How to take free kicks like Cristiano Ronaldo

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Want to be more like your favourite Portuguese footballer when it comes to dead-ball situations? Look no further!

Cristiano Ronaldo is not known as a free kick specialist, but the Juventus star has crafted a unique technique and is steadfast in his commitment to it.

The Portugal captain's approach to taking free kicks has become known as the 'knuckleball' technique and plenty of players have emulated the style since.

Essentially, it is a combination of sheer power and process, which, if done correctly, will see the ball wobble in flight, thus making it more difficult for the goalkeeper to save

It can be difficult to get right, but, like any free kick, when it works there is a tremendous sense of satisfaction for the taker.

So how exactly does one take free kicks like Ronaldo?

To start off, due to the power involved, the Ronaldo-style free kick is best utilised when a free kick is won between 25 and 40 yards from goal.

Ronaldo appears to favour a long run up to the ball so in order to be authentic, once you have placed the ball, take roughly four or five steps backwards to position yourself adequately for the run up.

After Ronaldo has taken his steps back from the ball he stands with his legs positioned in a wide stance and his arms are by his sides. He then takes a deep breath, looks at the ball then the net and starts his run up.

Cristiano Ronaldo free kick

This is where the crucial part of the free kick technique comes: actually striking the ball with your foot.

In order to get the right connection with the ball the standing foot must plant beside the ball. Then the kicking foot needs to connect cleanly with the ball along the instep (ie the bone from the big toe to the top of the foot.) See the above photo for an example.

On the follow-through the leg and knee should rise, which helps to achieve a dipping motion from the ball. Next: celebrate! Well, that's the best case scenario.

So, to re-cap:

  1. Place the ball, take four or five steps back.
  2. Pause, compose yourself before the run up.
  3. Hit the ball powerfully with the instep of your foot.
  4. Pull kicking leg high on follow-through.
  5. Celebrate (hopefully!)

Naturally, in order to perfect the technique it will need practice and, if you want to get anywhere close to Ronaldo's level that means hours upon hours.

And don't worry if you don't quite pull it off in training either, because even Ronaldo has his off days, as his former Real Madrid team-mate Rafael van der Vaart recently noted.

"I remember one time we had training - he didn't train that well - and after he took like 20 balls to practice his free kicks," Van der Vaart said in 2018.

"He was hitting them and they went everywhere, but not to the target. I took one ball, I kicked it in and I said: 'This is how you should do it.'

"The next game, free kick. I said, 'Can I take it?' He said, 'No, I'm going to do this.' He hit from 30 metres and it went into the top corner - fantastic. And he said, 'This is the way I do it!'


Why is it called 'knuckleball'?


As mentioned, in football the term 'knuckleball' has become synonymous with Ronaldo and his free kick style.

The knuckleball free kick is one which sees the ball move very fast through the air, occasionally wobbling unpredictably from one side to the other. If done correctly the ball should not spin at all, or at the very least it should spin very little.

The term was popularised in baseball in the early 20th century as pitchers perfected the throw and it has also been used in other sports, such as cricket.


Can you do Ronaldo 'knuckleball' free kick in FIFA 19?


Cristiano Ronaldo free kick

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Yes, it is possible to emulate Ronaldo's free kick style on FIFA 19.

When you win a free kick roughly 25 to 40 yards from goal and you fancy trying a knuckleball, follow these instructions:

  • To have the best chance of scoring, choose player with high power and free kick accuracy.
  • Simultaneously hold LB or L1 and aim the left stick up while powering up the shot button.
  • Aim for three and and a bit bars on the power bar.

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