Believe it or not, soccer and muscle memory go hand-in-hand. Since many athletes start playing the game at such a young age, it's important for parents and coaches to make sure players learn the correct kicking techniques right at the start. Learning how to properly handle the ball will not only make your athlete a more mature soccer player, but it will also help reduce the risk of injury.
When players are able to commit proper techniques to muscle memory, they don't have to spend time thinking about how to kick the ball—allowing them to not only keep up with the fast-pace nature of the game, but to also have fun. Instead of focusing on how to kick, they can think about the position of the other players, which direction to kick the ball and how to move around the other players on the field.
CoachUp suggests coaches and parents use these tips to help players produce the right muscle memory:
- Make sure the top of their foot is used (not their toe) for striking kicks and that the instep of their foot is used when passing the ball.
- Make sure they keep their toes down when striking with the top of the foot.
- Make sure they kick the middle of the soccer ball—not the sides or top.
- Make sure their kicking leg follows through with the kick and that it doesn't stop short after kicking the ball.
- Make sure they lock their standing leg so the kick is solid.
- Make sure they properly judge the speed of the approaching ball when receiving a pass.