Also known as a bicycle kick or a scissors kick, this method of making contact with the ball is nothing other than spectacular…as long as the player can pull it off. Executing an overhead kick requires skill, athleticism and timing. The player must launch him or herself into the air, scissoring the legs as the body reaches a horizontal position, so that one leg reaches high into the air to make contact with the ball at head height.
The ball therefore travels in the opposite direction to the way the player is facing. Both feet must be airborne for this kicking technique. The footballer, meanwhile, generally lands on their back or bottom! A bad landing, especially a knock to the head, spine or elbows, could have serious consequences.
Overhead kicks are generally only used around the goal – either by a defender needing to clear the ball quickly, or by an attacking player with little room for manoeuvre. A forward in a good scoring position but with his or her back to the goal, might opt for an overhead kick if the ball is bouncing at head height.
Panama’s Luis Carlos Tejada Hansell scored a picture-perfect overhead kick against the Central American neighbour, Mexico, in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers. It was voted goal of the year by Fox Sports. The overhead kick was also a signature move of Pelé, Brazil’s footballing maestro.