51 Different Types of Kicks (Soccer and Martial Arts)

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A young football player kicks the ball to score a goal.


Kicking is not just a physical activity but a cherished skill in various sports. Being able to kick fast and accurately is an essential skill in soccer. Being able to kick fast and high is important in the field of martial arts.

Get to know more about the different types of kicks in various sports and get some tips on how to achieve this skill.

How to Kick a Football

An football player kicks the ball during a football match.

Set up the kick.

Place the football on the tee. Make sure that the laces are facing away from you and lean the ball slightly towards you. The tee makes it much easier to kick the ball the proper way and if the ball is leaning slightly towards you, it is easier to make the ball go a little higher.

Concentrate and visualize.

Don’t just kick the ball. Visualize where you want it to go. Choose a particular target, such as the center of the crossbar on the goal or an object far away such as the fence post, and then square your body to it. Creating a visualization is good for your confidence and can actually improve hand-eye coordination.

Begin your approach.

From a comfortable distance, take a few steps towards the ball and run in a slight curve. You should be coming from behind and slightly to one side. While running, your eyes should be on the ball and your head should be lowered the entire time. Two main things to remember are (1) there is no specific number of steps you need to take so do whatever is most comfortable for you and (2) you can run a shorter distance for field goals since the other team is going to try and block the football.

Make sure that the non-kicking leg is firmly planted.

Turn the supporting foot outward, then root it to the ground to provide a good base and to get more force. Keep the knee bent slightly so that your core and lower body are stabilized. Avoid shifting, moving, or lifting the supporting foot. Keep it down the entire time.

Find the range that is most comfortable.

Some kickers kick when they’re a foot away from the ball; others kick when they are a little further away. It takes practice but you will eventually learn which distance is right for you. Some of it will depend on your height but always keep your kicking leg fully extended and locked when it comes into contact with the ball.

Develop your own approach.

When you kick, follow through and don’t force your leg to stop its motion too quickly. Make sure that the ball is on the top of your foot or you can use your toe. Always keep your upper body straight and, most of all, practice, practice, practice!

More information about kicking a football can be found here.

Martial Arts Kicks

Axe Kick

A woman practices her axe kick outdoors.

To start the axe kick, raise your rear leg vertically as high as possible and then bring down your leg against your target. You can even use your lead leg if you wish to do a front-leg axe kick. Always try to strike the target with the heel of your foot because the heel has a hard bone in it that is more effective than when you strike with the ball or sole of the foot. If you utilize this technique for self-defense, you can use the kick against the face or shoulder bone of an attacker. However, it should only be used in certain situations because in the axe kick, your groin is exposed and vulnerable to a counterattack. If you want to get the most effectiveness out of this kick, make sure that you work on your flexibility because with an over-extended axe kick, it is easy for you to pull a hamstring muscle.

Crescent Kick

This kick can be either an offensive or a defensive move. Simply lift your leg in front of you and then kick your foot in a circular, clockwise motion. Next, hit the target with the inside of your foot. The only difference between performing this kick with the left and right leg is that with the right leg, your foot turns in a circular, counterclockwise motion. This kick is used mostly to hit an opponent’s head. If it is used as a defensive move, you can use it to block an oncoming attack. For example, if an attacker comes at you with a stick, you can kick the attacker’s hand to knock the weapon to the side.

Cut Kick

Great for blocking the attack of your opponent as well as for preparation for a counterattack, it is used in controlled sparring matches. However, it is less useful in self-defense situations and it is very similar to a defensive push kick in which you attempt to push an opponent backward.

Front Snap Kick

A young boy demonstrates how the front snap kick is done.

Usually called a front kick, it is often used to set up your opponent for additional punches and kicks. It is performed in a snapping motion; it starts by raising your knee and pointing it at your target. Next, extend your leg, kick the target quickly with the ball of your foot, and then immediately retract your leg. This kick tends to work best if you aim it at the opponent’s solar plexus but you can also use the instep of your foot to kick the attacker in the groin.

Oblique Kick

Also known as the scoop kick, it is a low kick used in mixed martial arts, Hapkido, and others. It is similar to a stomp kick except that it strikes targets that include a knee diagonally whereas the stomp kick strikes downward vertically.

Reverse Crescent Kick

The opposite of a crescent kick, this one switches up the legs. In other words, when you use your left leg, your foot is turned in a counterclockwise motion, and when you use the right leg, a clockwise motion is used. This kick is usually aimed at your opponent’s head. It is fast and powerful, not to mention very difficult to block. It is easy for your opponent to think that you are going in one direction while you hit him or her suddenly on the side of the head in the other direction. Just as the crescent kick, this kick can be used to block an oncoming attack.

Roundhouse Kick

A young red belter attempts the roundhouse kick.

Visually impressive, this kick starts when you get into a standing position and move your left shoulder towards the opponent. Bring your right knee up and out to the side, pivoting on your left foot. Then snap your right foot out, striking with the same foot. Next, refold your right leg and pivot back to your initial stance, moving your left shoulder again towards the opponent.

