As players, coaches, and parents, do you ever wonder why we teach kids to kick a soccer ball with the instep (top inside of your foot) instead of the toe? The ball seems to travel faster when we kick with the toe so why not just stick with it?
Kicking with the instep, or the top part of your foot between the toes and ankle, allows for greater accuracy and power when striking the ball.
On the other hand, kicking with the toe of the foot can be less accurate and less powerful, as the smaller surface area and weaker muscles in the toes can lead to a less controlled and less forceful strike.
In most situations, you’ll want to kick the ball with the instep instead of your toe.
However, there are certain situations where a toe kick may be preferred, such as when attempting a chip shot or when the ball is too close to the body to use the instep.
What is Instep Kick?
The instep kick is when you strike the ball with the top part of your foot, between the toes and ankle.
When kicking the ball using the instep, you use the shoelaces of the cleat. This technique is also known as kicking with the laces.
Here’s how to do it…
What is a Toe Ball?
A “toe ball” is a soccer technique where you kick the ball directly on using the toe of your cleat.
It is an unconventional method of kicking the ball and is generally used in situations where players have limited time and space to perform a traditional pass or shot.
Advantages of Instep Kicking
Using the instep kick instead of your toe has advantages, including…
Power & Control
When you use the instep, you can generate a lot of power behind the ball, making it go far and fast.
This is because your leg will spring back and get more leverage when you strike the ball with the laces. Due to the larger surface area of your cleat (compared to your toe), you can combine power and control.
Accuracy and Predictability
When you use the instep, you have greater control over the direction and trajectory of the ball. You can tell where the ball to go instead of it going wherever the wind blows.
Using the toe to kick the ball can put a lot of stress on your foot and lead to injuries.
When you use the instep, you distribute the force of the kick evenly across your foot, reducing the risk of injury.
Additionally, using the instep can help prevent common soccer injuries such as turf toe, caused by repeatedly jamming the big toe into the ground.
Advantages of Kicking the Ball with the Toe
When it comes to soccer, the toe ball is often viewed as a bad habit that should be avoided.
However, there are some advantages to using this technique in certain situations. Below are a few advantages of kicking the ball with the toe:
Kicking the ball with the toe can sometimes generate more power than kicking with the instep.
This is because the toe has a smaller surface area, which means that more force can be concentrated in a smaller area.
If you need to take a long shot or make a powerful clearance, kicking with the toe can be a good option.
2. Quick Release
The toe ball can be executed quickly, which can be useful in situations where you need to get rid of the ball quickly.
For example, if a ball bounces in the goalie box and multiple defenders are running at you, you can quickly toe-poke it into the goal.
Most players expect their opponents to use the instep, so using the toe ball can catch them off guard.
This can be especially useful when creating scoring opportunities or breaking down a strong defense.
Additionally, sometimes a toe ball will eliminate spin off the ball so it may look like a knuckleball.
In 95% of situations in soccer, I think the instep kick is better than the toe kick. Here are a few reasons why:
- Accuracy: Kicking the ball with your instep provides more control over the direction of the ball. You can aim more accurately and hit the ball with more precision than with a toe kick.
- Controlled Power: Kicking with the instep allows you to generate more power than with a toe kick. This is because the instep has a larger surface area, allowing you to make better contact with the ball.
- Injury Prevention: Kicking with your toe can lead to injuries such as toe fractures or turf toe. Kicking with your instep is less likely to cause injury because the force is distributed more evenly across your foot.
Toe balls are ideal for:
- Making quick passes over a short distance
- Quickly clearing the ball
- Avoiding a defender sliding for the ball
At a young age, we should be teaching kids to kick, shoot, and pass with the instep and side of the foot as much as possible.
Fundamentals are key.
Naturally, as kids progress, they will find themselves in unique situations where they can use certain parts of their body to be more effective!