Got a Back Heel Pass in your arsenal do you? Look at you all fancy. Learning to play the ball using the back of your foot or heel can cause plenty of difficulty especially for those less skilled players. Oh and your coach might rip your head off if you keep giving the ball away. This pass is very different from your more basic and orthodox passes and can also be very effective if used just right.
So to break it down this pass is used with the back of your foot or heel and moves the ball in any way desired. This pass can be troublesome for some defenders because of its element of surprise. Use it every once and a while and only when the time is right, or you'll be losing more than just the ball, you might be seeing the pitch a lot less.
1. Deception - The back heel is used to catch defenders off balance so don't try it so often that the element of surprise is gone. Once or twice in a game is enough.
2. Use When Necessary - If the simple normal inside of the foot pass is on then play it. Don't try and add a back heel pass when it isn't on just because you feel like or you think it looks cool. Use it when necessary and when it accomplishes something meaningful in the game.
3. Central Contact - Because the surface of the foot you are using is so small and unpredictable, where you hit the ball is important. Be sure to hit the ball in the lower third and directly in the middle.
4. Judge Ball Spin - If you're trying to back heel a ball that is coming at you with a bit of spin on it either stop it dead and try the back heel or judge the spin and use the balls momentum to push it along with your heel. You won't be able to hit it directly in the middle if it is spinning so look to judge your touch accordingly.
5. Flex Foot Up - To get the entire base of the heel solid be sure to flex your foot upwards by pointing your big toe to the sky. Now you'll notice the whole achilles tendon down the heel is one solid surface you can use to get a firm whack of the ball, thank me later.
1. Overdoing It - Nobody likes a showoff. Not only that it's a specialty pass that presents itself infrequently throughout the course of the game so pick and choose the right times to use it. The worst thing you can have in this game is bad habits and don't make the back heel pass one of them.
2. Big Wind up - A back heel shot and pass are very different, if shooting on goal ya you may elect for a big wind up of the leg to get some actual power behind the shot. As for the back heel pass you generally don't need a big wind up and all it will do is give the opponent a read on what you're trying to do. Remember the back heel pass is supposed to catch defenders by surprise so do it quick and swiftly.
3. No Look - As if it's not enough you're being cheeky with a back heel pass now you have to through in a no look as well? No need to add extra flare to pass that is viewed as a circus trick already. Keep it simple and keep your eyes on the fundamentals of the back heel.
4. Non-Dominant Foot - The back heel is a skill we don't get a lot of reps in anyways so trying it with your non-dominant foot will only cause even more problems for you. Stick to using the foot you are most comfortable with (dominant foot) and keep the execution of it as basic as usual.
5. One Timer - It can be done but be careful about trying to hit a back heel pass (especially if you're still learning it) off of one touch. A back heel pass can be hard enough as is and now trying to do it without a prep touch can increase the difficulty. Sure if it's absolutely on give it a shot but walk before you run here (literally).
-Keep your foot flexed or you could risk miss hitting the ball
-Aim for the center of the ball to ensure accuracy
-Use it only for lay off or short passes, anything too long won't be effective and will be easily intercepted
-Execute the pass quickly, the slower you do it the more likely the pass is to be read and stolen
-Execute it and send it all on the ground, trying to do either in the air will only cause problems
-Use it no more than once maybe twice in a game or the element of surprise will be gone
Like all great players you need variety in your game. Let's be honest, you won't use this pass very often and some might argue you never need to use it when there are so many better, safer options available. But it can be useful if there is no other option available and the play just develops a certain way that a back heel pass seems suitable.
Well as I mentioned above there are many more important skills and parts of your game you should be working on in place of the back heel pass. Sure you should have it in your arsenal but after you have the gist of it then it's time to move on. It happens so infrequently that spending all the time in the world on it isn't going to move the needle in terms of elevating your game. Worry about the important chunks of the fundamentals relative to your position and let the back heel pass reps come as they come. So to get proficient in the back heel pass (which is enough) try these 3 ways of getting some reps in.
The 3 Best Ways to Practice Your Back Heel Pass:
1. Wall - You guessed it, our old best friend a giant wall. Whether it's your house, a building near by or school stand close to a wall and try back heels up close against it and back up gradually no more than 10 yards. Try some on the ground, on the bounce, one time and any other way they may come.
2. Soccer Tennis - The game we all love, now try it using only back heels when you play with your pals. This is a fun way to get reps in during a competitive exercise. Just be sure everyone else is playing with back heels so you don't get skunked. If that's too annoying just mix one in every now and again.
3. In Between Practice Megs - All of us try and meg our friends and teammates all day everyday before, after and between drills at training so use that time to try and meg players with your back heel. I mean you're doing non-sense during those times anyways why not work on the back heel so you're not wasting other valuable training time on it.
Did you think it was that simple? Just hit it with you heel and off to the next pass? Not so fast, the back heel pass can be done in a couple different variations that lead to different challenges and different results. The classic back heel pass off to the side or behind you can be done both standing still and on the run. Both take on similar footwork technique but the one on the move creates unique challenges like controlling your body, worrying about hitting it just right while your body is at half or full speed and all the things that come with that. Here are the three main things to remember about each one.
3 Tips About the Standing Back Heel Pass
1. More Force - Because the ball most likely isn't moving either you are going to need to generate all the force yourself. This means you may need to pick up your step a little before you hit it or come at it with a slightly larger wind up to get the ball moving as fast as you want in the direction that you want.
2. Stop the Ball Completely - It's way easier to hit a dead ball with your back heel than a moving one so get the ball under full control first and stop it completely still if possible. The sooner you can do this the sooner you can set yourself up for hitting it with your back heel which will be easier and more comfortable once it is still. A bouncing or spinning ball makes things twice as hard so while you're holding off a defender and the ball comes your way try and get it to stop as soon as you can to set yourself up for success.
3. Practice All Directions - The back heel pass is not only done "backwards" as its name implies. Yes it is done behind you but it is also done on a 45 degree behind you, directly to the right and left of you and even stopped dead right where you are standing for an oncoming teammate. So what is important here is don't just practice it directly behind you but in every directions possible because it won't all unfold in a game exactly how you had planned so train for the unexpected.
3 Tips About the Moving Back Heel Pass
1. Body Control - Executing this skill is going to take a little more discipline in maneuvering your body just so. You may need to come to almost on a complete stop before hitting the ball. Be sure to anticipate where the ball is going and try and run two yards beyond that so you have enough room to swing your leg back and enough time to get the timing down just right. Benzema is a player who does this at the highest level, he'll make a diagonal run in-behind the defenders and will drop it or pass it with his heel to a trailing teammate to shoot or collect the ball.
2. Stop It Dead - Trying to stop the ball dead while on the move to set up a teammate can come with its challenges. You need to decide is there is enough power on the ball where you can just plant your heel without moving it or does it need a big of a swing backwards. If it's coming in at a high pace you may need to bring your foot towards the front of your body as to cradle it and absorb some of the power to get the ball to come to a stop.
3. On the Bounce - Be careful that a ball coming towards you doesn't have a little bounce to it. In the case it does you may want to use this to your advantage and instead of swing backwards just sort of lift your leg up and you may be able to pop it up for teammate to hit or pop it up over an oncoming defender. Use the bounce to your advantage both to manipulate the ball and for power.
If you're looking for more brilliance around back heels to inspire you have a look at some of the greatest back heels to ever grace our beautiful game in this article The Joy of Six: Back heel Brilliance.
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