Saturday, 13 Jul 2024

Soccer Skills: The Bicycle Kick

In the world of soccer, there are a plethora of unique and impressive skills that players utilize to gain an advantage on the field. From simple maneuvers like the stepover to more intricate tricks like the rainbow kick or the trivela, there is no shortage of techniques to master. However, one move stands out as the epitome of acrobatic skill and has become a symbol of both artistry and athleticism in the sport: the bicycle kick.

What is a Bicycle Kick?

The bicycle kick is a stunning skill that involves striking the ball in mid-air, typically as a shot on goal. It requires the player to throw their body backward, propelling themselves into the air with their back facing the goal. They then execute a shearing motion, moving their striking leg in front of the other before connecting with the ball behind their head.

This technique demands serious technical skill and is often employed to compensate for imperfect passes or crosses by repositioning the striker’s body, allowing them to redirect the ball towards the goal even when facing away from it. The complexity and difficulty of the bicycle kick, coupled with its rarity, have led to its legendary status in the sport.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Bicycle Kick

Why is it called a Bicycle Kick?

The bicycle kick is known by various names around the world. In English, it is commonly referred to as the bicycle kick, while in German it is known as “Fallrückziehern,” and in French as “Retourné acrobatique.” The term “scissor kick” is also used to describe this skill. These names often derive from the motion made by the player’s legs, resembling the pedaling of a bicycle or the opening and closing of a pair of scissors.

Interestingly, the origins of the bicycle kick have sparked a rivalry between Chile and Peru in South America. Known as the “chilena” in Chile and the “chalaca” in Peru, both nations claim ownership of this iconic skill.

The History of the Bicycle Kick

The bicycle kick’s roots can be traced back to matches between laborers from the Pacific seaports of Chile and Peru in the late 19th century. During this time, South American players were adapting association football to their own styles, leading to a period of innovation in skills and tactics. The overhead kick gained popularity in the mid-20th century, thanks to Brazilian players like Pele and Leonidas da Silva. Pele, in particular, played a significant role in cementing the bicycle kick’s status by scoring numerous memorable overhead kick goals throughout his career.

Over the years, many famous players have showcased their bicycle kick skills, leaving fans in awe. Wayne Rooney’s iconic effort in the Manchester derby in 2011 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s stunning 30-yard bicycle kick goal against England in 2012 are just a few examples of the incredible moments produced by talented individuals.

Are Bicycle Kicks Difficult?

The bicycle kick is widely regarded as one of the most challenging and risky skills in soccer. Its execution often requires the expertise of top-level professionals, as evidenced by the fact that most iconic overhead kick goals have been scored by some of the greatest footballers of all time, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Pele.

While this move is rarely seen at the World Cup, it occasionally graces the stages of the Champions League and elite European domestic games. Despite its difficulty, with dedication and practice, amateur players can also attempt the bicycle kick. However, it is crucial to prioritize safety and to practice on grass to avoid unnecessary risks.

How to Perform a Bicycle Kick

Mastering the bicycle kick is no easy task, but with perseverance, it can be achieved. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Turn your back to the goal: Position yourself so that you are facing away from the goal, as you will be striking the ball over your head in the opposite direction.
  2. Push into the air with your kicking foot: Use your kicking foot to propel yourself into the air and lift your weaker foot as high as possible.
  3. Throw your body backward in mid-air: Dip your head and shoulders backward, maintaining control of your body while lifting your kicking leg straight. “Bicycle” your legs to bring your non-kicking foot back to the ground.
  4. Strike the ball using the ridge of your boot: Make contact with the ball on the opposite side of the goal using the hardest part of your boot.
  5. Brace for impact with the ground: Prepare for the landing by extending your arms to break the fall and protect your back and head.

Remember to practice this skill only on grass, as attempting it on a harder surface can be dangerous. It is also essential to learn how to catch yourself safely and use your arms to break your fall.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the bicycle kick the hardest soccer skill?

While the bicycle kick is undoubtedly one of the most difficult soccer skills to master, there are several others that only the best professionals tend to use. These include the rainbow kick and the rabona, among others.

What is a rainbow kick?

The rainbow kick is another famous and highly contentious soccer skill, often favored by players like Neymar and Jay Jay Okocha. It involves rolling the ball up one’s leg and flicking it over the head of an opposing defender.

What is a rabona?

The rabona is a soccer skill utilized by players such as Giovanni Roccotelli and Erik Lamela. It involves wrapping the kicking foot around the standing foot before striking the ball.


The bicycle kick is a remarkable soccer skill that captivates fans and showcases the immense talent and creativity of players. Its acrobatic nature and rarity have made it one of the most celebrated moves in the sport. While mastering the bicycle kick requires immense technical skill and athleticism, with dedication and practice, even amateur players can attempt this awe-inspiring trick. So, hit the field, practice your technique, and who knows? You might just score a goal that leaves everyone in awe.