What is a Bicycle Kick in Soccer?

What is a Bicycle Kick in Soccer?

What is a bicycle kick in soccer? A bicycle kick is a type of kick in soccer where a player kicks the ball while in mid-air, usually with their back facing the goal. It’s probably the coolest-looking soccer move but very difficult to execute.

Also known as an overhead kick or scissor kick, the bicycle kick is a spectacular move that can result in a goal if done correctly. Just watch how incredible these kicks are!

Personally speaking, I’ve only seen a few bicycle kicks in youth soccer over the last decade so it’s not very common.

Despite its level of difficulty, the bicycle kick is a desired move among youth and professional soccer players. It’s a move that can be practical (at the right moments) and impressive.

Definition of a Bicycle Kick

A bicycle kick is a spectacular move in soccer that involves a player kicking the ball while in mid-air. The bicycle kick is a legal and legitimate move in soccer, as long as it is executed within the rules of the game and does not endanger other players.

The bicycle kick is considered one of the most acrobatic moves in soccer and requires extraordinary athleticism, precision, balance, and great confidence to attempt it in a game.

It is not an easy move to master, and it takes years of practice to execute it perfectly. However, when executed correctly, it can be a game-changer and a crowd-pleaser.

Let’s see how to execute it…

Execution of a Bicycle Kick


Before attempting a bicycle kick, you need to position yourself correctly. You should be facing away from the goal, and the ball should be in the air.

You need to time your jump correctly so that you can get enough height to execute the kick. You should also position your non-kicking foot behind you for balance.


As you jump, you need to bring your kicking leg up and over your head. Your body should be horizontal to the ground, and your head should be facing downwards.

You need to make contact with the ball with the top of your foot, and your leg should be fully extended. You should aim for the top corner of the goal to increase your chances of scoring.


After making contact with the ball, you need to land safely. You should aim to land on your back, with your arms outstretched to cushion your fall. You should also try to roll to avoid injury.

Famous Bicycle Kicks in Soccer History

If you are a soccer fan, you know that the bicycle kick is one of the most spectacular moves in the sport. Over the years, many players have attempted and executed the bicycle kick to score stunning goals. Here are some of the most famous bicycle kicks in soccer history:

  • Wayne Rooney – Manchester United vs. Manchester City: In 2011, Rooney scored a bicycle kick goal against Manchester City in the English Premier League. The goal was voted the best goal in the history of the Premier League.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid vs. Juventus: Ronaldo scored a stunning bicycle kick goal against Juventus in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Champions League. The goal was so good that even the Juventus fans applauded him.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Sweden vs. England: In 2012, Ibrahimovic scored a stunning bicycle kick goal against England in an international friendly. The goal was so good that it was named the best goal of the year by FIFA.
  • Hugo Sanchez – Real Madrid vs. Logrones: In 1986, Sanchez scored a stunning bicycle kick goal against Logrones in La Liga. The goal is considered one of the best goals in the history of Spanish football.

Significance of a Bicycle Kick in Soccer

The bicycle kick is a high-risk, high-reward move that requires excellent coordination, timing, and athleticism. When executed correctly, it can be a game-changer, leaving the opposition in awe and the crowd on their feet.

The bicycle kick is not only significant for its aesthetic appeal and game-changing potential but also for its historical and cultural significance. The move has been around for over a century and has been used by some of the greatest players in soccer history.

The bicycle kick has become a symbol of creativity, flair, and innovation in soccer. It is a move that requires courage, imagination, and a willingness to take risks. The move has inspired generations of soccer players to push the boundaries of what is possible on the field and to strive for excellence.

Risks and Safety Measures

Anytime a player lands on their back or near their head, they need to proceed with caution. Here are some things to keep in mind.


  • Injury to the player: A poorly executed bicycle kick can result in the player falling awkwardly and injuring themselves. The player can land on their back, neck, or head, which can cause serious injuries such as concussions, spinal cord injuries, or fractures.
  • Collisions with other players: Since a bicycle kick requires the player to lift their legs high in the air, it can result in collisions with other players on the field. This can cause injuries to both the player attempting the kick and the other player.
  • Lack of control: A bicycle kick requires a high degree of skill and control. If the player does not have the necessary skills, they may not be able to execute the kick properly, resulting in a lack of control over the ball and the player’s body.

Safety Measures

  • Proper training and practice: Before attempting a bicycle kick, it is important to have proper training and practice. This will help the player develop the necessary skills and control required for the kick.
  • Awareness of other players: Players attempting a bicycle kick should be aware of the position of other players on the field and avoid attempting the kick if there is a risk of collision.
  • Choosing the right moment: Players should attempt a bicycle kick only when the situation is appropriate. For example, attempting the kick in a crowded area or when there is a high risk of injury is not recommended.

Origins and History of the Bicycle Kick

The origins of the bicycle kick are somewhat disputed, with different countries claiming to have invented it.

However, the most widely accepted origin story comes from Chile, where Ramón Unzaga, a naturalized Chilean who had emigrated from Bilbao with his parents in 1906, is said to have first performed the move in the early 1910s. After Unzaga showed off his trademark move in two Copa Chile matches, it became known as “la chilena” or “the Chilean” in his honor.

From there, the bicycle kick gained popularity in South America, particularly in Chile and Peru, where it was used both in attack and defense. Francisco Gatica, another Chilean player, is also credited with helping to popularize the move in the 1920s.

The bicycle kick soon spread to Europe, where it became a symbol of technical skill and athleticism. In 1958, the Brazilian player Pelé scored a spectacular bicycle kick in the World Cup final against Sweden, cementing the move’s place in soccer history.

Since then, many other players have attempted and successfully executed the bicycle kick, including Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is a bicycle kick executed in soccer?

A bicycle kick is executed by jumping backwards, lifting the non-kicking foot first, followed by swinging the other foot upwards in a cycling motion and connecting with the ball while still in the air. It requires a combination of timing, coordination, and athleticism.

Who is famous for performing bicycle kicks in soccer?

Some famous soccer players who are known for their bicycle kicks include Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Wayne Rooney, and Ronaldinho. However, many other players have also performed this skill in memorable moments throughout soccer history around the globe.

What are some variations of the bicycle kick in soccer?

There are several variations of the bicycle kick, including the scissor kick, which involves a similar motion but with the legs crossing over each other. Other variations can include the positioning of the body, the angle of the kick, or the direction of the ball.

How is a bicycle kick different from a scissor kick in soccer?

While both the bicycle kick and the scissor kick involve a similar motion of kicking the ball while airborne, the main difference is in the positioning of the legs. In a bicycle kick, the legs move in a cycling motion, while in a scissor kick, the legs cross over each other.

Is a bicycle kick hard to do in soccer?

Yes, a bicycle kick is hard to do in soccer. It requires a combo of timing, athleticism, and coordination. It requires hours of practice to effectively execute it.

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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