When a football player performs a shot, a directional control or a pass, among other actions, the first thing he does is to strike the ball, which, depending on the intention with which he does it, will later become one of these actions. Therefore, it can be said that ball striking is carried out when the player touches the ball with any part of the foot.
The type of stroke will depend on several conditioning factors:
- The contact surface with the foot
- The front instep: this part of the foot is used for long or powerful shots and passes. It is an area that provides speed, distance, accuracy and power.
- The inner and outer instep: both surfaces of the foot are used for spin, overcoming obstacles and positioning the ball, so ball strikes will be more accurate and powerful.
- The inside and outside of the foot: striking the ball with either of these parts of the foot gives the player more security, but will not give speed to the ball, so it is preferable to use this area for safe and close strikes.
- The heel: when the player uses this contact surface, he will use the surprise factor against his opponents, which is a great resource to get out of complicated situations in the game.
- The toe: if the player is very close to opponents in a confined space, but has the opportunity to shoot at goal, he can resort to striking the ball with this part of the foot.
- The sole of the foot: it is used to carry out changes of direction, to carry out some driving in which the player carrying the ball has an advantage, and also to move the ball away from and protect the ball from the opponent.
The area in which the ball is hit
- Depending on the zone in which the ball is struck and the contact surface used, the footballer can perform different types of striking. Therefore, the ball can be divided into a number of zones:
- Zone 1: to get straight, low and short deliveries, the player must hit the ball in his upper zone.
- Zone 2: in order for the ball to be high and straight, it must be hit on the lower part of the ball. Depending on the contact surface used by the player, so will be the distance of the delivery.
- Zone 3: this is the side of the ball, so the type of hit will depend on the part where the touch is made: bottom, top or centre.
- Zone 4: corresponds to the centre of the ball. When the player hits in this zone, the ball will advance in a straight line and will reach an average height, which will depend on whether the player is moving or stationary. As in zone 2, the distance of the delivery will depend on the contact surface used by the player.
The striking leg and the supporting leg
- The positioning of the active and passive leg will depend on the type of stroke:
- The front instep: the player starts his approach run towards the ball in a straight line. He should lift back the leg with which he is going to strike the ball and place the supporting leg approximately ten centimetres from the ball, with the whole sole of the foot on the ground. Quickly lower the striking leg towards the ball, stretching the foot downwards to strike the ball in its central part.
- The inside instep: with the player positioned slightly to the side of the supporting leg, he/she will start the approach run towards the ball. Once he reaches the ball, he will raise backwards the striking leg while the position of his supporting leg will depend on the type of shot he wants to perform: low or high. The active leg is used to hit the ball in zone 3, i.e. on the outside right side of the ball.
- The outer instep: the player starts the approach run towards the ball by being slightly to the side of the striking leg. This is done in the same way as with the inside instep. However, if the player wishes to shoot with the right leg, he must position himself to the right of the ball, and he must position himself on the opposite side if he is going to shoot with the left leg.
- The inside of the foot: when the player is within striking distance of the ball, he/she will lift the striking leg slightly backwards while placing the supporting leg next to the ball. He/she will quickly lower the striking leg towards the ball while turning the foot outwards, showing the inside of the foot to the ball to strike it in the middle.
- The outside of the foot: this is done in the same way as for the inside of the foot, with the only difference being that the inside of the foot is turned inwards, showing its outside with respect to the ball in order to hit it in its middle or outside left part.
- The heel: to perform this type of kick, the player has to pass the active leg behind the passive leg and perform the touch. If the player’s back is turned, he can hit the ball backwards with the heel.
- The toe: this is performed in the same way as for the instep strike, with the difference that the toe is used to strike the ball, which is usually struck in its central or outer part.
- The plant: this is used to move the ball in tight spaces, as this type of striking does not usually send the ball forward. The player will place his passive leg next to the ball while his active leg touches the ball on its upper part.