How to take a free kick like Ronaldo
Fri 07 June 2019
There aren’t many better sights in football than a direct free kick crashing into the back of the net, and there aren’t many better takers of a free kick in football than Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portugal captain’s ‘knuckleball’ technique is something that players the world over have tried to copy since he first produced it back in his Manchester United days. It involves sheer power and an approach which ends with the ball wobbling violently as it powers towards the goal, making it all but impossible to save when done correctly.
It’s certainly not an easy skill to master, especially when most traditional free kicks focus on bend and spin. Ronaldo generates neither of these with the knuckleball – the ball just shakes. The Juventus star has spent countless hours on the training pitch working on the technique to become a master of his trade. Watch this video to see his ex-coach Tony Strudwick talk about Ronaldo’s training and dedication to football.
We’ve tried to break the freekick down into five easy steps, take a look at them:
Step one – place the ball
The optimum distance for a knuckleball freekick is from 25 to 40 yards out. Anything closer and the ball won’t dip under the bar in time. Anything further out and it loses its effect. Without the correct placement of the ball, you cannot hope to produce a knuckleball freekick. Of course, you need to bear in mind your age, kicking power and strength as this will impact how far or close you should place the ball.
Ronaldo strikes the ball on the valve, which is where the wobble movement he gets on it comes from. You need to position the ball with the hard side facing towards you, then take four or five steps backwards directly behind the ball. This length of run up helps generate the power needed.
Step two – pause and compose yourself
The most foreboding sight about a Ronaldo free kick is the way he stands over the ball, composing himself. Between the whistle blowing and striking the ball, he always takes several seconds to himself.
Stand with your legs apart and arms by your sides for a strong stance, look down at the valve of the ball and where you are aiming to strike it then focus on the goal before returning to the ball. Take a deep breath to regulate your breathing and then prepare to strike. Focus is key for this kick.
Step three – strike the ball powerfully with your instep
Striking the ball through the valve is vital to a knuckleball freekick, but the technique that Ronaldo uses when he connects is even more important. In order to get the right connection, your standing foot must be planted beside the ball.
When attempting to generate power, most coaches will say that you need to use your laces, but Ronaldo instead uses the instep, connecting cleaning with the valve of the ball using the length of his foot from the big toe to the top of the ankle.
Step four – follow through
Ronaldo generates the lift and power needed to beat both the wall and the goalkeeper with the follow through.
Both the striking leg and knee should rise while you should also arch your back slightly. This contributes to the dipping motion that allows the ball to sail over the wall but come down again before crashing into the back of the net.
Step five – celebrate the goal
For the full Ronaldo effect, run off to the side and begin preening like a peacock. If you can perfect the knuckleball freekick as well as he has, then you’ll deserve to! And if it doesn’t come off, then the simple answer is to practice. Ronaldo isn’t known as one of the most dedicated footballers on the planet for no reason.
Ronaldo is one of the most creative, impressive, passionate and hard-working footballers in the world. We recommend that most players should watch footage from his matches to see how brilliant he is. Our weekly training teaches all players the “Ronaldo Chop” alongside many other famous skills, you can also check out our tutorials for more tips on how to play like the pros!