Side Kick

A martial arts teacher demonstrates how the side kick is done.

This is a very popular kick in the world of martial arts. Often taught in both Japanese and Korean styles, you start by turning your body sideways towards the target. Lift your knee up, then kick straight out to your side using the bottom of the heel. Your kicking foot should be roughly parallel to the floor. You can perform this kick in either a strong, thrusting motion or a snapping motion. With this kick, you can stop an oncoming attack by side-kicking your opponent’s midsection. If you’re really flexible, you can deliver the sidekick to your opponent’s head. At times, you can use the outside edge of your foot to hit your target with this kick.

The martial arts kicks are pictured in more detail on websites such as this.

Soccer Kicks

50-50 Ball Kick

This one involves the player kicking the ball to the opposing team. It is called the 50-50 ball because there’s a 50-50, i.e., equal chance of getting the ball back.

Back Heel Kick

This one involves stepping up to the ball and poking it to one of your teammates by using your back heel.

Bicycle Kick

A professional football player demonstrates how the bicycle kick is done.

In this kick, the player kicks the ball over his or her head.

Direct Free Kick

This is a kick given to a stationary soccer ball at the point of the foul.

Free Kick


A football player gives a free kick during the last stages of the Spanish second division league match.

This is a kick at the point where the foul occurred.

Goal Kick

This is a kick as a result of the soccer ball leaving the field.

Hand Ball Kick

This kick involves the player hitting the ball or picking it up with his or her hands.

Inner Side of Instep Kick

This is where the kicker runs up to the ball at a 45-degree angle, then kicks it with the right angle and force to get it to the target.

Instep Kick

Also called the laces kick, this kick is one where you use your “laces.” It is mainly used for shooting; therefore, it is never used to pass the ball.

Outside Kick

This kick involves the outside part of your shoe and is only used to pass the ball to a teammate.

Own Goal Kick

This move involves the player either kicking or deflecting the ball into his or her goal.

Penalty Kick

A soccer player is about to do his penalty kick in hopes of scoring a goal against the opponent.

This is a type of direct free kick and it enables players to use it to score a goal.

Punt

An aspiring football athlete shows the punt kick is done.

In this kick, the player picks up the ball and kicks it up high in the air.

Push Kick

This is a kick that allows you to shoot a very accurate pass to your teammates.

Scissor Kick

A professional football player attempts to goal by doing a scissors kick in a typical footbal league match.

In this kick, the player kicks the ball in the direction that he or she is facing.

Spot Kick

This is a penalty kick and involves the player kicking the ball 12 yards away from the goal.

Tackle Kick

In this move, the player slides in order to make the other player fall down.

Toe Kick

This is where the kicker flicks his or her toe to either kick a shot or to make a quick goal.

Volley Kick

The volley kick is any kick that is done while the ball is in the air.

Wall Pass Kick

This is where the player kicks the ball on a wall, which gets it to his or her teammate.

Taekwondo Kicks

Aerial Kick

These are kicks utilized mainly for entertainment. They include flips and somersaults and are considered extreme kicks. They are not always looked kindly upon by martial arts experts but they are fun to do, showy, and very entertaining. They include numerous kicks, not all of which are official, that allow you to kick high in the air.

Air Kick

An air kick is performed while you’re in the air. Different than jump kicks, these are always performed while the non-kicking foot is off the floor.

Check Kick

Also called stop kicks, these are used to check, jam, or intercept a kick from an attacker before it is allowed to be executed. It can stop the forward motion of your attacker.

Drop Kick

As the name implies, these are kicks performed while you are dropping your body to the floor with one or both hands on the floor. Many other kicks can be adapted to utilize this technique while dropping to the floor.

Flick Kick

In a flick kick, the foot is flicked upwards to the knee or groin.

Flying Kick

A male taekwondo athlete demonstrates the flying kick on the beach.

These are either jump or jump-spin kicks that are executed while you are leaping forward, usually from a running start.

Ground Kick

While lying on the ground, floor kicks are performed.

Hopping Kick

With a hopping kick, the body hops but only a slight jump, allowing the feet to leave the floor just enough for the body to move. The hop enables you to cover a relatively small distance quickly.

Jump Kick

A taekwondo black belter shows how the jump kick is done.

Jumps add height to any kick and all kicks can have a jump added to the execution when you wish to. However, you have to be careful with jumps because they:

  • Can be difficult to perform
  • Require perfect timing and extreme caution
  • Can be dangerous to execute for both you and your opponent
  • Can have a cost/benefit ratio that doesn’t allow their use to be beneficial

Jump Spin Kick

These are maneuvers that consist of both spins and jumps; they add both height and power to any kick. In a jump-spin kick, you spin, jump, and kick but you tuck the non-kicking leg. These are usually defensive kicks that should only be used as a jump-spin. This is because flying kicks look good in practice but when you’re actually sparring, they are only useful in a few circumstances. Moreover, the results can be devastating if you are a great kicker. Jump-spin kicks can be useful in certain circumstances, such as when:

  • You are a lot quicker than your opponent.
  • They are used as defensive maneuvers.
  • You are way ahead in points and simply wish to show off.
  • Your opponent isn’t as skilled as you are.
  • You are a lot shorter than your opponent.

