By “Driving” the ball we are referring to striking a ball over long distance “On a Rope” – dead straight with no side spin. This needs to be addressed when the player is at the technical developmental age …say 8 – 12 years of age. Obviously the longer and stronger the legs, normally, the further the player shall be able to drive it.
A good picture for players to emulate, is that of a “modern” American Football field goal kicker. We say “modern” because in olden time the field goal kickers kicked the ball with their toe and wore shoes with a flat surface to strike the ball straight. “Modern” kickers use the soccer style method which involves kicking the ball with the knuckle of the big toe.
Key coaching points – In this case the player is a right footer. To make the ball go straight the player needs to;
- Get the ball “out of feet”. Player needs a run up and cannot drive a ball over distance with the ball close to the body.
- Approach the ball from an angle. Players cannot approach the ball from straight on if they are going to kick it straight with knuckle of big toe.
- The final step will be a long hop onto the non - kicking foot.
- When executing a right footed strike the left hand points at the target for balance.
- The non - kicking foot cannot land too close to ball. Must be enough space for kicking foot to strike “inside left” of ball. If player strikes ball center or right of center the ball will hook.
- Toe must be pointed down throughout kicking motion.
- Player’s follow through extends towards the target.
The diagram illustrates a hooked ball, which is how many players strike the ball. The other ball is being driven perfectly.
This can be done at home, in the park or against a wall…However…this is another skill that needs constant practice – twice a week in team practice is not enough – We encourage parents can help their son/daughter to master this skill and elevate their game to a higher standard.
Driving a Ball – Drills
1. Cross Bar Challenge.
Players compete by driving the ball from the top of the penalty box and try and hit the crossbar.
2. Scud Missile Practice.
Two players each have a ball and try and collide them in the air by coordinating a driven ball.
Players drive the ball over the mannequin to a player who has spun behind the mannequin. That player receives the ball and moves to the next area for driving the ball.
Players stand in a coned zone – say 6 yards by 6 yards – 20 yards from each other ( or adjusted to player’s capabilities.) Team mate drives the ball to partner. If the ball lands in the square and the player in the square can control it and keep it in the square with 1 touch, the players get a point.