Soccer players have long used the toe ball as a strategic method to get a shot or pass off quickly. What is the idea behind a toe ball and is it safe to do it?
There are many ways to kick a soccer ball. As a general rule, players use the inside of their foot for passing and the instep, or, the top of their foot, for shooting. However, a toe ball is when a player uses their toe to strike the ball for either passing or shooting. It’s used in tight spaces for quicker execution but is harder to control.
The toe ball is perceived differently at different levels of the game; for youth players, it can be seen as a bad habit but for older players, kicking the ball with their toe could be a strategic decision.
Read on for more information about the toe ball including when to use it and why.
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What is a toe ball?
Soccer players can use more than just their instep or the inside of their foot to kick the ball. In tight spaces, where it’s more practical, they can strike the ball by doing what’s called a toe ball. What exactly is a toe ball?
The toe ball is an unconventional but practical method of kicking a soccer ball where a player uses their toe to execute a pass or shot. Toe balls are generally used in situations where players have limited time and space to perform a traditional pass or shot.
As players get older, they can start building the toe ball into their tool kit. It’s a useful technique in tight spaces and allows for lightning-fast execution. Naturally, our toes are not meant for kicking, but over time and with dedicated practice, the toe ball can become an appropriate method of striking the ball in the correct situation.
There are conversations worth being had over the legality of the toe ball in youth soccer because it imposes injury. Youth players should be cautious of the toe ball as it poses a safety risk and can become a bad habit. The toe ball is not a necessary technique and can be avoided altogether.
Should you kick the ball with your toe?
Soccer players aren’t taught to kick the ball with their toes. In fact, coaches usually advise against it, especially for youth players. However, it can be extremely useful–so much so that even professionals do it! Should you?
Youth players should avoid kicking the ball with their toes as it can be harmful to their bones and can become a bad habit. As a whole, the toe ball is a useful mechanic and older players should kick the ball with their toe to pass and shoot in tight spaces.
Sometimes, players don’t have enough time to position themselves and wind up for a traditional kick. This is where the toe ball comes in handy.
Is it dangerous to kick a soccer ball with your toe?
We’re taught to kick a ball “with our laces” or with the inside of our feet. We aren’t often taught to use our toes to strike the ball. Is it because it’s dangerous to kick a ball with your toe?
In general, it’s safe to kick a ball with any part of your foot. However, if the ball is overinflated, it can become too dense and result in a toe or foot injury. It’s safe for older players to kick a soccer ball with their toes, but younger kids should avoid doing it to prevent injury.
There’s no specified age range for how old you should be to perform a toe ball. Parents and coaches should use their best judgment for whether or not they can encourage a toe ball.
As for how much you should inflate a ball, the FIFA-recommended level of inflation is between 8.5-15.6 psi. You should be able to gently press on the ball with your finger and notice a slight indent. In other words, the ball should not be rock-solid.
When should soccer players do a toe ball?
A player can generate a lot of power with just their toe. Toe balls require less time to execute and can come off the foot (toe) at high velocities with minimal wind-up. When would you want to use this technique?
There are many situations when a player might consider doing a toe ball. In general, the toe ball is used to generate a powerful strike with minimal time and space. Soccer players should use a toe ball to shoot quickly at an unsuspecting goalie or to pass to a teammate from short or medium range.
If you’re between one or two defenders with minimal time to make a play, you might consider kicking the ball with your toe to get a quick pass or shot off. Use this technique to take snappy shots or make a quick pass.
Is it legal to kick the ball with your toe in soccer?
The toe ball has many practical uses on the soccer field, but will a referee call a foul if they see a player using their toe to play the ball?
There are no rules against kicking the ball with your toe in soccer. A referee can not call a foul for a toe ball. As long as the toe ball is not the result of a dangerous play, it’s legal to use your toe or any other part of your foot to strike the ball.
Kicking the ball with your toe is similar to using your head or chest to strike the ball or for your first touch: there is a time and place for each method, but they are all legal in soccer.