+

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    Welcome to BigSoccer, EvanP. Glad to have you here.

    I used to moderate an English coaching website, and while we had mostly English and African coaches on the site, I was always trying to find out what the differences were between coaching education between the US and England, sort of like Elessar alluded to. This issue never came up, but I have to admit I find it strange. Making contact with the ball is the most important thing, to me, at least.

    OK, not the best video quality, but it looks like Torres is looking at the ball as he hits it.
    He's definitely looking down here. Maybe because he "lost" the ball momentarily...


    And just like that, my youtube crapped out. Weird.
  13. seansteele

    seansteele Member

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    Again, in the interest of all youth coaches with this same question, players should look at the ball while striking it. There is no head lifting a millisecond before making contact with the ball. It's in the mind's eye where the goal, goalkeeper, and defenders are from the peak prior to striking the ball - all concentration is on the ball and making sure to hit it in the correct spot with the correct surface of the foot while striking the ball.

    Ronaldihno's no-look passes are the exception, not the rule.

    Before and afters - all focused on the ball.

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    elessar78 repped this.
  14. equus

    equus Member

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  15. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    I can't believe we are even having this discussion. I would have never dreamed that anyone that played soccer would tell someone it was bad technique to look at the ball when striking. If you want the ball to travel with pinpoint accuracy, you have to strike the ball perfectly. A fraction of an inch off in any direction will change the flight of the ball.

    :) The Kenobi school of coaching:
    Skywalker: But with the blast shield down, I can't even see! How am I supposed to fight?Kenobi: Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them. [remote shoots Luke] Stretch out with your feelings! [Watches Luke succeed in blocking the lasers] You see? You can do it.Solo: I call it luck.Ben Kenobi: In my experience, there is no such thing as luck.
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_IV:_A_New_Hope
  16. VegasFootie

    VegasFootie Member

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    Great videos Equus. The difference between Christiano and the rest of us mortal men is staggering. Yet he's still focusing on the ball when striking. Repetition in training has allowed him to pick up the subtle clues that allow him to 'not see' the ball necessarily, but that's only because he's already achieved a higher understanding of where and when the ball will be.
    Fast forward to the free kicks and glass breaking and he's clearly entered the classic head down striking position. Eyes LOCKED on the ball.
    When attempting to teach striking I like to start the progression with target acquisition. Eyes where the shot is to go (pick a corner), then to the ball-where they should stay. Then the leading steps, plant foot/leg, swing with toe down, and follow through. Eyes-Brain-Body! Do it few thousand times and you'll be set.
    But I didn't have the benefit of a Charlton Athletic education! ;)
  17. ranova

    ranova Member

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    I don't see anybody saying that you don't watch the ball while heading. Unless its a back heel or similar "strike" the eyes should be on the ball at contact. Sometimes its just not possible due to the body's position (e.g., scorpion kick). All the descriptions of an instep strike that I can remember seeing on the net depict the head down and eyes on the ball during the contact.

    As far as "no look" passing goes, if you are making short passes you are essentially making soft touches like in juggling. These soft touch passes are much easier to make. A slight error in in contact is going to give you an error of inches at 5-10 yards rather than an error of yards at 30-40 yards. That is because the further the ball travels the greater influence a spin has on its flight. Similarly with angles: an error of 2 degrees in direction is insignificant at 5-10 yards, but makes a difference when aiming for the upper corner of the net from 25 yards out.
  18. seansteele

    seansteele Member

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    A little overkill yes. But if this forum is perused by a lot of novice coaches, basics like this have to be made clear.

    At our camp last week I was working with a very talented 12 year old. Could do everything except strike a ball with his laces. I was trying to get him to do it correctly and he said to me "My [rec] coach told us not to kick with the laces because you don't know where the ball is going to go. We should always use the inside of our foot". We need to get correct info out to coaches at every opportunity so our kids our taught correctly, or at least not taught wrong.

    Soccertes, thanks for the original post. No stupid questions here!
    slaminsams repped this.
  19. CoachP365

    CoachP365 New Member

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    Is it possible that "eyes on the target" was misunderstood? The ball is the target of the foot.

    About the "laces" thing, I've seen some pretty heavy double/triple knots at the uLittle level, not sure how much it would effect shots compared to not looking at the ball, not locking the ankle, etc, but I had a kid say almost the exact same thing. I showed him how to tie the laces so they were offset and the knot was pretty much over the top hole on the outside of the foot. I'm thinking it's a placebo but half my audience still believes in the tooth-fairy, ymmv :)

    I noticed two things with my rec u10s this year. First practice I had 5 or 6 of them who were hammering free kicks, but maybe 1 in 5 shots was on goal. I told them something I read here or on another forum earlier this year - "Keep your head down looking at the ball when you hit it. If it goes in the net, the spectators will let you know, your teammates will let you know." Worked for 3 of them. I also noticed that the one who rarely dribbles with his head up was deadly accurate while shooting on the run - because he's looking at the ball the entire time. I pointed this out to him but "that's not it, I just need to practice free kicks more" - what can you do?
  20. ranova

    ranova Member

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    For everyone: By "discussion" I was referring to the debate regarding what was the correct answer to the question. I was not referring to the question itself or implying that the question should not have been asked.
  21. seansteele

    seansteele Member

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    I knew what you meant - sorry if it seemed I implied otherwise. I just wanted to reiterate that the coaches forum is open to all sorts of questions from basic to advance.
  22. BackBlast

    BackBlast Member

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    I think professional players also have the benefit of playing on a very consistent and quality pitch, which may allow for an easier heads up ball handling/striking/passing in more situations. At least on the fields my kids and I play on, this is not a given and thus an extra base level of attention needs to be placed on just handling the ball if for no other reason than some spots get more water than others and it hasn't been mowed in 2 weeks.

    I think the better general technique is to learn to absorb game information quickly in any way you can while you concentrate on the ball.
  23. Andrew Spencer

    Andrew Spencer New Member

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    Striking the ball is a very hard skill to coach, so not a stupid question!

    You should always keep you your eye on the ball, look up first then down and pass/shoot. I am from Enland and qualified, please excuse my rather arrogant compatriot! Some players look the other way when passing occassionly, which I think they got from basketball - but I wouldnt coach this.
  24. strikerbrian

    strikerbrian Member

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    I have to agree with the majority. You can't hit properly what you can't see.

    Actually I use the same reminder ("keep your eye on the target") when working with the kids. I am refering to the target on the ball. The location where foot meets ball. I tell them to look up and assess the situation as they are coming into there kick. "Look at the goal and then forget about it" I say. Your brain will make the adjustments automatically for all the variables you pick up in that quick survey. The more experience you gain, the more repetitions, the better the brain does the job. Don't sabotage that by taking your eye away from where it needs to be.

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