How to get more power on your shots

power shots

When it comes to football, every shot counts. Pressure can mount when you play in a low-scoring game. In this blog, I’ll discuss how you can practically get more power on your shots and how you can mentally prepare yourself for the moments when it all falls into place and you have the opportunity to score. Physical power, technical ability and mental soundness is needed. All three ‘legs’ of the stool must be present to become the greatest threat to the defence.

power shots

Before I share these tips, please remember that if you’re reading this as a youth player, or if you’re a parent with a young child, growing can affect striking ability. One season a young player may be booting the ball down the field and into goals, and the next they might seem like they’ve lost their touch. Don’t let it concern you. Allow yourself to be a growing child. Your bones and muscle structure is still developing. Placing strain on yourself to achieve too high a goal (mind the pun) from too young, can ruin your career and your self-esteem.

Have goals, work on improving yourself, but don’t be disheartened if things change from one season to the next, and if you don’t feel strong enough – it’s normal. You’re growing, and so is your strength.

Benefits of powerful shots:

1Higher percentage of your shots will go past the goalkeeper
2 Allows you to score from a distance
3Threatens the defence and forces them to close you down, potentially creating more opportunities for team-mates

How to get the power on your shots:

1Positioning and Technique
2Strengthening
3Mindset

Positioning and Technique | Get more power on your shots

Positioning and technique will make all the difference to the power of your shots. The right positioning uses science to your benefit. If you have the strongest muscles but have incorrect positioning when you make contact with the ball, your strike won’t be as powerful as it could be.

  • Make sure that your non-striking foot is next to the ball when you kick it; it can’t be in front or behind it.
  • Make sure your non-striking foot is pointed in the direction of the target.
  • Allow your kicking foot to make a full arc. This means that if you’re kicking with your right foot, come into it from the left and the opposite remains true for kicking the ball with your left foot – come into it from the right.
  • Lock the ankle of your striking foot. This means that you need to tighten all the muscles and ligaments by pointing your toes toward the ground. Your laces need to make contact with the ball. Mentally visualise locking your ankle into place. Keep your ankle ‘locked’ before you make contact with the ball, during your striking motion and as you ‘follow-through’ after kicking the ball. This technique cannot be underestimated. It sounds simple, but often it takes time to get right. Ballerinas, like my wife, seem to get this technique quickly because they have trained for years. When ballerinas point their toes and lock their ankle, it is truly locked. They wouldn’t be able to stand on the tips of their toes if they weren’t completely ‘locking their ankle’ by completely tightening their ligaments and muscles. It might take months of practice before you get this technique completely right. Don’t give up if it takes time, keep practising. As a youngster, I didn’t have the strongest legs, but I regularly recorded the strongest shots on my team when we used a shot speed tracker because I worked hard on my positioning and technique.

Strengthening | Get more power on your shots

Power in taking shots comes from your hip flexors, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and core. You can leave the extra training out for these muscle groups and still score a long-range screamer, but why stop short of aiming for excellence? I’ll briefly explain the role of these muscle groups and then how you can train them so that you have the best opportunity to get more power on your shots.

Hip Flexors and Glutes

One of the uses of your hip flexors is to lift your thighs forward. You’ll need them for striking power and coordination. Your glutes are your butt muscles and surprisingly the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body! Your glutes are needed for many reasons, and three important uses they have for footballers are their acceleration, sprinting and explosive power. Having strong glutes are important to prevent injuries. Striking the ball can place strain on your lower back and hips, but by strengthening your glutes you can lessen the load and protect your other muscle groups, ligaments and bones.

Exercises:

  • Glute bridges
  • Step up knee drives
  • Bounding leaps

Quadriceps and hamstrings

Yours quadriceps (quads) are the muscles on the front of your leg above the knee, while your hamstrings are the muscles on the back of your upper leg. In simple terms, the quads extend the knee and flex the hip, whereas your hamstrings extend your hip and flex your knee. Both are needed to execute the movement to get more stability, accuracy and power on your shots.

Exercises:

  • Front squats – moving into jumping squats
  • Split Squats
  • Lunges

Core

Your core is vital. The core includes the traverse abdominis, erector spinae, obliques and lower lats. They’re the muscles around your midsection including the front, sides and back. These muscles allow you to balance, but they are also responsible for increasing your power in any movement. A strong core is also brilliant in preventing injury.

Exercises:

  • Planks and side planks
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Sit ups done the correct way

Mindset |Get more power on your shots

When I speak about the mental side of the game, I’m talking about the decisions a player has to make after analysing the most important information on the field; spatial awareness, memory, risk assessment. But I’m also talking about a player’s mindset. A strong mindset can determine whether a player makes it or not. All the talent, training and technique in the world can be lost when a player has wrong mindsets.

If a player has the mindset that they’re not as good a striker as their friend, they probably won’t be. If they’re afraid of what people think and fear that the coach or their parents don’t believe they can score, more often than not they probably won’t. Self-fulfilling thoughts exist.

So how do you mentally prepare for the moment when you’re just about to score? Realise that you are as good as you think you are. Raise the bar of your self-image in your mind (please do this without pride and arrogance) but with grateful humility that you have the ability to reach your goals.

Once you’ve got the new picture of yourself, prepare yourself for it. Allow yourself to work toward that picture. Physically prepare, emotionally get excited about your ability to score, mentally picture it, talk about the fact that you’re going to enjoy it and remain calm but alert.  And here’s the truth: anytime you fall short of that picture, know that mistakes are normal and good, and that as you continue working toward your goal, things will improve. It’s a process, even the very best players on the planet sometimes miss!

Our next post will deal with the topic of your mindsets in more depth, so look out for that next month.

Brain-boosting tips, Brain-centred Training, Children, discipline, Football, improve your performance, IQ Football, Mindset, performance, physical fitness and health, Positioning, POwer, Shots, Skills, Soccer, Soccer Academy, technique


Sean Szabo

Recognised as a leading brain-centred football coach in Gauteng, Sean Szabo is an English FA qualified coach who has worked internationally assisting player’s motor and technical football skills, as well as their cognitive development on and off the field. IQ Football was founded in 2015 by Sean as an amalgamation of his passion for football coaching, mentoring, and brain-centred research.

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