Football freestyle is the art of performing tricks with the ball whilst keeping it in the air. It is a more creative off-shoot of the sport with an emphasis on style and individual manoeuvres rather than scoring points or goals. Any part of the body that can be used in normal football can be utilised, such as trapping the ball behind the neck in order to link different tricks together.
The best way to start learning freestyle is to practice keep-ups with both feet until confident and then try some basic tricks such as ‘around the world’. This involves wrapping your foot up, around and back under the ball as you kick it. Another good trick to learn is balancing the ball on the top of your foot, this helps control the speed of the manoeuvres and also improves general touch and technique.
Freestyle has been around for a while but it was not until Nike started a string of adverts called Joga Bonito (‘play beautiful’ in Portuguese) that the sport really made a name for itself outside the actual game. Stars such as Ronaldinho and Eric Cantona took part in the campaign and people were encouraged to send in videos of their own freestyle tricks and become part of a Nike Freestyle online community. Youtube and other sites are now full of freestyle videos and the sport has taken off becoming extremely popular. World champions such as Szymon Skalski and Andrew Henderson regularly appear in viral videos, showing off their remarkable skills to the public.
Freestyle is a brilliant and fun way to practice on your own and can improve touch and ball control as well as teaching you some fancy tricks. It is increasingly becoming a sport in its own right as well as good practice and various companies now set up freestyle competitions around the world. The sport even has some stars such as Billy Wingrove that only play freestyle and not conventional football.
Check out the footage of Andrew Henderson and co. playing freestyle football around London:
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