Leading Leg Kick

This involves your leading leg lifting and executing the kick without the other leg’s movement.

Linear Kick

Linear kicks move in a fairly straight line to the target.

Pushing Kick

A pushing kick is used when you wish to push the opponent backward instead of injuring him or her.

Rising Kick

A rising kick is one whereby the leg swings upwards and then downwards, much the same as the axe and crescent kicks. It is not always a very powerful kick and is often used to check or jam, then attack. The rising kick can also be called a half-moon kick, bob kick, or bubble kick.

Round Kick

A round kick moves in a circular movement towards the target.

Skip/Step Kick

A skip/step kick can be used from a greater distance than normal kicks. For this kick, either skip or step the rear foot forward while at the same time executing a lead leg kick. Adjust the length of your move to accommodate the distance that needs to be covered. You can then use a hand attack feint in order to disguise the original foot motion. The most difficult part of skipping is synchronizing the skip with the foot that impacts the target. When you kick too early, it is possible for you to pitch forward off-balance. If the kick comes too late, all momentum is usually lost. If you want faster kicks, raise your lead leg for a standard kick and then skip the rear leg forward as you are kicking with the lead leg but do not skip or step first.

Sliding Kick

In a sliding kick, the trailing leg slides either behind or up to the leading leg and the leading leg performs the kick.

Spin Kick

In a spin kick, your body rotates about its vertical axis in a reverse direction before you execute the kick. Because of this spin, the kick has more power but it may be dangerous because your back is facing your opponent. If you try one of these kicks from a neutral distance where neither you nor the opponent can reach one another, you will fall short of your target, not to mention leave yourself vulnerable to a simple counterattack.

Snap Kick

This is one of the two main kicks in taekwondo (the other is the thrust kick). Snap kicks are quick and the foot goes towards the target in the shape of an arc, then returns just as quickly into a position where the knee is fully bent. The knee is a guide for the foot because it has to be turned and lifted to make the foot strike the target surface at a 90-degree angle. It is required that the foot snap out and back quickly in order to get more stability and power. Move the hips towards the target then back slightly and in harmony with the kicking foot’s movement. In traditional taekwondo, you don’t always see snap kicks.

Stomp Kick

A stomp kick is a kick downward to the shins, knees, foot, or even a prone opponent.

Thrust Kick

This is one of the two main kicks in taekwondo (the other is the snap kick). In this kick, take your lower leg and thrust it towards the target, letting your foot lead the way. It is similar to the action of the fore fist and forearm when throwing a punch. Thrust kicks use the heavy hip muscles and the muscles in the thighs; therefore, they can be the most powerful kicks in taekwondo. Just as with a hand punch, you should use a kick that is as straight and short as possible. Always start with a quick, light movement and use all of the body’s power when you make an impact. Proper distance is crucial when performing a thrust kick; if contact is made too soon or if the target is out of your range, the kick is not as effective. The kicker’s balance can also be disrupted in these situations.

Trailing Leg Kick

With this kick, you left your leg and execute the kick all without moving the leading leg.

Turnover Kick

This results from one of your feet being grabbed and held by the opponent. You end up leaping into the air, rotating over and around the foot being held, and executing a kick with your free foot.

For more advanced martial arts kicks, see websites such as this.

Martial Arts Glossary

A group of young kids practice their poses during a martial arts class.

Atemi (Japanese): A punch

Chagi (Korean): A kick

Chirugi (Korean): A punch

Dao (Chinese): A saber or a single-edged sword

Dantian (Chinese): The energetic and physical centers of the human body; there is a lower, middle, and upper region

Do (Japanese): A way

Dobak (Korean): A uniform worn while training

Dojang (Korean): A training hall

Dojo (Japanese): A training hall

Gi (Japanese): A uniform worn while training

Gun (Chinese): A staff

Gup (Korean): A grade

Kata (Japanese): A series of prearranged movements

Ki (Japanese): Spirit, living power, energy

Kihap (Korean): A yell

Kumite (Japanese): Sparring

Kyuroogi (Korean): Free sparring

Jutsu (Japanese): Art

Makki (Korean): A block

Neigong (Chinese): Internal training for the martial arts including movements, massage, meditation, and the use of herbs

Poomse (Korean): A series of prearranged movements

Qi (Chinese, Korean): Spirit, energy, living power (same as chi)

Randori (Japanese): Multi-person attacks

Sah-bum-nim (Korean): A master

 Sensei (Japanese): A teacher

Shifu (Chinese): Teacher (also spelled “sifu”)

Sohgi (Korean): A stance

Sparring (English): Practicing with another person using real-life blows

Tudi (Chinese): An apprentice or follower; usually a formal term, it refers to a teacher’s disciple

Wuji (Chinese): A state of non-distinction before behaviors or qualities were manifested

More martial arts terms can be found here.





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