How to Volley the Ball in Soccer
Whether you’re trying to make a quick clearance, steer a loose ball on net, or cycle the ball into open space, the volley is a useful tool for soccer players at both ends of the field. And in youth soccer, where errant passes and loose balls are more common, giving the advantage to players who can accurately volley the ball will have a distinct advantage.
Volleying requires concentration, body control, and technical ability. You should be able to quickly move your feet and apply pace to the ball at a very fast speed. The technical aspect of volleying a ball should be practiced until it becomes instinctive in a game.
A volley is generally used for one of three reasons:
- Clearance: A clearance volley works great as a defensive move when there is no time to control the ball, ending a scoring threat and allowing the defense to regroup.
- Pass: Passing volleys are usually made into open space, allowing a teammate run on the ball in stride.
- Shot: A volley on goal can easily catch goalies and defenders off-guard. They’re also a great way to address a high ball or quick cross into the 18-yard box.
Height of the Ball
The height of the ball will determine if a ball can be volleyed, and which technique to use; balls that are above the waist, for example, will usually require you either trap the ball with the chest or thigh, or wait for it to fall below the waist before striking it.
It’s a good idea to practice volleying balls alone against a wall, or with a teammate at a distance of twenty yards or more. Though this may seem like common sense advice, few players really practice volleys on their own or away from team activities. However, those who do will have a much easier time securing loose balls and tough passes.
By having your knee over the ball on a volley kick, you’ll be able to control the ball, and even kick a low, bouncing volley. Raising the knee on a volley isn’t a natural move for most players, so be sure to practice a high knee when volleying a soccer ball.
The right technique for hitting volleys involves planting one foot and turning into the ball with the striking foot parallel to the ground. The following tips are important for making a volley with pace and accuracy:
- Square your approach: A good volley starts with a squared approach to the ball. It will also make it easier to move your feet into position and face up the ball.
- Swivel your body: The body swivels around the planted off-foot, which acts as a pivot. It helps to turn your shoulder so that it’s pointed toward the ball and let your hips follow.
- Keep the striking leg parallel to the ground: The knee should also be over the ball at contact to maximize power and keep it from skyrocketing off your foot.
- Strike the ball with the laces: A firm ankle and extended knee helps put more power in the volley.
- Arms out for balance: Keeping your elbows away from your body will make it easier to maintain balance during the volley.
The volley itself is simply planting your off-foot and extending your kicking foot; however, consistently making accurate volleys requires paying attention to the mechanics of the technique. Be ready to turn your shoulders into the ball, and let your hips and kicking leg follow.
A quick volley is a subtle, skillful offensive touch that requires anticipation and awareness of the defense or goalkeeper. It usually involves sending the ball into open space or toward the net, and is especially effective following a crisp pass from a teammate.
Hot Tip: The Scissor Kick
The scissor (or bicycle) kick is one of the most exciting plays in soccer, as well as an advanced-level volley technique. A good scissor kick requires an attacker to leave his feet, falling to his back or side while striking the ball with a powerful instep. This advanced move can turn an errant ball in the 18-yard box into a quick strike on goal.
For a good quick volley, the ankle and knee should be locked and the foot should be angled to send the ball in the desired direction. Practice with teammates by having them send the ball into the penalty area on a firm cross. Be sure to use the inside, outside, and laces of your foot to make the volley. You can also have your teammate send passes from near the corner to improve at simultaneously running to meet the ball and putting it on net.
A half-volley refers to quickly striking the ball as it rises from the ground on a bounce. It is a great attacking tool, useful in the penalty area or in finding an open teammate. In terms of technique, a good half-volley has your toes pointed down and your ankle locked. Be sure to strike the center of the ball with the laces of your shoe to control its direction.
By striking the ball on the rise, you can control the ball’s direction and add to the momentum it already has from the bounce. Therefore, half-volleys are particularly strong kicks, and a good way to move the ball downfield quickly or send a tough shot on goal. Controlling the ball on a half-volley is usually the challenge, so be sure to focus on the center of the ball.
Practice, Practice, Practice
In the end, a team that volleys well can make up for offensive shortcomings by turning defensive stands into quick counter-attacks, and loose balls in the penalty area into quick strikes on net. Practice volleys using both feet, and in different situations, until you’re comfortable volleying the ball around the field.