How To: Bend the Ball Like Roberto Carlos
"Any well-hit strike with the outside-of-the-foot begins and ends with proper technique."
The tricky, difficult outside-of-the-foot bender into the corner. We all stand in awe of its majesty and degree of difficulty yet most of us don't truly understand how it's done. Let's break it down...
Any well-hit strike with the outside-of-the-foot begins and ends with proper technique. If you don't perform the right technique, the strike will miss its intended target altogether and most likely make you look like a fool. Notice Carlos' approach to the ball as a starting point. He is directly behind the ball, not off to one side or the other.
Footy Tip: You must approach the ball straight on or orient your body behind the center of the ball. Granted, you do NOT have to take such a long run up to the ball as he did but on free kick situations and for the amount of bend he got on it... it's not such a bad idea.
As he approaches the ball his steps get shorter and his plant foot lands right to side of the ball. You want to strike the ball with your smallest three (middle, fourth, little) toes, with your laces and lock your ankle. Most young players think you have to hit the side of the ball to create spin/curve but this is a common misconception. To get adequate power and spin on the ball, you have to hit through the relative center of the ball and let your technique and follow-through take control.
Now, you've hit the ball relatively in the center and with your three little toes (with your laces/ankle locked), now what? Your follow-through is just as important as the other steps if you want to hit this ball correctly. Notice his striking foot comes ACROSS his body creating the applied force to make the ball trajectory swerve.
Footy Tip: If you hit a three-toed shot with the outside of your foot without carrying your striking foot across your body, the ball will most likely go straight and end up with top-spin. Also, your ankle/foot might hurt in the morning because you tried to bend the ball but ended up striking right through it (or the ground).
Final point: PRACTICE. This is a difficult ball to hit and there is only one Roberto Carlos. Focus on your technique and follow through and you will improve in no time!
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