Ask Me Anything: Gaining Distance on Soccer Kicks

More Kicking Power.

Q: Dear Doug,

I play sweeper on my varsity high school soccer team. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I practice, I can’t seem to kick the ball far enough to reach our forwards. Is there anything I can do to increase my kicking ability?

PS: I’m a girl and I only weight 105lb.

So Cal

A: Thanks for your question “So Cal.” When it comes to enhancing athletic movements I think it is important to look at a few different factors. In your case of kicking distance I would look at three primary areas:

  • Kicking technique
  • Strength and power production
  • Flexibility of the hip and surrounding leg muscles

Kicking Technique:

There are several factors that contribute towards the optimal technical execution of distance kicking such as:

  • How much range of motion (ROM) you kicking leg has
  • The distance the supporting leg needs to be from the ball
  • Where you strike the ball
  • Proper body alignment when you come into contact with the ball

Ask your coach to check you out. Are you striking the ball in the right spot? Is your planted foot in the right place? Are you “following through” enough? Your coach should be able to answer these questions for you.

Strength and Power Production:

Call this a shameless plug, but this is what I teach. If you increase your strength with proper resistance training consisting of the basics (squat, deadlift, and single leg work) your potential power output can go up. Along with training the strength movements it is important to use this new strength in a “power” producing manner. Strength is just one component, the ability to use that strength effectively is a big key to athletic success, Things like box jumps, lunge jumps and kettlebell swings train the muscles to use the strength to produce and transfer power.

Flexibility of the hips and surrounding leg muscles:

Sufficient athletic technique execution and maximal power output is effected by the ability to move the limb through adequate ROM. In simpler terms; if your hip and leg muscles are tight they cannot move freely enough to produce the optimal power for long kicks. Stretch the muscles around the legs and hips paying special attention the hip flexors. When sitting in class all day the hip flexors tend to get short and tight, they may not be at their optimal length when you are trying to kick the ball later in the day. One of my favorite hip flexor stretches is pictured below.