We've all seen it; that instant when a world class soccer players does something amazing and does it with such ease we forget just how hard it actually is. That happened this past weekend at The Campground when Julio Baptista volleyed in an extra time goal that gave Orlando City the (short-lived) lead.
The goal was such a thing of beauty -- the perfect complement of power and accuracy. The shot was so hard that even though San Jose Earthquakes keeper David Bingham got a hand on it, the ball still barely left its course. The Beast made it look easy. However, and you need to trust me on this, it was far from basic.
So, if you're a rising soccer star or an old beer league player, you might be contemplating busting a volley shot out in your next game. Before you do so, I'm going to break it down for you that way you don't make a fool or yourself or hurt something.
Your plant foot is without a doubt the most important part of your delivery. Unlike a typical shot from the ground, your power leg is going to be coming up to meet the ball, meaning you need to have perfect balance. Get your footing and really anchor yourself to your plant foot. When the time comes to deliver the kick, you'll be glad you have a strong foundation to go on.
(Note: If not, there's a rather large probability you're going to fall hard to the ground before you even get a chance to wow everyone with your skill. That is the opposite of scoring a sick goal. That is embarrassing.)
What most people don't understand is the power from a volley shot (or really any shot) isn't generated by your legs. Your power comes from how well you can control your body in reference to where the ball is. If you're falling off your plant foot (see above section), even if you manage to stay upright and make contact with the ball, it won't pose a threat to the keeper. If your plant foot is strong but your arms are flailing to and fro, yeah that's not going to work well either. Keep your arms steady and use them for extra leverage.
Accuracy also comes from being able to control your body. Much like golf, where your body is pointed is where the ball will generally travel to. Keeping your body square to the goal frame is key and not overly arching your back. If your body is pointed towards the moon, your volley shot will more than likely end up a few rows back. Friends/family/fans(?) will ridicule you and you'll be embarrassed from ever wanting to try anything fancy again.
Body control, people -- learn it.
Your plant foot is strong and your body is in position for both power and accuracy. The last thing you need to do is time your strike. Too soon? You'll generate a toe poke pop up. Too late? The ball will more than likely catch a weird angle (maybe even bounce off your ankle or leg) and zip right on out of play. Neither of those helps you add numbers to your goal scoring tally. Timing requires 100% focus and concentration. If you take your eye off the ball for just a split second, you lower your odds of a successful strike significantly.
Eye contact with the ball is even important through the kick and follow through. Sure, you want to glance up to see the reward for your hard work and practice, but keep that head down and eye on the ball until you finish the shot. Then look up and enjoy the moment of your shot leaving the keeper helpless and the admiration of your teammates.
I'm sure you've seen a variety of techniques from different players, each with their own different style. Finding your sweet spot is completely up to the individual. Some like to line up to the side and attempt a scissor style kick. Others prefer for the ball to fall to the front position and strike head on. The best I can tell you is to practice the shot, especially having the ball drop at different angles, and getting a feel for what works for you. Your other option is to leave the volley shots to the professionals and just sit back and enjoy the highlights provided below.
Yeah, that's what I'm going to do.