Knowing how to kick like David Beckham is all about finesse. The English soccer superstar is a master of the free kick. His accuracy and ability to bend, or curve, rise, and lower the ball over the head of goalkeepers the world over is unparalleled. Here’s your quick guide to learning to kick like a world-class athlete and footballing master.
- Develop a routine. Like a free throw in basket ball, a free kick works best if you have the same routine every time. You’ll need to feel out the ideal number of steps between yourself and the ball, and the best angle for approaching. If you’re left footed, you’ll want to come at the ball from the right, to optimize your exposure and attack on the ball. If you’re right footed, approach from the left.
- Involve your upper body. Beckham does a number of things with his upper body to get more spin and inertia on the ball. As you approach the ball on your run in, swing the arm of your non-kicking leg to generate momentum. Bend the upper half of your body slightly back, forcing your kicking leg into the ball. The combination of the spin and bend will give the ball thrust and twist which will rocket it up and help it fall back down over the heads of the defending wall.
- Come at the ball from an angle. An online soccer-training guide suggests a 45 degree angle. We’re assuming you won’t have your measuring equipment out during match play, so you’ll have to guestimate this. By attacking the ball on an angle and forcing your foot forward with your upper-body bend, you’ll put a vicious spin on the ball.
- Practice makes perfect. Before going into a game situation and attempting to take a free kick like Becks, work on your technique with friends or in your backyard or a park. It’s extremely difficult to get the ball to bend, let alone with the precision and extremity Beckham bends it. We can tell you all day how to bend your back and twirl your arm and attack the ball from an angle, but the only way to really get a feel for bending a soccer ball is doing it, over and over again. High level athleticism is, much like advanced Samurai sword play, an act of mindlessness. You’ll need to be able to kick like David Beckham without thinking about or knowing that you’re kicking like David Beckham if you want to apply this to game situations. Practice will allow you to internalize the process and have the ability to do it intuitively, which is key.
- Relax. You’ll need a fluidity of movement and the ability to adapt to situations at a moment’s notice when attempting to bend the ball. If you approach the ball with too rigid a body, you won’t be able to nail the movements needed to curve it properly. And if you’re tense, you’re likely to hammer the bejesus out of the ball, which will destroy the curve and send your kick flying out of bounds. Beckham doesn’t kick that hard, he kicks with precision.
Follow this five steps, practice your tail off, check out a few videos of Beckham’s free kicks to get your movements just right, and you’re on your way to kicking like David Beckham.