SOCCER FLYING SIDE VOLLEY KICKS
The flying side volley shot in soccer is a kick performed in mid-air with the body essentially horizontal to the ground and the ball off to the side. The attacker leaves their feet by launching their legs out to make an airborne side volley. Also known as the flying volley, the flying side volley, the jumping side volley, and the side-scissor kick, the skill is very dramatic and acrobatic. The flying side volley is most often made when the ball is positioned in the air such that it is likely to be too high for a regular side volley, but too low for a head ball. For safety, the flying side volley should only be used when defenders are not in close proximity.
The flying side volley kick combines the skills learned in the “hitch kick” and the “side volley.” The hitch kick in soccer is a ball skill whereby the non-kicking leg is thrust into the air in order to raise the path of the kicking leg as it is thrust in the air to strike the ball immediately thereafter, before the first leg comes back to the ground. The side volley in soccer is the act of kicking an airborne ball arriving to the side of the body around waist-high, without controlling it first. The side volley itself builds upon a player’s ability to understand and properly perform the instep drive and the full volley.
Review the hitch kick and the side volley. “Walk through” the steps in “slow motion.” Place a ball on top of a high cone and a gymnastics mat (with the leading edge in line with the cone) to the left for the landing. Demonstrate that an arm thrust starts the motion. Explain that this demonstration is for right-footed kicks.
Demonstrate that there are two forms of take-off: 1.) In the basic flying side volley, the non-kicking foot is the last foot in contact with the ground, followed by the kicking foot. This take-off provides a reduced measure of lift. 2.) In the side-scissor flying volley, the kicking foot is the last foot in contact with the ground. This provides the first measure of lift. Like the hitch kick, it is followed by the non-kicking foot, being thrust higher up and out to obtain greater height, and then the kicking foot.
Demonstrate the use of the gymnastics mat for the landing. The landing force is absorbed first by the hand, elbow and arm, and then by rolling through the shoulder, the back and the hips. This is similar to a diving save by a goalkeeper.
BASIC FLYING SIDE VOLLEY
All of the following actions are described starting with a right-footed kick with the ball atop a large cone:
For the basic flying side volley, players are to start from approximately 10-yards away from the cone and approach the ball running half-speed, straight on.
The timing of the launch of the body is such that the height of the kicking foot shall intersect the ball at exactly that point before the ball is out of reach.
Approximately two yards from the ball, players are to force themselves into the air, from their left foot. This is initiated with an upward and outward thrust of the left arm. Their right leg is to be brought back at the knee so that an instep-drive kicking motion can be performed sideways at the ball. (The single-leg jump is described in Jump Heading.)
Hip Movement and Body Swerve
Slightly after the takeoff, the hips and body are rotated, with the left hip being dropped down toward the ground and the right hip raised to better position the kicking leg. Simultaneously, the left arm is now being brought down to facilitate the movement of the hips.
The right leg is then extended at the knee to perform an instep-drive kick from the side. As with the instep drive, the ankle is extended, down and locked. The path of the kicking leg should be horizontal to the ground or slightly downward.
The ball is to be struck with the instep, above the midline, such that the ensuing flight of the ball will at least stay horizontal to the ground or, preferably, take a downward trajectory. Strike the ball firmly and follow through with the leg swing.
The arm on the opposite side of the kick makes initial contact with the ground and the flexion of the elbow and the upper arm absorb the first landing force (in this case, the left arm). The elbow must never be locked straight. After this, the remainder of the landing force is absorbed by rolling through the shoulder, the back and the hips.
Practice the movements without a ball at first.
Add the ball to the top of the tall cone and practice the movements.
If the height of the ball on the cone is not appropriate for each player, switch to using a pendulum or tethered training ball. Ensure that the ball is always moved to its most-challenging height.
Take away the cone or tetherball and use coaches as servers for a gently tossed ball, trying to time the placement of the ball in the air at the same height that was successful for each player at the cone or the pendulum height.
Extend the distance and speed of the tossed balls. Extend the approach distance for the players.
Teach the proper practice service to all players. Use teammates as servers.
Switch the approach so the takeoff is with the right leg and the flying side volley kick is made with the left leg.
Finish with game situations. Perform shots at goal from about 15-yards out. Coaches should then add movement, power, and pressure for each of three different locations.
THE SIDE-SCISSOR FLYING VOLLEY
In the side-scissor flying volley, the kicking foot is the takeoff foot and is the last foot in contact with the ground before the ball is struck. This provides the first measure of lift. It is followed by the non-kicking foot, being thrust higher up and out to obtain greater height, and then the kicking foot.
The approach and the timing are the same as those for the basic flying side volley. The main difference between the two is the takeoff. (Again, the following actions are described starting with a right-footed kick with the ball atop a large cone.)
Approximately two yards from the ball, players are to force themselves into the air, from a single-leg jump performed with their right foot. This is initiated with an upward and outward thrust of the left arm. Their right leg is then to be brought back at the knee so that an instep-drive kicking motion can be performed sideways at the ball. (The single-leg jump is described in Jump Heading.)
The hip movement and body swerve now include dropping the non-kicking leg just below horizontal to the ground.
Like a hitch kick, the left leg (non-kicking foot) is then forced as high into the air as possible to raise the body and position the kicking foot. Unlike the hitch kick, however, in which this leg is raised straight up in front of the body, in this case the leg is thrust up and out at approximately a 45-degree angle. The right leg is then extended at the knee to perform an instep-drive kick from the side. As with the instep drive, the ankle is to be extended, down and locked. The path of the kicking leg should be horizontal to the ground or slightly downward.
The ball strike and the landing are then the same as the basic side volley.
Finish the drill the same way as for the side volley.
Soccer Coaching Tips:
- The flying side volley is a hard skill. Expect “misses.” Be patient. The landing presents the most danger, so do not overtrain. In all cases, players should be reminded not to try to kick the ball too soon, but to wait the split second that is necessary for the ball to be in the proper position. It is better to try to be over top of the midline of the ball with the kicking foot than below it.
- Coaches should demonstrate the proper technique to be used by servers, sending an underhand throw using both hands, and with very little arc, from in front of and to the near side where the players should side volley the ball.
- For the demonstrations, it is extremely important that the coach and the demonstrator prepare in advance in order to be successful. The arc of the ball from the coach to the demonstrator is especially critical. The demonstrator must be well-trained, confident, and excellent in the performance of the skill.
- Players must be reminded that this is not a “standing” activity. They must move and properly position themselves to perform the skill. They can further be reminded that no “serve” is going to be perfect.
- Clearly inform players that, although the flying side volley may rarely be used in a game, it does have its place in advanced soccer.
- Remind players that a flying side volley must only be performed in a clear space in order to avoid injuring someone or incurring a dangerous play call.
- Success with the hitch kick and the side-scissor flying volley lead into the bicycle kick.
- (The flying skills also lead into the “scorpion kick,” or “scorpion shot.” From a fully-airborne, front-layout position, a player with their body horizontal to and facing the ground kicks a back-heel volley, striking the ball in the direction above their back and then past their head, by flexing a leg at the knee. Since the other leg almost always follows a similar motion, the overall action looks like that of a scorpion bending their tail to strike.)
- The basic flying side volley is also available as a clearance on defense, although it is extremely rare.
© Copyright, John C. Harves