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How To Bend It Like Beckham-by Rob Kelly

If you ask David Beckham how he gets the desired curve on his free kicks he will tell you the secret is PRACTICE. During his playing days Beckham would take 30 to 40 practice free kicks per day in an effort to constantly improve. It seems one thing that all great athletes have in common is a strong work ethic and a never ending need to improve. Promoting this attitude with your players is one of the most important things you can accomplish as a coach. It is also important for you to want to constantly improve. As long as you are looking down at the grass as opposed to looking up at it, you can always improve as a player, coach and human being.

The Approach:
The first thing you want to do is make sure you have a good stance. If you are kicking with your right foot, you want to be facing angled slightly to the right(about 45 degrees) of where you want the shot to go, thus you should be running from the left side of the ball. If you are 'left-footed', you'll be doing the opposite. If you are taking this shot as a free kick, make sure to give yourself about three steps to get to the ball - more than that can cause you to overshoot your target.

The idea is to kick the ball with the very bottom of your big toe (where the toe meets the foot), striking the ball on the bottom corner (right foot = bottom right corner). Assuming you do this correctly, the amount of bend put on the ball depends on two things: the motion of your kick swing and the power of the kick.

Kicking Motion:
As you plant your back foot before the kick, you want to make sure that you are still facing slightly wide of your target. Don't let your planted foot spin as you swing your kicking leg. Try to kick from your hip and use your upper leg to generate the power, always kicking through the ball. Upon striking the ball, begin to curve the swinging leg in the direction that you want the ball to curve. As you do this, curve your foot slightly in the same direction and the ball will roll a little further up your foot. Your leg will follow a sort of arcing path toward the goal. Follow through is very important: concentrate on your fore-swing all the way through the ball.

Kicking Power:
The power with which you kick the ball and the amount of spin that is generated are inversely related. In other words, the ball will go straighter the harder you kick it. Chipping the shot will produce much more bend than a bullet shot will. Begin by kicking the ball with a very casual swing, concentrating on foot placement above all else. Once you have that down you can alter the speed of the kick as necessary.

Practicing: Tell your players to set up an obstacle about 10 yards in front of the ball to represent the wall. It is obviously important to get the ball over or around the wall so it is best to practice using something to represent a wall.