SCU research to help soccer players bend it like beckham

PLAYING IT STRAIGHT: Noah Stokes at Richards Oval, Lismore. Noah likes the challenge of getting the ball past the defenders and into the goal from 20m out.
PLAYING IT STRAIGHT: Noah Stokes at Richards Oval, Lismore. Noah likes the challenge of getting the ball past the defenders and into the goal from 20m out. Patrick Gorbunovs

THINK of yourself as a regular David Beckham, but keep missing the goal?

 

Southern Cross University may have found the answer by unlocking the secret to scoring a free kick in football.

Former PhD candidate Alison Alcock and Associate Professor Wendy Gilleard recently conducted a study that uncovered strategies to help coaches train players to consistently be on target when kicking a ball 20m out from the net.

The pair found factors for a curve kick or an instep kick could be broken down to determine exactly where the player incorrectly or correctly kicked the ball.

Noah Stokes, 12, plays football every weekend for the Italo Stars and as a centre-mid player, he spends plenty of time lining up free kicks.

Noah said it can be hard to predict whether the ball will go in and it can be different during training to during play.

"You've got to get it over a defensive wall of players but you also have to make sure it goes in the net," he said.

However, Noah said if he could train to the point where there was a mathematical probability he would get the ball in every time, the game might lose its appeal.

"If you could learn to always get the ball in you would take away from the fun of the game."

Noah's dad, Victor Stokes is technical director at Football Far North Coast and he took a different view.

He said any study that looked at the fundamentals and helped players improve would be good.

"The more we know about how to kick the ball, the better players will be," Mr Stokes said.

Ms Alcock said in a media release, the research showed science could play a "real part" in helping a football player put the ball in the back of the net.

The research was conducted with 15 international female footballers using cameras that tracked the angle of the ball, spin axis, backspin and velocity.

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics.