Four to six-year-olds won’t get a lot of power into their shots no matter what you do and I suggest these coaching notes should be used with players aged from seven years up.
More effort doesn’t equal more power
If your players try to kick the ball harder by going at it more violently, they won’t kick it any harder, they’ll just get frustrated as their accuracy drops off and the power in their shot stays the same or becomes weaker.
This is because too much effort tends to make the kicking leg go stiff and the stiffer their leg, the less power is transmitted from foot to ball.
Accuracy drops off because too violent execution of the instep drive usually results in a deterioration in technique.
In that sense, the instep drive is a bit like a golf swing. The way to get distance and accuracy is to use the right technique in a smooth and relaxed manner.
When I’m working on increasing power with my players this is what I look for:
In the last stride before the ball is struck, the player should hop on to the non-kicking leg. This gives the kicking leg extra flex and springloads the shot.
Hopping on to the non-kicking foot in the final stride also results in the kicking foot coming down from a greater height – a high backlift is essential for maximum power.
The ankle of the kicking foot must be locked. The easiest way to do this is to scrunch the toes up real hard.
The kicking leg should whip through the shot in a smooth and controlled manner.
How to use imaginary glass and a video camera!
A good follow-through is essential. I tell my players to imagine that there is a big pane of glass about a foot in front of the ball and their kicking leg should break the glass after they have taken the shot.
Talking to players and demonstrating how to increase the power in their shot is only part of the answer. Taking video of them in action on the training pitch is a very useful way of showing them the flaws in their technique
I use a still camera that also takes video and I play it back to my players on a laptop. Seeing any flaws in the way they kick the ball for themselves really does help them to improve quickly.