Applying curl onto a soccer ball can be a crucial asset that you can apply in so many facets of the game. The ability to bend the ball can help you curl it around an object before finding its target, take more deadly set pieces, shots that can be more difficult to handle and passes that cut the opposition open. When curling the ball, it also usually adds a lot of pace , and also a variation in bounce if it hits the ground, making it a nightmare for defenders to handle.
So how can it be used in game situations?
The ability to bend the ball is huge when put into games. First let’s consider passing or crossing. Imagine you are out on the wing, and a defender has faced you up, making it hard to dribble around him, and also blocking a direct pass into the box. Curling the ball around him will cut him out altogether, and then have it swerve back around to find your target in the box. Also, as we said earlier this can also help the ball be delivered with more pace. Making the combination of pace and swerve very hard for defenders to track the trajectory, and deal with the movement. The same applies passing the ball. imagine playing a through ball past a defender who is blocking your path. You see the attacker making the run, but need to somehow get into the space directly behind the defender, with him blocking its path. You curl it around him making the block impossible and get the ball to arrive in the space ready for your attacking teammate to run onto.
Then you have dead ball situations. Corners have similar benefits to crosses, especially with the added pace and movement curling a ball will add to your corners. Unless hanging a ball up to a much taller attacking player we would nearly always recommend curling your corners, be it away from or towards the goal. Free kicks however, add another dimension. If faced with a defensive wall you could bend it around the wall, and then get it moving away from the goalkeeper. Think of the famous free kicks from the likes of David Beckham. Also, if you choose to dip the ball over the wall, adding curve can still help keep the ball constantly moving away from the keeper, making it hard for him to track the flight of the ball.
All these advantages can also be said of shooting with curled shots. Helping you avoid potential blocking defenders, move the ball away from a goalkeeper or even start I outside the target, and have to curl back into the goal. The goalkeeper would think it is going wide, before seeing it swing back and rest in the back of the net.
So How Do I Curl A Soccer Ball?
Curling a soccer ball is relatively simple, and the technique is quite basic. The more you practice the more you will be able to improve your technique and vary it to put differing amounts of curve on your shots.
First this is for right footed players, Simply reverse these steps form the opposite side if you are left footed. Approach the ball fromthe left hand side, slightly on the angle. Imagine a vertical and horizontal line running all the way around the ball, cutting the ball into quarters. You want to strike dead through the middle of the horizontal line and slightly to the right hand side of the vertical line. As you strike through the ball you want to make sure you are really wrap the instep of your foot right around the ball. Make sure your hips rotate through with the ball, and your leg had a long follow through that ends up on the left hand side of your body. This should start the ball out on the right hand side, and the spin applied will bring it back to the left and towards your target.
If you want more height on the ball, when shooting crossing or taking free kicks, then aim for a spot below the horizontal line, and slightly off to the right hand side. This will add elevation to your strike, and is something that you will definitely need to practice. A ball the moves through the air as well as along the ground can be very hard to deal with.
To start with you want to be practising doing it with a dead ball. Once you have mastered this you can move on to curling the moving ball, which can add even more devastating pace on your curled shots, crosses and passes. When practising as well we suggest setting up two cones or objects in a straight line. Each about 18-25 yards apart. Then try and move the ball around the first object, and hit the one furthest away. Also, if you are struggling to visualise your vertical and horizontal lines on the ball, consider applying some parcel or electrical tape to physically put the lines on the ball.
Here is a video to give you a few more tips, and visual aids to help improve your training.
What about moving the ball the other way?
You can, of course, curl the ball in the opposite direction. You can do this by simply using your weaker foot, however, this can be tricky even for the very best. If you are not as confident on your weaker side, then you can use an advanced technique, which is curling the ball with the outside of your foot, rather than the instep.
To do this as a right footer, you want to approach the ball from the right hand side. Start your run up a little straighter, yet still slightly to the right. You will want to plant your left foot very firmly, and this time, a little further away from the ball. This will give you plenty of room to follow through, and swing your foot on the correct trajectory.
This time, you want to impact left of the vertical line, and either dead through the horizontal line or just below it depending on the loft you wish to get. Again try and wrap your foot around the ball, using your ankles and toes to curve your foot. This should start the ball out on the left and then have it swing back round to the right hand side.
This should deliver you the basic technique, and also so helpful drills to show you exactly how to curl a soccer ball, and the practice required to master it. Keep plugging away and make sure to take it out onto the training pitch. Apply it to different situations in your game and watch your game drastically improve. Why not check out this video of some of the masters at work, applying curve to their shots.