Soccer is one of the most popular game in the world. It has evolved over the years and is currently one of the highest paying sports internationally. The sport requires adequate preparations and proficient skills for one to be able to perform effectively in the field. In this regard, a good kicking technique is significant, particularly, when scoring and evading the opposition side (Floyd 69). The biomechanical principles behind the soccer free kick can be analyzed in six phases including the approach stage, foot plant, limb swing, hip flexion and knee extension, foot contact with the ball, and the follow through phase.
The soccer free kick can be executed either from a stationery position or a few distance from the ball. The optimal angle of the body in this stage is 45 degrees from the ground (Lees 21). In other words, the 45 degrees angle allows the player to implement greater-limb swing velocity which often result in an increased peak ball velocity.
There is a close correlation between the direction a ball travels and the manner in which athletes plant their feet before and during the free kick. In this case, an optimal foot plant position is considered to be perpendicular to the center of the ball (Lees 22). Meaning, the planted foot should optimally land between 5-10 or 28 centimeters behind the ball (24).
Players are recommended to focus all their attention and eyes on the ball during the limb swing phase. They should also raise their opposite arm and point it to the direction they want the ball to travel in order to counter balance their rotating body (Floyd 70). Moreover, they should flex and extend their knee to reserve elastic energy and allow maximum force to be transferred to the ball during the kick.
Hip Flexion and Knee extension
This stage focuses purely on the hip flexion and knee extension. Research has shown that the foot speed is governed by a combination of hip flexor strength, hip rotational torque, and hip quadriceps (Lees 24). Additionally, the hamstrings are super active prior to the ball and foot contact to slow the leg eccentrically.
Foot Contact with the Ball
The position of the players foot often determines the success of the kick. Skilled footballers contact the ball using the top of their feet that closer to the ankle joint during the kick to create a larger platform of friction. In this regard, only 15% of kinetic energy is transferred from the swinging limb to the ball, while the rest of the energy is dissipated by the eccentric activity of the hamstring muscle which is used to slow down the limb down (Floyd 81).
Follow Through Phase
The follow through phase is the final step in the kicking sequence and plays a key role in maintaining contact with the ball and preventing sport injury.
Floyd, R. T. "Basic biomechanical factors & concepts." Manual of Structural Kinesiology. 19th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education (2015): 69-89.
Lees, Adrian. "The biomechanics of soccer: a review." Journal of sports sciences 16.3 (1998): 21-26.
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