Striking the Ball on your Laces

Paul Scholes had one of the best driven passes that I have seen. Moving the ball out of his feet, he would look up, and drive a fast and straight pass over 30-40 yards into his team-mates feet. It changed the point of attack and made life very difficult for opposing teams.

It is though, a very hard technique. Even at the top level you can see players slice the ball and drag their pass wide of the intended target.

For youngsters, along with developing their first touch, striking on the laces can be one of the harder techniques to successfully master. There are a number of factors to remember and it also feels like a very un-natural way to kick the ball.

Players use the instep because it is the largest striking area of the foot, it's well supported and provides stability. Striking on the laces puts the ankle under more pressure and can at times feel uncomfortable for the younger players. That's why a lot of their passes can get dragged wide, and curl away from the intended target. This can be caused by a slight worry of feeling discomfort in their foot, therefore causing them to turn and make contact with the instep.

To move forward from this, encourage the players to bring their knee over the ball, giving them a strong base and good balance, which in turn will provide stability and strength in the ankle.

The most important aspect of developing a players long distance passing is to focus on the technique, don't worry about power at all, that will come over time. Focus on technique and eventually the power will be a bi-product of that.

Keep your balance, providing stability and then the technique will come. It is very much like a golf swing. The best golfers don't focus on power, they focus on their technique, making sure that their body is in the right position to strike and follow though with their shot. It's just the same for a footballer.

Try out this long passing tutorial, below.

The key points to focus on are the standing foot being placed next to the ball, with the knee also over the ball when striking. Turn your foot to the side and follow through with control on your shoe laces. This will provide accuracy and that straight pass that you have been looking for.

If you're tired of striking the ball and then having to go and collect it, repeating numerous times, then this training tool may be of use. I personally used to use one when I was younger and loved the fact that the ball would just come back to me, giving me plenty more time to practise my technique.

How good can your first touch be?